Oh yes, says my friend, I can see it.
His long white hair tied into a bun, he smells of spices and marijuana, and his old eyes are like two fox cubs - you can get a glimpse of them, but they never stay still for a long time. We are in his living room - or his Tarot reading room, sitting on oversized red cushions on the floor and sipping tea. The house used to be the village's school in the early 1900s and was a wealthy family's home a century before. The walls have secrets, and the gardens are separated from the river by an old stone wall where I like to sit in the Summer while listening to music or after our outdoor martial art training.
On a golden tray found in the souk in Morocco years ago, the card stares at me: The Lovers.
I am full of hope. The Lovers is such an auspicious card.
But I also know better.
No tarot card stands on its own, not one of them is really about something that happens on the outside, and this card is definitely an invitation to an inner voyage. This long-awaited Lovers image, this union, has to first find form inside of me. I know it all starts with the leap into the unknown, that journey of the Fool, with innocent joy and an optimistic thirst for newness. And with the tools he carries in his bag, walking with a trusted non-human companion.
I also know that there are only three cards where a couple appears in the Tarot, a fact that I should be aware of as I embark into this new phase of my life.
It starts with the Lovers, the inner marriage, a first culminating point in knowledge of the self, the union of the inner masculine and inner feminine. The Lovers card asks us to have experienced the magic of life, met the high figures of authority - inner authority that is - before we think of seeking union with another part of ourselves and before communion with another being can happen. But at some point, the second of the three cards featuring a couple will come: after we tamed a lion and understood the gifts of solitude, after the cycles of life's seasons, and after we learned to turn ourselves upside-down, allowing our ego to be hanged in order to gain a new perspective.
We see the Lovers again on the sixteenth card of the Tarot: the Devil. They have changed. They are still naked, but they now carry chains around their neck, linked not to each other but a closed door. They are chained to something static, anchored, and solid, which does not move or grow. They have bound themselves to old beliefs; the chain links made of expectations and projections built over the years. They started in nature and are now in a confined, dark, crowded space, with a demon that guards the door, sitting on top of it.
Looking for recognition from the outside, instead of nurturing their true nature, they have built their own prison. Let's not forget that both of them live inside us; the lovers represent parts of our internal landscape. At this point of the journey, they are shackled by compromises that have prevented them from developing their own way of living. A loss of freedom on a profoundly personal level.
And it is directly from that place that appears the third card: the Tower. The tower they built on miscommunication and past-oriented beliefs.
They were not able to open the door guarded by the demon of Shadow, and were consumed internally by the restrictions, lack of movement, and growth. We witness our Lovers now saving their lives by jumping out of the crumbling Tower on fire. They leave behind what they have known as a safe place, which has become a home for constraint. Illusions are shattered, and it is only together that they can die to be born again.
In the dark living room of the old house, the cards talk to me. There is union in my future, a journey inside my being that will lead me to the Stars, the Sun, and the Moon, and eventually will give me the World. And then I will go back at the beginning and start again. Thus are the cycles of life. The Lovers will appear again: a new part of myself coming to light, asking for me to explore, to learn what she is about, to discover myself new. We will see what we can build together, and most likely, we'll get ourselves in a too narrow environment. We'll have to find a way to get free if we want to fully express the fruits of our partnership. Our Tower will be struck by lightning, something of great power that we did not see coming, a situation or a turn of events that will eventually be liberating. If we dare to jump together. I left parts of me in the Tower before and eventually had to retrace my steps to rescue them. A painful process but a rewarding and humbling one.
Such is the path to wholeness: high towers and crumbled stones, trails of back and forth, patterns made of circles and spirals, and always - always, depth.
- Tarot cards from the Universal Waite Tarot Deck. Drawings by Pamela Colman Smith.
All stories link to our own golden threads, a source of understanding, insights, comprehension, and a portal to our own Mundus Imaginalis (world of the imaginary).
Take time to sit with the story, let it unravel within you, feed it space and time.
Feel free to travel with one or all the exploratory questions below, or follow your own path if one appears clearly.
As always with deep inquiries, give yourself plenty of time and space to process. Observe synchronicities, stay nourished and invite soft nurturing in your days.
Where are you in this story?
What image, smell, taste, sensation has a particular resonance for you - stay there, observe your own presence in that place, where it resonates in your body, what it connects you to in your own personal book of stories.
See The Devil as the card of the Shadow. What do you learn when you are there, in the darkest place of the unconscious, of what is repressed and denied? - This exploration is usually easier when done in retrospective. Think of a time when you were directly in contact with the Shadow, before the Tower crumbled. What lessons can be gleaned from that place and time?
Can you think of parts of yourself that you have left in the Tower?
- This is an exploration outside of judgment. By definition, this part of yourself is still available to you. You can go anytime to get her out of the Tower, whenever you are ready to.
What makes the Tower a place of constraints and narrowness for you, now?
- Try to do free-writing associations about this. Start with one word and let others follow. No phrases or stories, just one word after the other.