VI – Zayin – Gemini – Sword
Love, Union, Marriage, and Potential
The Lovers corresponds to the Hebrew Letter Zayin, which resembles a crowned Vav. This symbolizes the light of God (which came from Vav) returning back to heaven. While the Hierophant brings the light from God down, the Lovers reflect that light back up, making use of the Hierophant’s wisdom. The two-part nature of the letter Zayin (the Vav and Crown) represent the human spirit coming into fulfillment, using the light to make themselves better – through love. The letter also represents the woman fulfilling God’s creation by consummating man; the old definition of a “valorous” woman. Since, in the sequence of Hebrew Letters, the initial Creation (Man) has already been mentioned, the crowning of man is the addition of woman to stand by his side (I would like to point out here that I do not in the slightest believe in this inequality of man and woman; I am merely reflecting the original meanings of the letter Zayin). So then, this letter symbolizes the union of man and woman, and their ability to hold the divine light of God. This idea is best expressed by a line from Les Miserables: “To love another person is to see the face of god.”
The original pictograph of the letter Zayin symbolizes a sword, and the meaning of the word Zayin also reflects this. However, the word Zayin is derived from an older world meaning something akin to sustenance, and so is slightly paradoxical. This letter, then, represents the impossible: the light of God being improved by its association with mankind. The sword also is used to help sustain people, and to protect them from harm. This duality of sustaining and defense make up much of the relationship between two lovers, as each partner will defend and nourish the other.
Gemini is the astrological equivalent of the Lovers. Oddly, Gemini is one of the Sun Signs associated with Air, and Gemini specifically the realm of the rational intellectual. The Sign of Gemini also indicates a desire to make social connections – such as that of lovers. Gemini is also one of the mutable signs, meaning that it adapts; and what is love but constant adaptation to another? The emphasis of this card is on personal fulfillment; each lover seeks to satisfy him or herself by satisfying the other. Gemini also corresponds to the twins Castor and Pollux, and to the idea of twins in general: such as Cain and Abel.
Another name for the Lovers is the Brothers, specifically Cain and Abel, who are seen in the Thoth art below the bride and groom, crossing their cup and sword. This card represents very close intimacy, not just romantic love. The story of Cain and Abel also reminds us that intimacy is not without its dangers, and that great jealousy can spring from the closest of connections. In terms of its connection with romantic love, this card represents the formal, institutionalized aspect of it for the most part: that of marriage. The Thoth art emphasizes this, with its portrayal of an elaborate ceremony between two royals, presided over by the Hermit (who in his own card watches over the seed of potential). The man and woman are of different races and houses, and so serve not only to unify themselves, but others as well, emphasizing ideas of unity. This is not to say that there is no love at all, because there is; Eros appears above the Hermit’s head, his arrow pointed down at the couple.
The Rider-Waite art is similar, but less ornate; a naked man and woman stand at opposite ends of the card, looking at one another with open arms, while an angel above (the Hermit in the Thoth art) blessing the union. This card emphasizes the emotional aspect of this card rather than the aspect of unity that the Thoth art does. There is a reminder in this card also of the dangers of love, in the Serpent of temptation behind the woman.
This card, then, represents love and union most obviously, as well as intimacy and marriage. It also symbolizes potential, sex, and ego. On the Tree of Life, the Lovers are the path between Binah (Understanding) and Tiphareth (Experience), representing the understanding of the nature of God’s light leading one into a harmonious central balance. Binah also represents duality and the feminine, and the addition of the female into the mix balances out man, and leads to happiness and experience: Tiphareth.
In a reading, this card asks you to examine the relationships in your life, as well as any feelings of love or intimacy you may have. How is your love life? What role has marriage or close companionship played in your life? Reversed, this card’s energies are hidden or twisted somehow; perhaps the marriage or union in your life was not a good one, or the love is not true.
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