Shadowscapes Study: Lovers



In one of the oldest tales, there is the Choice: knowledge and fulfillment of worldly senses, or the simplicity of an ever-present Now.

To be drawn into an embrace, to seek that union that all souls ache for and desire, to know the One-ness of passion and love, and to revel in it. Their eyes are open, but they gaze only at each other, oblivious to the sun that goes on turning above them, and the gaze of the heavens. Neither crown of kings, nor crown of peasants grace their brows, for the forces gathering around them make no such distinctions; and indeed their own senses have no awareness of such either.

Take this seed, he says to her, placing an acorn in her palm. Water it with the fount of your spirit and your intentions.

And we shall see what grows of that, she replies.

Meaning: Union, balance, energy, flow, passion, melding of heart and mind, forming a union or marriage. Though it can be romantic in nature, it is not necessarily so. The lovers is also about determining values and struggling with choices -- the innocence embodied in the turtledoves is a contrast to the shiny red apple in the embrace of the snake, one of the oldest symbols of temptation.


This is a beautiful portrayal of The Lovers. Two doves carry a tiara with a red ribbon. The sun is now an emblem on the wall behind the lovers and at their feet is the snake and the apple. There is another emblem on the wall, from Stephanie's major arcana book:

Etched into the wall in the background, a Celtic triskelion (a symbol of the cycles of life, honor, and fortitude) woven of acorns. From such humble little seeds, the potential to sprout into towering giants of the forest!


I LOVE this card. I think it's one of the most beautiful and tender versions of the card I've seen.


The 'fairy folk' (whatever generic name they should have) on the rock don't look very happy. The green background makes it a very earthy card, and they are both grounded, but does the ground they are standing on represent the good times (flowers, heart) & the bad (temptation - snake & apple, & unhappy fairy folk)? Perhaps it is telling us that although things may seem rosy on the surface, when we look at a situation closer, we still have to work hard to overcome everyday obstacles. We also need to ensure that any relationship is built on solid foundations & we are not blinded by flights of fancy or temptation. Are we in love with the idea of being 'in love' or are we fully grounded in reality, ready for the inevitable ups & downs that life life throws at us? The heart is within reach (if we actively look for it), but we need to overcome the temptations in the way before we can capture it - it's not simply handed to us on a plate.
This is not a negative view, just one that warns to take off the rose tinted spectacles & be prepared for ups & downs, which in the long term make any relationship stronger. We need the valleys to be able to see the mountains.


I love this card :D It's my birth card!

Stephanie comments that they're neither crowned like kings (the golden tiara) or peasants (the flower wreath), but such distinctions are so close at hand.... :laugh: There are some very curious things are easy to miss in this card as well:

- The white border of the stained glass sun is actually lots of little people, tangled up in each other.
- The man kisses with his eyes open, with a curious expression on his face.
- The woman embraces the man with her left arm, but she extends her left hand beyond him... almost as if she's reaching for the Crown of Kings (even though she already holds the Crown of Peasants in her right hand behind her).


There is so much going on in this card. At first glance everything is so simple but the deeper you look, the more complicated things get. There are definitely aspects from both Empress and Emperor here, lots of sensual, colorful flowers, and a strong earthy solid background. Control of oneself is the lesson here, even in the light of the sun, things can get out of hand. Even massive sturdy things, like kingdoms, can be destroyed with emotions and things like love, notice how the roses switch from being colorful real things, to being chiseled into the walls, sometimes surrounded by cracks. Is this feeling real, or is it an illusion? There's a story to be told here, I hadn't noticed before the open eyes of the man, he wants to see the truth, he also wears the sun on his clasp and carries a lily in his hand. He is the pure seeker here, in my opinion. The girl on the other hand is dressed in purple, with stars under her dress, grasping one crown, seeking another...her motives here are less clear.... :p But I don't wanna run too many Adam/Eve parallels here, there's always more than meets the eye. :D


I appreciate all the details that people have called in this card. It's a beautiful scene, but there are little dissonances all around. It bodes ill for the lovers that there are so many unequal pairs of things.

- Two red hearts: one is a classic heart emblem, the other is a red apple offered by a snake.

- Two suns: one is stained glass, the other is worn as a pin.

- Two crowns: one is durable metal, the other is a short-lived crown of flowers.

As sagefire points out, we see two kinds of flowers: some real, some images etched in stone.

The message I take from these is that choices are tricky, and our hearts and senses can be misled. Things often aren't quite what they seem to be.

The sun is off-center in the stained glass: it could be rising or falling, but it's not the eternal noon of the iconic sun emblem.

A line of mortar traces around one side of the triskelion, but not the other side. It's subtly off balance, favoring one side over the other.


This is what I posted on my blog today about The Lovers in this deck:

The Lovers is not one of my favorite cards. I have relationship issues, and I have Gemini issues. And my Gemini issues are related to my relationship issues. Oddly, even though I have relationship issues, I’m really good at reading for relationships. Or maybe it’s because I’ve got relationship issues that I’m so good at reading for relationships! Either way, I get a lot of people coming to me about relationship issues!

Tarot cards have Astrological associations, and The Lovers is associated with Gemini (thus my mentioning my relationship related Gemini issues ). I’ve never really studied Astrology in depth; it’s just not quite my thing, but I know some basics. Like Gemini is The Twins, and representative of being of two minds, having to make decisions, etc. So this card isn’t always about relationships. Though I don’t think you’d know that looking at this particular rendition of The Lovers!

