The Lovers and the Mystery of Sex


Though Waite's dances around it, it seems to me this card is sexual from beginning to end, i.e. sacred sexuality. The scene is the Garden of Eden, but the Empress is that which deals directly with the symbolism of the Garden of Eden; the Lovers is sexuality. It seems so obvious now; others may have figured it out long ago but sometimes I'm a little slow to the party. :)

The symbolism is indeed deep and much can be discovered in Waite's The Secret Doctine in Israel, Chapter 17, "The Mystery of Sex." The same material is in his The Holy Kabbalah. Another clue is in Waite's statement in the Pictorial Key, "This is in all simplicity the card of human love, here exhibited as part of the way, the truth and the life." "Human love" is Waite's code for sexual intercourse within the context of marriage. "Part of the way, the truth and the life" expresses its holiness. Waite also states, "In a very high sense, the card is a mystery of the Covenant and Sabbath." "Covenant and Sabbath" are part of the Mystery of Sex, or, the Mystery of Faith as it's also called in the Zohar.

In Waite's Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, the Lovers card is actually referred to as Marriage and in the Pictorial Key he also refers to marriage: "It replaces, by recourse to first principles, the old card of marriage. . ." It doesn't symbolize external marriage only, but the inner spiritual realities on which earthly marriages are based. In the FRC he explains this a little more explicitly:

"Beneath the Banner of the Middle Path is a symbol representing marriage. . . .and it is this which you see before you, the wedlock of the soul and the Christ natures, under the wings of Shekinah. The ascent into Union by way of the Middle Pillar is the path to your own marriage."​

The "marriage" is a marriage of the soul and Christ-Spirit. In this image, the Great Symbol is on the path where Waite has it, between Tiphareth and Yesod. Yesod represents human sexuality and Waite leaves no doubt that that's how he viewed it. The Great Symbol represents a "higher" or more sacred aspect of sex, and I believe this is also what Waite has illustrated in the RWS Lovers.

In the quote above, Waite refers to the path of marriage as an "ascent into Union by way of the Middle Pillar." That same path is referred to in the FRC Portal Ritual as a path of regeneration and rebirth into the Christ-Life. Waite makes an interesting statement in his description of the Great Symbol of Marriage:

"He who has attained to this state of regeneration in God shall draw, my Brother, all parts of his personality into the redemption of the higher nature. He shall raise up his fallen Sephiroth, including Malkuth."​

This makes me look a little differently at the mountain in the background of the RWS Lovers which appears to be rising toward heaven. Part of the Mystery of Sex which Waite describes in the Secret Doctrine involves the union of heaven and earth; it is more therefore than simply human sexual intercourse, it involves nothing less than the redemption of mankind and the earth.