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Margarete Petersen - The Lovers

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joya250  joya250 is offline
Join Date: 07 Aug 2001
Location: Maine
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hi. I'm back. I'm beginning to appreciate this card more. The more I study it, the more I am starting to see. I also really like her interpretations -- "Discarding Identities" "Seeing, thinking, hearing double" "Doubts" "Two-ness" etc., etc.

Traditionally I think of the lovers as just that, Lovers. A couple. A relationship. But her meaning opens it more to just that traditional view of man and woman. It is two Beings, recognizing Each Other and Themselves, what they are, what they are not. The discarding of identities, as she says. It is a safe place, gentle. A place of realness. A place where two become one, but only after seeing the "oneness" of their own self and the "oneness" of the other. It is a place of uncertainty, of "doubts" as she writes, because of the depth of revelation and the tentativeness to reveal. You have to be willing to see all parts of the other, both the positive and the negative. And, even harder still, you need to see that in yourself as well. One has to be careful who they choose to mix their energies with. Who they choose to reveal themselves to. "Cautious encounter of opposites" she writes. The duality and the wholeness -- all swirled up.

I kept being drawn back to that red line on the lower left of the card. It seemed to be... something... then I realized: It is a leg, actually, there is an image of two legs, spread open, as though in the position to give birth. Although in this situation, I do not think it directly relates to "giving birth" (as the creative potential of the Empress might be), but rather an illustration of the depth of trust and revelation possible within the atmosphere of this card. Either man or woman, I don't know, it could be either... but it is someone revealing themselves -- at their most vulnerable and open. Now, I know I'm not crazy... cause I definitely see it... but, does anybody else see this image too?? The snake is positioned in the middle of the legs. See it? See it?

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firemaiden  firemaiden is offline
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Jeepers, how did I miss this post? Amazing Joya, yes I see it. Keep sharing with us what you see!
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Moongold  Moongold is offline
Join Date: 08 Jun 2002
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This card initially disturbed me. The Soul looking out from the mirror is dark. Perhaps representing shadow, the murky, uncertain side of duality. Duality must always be uncertain . The dark shadow holds a hand to the mirror. Imprinted on the hand is what appears to me to be a heart. This could either be a stigmata or simply a heart. Either could have different meanings. Perhaps it is both?

Another face emerges from the flames but it took some time to see it., so engrossing did I find the shadow. I don’t get the sense that this second face is part of the dark Soul. They seem to be separate but the hand is similar to the first, only encased in flame. A serpent divides the Soul as light and dark.

Two dark feet can be seen in the lower two corners of the image but they do not seem to be sitting comfortably in relation to the main image. Nor do they appear to belong to a partner in coitus .

At the moment this image seems to represent the internal struggle of the Soul for integration. In the immediate sense, the struggle simply for balance. On the one hand it could be a good representation of splitting. On the other it could be the coming together of Soul and Shadow.

The encouraging thing is that the Soul is daring to look at itself and to hold the gaze despite the confusion and the seeming chaos.

Another wa of looking at this is as witnessing the birth of the Soul with its duality, confusion, sexuality, humanity. The serpent is present at the birth of humanity. It fits with one version of the Rainbow Serpent myth. Perhaps also with the story of Adam and Eve.
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firemaiden  firemaiden is offline
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Originally posted by Moongold
Another way of looking at this is as witnessing the birth of the Soul with its duality, confusion, sexuality, humanity. The serpent is present at the birth of humanity. It fits with one version of the Rainbow Serpent myth. Perhaps also with the story of Adam and Eve.
Interesting! So we can see this card as two people becoming one, or one person becoming two!
Top   #14
Moongold  Moongold is offline
Join Date: 08 Jun 2002
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. I don't know whether Margarete Petersen is a Jungian and it does not really matter. I have an imperfect understanding of Jung myself but I am interested in the ambivalence, duality of the human psyche.

I think we are are perhaps born with this and life is about drawing the pieces back together or recreating the soul. Individuation. I think there are parallel processes. We have to do this individually and in connection with others. Duality is different from fragmentation, however. Duality is inherent at birth. Fragmentation is illness.

This card first disturbed me but then I found myself in tears. It is one of Petersen's most evocative images. It is about duality, ambivalence more than illness. The flames and the light are such strong indications of the energy and uncertainty of the process of individuation and relationship. The excitement too.

I am fasciinated also by the the markings on the hands. The dark hand holds something gold and heart shaped whilst the other has a scar or hollow. What does this mean?

Something else about this image has just occurred to me. There could be something almost primal about the stance of the figure - as early man may have stood on four legs. In some ways this signifies the really deep primal energies that we all have and that are not so far beneath the surface in us individually or collectively.
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greycats  greycats is offline
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Mirrored confusion

MP speaks of "bared souls looking at each other as mirrors," and the confusion that results. I love mirror stuff; let me see what I can do with the two vertical arcs of light that seem to bracket the central figure. These arcs remind me of fun-house mirrors.

Outside of the brackets are imprints of a hand and a foot, 1 each donated by each of the lovers. Color-wise, these seem to be opposing each other. Or they were reversed by the mirrors? Yes, I think they were: "double confusion." (One of those feet, incidentally, has walked a labyrinth and has come away with the impression on the ball of the white foot--foot mirroring a maze) Old snake-skin is the only link between these opposite parts. Still, this black-white pair of hands-feet look very real. I think I've seen them before when we were painting the living room. So, I'd argue that they're prints, "mirrors" of the actual hands and feet, but whether they are or not, they're quite visible and quite mixed up.

