The Lovers Tarot Card Meaning – Smith-Waite Centennial
Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and even my tarot deck seems to have love and romance at the centre of everything! That's right, our daily tarot card is The Lovers today, number six of the Major Arcana.
I'll be honest. I've kind of always loved Valentine's Day—largely because my nonna always got my brother and me some fun festive chocolates and whatnot. And I love framing Valentine's Day not just as a day for couples (or metamours, or romantic attachments generally) but as a day to celebrate love in all its forms.
While The Lovers card does tend to suggest romantic love, tarot readers have also historically associated the card with big decisions and lasting consequences. So let's take a closer look at The Lovers as our Card of the Day. It's a heavier card than it seems, and it's an invitation to ask yourself some big questions today.
The Lovers card in the Smith-Waite Centennial tarot deck
A couple days ago, we talked about comparing differences between traditional tarot playing cards, the first divination-focused decks, and contemporary interpretations when we looked at The World card. And it's interesting to look at the history of The Lovers card as well. The Rider-Waite-Smith tarot cards were the first tarot deck made specifically for divination and occult purposes—instead of as ordinary playing cards. And the Smith-Waite Centennial deck that we use for most of our readings here at Witch Hazel Tarot is a version of these cards.
You can see above that in this style of tarot cards, The Lovers are represented as Adam and Eve. We see Eden's apple tree and the tempting serpent (which in some traditions represents knowledge and goodness rather than sin and evil) behind Eve to the left. Similarly, a burning bush stands behind Adam on the right. This symbol also underscores the themes of passion, divine widsom, and consequence that resonate throughout the card. Above, a red-winged angel looks on at the scene below. This figure might remind you of the angel in the Judgement tarot card—though this one seems much more pleased with the mortals below. In the background, a single red mountain rises up from fertile green hills, giving the card some earthy, sexual undertones.
Interestingly, the older playing-card versions of tarot cards featured a more ordinary wedding scene. Instead of an angel, there was a cleric to perform the rites of marriage. And instead of the Old Testament imagery of the first humans and their momentous, fate-altering decisions, there was a bride and groom. Phuture Me has suggested that contemporaries would have understood the wedding scene as representing both love and a weighty decision with an irreversible consequence. So they also suggest that Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman Smith changing the scene to the Adam and Eve image you see above actually emphasized that dual meaning. Their own contemporary audiences in the 1910s would have gotten more of the high-stakes vibes from this scene than the original wedding imagery, since divorce had become more common by then.
In any case, the imagery of The Lovers card goes much deeper than it might seem at first glance. Traditionally, the card is less about the triumph of true love and more about the high stakes that come with pledging your heart to anyone or anything. This challenging card asks you if you're making the right choices when it comes to your deepest convictions and matters of the heart.
Beyond Valentine's Day trinkets
Our daily tarot card is a timely reminder that love is so much more than tokens, gestures, or even affection itself. Love isn't always pleasurable. It isn't always fun. And as we come up on a day that's become a commercialized celebration of superficial pleasures and the performance of connection, The Lovers card invites you to find the authenticity in your passions. It isn't about pairing up or even rejecting the pressure to pair up—today's tarot card meaning is about checking in on your own loyalties and staying true to your heart, even and especially when the stakes are high.
So take some time to ask yourself two questions. Are you actually serving the people and ideals that you've pledged your heart to? And, just as importantly, do the people and causes you do serve actually deserve your devotion?
The Lovers asks you if your heart and your choices really align
Today is a day to dig deep and ask yourself hard questions about living authentically and following your heart. Love is a powerful connection between ourselves and the world. The Lovers says we should honour that power by acting thoughtfully and authentically, staying true to our values through thick and thin.
If you're not really showing up for the people and causes you care about—outside of shallow or performative ways—it's time to start. And if your heart isn't really into the people and causes you do show up for, it's time to ask yourself why. Isn't it time to prioritize what you actually care about? It's not too late.