The Lovers Tarot Card Meaning
Alignment – Desire – Union
A woman and a man stand together. Although made vulnerable in their nudity, they are comfortable in each other’s presence. The archangel Rafael, representing the higher self, oversees the two lover’s union. The imagery of the Lovers card is evocative of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Behind the male figure, a flaming tree represents knowledge, passion, and vitality. Behind the female figure, a snake twists around an apple tree symbolizing knowledge, passion, and temptation. The Lovers represent the union of two seemingly disparate parts: the worldly and spiritual, masculine and feminine, and light and dark. It’s a card of love, duality, and choices.
Upright Meanings for the Lovers Tarot Card
Many readers, myself included, consider this is to be one of the most powerful cards in the deck. It speaks to the human need for love, acceptance, and self-realization. These are all human desires influencing our daily lives. It can represent one of the most important quests of our life. Pay very close attention to the message and intention when this card appears in your reading.
The Lovers card is one of complete soulful alignment. Your true self is matched with a person or idea. This often manifests itself as an intense romantic match or something that lights up your soul.
In traditional Western metaphysical traditions, the male figure represents logic and the rational mind. The female figure represents the emotional self and intuition. It’s old school gender associations, I know. The Rider-Waite-Smith tarot is a product of the early 1900s after all (not to mention the hundreds of years of Western esoteric philosophy that influenced this deck).
Note that the man looks toward the woman. As the woman looks up toward the angel (symbolizing the higher-self or divine guidance), it is a message that a decision as to be made. While the Lovers card can symbolize a powerful match, it doesn’t mean the choice will be easy. You may find yourself in a standoff between your logical mind, your heart, and your soul’s desire. The mountains behind the Lovers indicate that a difficult journey is involved to reach this place.
This a card of deep, soulful connections. Relationships represented by the Lovers card can feel karmic in nature. The comfort level felt with each other seems so natural, it’s like you’ve already met in a past life! This card can represent both friendships and romantic partners. Of course, when this card shows up in a reading relating to love, it’s a great indicator for an intense beginning of a romance (see more in the Love and Relationships below).
Sometimes the Lovers card appears in a reading to indicate that an important choice needs to be made. This will be an emotional fork-in-the-road moment that requires you to get clear on your purpose and values. Which of the choices speak to your soul? This card indicates tension between the head and heart, be prepared for it not to be an easy decision. This is a time to follow your gut and choose the path for your highest good.
The Lovers card can be a call for unity. Cooperation and connection must be enhanced. It can be a positive indicator that self-improvement or spiritual work is seeing fruition. This is especially true if you’re working on dealing with the shadow self – the parts of ourselves that are “imperfect” and often repressed. It’s a message to embrace your perceived flaws. No one is perfect: including you. Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes. Work on embracing all parts of yourself.
Love and Relationships
In relationship readings, the Lovers card represents soulmates and karmic connections. There can be an “opposites attract” element to the partnership. Whether romantic or platonic, this card represents deep bonds. It can indicate compatibility on a mental, philosophical, and often physical level. Depending on other cards in the reading, it can indicate a relationship that has been sparked by lust. In this case, what feels like a soul connection now could possibly be the hormones talking! In this case, the relationship may only be at its beginning stage. Challenges will arise soon to test the partnership.
This card can also be a call for vulnerability. If your relationship is growing distant or stale, examine whether you are bringing your whole self to the table. In both romantic relationships and friendships, if you don’t let your guard down, then you’re not going to get very far. Let others see more of your true self.
The Lovers card, like the Hierophant, is traditionally connected to marriage and unions.
Historically, the Lovers card is often depicted as a couple being struck by Cupid’s arrow. Some decks feature a minister officiating a marriage. Others portray someone choosing between two partners. Hence, this card also has historical associations with temptation and choosing between partners. The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot sneaks this element into its imagery with the snake curled around the apple tree. More on this element of the Lovers card in the Reversed Love and Relationships section.
Career and Work
The Lovers card can represent a workplace or career that is in true alignment with your values and innate gifts. This can be a calling to do your soul’s work. While this card’s appearance in a career reading indicates a powerful path has opened up for you, you may still find it difficult to make the choice to pursue it. The work that’s perfect for you may still have strings attached: maybe it’s lower pay or less “prestigious”. This is a sign to get right on your goals and values. Find the solution that honors your soul.
Keep in mind, the Lovers card represents work that is unique to each individual. The nature of this work is going to look different for everyone. When looking for career ideas and inspiration, its astrological connection to the air sign Gemini can indicate fields related to communication. The presence of an angel, representing the higher self and guidance, makes it a natural fit for counselors (especially for relationships), coaches, and mediators. Of course, it’s up to you to determine what type of works this represents for you.
In workplace conflicts, this card suggests improving your relationship with the other person. Find a way to truly connect with them. Be genuine and sincere in your approach. You may need to be a little vulnerable too. Uncover what you both agree on and use that as a way to open a dialogue. This card is a good indicator when it relates to partnerships and mergers. Again, make sure that values and purpose are at the forefront of all negotiations.
People and Personalities
Individuals represented by the Lovers card are open, honest, and authentic. They’re attentive and perceptive listeners. If they indicate a person in your life: this is a holy grail of a friend or partner! These people are safe to be vulnerable with.
If the Lovers card represents you, this is a sign that you’ve come a long way in self-development. You’ve tackled many issues that previously held you back. Continue to cultivate self-acceptance and self-love.
