They Loves Me, They Loves Me Not*

*My grammatically absurd title is an intentional poke at the current practice of substituting a plural pronoun in situations demanding a singular one as a way to avoid gender specificity. While there may be a place for gender-neutral pronouns in the English language, this clumsy abomination most definitely ain’t it; we clearly need a new one. Come to think of it, Tolkien’s Gollum was the original gender-neutral role model. He had no idea who or what Bilbo Baggins was, so he simply said: “What has it got in its pocketses, precious?” In the meantime, I try to nimbly write myself around the “he or she” trap, or just use the rather stiffly archaic “one.”

When I was six years old or so, a little neighbor girl pulled the “He loves me, he loves me not” gimmick on me by plucking petals off a daisy. I stopped her after the third pull by loudly proclaiming “He does not!” She later became a rather stunning beauty and loved (or at least lusted for) another neighbor boy. Oh, well . . . Love-related questions are a large part of the professional tarot reader’s stock-in-trade: pining for it; wrestling with it; wondering why it went sour; wishing for it to come back, all neatly wrapped up in the misleadingly vague “What does ‘X’ think or feel about me?” generalization.  I almost always mentally translate that query straight into “Does ‘X’ love me?” and ignore the charade of studied disinterest.

The ne plus ultra of “love” cards, the one everybody likes to see pop up in a relationship reading, is the 2 of Cups. After all, in the RWS version, it shows two people making a palpable emotional commitment, and in the Thoth deck it is actually titled “Love.” I go along with that interpretation up to a point, but believe it’s only valid in the case of  “starry-eyed” new love, before the often problematic “give-and-take” typified by the Number 2 enters the picture. An evolving interpersonal relationship is seldom a static thing: the experiential pendulum scribes a wide arc and only intermittently passes through the uneventful midpoint of its travel. Unless it’s truly a charmed “story-book” romance, occasional upsets and unavoidable compromises are par for the course. Ideally, the more stormy extremes eventually subside as the rhythm slows and the quiet interludes get longer. This is the key to long-term compatibility and contentment, but it also harbors the restless seeds of boredom as the range and potency of stimulation shrink. The other sanguine Cups suit cards – the Three, the Six, the Nine and the Ten – can stand in for the Two as harbingers of happy times ahead but, for the anxiously hopeful querent, nothing beats catching it at first blush.

Some reader see the Lovers as another quintessential “love” card, showing the imminence of a “soul-mate” or “twin-flame” encounter, but I seldom interpret it as a stirring romantic opportunity. Its astrological correspondence, Gemini, is not known for its warmth, and its testimony can be as much a  portent of separation as of convergence: the Hebrew letter assigned to this card means “sword,” an implement of discrimination that symbolizes division rather than unity. I prefer to read this card as a “crossroads,” offering the chance to take matters in two markedly different directions (hence, a “choice”). The possibility of love is certainly there, but it’s not of the “spoon-under-the-Moon-in June” variety, it’s likely to be more abstract and platonic. Among the Major Arcana, I see the Empress (assigned to pleasure-seeking Venus) as a more promising omen of impending bliss. (The Sun is more to the point in ego-stoking situations than for finding the heart’s desire.)

We will inevitably face questions about our clients’ romantic interests and pursuits during the course of our practice.  It’s probably fair to say that a decisive majority of the cards in the deck don’t speak optimistically of the prospects of making a fortunate connection; there are simply too many complexities of meaning  to be able to say with conviction, “Yes, you will meet the love of your life within the next couple of weeks.” About the best we can do is to observe that conditions seem to be right (or not) for something positive to happen.


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