Like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the Lovers portray a nude man and woman, with a heavenly angel presiding over them. The Adam and Eve reference is quite strong here, as a serpent can be seen entwined in an apple tree behind Eve. In older Tarot Card decks, such as the Tarot de Marseilles, the image is quite different – showing a man deciding between two women, with the Roman God of Love – Cupid – flying overhead, an arrow ready at his bow. Traditionally, the appearance of the Lovers in a reading meant a choice point in a querent’s life. Most probably a choice that pitted a querent between two desires, or perhaps between an inner desire and a societal duty. In the Rider-Waite deck, artist Pamela Coleman Smith instead created an image heavily influenced by the famous story of creation from the Old Testament. So, the power of choice is still represented – through the story of Adam and Eve and Eve’s choice to eat the apple. Apples have also been used as symbols of love and affection in many societies. Among the ancient Greeks, an apple bitten was sent as a token of love. Quite symbolic, isn’t it?
Love awakens the heart and asks that the Ego be set aside for tenderness and openness to flourish. Love is a risky choice – even when it is reciprocated, we all endanger ourselves to the heartbreak of losing those we love. But what would life be without love? Whether through the ecstatic chanting of a devoted monk, love shared between a caring mother and her child, or between two people in a blissful and sexual union, love is felt in a variety of forms. And all forms of love give us a glimpse at the rapturous, wonderous mystery that is the Divine Universe. They all connect us to a higher order, such as we see in the angel in the Lovers card. Love is ultimately a choice – and how we choose to love ourselves and each other, reflects how well we also know ourselves and others, deeply, intimately, and truly.
When the Lovers card appears in a reading, a new or established relationship will lead to a deeper understanding of ourselves or of some aspect of our life. This card also means that we are being asked to make a choice – a choice that cannot be made if we remain guarded, unyielding, or prideful. The Lovers shows us that if we have the courage to be honest and vulnerable, the ecstasy of the Divine Universe awaits with open arms.
Nothing reminds us more of love than Valentine’s Day, where sweets, flowers, and love-notes are shared between lovers. Saint Valentine, who secretly wed lovers when it was against the law, due to a Roman Emperor at the time who thought that soldiers fought better when they did not have wives or children, thus inspired a holiday in his name for centuries afterward. However, the act of giving tokens of affection such as chocolates or flowers did not occur until the late 1800s when the famous chocolatier, Richard Cadbury, began packaging chocolates in heart-shaped boxes for Valentine’s Day, thus beginning the tradition of giving chocolate to express romantic, ardent sentiments. But does chocolate really enhance or inspire feelings of passion and desire? While current studies show mixed results, Cocoa does have a high number of flavonoids, which increase blood flow, thus helping to improve heart health as well as issues such as erectile dysfunction. Consumption of chocolate also increases dopamine secretions, which correlate to feelings of pleasure in the body, and raw Cocoa has tryptophan, an amino acid that helps the brain produce more serotonin, another feel-good chemical. With such mood-elevating effects, it’s no wonder that chocolate is considered an aphrodisiac.
Besides its powerful antioxidants, Cocoa’s rich, earthy flavor is a perfect medicine to pair with the Lovers card – a pair that encourages us to give and receive pleasure, invites us to deepen our ability to love and be intimate with ourselves and others, and finally, to celebrate the closeness and spirituality such intimacy brings.
*Tarot reading is based on the Rider-Waite Tarot Card deck, illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith
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