The Lovers Tarot Card




This is a card with multiple layers of meaning.  The obvious theme is the Garden of Eden and all that it implies but the name of the card is The Lovers and all that implies.  So the first layer of meaning involves new love:  fresh, pristine, innocent, glowing, lovely love. Quite simply, two people who are madly, head over heels, wonderfully in love.  Since it is situated in the Garden of Eden we can assume that this is probably a fairly new relationship and it has emerged like magic into the two people’s lives.

It can also indicate a strong sense of bonding with a coworker or an associate.  Not necessarily on a sexual level but on a deep, almost Soul level of understanding and appreciating each other.

And – back to the Garden – another layer of meaning in this card is about choice and the consequences of choosing.  We all know the somewhat insane biblical fable of the tyrannical, authoritarian god throwing an absolute hissy fit because Eve took a bite of an apple, throwing them out of the Garden, and cursing all of their offspring and heirs to lives of pain and suffering FOREVER.  Naturally, it was the uppity woman who did it and not the man. Just like a woman, right?

Well, despite the absolutely tweaky, weird, sexist fairy tale the underlying theme is about choosing and about knowledge.  On a relationship level, this can be about choosing the type of a relationship that you have. Will it be based on love and trust and belief in each other or will it be based on emotional addiction and lust?  On a workplace level, this may indicate that there are different options that are about to manifest in your career and you’ll need to consider them very carefully prior to making a commitment to one or the other.

REVERSED:  This can indicate a loss of innocence and/or the end of a relationship.  Perhaps, as you have gained more knowledge of each other, the beautiful, rosy glow of your new found love is starting to fade and you’re beginning to wonder why you ever got involved with that jerk in the first place.

This can also indicate the end of the honeymoon phase of the relationship and the time when you actually have to get down to making it work if you want it to last.  Remember, the two lovers were protected by the angel in the Garden, but he’s also the one that threw them out. That sense of divine protection in a new and beautiful relationship may be going away and you may be dismayed by the challenge of being together in the real world.

It may indicate that you made a really bad decision in some area of your life, whether romance, employment, or real estate, and now you have to figure out how to correct it.

A Few Random Thoughts About The Lovers:

Not long ago a friend of mine asked, “Haven’t you ever had a relationship with someone where you just KNEW that you could tell them anything and it would be alright?”

And my answer was, “No.”  I really didn’t think that telling your lover everything about yourself was either possible or desirable.  After all, we’ve all got some dark little pockets in our hearts and our pasts that are perhaps better left alone.

I’ve since discussed it with several people for whom I have great respect and they disagree with me and assure me that a relationship like that is very possible.  I have my doubts but wherever the truth may lie it brings up an interesting aspect of The Lovers, which is knowledge.

On the left hand side of the card you can see the fabled apple tree with our old friend the snake wrapped around its’ trunk.  And what is it that the snake is purported to have offered Eve beside a bite of a juicy Granny Smith apple? Knowledge. Or, perhaps, self-knowledge.

A serious relationship with another person is a journey of discovery.  You meet, you get to know each other, you like each other and feel attracted, a sexual relationship gets built in, and perhaps you move in together.

During that entire sequence there’s a sort of a rosy glow around the relationship.  It feels like magic and you’re happy and satisfied and you think it will be that way forever.  And then comes the reality of living with another human being every day and every night. The rosy glow can fade away very quickly.

It may be small, relatively petty things like him leaving his underwear on the floor or her blowing her nose and leaving the tissues on the bathroom counter.  Usually those issues can be resolved if you are really in love. Minor adjustments, right?

But there’s also a much deeper discovery of each other that takes place as life goes along.  Is he capable of staying steady and strong during a family emergency? Is she willing to compromise during a heated argument or does she just keep screaming and insisting that she’s right?  Does he recognize when she’s hurting and respond with love or is always all about him?

In other words . . . character.

When you love someone and live with them you come to know on a very deep level not just their strengths but also their flaws.  And sooner or later either the positives will outweigh the negatives or vice verse. Sooner or later you have to make that evaluation:  is this relationship worth it? Is this relationship nourishing me and helping me to grow as a human being or is it stunting me and turning me into someone I don’t like?

If the negatives outweigh the positives, hopefully you leave.  If the positives outweigh the negatives, hopefully you stay.

There is a third path you can take, of course, and that’s growth.  If both people are willing to look honestly at their own flaws and work hard to become better people then they truly become The Lovers on a much deeper level.  They really KNOW each other and the love still remains.




The Emperor in the Tarot



There is a tendency among Tarot readers to associate the Emperor with the Empress.  If the Empress is the ultimate Feminine Energy then the the Emperor must be the ultimate Masculine Energy.  It makes sense, both because of the names of the cards and their proximity to each other in the deck. They seem to be two sides of the same coin, yin and yang.

It’s just not so, however.  The Empress is wild, unbridled, sensual, ready for a good roll in the hay at a moments notice.  The Emperor, on the other hand, looks like he’s had a bad case of constipation for twenty years and would probably need a double dose of viagra to even think about a roll in the hay.  And let’s face it: who wants to go to bed with someone who’s dressed in armor?

Another very common misconception is that he’s associated with the astrological sign Aries the Ram.  It makes sense on the face of it because there are ram’s heads all over the card. That’s about the only way it make sense.  Aries is associated with the number one, not the Emperor’s number four. Additionally, Aries is the child of the zodiac, fresh, impulsive, trusting, headstrong.  The Emperor is obviously a very old man and there’s nothing ram like about his demeanor or his posture. The rams, like the barren mountains in the background, are meant to suggest that the Emperor dwells in isolation high above the common folk of the world.

