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Pithy Tarot meanings — The Lovers

November 2, 2014

The Lovers: RWS2.0 (Tarot eCards)The Lovers:
Love does not have a “but.”

Okay, what does that mean? What follows is a decidedly non-pithy explanation of this pithy meaning.

The Lovers card, being in the Major Arcana, can indicate the archetypal meaning of love, which is a word that is often misinterpreted. (See, for example, Much may be said about what love is and isn’t (as, for example, in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7), and still there will be more left to say. Today’s pithy meaning for the Lovers card provides a little more to think about as we explore this concept, which is so fundamental to our lives. Here’s how.

Has anyone ever said to you, “I love you, but …” Or have you ever said that to someone? This phrase is commonly used when someone close to you wants to criticize and judge you while also trying to shield themselves from seeming to be judgmental and uncompassionate. This phrase can also arise when someone wants to put you out of their heart, but they also want to maintain an illusion of grace and dignity. The truth, however, is that this sort of statement is usually duplicitous, and it can debase the value of love.

Now, I won’t insist that this is a hard and fast rule. There are absolutely no absolutes. (Yes, folks, that was a bit of ironic humor.) Someone can say something like, “I love you, but I can’t live with you any longer” (for example), and they may say it with love in their heart. So a deeper indication than the mere wording can be the ineffable sense we get when we hear someone say “I love you, but…” Does the statement come from the heart or from the ego? That’s what is important. Honestly, though, I’ve rarely found situations where that phrase came from the heart. But it might.

Now here’s the really hard part. I’m not putting this out there for us to start judging other people. I’m not suggesting we start saying to people, “Hey, fool, love doesn’t have a ‘but,’ so you’re being an ass.” I’m saying that we should all start considering how we love one another. Do we love unconditionally or not? If there are conditions on our love, then it isn’t really love, at least not as purely as we would like to think, and knowing this is how we become Lovers in the truest sense. So remember that love does not have a “but” because true love is unconditional.

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  1. How about, I love you but I have boundaries that keep me happy, healthy and sane?

    • Yes, that can be an example of an exception, like what I mentioned — something that comes from the heart and not from the ego.
      Let me explain where this pithy meaning came from: I thought of it as the result of a conversation with a friend who mentioned that her mother only says “I love you” when it’s followed by a “but.” For example, “Mary [I changed her name for the sake of anonymity], you know I love you, but the way you dress makes you look like a [I think I’ll censor this word].” In the course of our conversation, we talked about how often it is for some people to use “I love you” as a cover when they want to say or do something that is decidedly unloving, and that lead us to a longer discussion about conditional vs. unconditional love. And then we decided that abusing the words “I love you” in this way may be the saddest kind of dishonesty there is, because love is the most precious truths there is.

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