The Lovers in the Tarot by Alayna Williams

I use Tarot cards a good deal in my writing, to give me ideas about creating characters and develop plot points. Sometimes, I pick cards on purpose that catch my eye, but more often, I deal them out at random. I let my imagination roam over the pictures to generate situations and connections.

One of the cards that captures many peoples’ imagination is the Lovers card. When I first glance at the card, I see a man and a woman standing under the sun, blessed by the archangel Gabriel. On the surface, it’s a card that gives one a warm fuzzy, as love so often does. It’s easy to assume that this card is all about romantic love and eternal bliss.

But there’s much more to the Lovers than that, as there is in any relationship.

When I look more closely at the card, I see a tree in flames behind the man, and the serpent coiling around the Biblical Tree of Knowledge behind the woman. The man and woman are also standing apart, as opposites. The traditional meaning of the card is that the querant is at a crossroads – a choice must be made between two alternatives. Duality is represented here: good and evil, knowledge and naivete…and harmonizing them.

The card also reminds me of famous mythological couples, especially the story of Isis and Osiris. Isis and Osiris ruled Egypt as king and queen, overseeing a prosperous kingdom and happy subjects. Osiris’ brother, Set, was jealous of his brother’s power.

Set lured Osiris into a coffin, nailed it shut with a host of co-conspirators, and sent the coffin floating down the Nile. When she heard of this, Isis flew away in search of her husband. 

Convinced that without proper burial, he would not be able to reach the Land of the Dead, she searched the river for the coffin. She succeeded in finding the coffin lodged in a cedar tree and took it with her. Isis hid it away in an isolated marshland as she prepared the proper rituals to allow Osiris to enter the Land of the Dead.

But Set was not through. He discovered the coffin, tore it open, and dismembered the body. He scattered the pieces of Osiris’ body all over Egypt.

The distraught Isis began to search for the pieces. She searched high and low until she had gathered them all and sang him back to life to receive the proper rituals. At this time, she conceived a child with him, Horus, the falcon-headed god that many of us associate with ancient Egypt.

But Osiris was dead, and could not remain in the land of the living. He descended to the underworld to become King of the Dead. Though he and Isis were reunited, they were also separated by that bridge of life and death…

…and this idea brings us back to the Lovers card, the union of opposites. Life and death are the ultimate opposites. And when we turn the card upside down to read its reversed meaning, it signifies division in a Tarot card reading.

And that’s what love’s often about in a story…union and division. Love is never a smooth road. Even fairy tales and old myths have monsters and obstacles. The Lovers card reminds us, through the distance between the man and woman – whether we cast them as Isis and Osiris, Adam and Eve – standing apart from each other and reaching out.

~Author Laura Bickle writes the Delphi Oracle Series as Alayna Williams.

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