There's another set of feet (and hands as well) that is hard to see because its members are translucent. Well, the feet are, anyway. If you follow the curve of the leg on your left, (and there's a faint, reddish line to help you) outward and downward toward the white footprint, you can see that just before it dives under the heel of the white footprint, it, itself, becomes a foot. The toe of this ghostly foot goes under the white heelprint and the translucent heel touches the serpent. The leg on the right is harder to follow, but it ends on the instep of the black foot--the transparent heel crosses the black foot's instep just above the black heel.

This second pair of feet is hard to see, but the feet are attached to legs which are in anatomically relaxed positions, and they seem to belong to one being. The hands, one tan & one white, are joined above the head--well, the heads, actually--of the being and of the snake.

The point of all these observations: inside the arcs is clarity and organic wholeness. Differences are present, but are minimized. The combined face that looks out at us is serene. Outside the arcs is confusion (black hand, white foot, etc.) possibly pain (the object in the black hand, the hollow in the white hand) and dead skin instead of the reborn serpent. The being created by the lovers is harder for us to see, but in fact it is more real than the confusing parts of a pair that are a lot easier visually to make out.

It's pretty much what the translation indicates about the two states: two-ness vs the emergent blossom, surface vs. the inside.

Neat details:
The snake makes a ying yang design

There's a cup on the serpent's bottom coil--lover's cup?

Twilight: a time of vagueness and uncertainty but also a time when one sees by two lights--from the sun newly set and from the stars and/or the moon(with the obvious correspondences).

This trick doesn't work out as well in German because you can't get ein from Zweiheit, but in English you can get one out of twONEss.
Neat work by the translator.
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MagpieRose  MagpieRose is offline
Join Date: 06 Aug 2013
Location: Cornwall, UK
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I have been looking at this card and there were a few things I wanted to bring to the discussion.

Firstly I wanted to bring some of the shamanic perspective. The two faces are the same person, it shows their shadow, the parts of us we have rejected or lost. In order to be whole, in order to truly love ourselves as a complete person we need to bring all those pieces back together. The process of digging down into yourself, of dealing with such issues is like peeling layers of an onion, and discarding identities, to reach the true you, which contains the entire you. This is the greatest act of love, to unconditionally love yourself, all of you, to bring yourself into balance and stop perceiving yourself through the filters of good and bad. This is a beautiful thing.

Secondly, the snake rising up the spine immediately made me think of Kundalini energy as I knew that it was also known as Serpent energy and it rises up the spine from it’s base. I found this on wikipedia ( and it seems that before it rises up the spine the snake is seen as resting in three and a half coils and I see these coils in the turns of the snake. It also seems to be connected with triangles and there are plenty of these in the borders of this card.

“Sri Ramana Maharshi mentioned that the kundalini energy is nothing but the natural energy of the Self, where Self is the universal consciousness (Paramatma) present in every being, and that the individual mind of thoughts cloaks this natural energy from unadulterated expression.” From Wikipedia

So it seems to me that this card is suggesting that by unifying ourselves and loving ourself fully and unconditionally, we can release the serpent energy, Kundalini within ourselves.

The marks on the hands made me think of hearts and the heart in an open palm is a symbol of charity – ‘put your hands to work and your hearts to God’. “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” – Mother Teresa. “In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.” Flora Edwards

Many people believe that the heart is connected to the hands. Writing is one such way and Julia Cameron has a practice of writing called Morning Pages to connect to your deepest thoughts. Touch Therapy can use the hands as a way of delivering energy to the heart. The ring finger was once believed to have a vein of blood that connected it directly to the heart.

I like the idea that the markings on the feet are imprints of a maze. I looked up the meaning of mazes and found this on wikipedia again ( In medieval times the labyrinth symbolised the hard path to God. Some see them as a form of pilgrammage and many modern labyrinths are used as a form of meditation. To me the labyrinth is a symbol of walking the path to our inner selves, our spirit and a tool for doing so as well.

I believe the position of the central figure might be the Garland Pose in yoga ( . Apparently it is a relieving pose with the intestines in the best possible position to release waste and it is also a good position for back pain. So it links to both releasing shadow and the serpent energy up the spine I think. Apparently it is also good for correcting imbalances after intense twists.

In reverse, I can see the two kneeling figures and they look to me like they are in contemplation, praying or meditating and there is a big egg of energy with the snake trapped inside. I guess to me this card in reverse shows the soul as two separate entities and disempowered as neither figure is connected to the egg of power or the serpent within it. The two figures now have mazes on them and I see this as showing that the maze is internal at this point in the journey – to get further the maze within us needs to be transversed, to bring the two figures together as one, in true love.

The two hands at the bottom in this position appear to be offering and I see the hearts now as pyramids. Pyramids are not only tombs for the dead but as seen as symbols of ascension, climbing their steep sides takes us towards towards reintegration, firstly with ourselves and then with everything…

I have just recently discovered this deck and I am really looking forward to exploring more of the cards in depth. This is my first one!
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