Tarot & Love: A Changing Perspective

Tarot & Love: A Changing Perspective


The older I've got - and the more I've worked with tarot - the more ... antsy I feel when the "good" cards come up in a reading. Antsy. Niggly. Squirrelly. Existentially brrrrrrrrrrrrr!

I'm thinking back to the early 2000s and my first foray into tarot, and how I felt when I encountered the Two of Cups. It was like a tiny shot of dopamine. Ohhhh! The promise. Ahhhhh! The possibilities! Mmmmmmmm! A handsome stranger.

The reason for this cynical "Hmmmm" is simple: no card can deliver the promise dreamed up by my own fantasies. Not anymore.

A part of me - the 23-year-old part of me - reads this and thinks: "Urgh!"

Bless her. No wonder! Because it's shit - that moment when you realise that not only is the tarot never going to deal you the cards you want to hold; life isn't going to either. You know too much. You see too much. Interpretations are no longer one-dimensional, straightforward.

A life lived fully means that the lived experience of each archetypal situation in a card is an exercise in contradiction and complexity.

True love doesn't exist in the tarot, because it doesn't exist in real life. Not in one card, anyway. True love exists, yes: but it exists in all the cards. So you want the Two of Cups? I'll raise you the "Five of Wands". You want "The Lovers"? I'll raise you "The Devil". Deal with those along with the good stuff and then you're learning to contend with another person as they are. (And, during this process, you may realise they are not the person for you, and you are well within your rights to call it a day. Whenever you want. For whatever reason you want. As are they.)

There is no one card without the others; nothing exists in isolation. I used to be able to cubby-hole romance off into a neat little tall-dark-handsome package in my 20-something dreams (even my 40-something dreams a few years ago), but tarot taught me that any one of 78 cards is waiting to inhabit the vacuum created by my anticipation, and it really wasn't interested in pandering to my romantic desires.

So the Two of Cups now is tempered in the most literal sense of the word: it has been heated, re-heated, and cooled. I'm thankful that, as a Cups card, it can call on the essential waters of its suit to do this cooling. In this way, it becomes more of its element. The Lovers feels incomplete without The Devil. I know they go hand in hand. How can you know what freedom is if you have no idea what it's like to be in servitude to something, or someone, else?

Nothing has meaning without its opposite, including Temperance itself.

We need to know imbalance before we understand balance.

So if you can relate to what I've written here, or if you cannot relate to what I've written here, guess what? You're both in exactly the right place.