Photo: Camelia Elias

The trouble with the Lovers card is not only the fact that it emphasizes ambivalence, but that it also painfully demonstrates the consequences of being impressionable.

In most of the Marseille type cards, our young man in the Lovers card is positioned as such, living under the impression of how things are, not really being able to discern what is really the case.

I often get this card in the context of so-called toxic work environments, with the discussion revolving around the unfortunate situation when gossip prevails.

Well, voilà, this is your gossip card, featuring an impressionable person who is not even capable of wondering who is right and who is wrong, let alone discerning between opinions.

Moreover, in this day and age of polarised echo-chambers, who needs distinction? The Lover in the Lovers card can be said to be a representation of the people who don’t even need to make any choices, as all it takes for the maintenance of being validated – a condition required by all the insecure – is to follow some big wolf in the group of preference. Questioning is not necessary, because the big bad wolf already knows everything, and you can just trust him.

Jean Noblet Marseille Tarot (Photo: Camelia Elias)

Our impressionable young man can vacillate, however. You see him nodding to the woman on the left, hand on the crotch of the woman to the right.

Presented with facts, he still hesitates. Presented with clear value, he still has to ask around. What if others disagree with these facts and values? Isn’t agreeing or disagreeing with opinions more interesting than facts and values?

Welcome to the social media space.

If you want to have an understanding of the Lovers card, pay attention to what happens on Facebook.

You declare that you’ve arrived at an understanding of something. Self-appointed masters will insist on disagreeing. The Lovers types witnessing the conflict will go with the self-appointed masters without ever hesitating about this reality:

What is the point EVER of disagreeing with someone’s understanding of something? How can you ever disagree with HOW someone understands a situation?

Imagine this scenario: I make a statement on Facebook: ‘Today, after much pain, I have finally arrived at understanding how 2+2 is 4’. The self-appointed masters will hurry to give me the thumb down and say, ‘I disagree’. The impressionable ones will follow suit, for it is the case that when people decide they like someone or they dislike someone, what matters is not why that is so. What matters is that one follows the important wolves, just because.

‘To be or not to be,’ the Shakespearean lover, Hamlet asks, and then does something ‘foolish’ that takes him out of this world. The world says, ‘I disagree.’

So here’s what I say:

The Lovers card points to ridiculous situations; situations that are always perceived from a heavily polarised angle when that doesn’t have to be the case.

In connection with my Art Tarot workshop, my partner and co-director of Aradia Academy, had a great insight when he presented some very blue lovers to the Aradia Academy alumni, featuring gay subjects. He asked a pertinent question too:

‘Consider the traditional meanings of the Lovers in the major Arcana: Joyful union, if you’re a sentimentalist; hard choice if you’re a Marseille devotee. But what if it’s not a binary, what if it doesn’t involve any women – whether mother/daughter or rivals for your affection; what if it’s all male and no choice is necessary?’

Beyond agreements

With this possibility in mind, let’s ask the Marseille cards this question – remember also that all the cards I get for these essays are based entirely on random draws, with the card discussed actually falling in that exact position.

What would happen if people simply dropped from their vocabulary this phrase: ‘I agree’, or ‘I disagree’, whenever they want to participate in a discussion whose premise is opinion and a choice of ‘I like’ or ‘I dislike’ that has already been made even before any verdict is out?

Jean Noblet Marseille Tarot as reconstructed by Jean-Claude Flornoy (Photo: Camelia Elias)

Tower, Wheel of Fortune, Lovers

If people stopped agreeing or disagreeing with opinions, things would run their own course towards the right decision. Choices could be made on the strength of argument, not on the strength of emotion. Emotion may pull the Lover apart, engaging his hand, but he need not follow in that direction.

The Lovers card is not about following your heart, but rather about knowing your place, and acting from within in accordance to the positions available to you.

Art Tarot is open for registration until tomorrow at midnight (Copenhagen time). The workshop takes place on Saturday. I look forward to seeing many art tarot enthusiasts for a talk on how to distinguish between the art on your many decks, and how to read with them when they are ‘complex’.

About Camelia Elias
Camelia Elias, PhD, Dr.Phil., is a former university professor. After 20 years in the academia, she left her career to pursue her interests in teaching and writing on the philosophy and practice of reading cards. She works with contemplative arts, oracular language, and martial arts cartomancy and Zen at her own school, Aradia Academy. You can read more about the author here.
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