The Lovers is one of those cards. People get so very excited when The Lovers comes into a reading, because it seems so full of romantic, sexual, and sensual promise. I sometimes think that this ends up making it a very misunderstood card, because it holds a message so much bigger than just romantic love and partnership (though it can certainly indicate that). The Lovers is more than just “the love card” — it’s an invitation to consider the nature of Love, in all its forms, and the ways in which Love works in our lives.
In The Goddess Tarot, The Lovers has been slightly re-envisioned. Instead of being represented by a couple, by a pair of lovers, this card is represented by Venus, Roman Goddess of Love — so Love in its purest form. While Venus is often associated with only romantic and sexual love, in reality She brings the message that we are surrounded by Love at all times, and that Love is a force in the Universe.
Venus (and her Greek cognate, Aphrodite) has in many ways been dumbed down in the narratives many of us get in our mythology classes and through popular culture. She has been stripped of Her power and sometimes is portrayed as vapid, jealous, unpredictable — I think of this image of her as being Olympian Barbie. And that’s a shame, because Venus is the embodiment of one of the most powerful forces in the Universe — that power of Love. She also presides over the pleasures of the sensual world — sex and sexuality, certainly, but also all the things that stimulate our senses and which provide pleasure. She encourages us to find the beautiful, the soft, the sensual, the pleasing, and surround ourselves with the things that make us feel loved and honored. She also encourages us to find a way to take pleasure in even the most everyday of activities — eating a ripe peach, smelling a blooming rose, caring for our own bodies.
When Venus shows up in a reading, She encourages us to be aware of all the ways Love surrounds us. She invites us to focus on the ways in which we give, receive, and resist Love, and the ways in which we can be more open to the role that Love plays in our lives. She can absolutely indicate that romantic and sexual Love is on the horizon for us (especially if She appears alongside the Two of Cups and Juno/Tradition), but even then I feel like Her message is more nuanced. Venus asks us to consider what we want in our Love relationships — what we are and are not willing to accept, what we are and are not wiling to give, where we are and are not willing to compromise. I also see this card as an invitation to examine the messages we’ve received about Love, about relationships, and about our own self-worth. Venus also gives us a gentle (or not so) gentle nudge to spend time caring for ourselves. Self-care is something of a cliche, but Venus reminds us that we must spend time caring for ourselves, showing ourselves Love and kindness.
Venus can also show Her face in a reading when the querent is entering a period where they are about to become aware of the abundant Love in their world. Venus reminds us that we are never alone, and that when we are feeling a lack of Love we have to look beyond romantic partnerships to all the other ways Love shows up in our lives and worlds.