So, yes, the Emperor represents male energy but only a very narrow spectrum of it.  If this archetype is blowing through your life you may be about to encounter someone who is rock solid, a very strong individual who is fully capable of taking charge and does so.  He probably won’t be a barrel of laughs – if fact, he may not have any sense of humor at all – but he will be experienced and totally dependable.

If the card represents the questioner it may show that he or she is in a position to take charge and reach their goals.  They are well suited to the task at hand and there is an emphasis upon using the intellect rather than emotions. There is a warning to not come across as too authoritarian.  “My way or the highway,” is an approach that will cause some people to head for the highway.

Reversed:  This warns that someone you are relying may not be all they’re cracked up to be, that they may be pretending to be more capable than they are and that you are in for a disappointment.  If the card represents the questioner it suggests that there is a lack of focus and concentration.

A Few Extra Thoughts:

When you pull The Emperor in a reading it may be a good time to think about positions of power in general and male power in particular.

We live in a society where the dominant model for power is that it flows from the top down.  Whether you’re talking about the president in our political structure or CEOs in the corporate world there is one person – usually male – who wields the overwhelming majority of power.  He makes the decisions, he gives the orders, he expects those orders to be followed. If they aren’t he crushes anyone who was, “insubordinate.”

Basically that’s a pretty medieval structure.  It’s no mistake that we still use the phrase, “they seized power,” when we’re talking about one political party or the other winning an election.  It goes back to the era when power literally WAS seized at the point of a sword by one tyrant or the other who then got to live in luxury while the rest of the people worked to support his lifestyle.  As Mel Brookes said, “It’s good to be the king.”

Unfortunately, it’s not a very good model for the rest of us.  If you’re a boss or a supervisor and you pull this card try to imagine some different ways of using power rather than just being a my way or the highway person.  How can you share the power? How can you get your employees more involved in the decision making? How can you make your workplace more of a democracy and less of a kingdom?

And any male who gets The Emperor in a reading should take a little time to think about, “male power.”  What does it mean to you to be a powerful male? Is it located in your body? Do you think of it as being able to dominate other people physically and, “kick some ass?”  Is it in your intellect and you seek to dominate other people on that level?

Does it have to involve dominance at all?  

Can you be strong in your ability to nurture, to comfort, to care and show up day after day after day to do the things that need to be done?  I’ve known some men who did home caregiving for sick wives or children who were far, far stronger than the bullies in the workplace thumping their chests.

What does it mean to be, “a powerful male?”  The jury is still out on that one.

The Empress Tarot Card




The Empress is, quite simply, the Earth Goddess.  She is feminine sensuality and creativity at its’ height.  Unlike the High Priestess she doesn’t sit rigidly on a throne but reclines casually on a chair that looks like it was made for making love.  Her legs are slightly spread and she is openly sexual.

When the archetype of the Empress is blowing through your life you will experience a powerful blast of the feminine and all of its’ creative energy.  For a woman this card may indicate a pregnancy or a desire for pregnancy. If already a mother it may show a refocusing on the nurturing, feminine side of parenting.  For a man, this may show a gently powerful, nurturing person entering his life. There can be a period of material comfort and emotional abundance as a result of this.  There may be an opening of the man’s gentler, kinder nature.

For either sex, this can indicate a period of immense creativity and fertility.  The wheat in the foreground hearkens back to Demeter, the Goddess of Earth, agriculture, and fertility.  This may represent a strong interest in gardening and growing and a need to reconnect with Mother Earth.

There is quite simply nothing negative about this card.  It’s a card of growth, creativity, sensuality, fertility and expansion.  We like it.

Reversed:  Blocked creativity and a lack of abundance.  In a woman it may represent complications around the issue of birth:  unwanted or complicated pregnancies, infertility, abortion. In a man it may represent a total rejection of his feminine, nurturing side and embracing the cold, male archetype or perhaps sterility or vasectomies.  In either sex it can indicate poor parenting and withdrawn, disinterested mothers or fathers. If real estate is involved it may indicate a poor choice that fails to enhance the spirits and lives of the buyers. A period of lack of financial resources may be at hand.

A few thoughts on this card beyond what I go in to in my book, “Just the Tarot.

The United States is a society which was firmly rooted in puritanism.  The Empress runs smack up against those elements.

For one thing, she is openly, joyously sexual.  There is nothing hidden or coy about it. She is firmly and comfortably settled in her body and happy to be 100% of a woman.  We emerged from a tradition that viewed women as socially and intellectually inferior and viewed their bodies as – at the worst, unclean and unholy – and at the best as some sort of fleshly trap to make good christian men think evil, lustful thoughts.    The Empress looks those men straight in the eyes and says, “Go ahead and think all the lustful thoughts you want. In fact . . . what have you got?”

Another aspect of The Empress that goes against that puritan tradition is her wonderful sensuality.  She is all about comfort, leisure, hot baths, tenderness and just plain loving life right here on this beautiful Earth.  

The puritan tradition tells us that life is hard and that’s good.  The more we deny our own sensuality the holier and closer to god we become.  Think of the Shaker chair: upright, stiff, designed so that the person who is using it WON’T be comfortable because comfort might make us enjoy our bodies.



The Empress quite clearly says, “To hell with that!  You couldn’t even make love in that chair without it falling over.  Where’s my couch?”

Unfortunately, that’s still an ongoing battle in our national psyche.  There are still way too many people who think that taking a little time for themselves, enjoying their bodies and luxuriating in this beautiful world is wrong.   Incorporating The Empress into your life is about rejecting that puritan, workaholic, type A model and learning to self-nurture.  Relax, stroke, love.