Adjusting for the Evolution of the Tarot Symbols When Reading

What is the practical effect of analyzing and tracking the choices of symbols within a deck as far as helping a reader interpret the cards presented to him as he or she sits at the table with the querent? We compare five illustrations of The Lovers—Eteilla, Marseille, RWS, Tarot of Dreams and Deviant Moon. We find that the older decks have a component of societal approval of the marriage contract that the newer decks do not. We conclude that the key takeaway of The Lovers is something more complicated than just a single word description of “choice.” I conclude that the key is “commitment to a choice made.” Perhaps more importantly, I find that the Lovers may be kind of a touchstone card. When doing a reading having anything to do with family or intimacy, perhaps it is wise to gauge the querent’s connection to family. If their idea of family is everybody getting together as frequently as possible and loving and fighting each other, than RWS or even an older deck might be best. If the querent has a more modern view, such as family being something inconvenient and best kept at a distance… then perhaps one of the more modern decks would be better for that reading.

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1st Ten Major Arcana Wrapup

We pause for a summary overview of the first group of ten major arcana. My “read” of Waite’s reinterpretation of the symbols of tarot skews heavily towards “Christian” concepts. I think the High Priestess and the Lovers are the best examples of his divergent use of symbols. Waite also puts additional meanings in previously used symbols. He takes the very basic archetypes of the rennaissance cards, the kings, queens, marriage, pope, abbess, etc., and adds new symbolic meanings. In doing so, he shows his genius, as well as the genius of the Golden Dawn which overloaded those earlier cards with meanings drawn from, not from Christianity, but from the Qabal and numerology, which is where Waite differed from them.

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The Lovers: Waite’s Symbols

Waite goes to great lengths to separate this card from what he described older illustrations conveyed, namely, marriage, conjugal faith, honor and love. His interpretation appears to be much more physical, though he appears attempt to minimize his fixation on sexuality by blathering about “the great mystery of womanhood.” Once past Waite’s fixation, it appears that his intent for this card was similar to the Book T’s notes on this, namely to focus on divine inspiration as the source for the love between a married couple. To put it another way, I think that that is the ultimate message of the card: divine inspiration as the source for romantic and physical love.

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