The Lovers


Love is merely a madness,” quoth the bard.

Marguerite Duras calls it a sudden lapse in the logic of the universe.

There is no greater muse than love.

After God is Love. (Then, after the Lovers, comes War.)

Falling in love is the greatest part about growing up. Though this card is generally considered favorable, it’s not the happy-marriage II of Cups, there is lust and pain inside these two. Is the angel giving their blessing or a warning? Look at Eve’s great sin, her evil phallus, choking the tree of knowledge. And how the bush behind Adam burns like a flaming devil’s tail. (These two do mirror the slaves shackled to the Devil.)

The angel pours down influence as the desire mounts between the two lovers, erupting, as it were, in a sigh of release with the volcano between them. Eve looks to up to the angel, totally ignoring the serpent behind her, because real love is pure. Adam, however, is looking straight at her tits, his branches all ablaze. When pleasure becomes pain. Jouissance!

Anaïs Nin transcribes a letter she received from Henry Miller :: “I want to go places with you –possess you. You don’ t know how insatiable I am. Or how dastardly. And how selfish! I have been on good behavior with you…I love you. I go to bed now – it is too painful to stay awake…I love your cunt, Anaïs – it drives me crazy. And the way you say my name!” In response she then writes, “I felt as if I were reading his most unconscious feelings. I felt all life embracing me, in those words. I felt the supreme challenge to my worship of life, and I wanted to yield, to give myself to all life, which is Henry.


Euphoria. Despair. Hypnosis.

The Lovers’ energy will flip your whole life upside down. Jessa Crispin was the first I saw say that the Lovers is actually a terrible card. She’s not wrong. In this way, the Lovers can act like the Tower. Falling in love will upend your whole life, it can change everything.

It’s everything in Betty Hutton’s lyrics :: It’s Oh So Quiet ::

Murder,” she also sings, “is at the language of love.” She knew.

The Lovers card can launch a thousand ships.

The Lovers is the moment Ariel barks, “But Daddy I love him!

It’s walking on broken glass for a chance just to be near them.

Giving up your voice, maybe even your soul, for a chance.

Condemned, it’s Robin Hood’s, “Marion, my darling, I love you more than life itself.

Love gives Garnet the strength of two.

When the Lovers is good, it’s really good.

But the gods were all terrified of Eros and his ridiculously devastating arrows. In some myths, he’s the naughty but fiercely loyal child of Aphrodite, but in the Orphic Hymns it’s said he came just after Chaos, sprang fully formed from the world’s egg. The fairest among the primordial gods, he had a power unlike any other, the same power Wagner said the ring wielded in absentia. Once pricked with Cupid’s arrow, you were overcome with a wild, frenetic, painful obsession. A love unto death.

Oh, happy dagger!

These love stories often end tragically :: Pyramus and Thisbe. Romeo and Juliet. Tristan and Isolde. Cathy and Heathcliff. (Definitely wrote a piece on Wuthering Heights.) The more star-crossed the lovers, the more enflamed the passion. 

Harry Potter :: “Amortentia is the most powerful love potion in the world. It is distinctive for its mother-of-pearl sheen, and steam rises from the potion in spirals. Amortentia smells different to each person, according to what attracts them.” Charming enough, but remember how Ron acted once he ate Romilda Vane’s spiked Chocolate Cauldrons?

Bambi :: Friend Owl talking to the teenagers: “Yes. Nearly everybody gets twitterpated in the springtime. For example: you’re walking along, minding your own business. You’re looking neither to the left, nor to the right, when all of a sudden, you run smack into a pretty face! Woo-woo! You begin to get weak in the knees. Your head’s in a whirl. And then you feel light as a feather; and before you know it, you’re walking on air. And then you know what? You’re knocked for a loop, and you completely lose your head!” And what does Thumper say? “Gosh, that’s awful.

The lovers’ palms are open, they’re vulnerable, supposedly receptive to the holy spirit. I once read in a body language book that women flash their naked wrists at men they thirst for the same way a beta dog will bare its neck to an alpha. It’s a silent take me that stems from signaling to an other than you’re unarmed and come in peace.

Waite describes this card as youth, virginity, and innocence. Love before lust contaminates, he says.

Riiiight, I say.

A most befuddling thing,” Merlin calls the Lovers. “I’m afraid magic can’t solve this problem.”

Love, more powerful than magic.

This is Voldemort unable to endure Harry Potter’s touch because of a love :: a mother’s love, coating, protecting the child, her last spell. Voldemort will always be weaker because he lacks love. (Though it is fun to ship him and Bellatrix.)

Mortitia Addams :: “Last night you were unhinged. You were like some desperate, howling demon. You frightened me. Do it again!

Remember that grand high school distinction? You either loved someone or you were in love with them. The latter was painful, it was ideal. The former was cause for a break-up, because you want your love to set the world on fire, not pick you your parents up from the airport.

Mortitia and Gomez Addams and their perpetual honeymoon are a delightful exception to the boring married couples trope, but that’s also because they themselves are never boring.

It is nearly impossible to write about love, everything comes out all cliché and hollow. You can never get the amorous object quite right: s/he comes off flat, wooden, not at all like the divine creature before you.

The language of the Image-repertoire would be precisely the utopia of language,” Roland Barthes said. He knew. “A Lover’s Discourse, an experience, a subversion. To try to write love is to confront the muck of language: that region of hysteria where language is both too much and too little, excessive.” He wanted the book to be an exerperience, not a lyrical romp, but he held love in his hand, he turned it over and over, caressing, fondling, transcribing, and you, reader, fondle it too. You roll what he’s saying around in your mouth and think, Yes, I know this. Yes. Philosophical poetry.

Such is love’s wound: a radical chasm (at the “roots” of being), which cannot be closed, and out of which the subject drains, constituting himself as a subject [only] in this very draining.” (Barthes)

Love hurts, it fucking sucks because it’s is the greatest thing in the whole world. When Eris tossed her Apple of Discord, Paris was forced to answer which goddess was the fairest of them all. Hera bribed him with a kingdom, Athena promised he’d be a war hero, but Aphrodite offered Helen, queen of Sparta, the hottest piece of ass this side of the Styx. Paris chose Aphrodite because of course he did and thus the Trojan War. A metaphor.

If you’re lucky, there’s a danger in your love.

(Another kind of lucky if there’s not.)


The Book of Symbols; Reflections on Archetypal Images. ✨Bambi. ✨ The Addams Family. A Lover’s Discourse. Roland Barthes.

Writing Exercises

Pull cards until you get two characters you’d like to fall in love. Write a story about your lovers. How they met, how their relationship’s doomed, how they’ve changed each other.

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