The Lovers Reversed Tarot Card Meaning
Misalignment – Conflict – Temptation
Reversed Meanings for the Lovers Tarot Card
The Lovers reversed can signal a disconnection from the self and others. You may be ignoring your values and needs. Pinpoint where you are feeling disconnected in your life. Are there issues you are turning a blind eye to despite feeling discomfort? Ignoring the problem will only make things worse. If the reading is focused on a relationship, this card can signal a need to reconnect with the other person.
This card can appear when you’ve taken on a pursuit that is misaligned with your true self. This is most often a job or relationship that isn’t well matched. At worst, the discrepancy between your values and where you are now is so great that it could be affecting your health. You may need start making a plan for an exit soon.
The Lovers card can also indicate conflicts in relationships. It can be due to an imbalance of give and take —or power dynamics within the relationship. One partner may not be feeling as strong of an attraction as the other. Sometimes this misalignment is due to communication issues. Open up an honest dialog with the other person. Find to find a way to get on the same page using honest and sincere dialog about your wants and needs.
In the upright meaning of this card, we talked about Lovers’ connection with temptation. You might be having doubts about a choice that you’ve made in the past… especially if a new opportunity has appeared. Now you’re left questioning your previous decision. Keep in mind, reversals are not necessarily an inherently negative aspect of a card. Look at why you’re having doubts. Sometimes the new thing is better than the situation you’re in right now. That being said, you must have the self-awareness to know whether you are avoiding true intimacy or self-sabotaging a good thing. If this rings true, consult a knowledgeable, neutral third-party who knows you well for feedback before you burn any bridges.
Reversed Love and Relationships
This card can represent disillusionment in a relationship. Things may not have panned out the way you’d hoped for and now you’re left feeling disappointed. Depending on the situation, there may still be time to turn things around and have your needs met. You might have reached your wit’s end trying to make a relationship work. You’ll have to decide whether to cut your losses and move on.
Typically, unbalanced power dynamics or unmet needs are at play when the Lovers card appears reversed. Be clear on your wants and boundaries. At the same time, come from a place of love and understanding when resolving any conflicts.
If you’ve been feeling closed off, this is a call to open up. It’s important to have open, safe communication with partners and friends. Be real with yourself if fear of vulnerability is preventing you from making deeper, more satisfying, connections with others. You can’t receive the love you deserve if don’t allow people to see you for who you are.
As discussed earlier, this card is also tied to temptation. The shiny new thing might not be as good as what you already have. See the general reversed meanings section for more on the Lovers and temptation.
Reversed Career and Work
The Lovers reversed signals misaligned goals and values with your work. The tension between your true self and your work situation is too great. There are many situations in life where there’s a practical reason you may be working a job that isn’t your souls work. If that’s the case, start planning your eventual escape. Look for avenues outside of work to fulfill your passions such as volunteering, personal passion projects, side hustles, or mentoring.
This card can signal conflicts within a company. For example, a boss who lack self-awareness, sincerity, or a connection with their team. It can also be a sign to prepare for a bumpy merger.
Reversed People and Personalities
Individuals represented by the Lovers card reversed may be lacking in self-awareness or openness. Sometimes it represents a confusion of the self: you aren’t sure what you want or who you really are. This can be a side-effect of growing up in a toxic family, experiencing an abusive long-term relationship, or even just ignoring your wants for far too long. In these situations, its common to experience confusion and disconnection from your core self. Seek out healing modalities to recover the parts of you that you’ve disconnected from. This can be in the form of therapy or alternative healers who can help you on the journey navigating back to your true self.
I live with passion and purpose.
Some of My Favorite Examples
Ethony Dawn’s modern feminist reimagining of tarot archetypes, The Bad Bitches Tarot, depicts a close connection between two women. Holding hands could indicate a spiritual, metaphorical, platonic, or romantic connection: all potential aspects of the Lovers card. (Side note: anyone else reminded of the Ghost World poster?)
The imagery reminds me of those Best Friends Forever heart locket halves that were all the rage back in the 90’s. It’s clear these two complete each other. The angel on their shirts is also a clever nod to Rafael in the RWS tarot and Cupid in Marseille decks.
The Dreaming Way Tarot blends imagery from both Marseille and Rider-Waite-Smith tarot. A fairy-like figure unites the lovers. This depiction of the Lovers seems to emphasize unity and guidance. The winged woman could be a stand-in for the higher self or a neutral third party. But I like to wonder if she may be the central character of the card. Perhaps the man, representing the mind, and the woman, representing the heart, are what she must choose between.
The minimalist Mesquite Tarot uses a simple and effective depiction of the Lovers card: two intertwining serpents. Their black and white colors represent the duality of the Lovers via the union of opposites. The serpent can also be a nod to the imagery of the RWS tarot. It also evokes the caduceus staff carried by the Greek god Hermes: a symbol that’s used in North America to represent medicine and healing arts. This certainly speaks to the healing potential of the Lovers card.
What can be said of this card from the classic Morgan Greer Tarot that can’t be gleaned from just a glance? The warmth, the sensuality, and the fabulous 70’s hair! This retro Lovers card always makes me smile! Yes, it’s a little cheeky and kitsch. But this illustration captures the vulnerability of the Lovers. The calla lilies that surround the Lovers suggest a warm, tropical (umm, hot and sweaty?) environment. These flowers can symbolize youth, and innocence, and rebirth. Never mind that they’re a traditional funeral flower too!