What have we here? Two lovers, two cups, and one large step into the adventure of the unknown. There’s magic afoot – and it’s magic of the amorous kind; a watery, feeling-drenched alchemy of the meeting of two souls, and a shift that springs from it.
Let’s start at the left of the reading, with The Lovers. The first card in the tarot’s Major Arcana (the 22 soul-based archetypes) that features humans, The Lovers speaks of the divine descent into matter, and the alchemical meeting of opposites.
And here, opposites definitely attract.
In her description of The Lovers in her book on the Haindl Tarot’s Major Arcana, Rachel Pollack refers to the idea of the meeting of fire and water. The spear in the card – fire – is thrust into the cup – water – and in that erotic symbolism is described the energy that envelopes and radiates from The Lovers. It is smokin-steamy hot!
This is the energy of coming together – yes, in all senses.
It’s the energy of celebration of what it is to be in our bodies.
It’s the energy of the meeting of minds, hearts, and all else besides.
It is the cartomancy equivalent of a fertility rite, where two vital ingredients are born and mixed in an observance of life itself – and of the life-force that springs from their union.
It’s also a card that implies choice: to stand opposite another and to feel the field created by the crackles and sparks of connectedness means to choose this particular dance partner, in this particular moment, over anyone else.
There is no room for three here, though a third element will surely be born – whether physically, spiritually, emotionally, creatively. You’re looking at sexual alchemy, but where sex is married to spirit and matter: the hieros gamos – the sacred marriage – performed in the realm of the profane. Both lovers are lifted up and beyond the everyday, while the divine is simultaneously grounded in physicality.
The ecstasy of spirit and sweat.
But while The Lovers is an archetype and so is experienced as something like the swell of an oceanic surge that moves body, mind, and heart – never fully captured, never completely understood – there is at the centre of the reading a card that brings The Lovers into a clearer focus in your day-to-day life. The Two of Cups is a Minor Arcana card, so it takes that surge and forms it into something you can see and touch: the moment where the surge becomes a wave that connects with the shore; the moment when The Lovers connects with your life.
Cups are associated with feelings and with the unconscious (whose presence in your life is often signalled by feelings), and most fundamentally with love. The card that comes before the Two of Cups – the Ace of Cups – describes the kind of love that is simply there. It asks nothing; it wants nothing. It defies description because it is without limits. It is a wellspring of indescribable beauty that is available to you as a force that moves through you. Not from you. Through you. It is impersonal in that it doesn’t pick anything or anyone out for special favours. We would call it ‘unconditional love’.
The Two of Cups is what happens in your life when that limitless love becomes directed like a laser at someone else. Boom! Your heart somersaults; the sun emerges from behind the clouds; you start smiling a whole lot more often. You and your lover are enveloped in a bubble where beauty reigns supreme. You are both symmetrical, aligned.
Yet, in designing the Two of Cups as he did, Hermann Haindl had something more to say about love between intimates. Because if you are looking at The Lovers and the Two of Cups and you find its relevance in your life, you are also being asked to apply what you are experiencing. There is a reason you are here, now, feeling these feelings, red-hot in your urge to merge.
You are here to create something. This is that third thing that I was referring to when writing about The Lovers, above.
Love is a force. You can use it. You can work together, or you can work independently. What is it that is calling you? Is there something that’s moving you beyond your tryst and into a wider sphere of (pro)creativity? Steam can be harnessed to great effect. It can further your journey together, it can further endeavours that involve just you, both of you, others, the world. None of these is more or less important in and of itself. What’s important is the one that you can do – where desire and skills meet opportunity.
This is healing work, one way or the other: The Fool, as the third card in the reading, is holding his finger up to a wound in the breast of the swan behind him. Love as a devotion to the tending to wounds – personal and collective – is what’s being offered to you in this moment. It is what you can step into, and in truth the journey has already started in the meeting of another, of a lover.
The Fool is the moment that we dare to risk stepping into the unknown, without map or compass – and in doing this we are seeking a way to greater wholeness.
This particular adventure is fuelled by deep passion, intimacy, and also love that has the ability to make something of itself. But first it asks for your willingness to strike out into new territory – whether the inner territory of your heart, or the outer territory of your world, or both. This adventure has the potential for deep transformation.
The catch is that you don’t get to control the path. The Fool, corresponding with Uranus in astrology, is nothing if not electrically unpredictable. It is the idiosyncrasy of throwing out the rule book and trusting – surrendering – to a revolutionary force. Not necessarily rebellious. Revolutionary. And we’ve all seen that meme: re-LOVE-utionary.
What you have, though, is steam – that heady, powerful, expansive meeting of two substances. And love. Where will they take you? What will you do? And who will you be?
And if there is no significant other in your life?
Look in a mirror. Take a few minutes. Really – take a few minutes. Look into the eyes that are looking at you; look at that body, without shame. Now come back and read this as if you were still looking in that mirror. Because that energy, that buzz, that pulsating phwoarrrrr! That one? If it doesn’t start with you, there is no traction to carry it forward.
Whatever your circumstances, whoever is or is not there, let it begin, right here, right now.
Astrology Correspondences: The Lovers (Gemini), Two of Cups (Venus in Cancer), The Fool (Uranus)