Looking at this card, I think, “Wedding kiss…” It’s what it looks like. The doves, with the ribbon and crown, the passionate embrace, all the flowers… it’s all there. Right? But maybe, just maybe it isn’t a wedding embrace. There’s that snake, holding that apple. Adam and Eve? Temptation and loss of innocence anyone? And those little stone-looking fae there? They don’t look quite so innocent! The Fae, Faeries, Fairies, The Fair Ones, The Wee Folk, The Sidhe. However you name them, they aren’t all innocence and Tinkerbell (even though Tinkerbell rocks!). Oh, no. Read the mythology, the stories, the folk tales, and you’ll discover the Fae are anything but innocent. Tricksters they can be, and they’ll happily tempt you to your doom, laughing all the way if you aren’t careful.

I have to admit, in spite of my relationship issues, this is a beautiful card, as all the cards in this deck are. It’s quite thought-provoking indeed. For instance, I look at his face, while he’s kissing her, and I realize his eyes aren’t closed! Who kisses with their eyes open? Not me LOL Unless I really want to look deeply in his eyes while I’m kissing him. But is this guy looking into her eyes? Maybe. Maybe not. I think that will be one of those details that “change” from reading to reading. Not that the image actually physically changes, but that my perception changes as intuition is picking things up. Perhaps he adores her and is watching her face as he shares his adoration through a kiss. Or perhaps he’s thinking about someone else. Or maybe he’s keeping an eye out so he doesn’t get caught by someone else!

The Lovers… the new reader sees this card and often thinks, “Oh, I’m so excited! A new relationship is coming!” Forgetting that this card is duplicitous, much as it’s sign, Gemini, is. Yes, perhaps there is a new relationship coming. With a guy who’s already married and is just looking for the thrill of an affair. Love can be wonderful and pure; those Lilies do symbolize purity after all. But love can just as often be tragic. Romeo and Juliet anyone? It can be destructive, too. Ever hear about Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot? The love that destroyed a kingdom?

But while I see tragedy in this card, I also see abundance, and the hope for growth. On the background is an emblem, a symbol, entwined leaves and acorns. Symbols of birth and growth, of new life. The Sun shines on these two Lovers; perhaps an indication that all will be revealed eventually; your good deeds and your bad. For now, they embrace, they love, the radiate with the pure passion that they feel for each other. What comes will come; but for now, they are living in the moment.


Looking at this card, the lovers kissing is the first thing I see, of course. He's in white with a sun pinning his cloak. She's in purple with stars sprinkling the hem of her dress. Sun and moon, day and night. But while she's holding a circlet of flowers (similar to the one the Empress was holding?) he's holding a lily. A flower wreath emblematic of sunshine and summer and bounty of life is in the hands of night, while a white lily (an Easter lily?) which is emblematic not only of weddings but is also the flower of funerals--eternal sleep--is in the hands of daytime sunshine. Role reversals, yin/yang, the traditional exchange of symbolic gifts between bride and groom, giving each other the best of yourselves?

Their eyes are open, but as Stephanie states in her description they don't see anything around them. They only have eyes for each other. A cautionary point, exhorting us to see our choices clearly?

Of the three large fae folk only one is awake; the other two sleep. The one that's awake offers up the apple of temptation and passion while gazing up at them, and a snake (*the* Original Snake, I assume) coils around her arm and the apple in a shape reminding me also of the snake on the rod of Asclepius.

A heart beats encased in stone. Of all the roses, only one orange rose (meaning: desire, enthusiasm, passion, excitement, fervent romance) is fresh. The others are all carved into the stone wall. Institutionalized love, solidification of relationships.

The other plants at their feet are ivy and calla lilies. Ivy symbolic of marriage and calla lilies symbolic not only of "magnificent beauty" but also of either purity and chastity (Christian) or alternately, with its phallic appearance, lust and sexuality (the Romans). Calla lilies are associated with the 6th wedding anniversary. They are also associated with death and are particularly associated with the deaths and funerals of those who've passed while still young. Many symbols pointing to the Devil and Death cards here.

~Oops, accidentally hit 'post'~

ETA just a couple more notes: the stained glass sun reminds me of the High Priestess's nimbus of hair but no thoughts on the significance yet...Three gray feathers fall from the doves. Perhaps the shades of gray which must be considered in a decision. I've noticed in on some of the other cards where judgements feature strongly, wings are black and white, or rather "black or white"...And the carved acorns are connected to the partial outline of the stained glass sun. The triskelion of seeds needs the sun--nurturing--to grow to their full potential.


Stephanie may have said the figures only have eyes for each other. However I believe there's more going on with the "gazes", as many of you already stated. I just want to contribute a comparison between this art and the Pamela Coleman Smith's art for the lovers. Smith had a woman and man at a distance from each other with an angel up above. The man is looking at the woman. The woman is looking up at the angel. The angel is looking down at them.

These "gazes" are retained in the Shadowscapes deck with the man looking at the woman. We can't see the eyes of the woman but it can be inferred that she is looking up at the doves (the same symbolic presence of the angel) with her arm outstretched towards them. The doves flying down and offering this golden tiara is looking down at the lovers. And so we complete the triangle of gazes.