Alchemical Study Group - VI The Lovers


(from the book)

"By themselves they are dissolved and by themselves they are brought together, that they which are two, may be made one body."
--Rosarium Philosophorum (pg. 35)

With the Lovers the dissolution of the prima materia is complete, and recombination back into unity occurs. Alchemically, the Lovers mark the first or lesser conjunction of the masculine and feminine principles, symbolized by the union of the Emperor and the Empress, with their spiritual essence, Sol and Luna, in the background. This is called the alchemical wedding, and was depicted in the texts as a wedding ceremony, or more often as a consummation of the marriage.

The scene depicted on early Tarot cards consistently shows lovers, with or without a priest (the figure of the priest on this card in the Marseilles deck is often misinterpreted as another woman) presided over by Cupid with his bow. This arrangement is directly based on traditional Renaissance betrothal portraits, and clearly represented romantic love, or marriage.

The Lovers' number, six, is sacred to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. The Pythagoreans called six androgynous, because it is both feminine and masculine, and referred to it as the number of marriage. Six is also the first perfect number, because it is the sum of the first three integers. One plus two plus three equals six, and one times two times three equals six. In this way it combines the first odd (masculine), and the first even (feminine) numbers with the primary unity.

Tarot wisdom: The Lovers signifies joy, the fulfillment of our desires, sensual pleasure, and ideally balance between the male and female aspects of our personalities. The Lovers are in harmony with each other, and therefore with the entire physical world, but until more depth is gained their harmony can be disrupted by the natural tendencies of desire.


I find Place's description and explanation of the meaning of this card very illuminating! So often when people get this card in a reading I see the explanation "it's about making a choice" (misinterpreting the figures in the Marseilles deck?). It's almost as though many people are afraid to simply see it as what it is: romantic love, union of two opposites, harmony, etc. Works for me!