Monday, February 22, 2010

The Major Arcana: Love

Returning to our discussion of the Lover's Path Tarot Deck, we are on the VI card, or Love, in the Lover's Path. This card is known as the Lovers in the Ryder-Waite deck. Again, I believe that the more general Love title better reflects the true meaning of the card than the image of Lovers. For the Love card represent far more than just the fiery, romantic love of the lovers.

The Lover's Path deck uses the myth of Isis and Osiris to represent this card. Their story illustrates the power of love and its ability to transform us irrevocably. For over 3000 years, Isis was worshipped in Egyptian society as the mother goddess of the universe. She had two brothers, Osiris and Set, who were responsible for the fertile soil and the barren desert, respectively.

When the two had come of age, the sun god, Ra, married Osiris and Isis. Their love was blissful. No moon or star could outshine their passion. Since their union was happy, they wielded their power with generosity and justice. Their days were spent nourishing the world; Isis' power combined with Osiris's, producing abundant good from the rich Egyptian soil and the fertile Nile. As a result, they were adored and revered by many, and were granted greater honors than their brother, Set.

This angered Set, and aroused his jealousy. He vowed to avenge this dishonor, as his love for Osiris quickly was transformed into hatred. To be freed from this overpowering hatred, Set trapped Osiris in a coffin and threw him into the swirling waters of the Nile.

Overcome by grief, Isis transformed herself into a bird and flew everywhere in search of her lost love. She finally found his coffin embedded inside a tree, which had subsumed it over time. Isis hid the coffin, afraid that Set would discover it.

But Set learned all. Out of revenge, Set stole Osiris from Isis, and cut his brother's body into fourteen pieces, which he scattered all across Egypt.

Isis was undeterred. Fueled by her love for Osiris, she traveled up and down the Nile in a papyrus boat, searching for the lost fragments of her husband's body. It took years before she was able to collect them all. When she finally had completed her task, she reconstructed Osiris's body, sealing it with wax and gold. Then, using the power of her love, Isis resurrected Osiris for a final embrace.

That act of love resulted in the conception of a child, the falcon-headed god Horus, who would grow and thrive, a potent reminder of how love can create life even when faced with overwhelming adversity.

The image on the card depicts Isis and Osiris wrapped in their final embrace, the one that would result in their son, Horace. Life swirls around the stillness of their kiss, and several birds fly by, depicting the movement of fate, against which love can protect us, as well as Isis's search for her lost husband. The hieroglyphs painted on the wall behind them come from an ancient Egyptian love poem.

This card symbolizes love in its purest form: love which empowers us for good; love which brings joy to the heart. It also signifies the pleasure that sensual love brings to our lives, encouraging us to find healthy ways to increase and enjoy its presence.

While this card may suggest the appearance of an important love relationship for the querent, primarily and more significantly, it represents the unity of the masculine and feminine energies within ourselves. This happy state of harmony enables us to transform the world around us as if we were gods or goddesses.

When the Love card emerges in a reading, it represents love which inspires us to great deeds and harmony. It may symbolize an awareness of the nature of passionate love, and what is necessary to encourage it. It can also signify Sensuality, or an integration of the masculine and feminine energies, known as the anima and animus. It may also suggest the appearance of a new and important relationship, peace within oneself, or a love which transforms the world around one as well as oneself.

When the Love card appears in a reversed or weakly aspected position, however, it signifies that the querent is feeling unworthy of love. It might also represent manipulation of others through sexuality, or an inability to find a loving partner. It can also symbolize immaturity and irresponsibility in love relationships, game playing, or dishonesty.

The symbolism embodied in the story of Isis and Osiris is one of the overarching power of love. Despite the machinations of their god brother, Set, nothing would prove to be more powerful than the love shared by Isis and Osiris, and the ultimate culmination of their love would be found in their son, Horace. When this card appears, let it remind us of the limitless power of love to transform and transcend, taking us to ends beyond our conscious thought.

Love, after all, conquers all.

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