The Lovers Unveiled (part 2): The Devil, Death and Temperance

Tarot - The Lovers, The Devil, Temperance, Death

When the formula for human consciousness falls apart.

If you haven’t read Part 1…
>> Read This First <<

Good. I hope that you found something of value in the formula The Lovers has shared with us. Are you ready for more?

The Lovers… Again

When last we consulted with The Lovers, we learned that the card was speaking to us from a higher state, near the top of the Tree of Life. It shared the map of human consciousness calibrated for harmonious manifestation. The Angel represents our infinite spirit (superconsciousness), and is centered above the feminine aspect (consciousness) and the masculine aspect (subconsciousness). In this ideal state, we keep our conscious feminine awareness focused up toward the higher potential of Spirit, becoming the object of our desire. The masculine subconscious observes this desire and provides the circumstances and opportunities to fulfill it.

But Who Really Lives Like That?

This mode of living may seem unfamiliar. For instance, many of us may feel that our subconscious mind can not always be trusted. We struggle with repeating patterns of hard lessons.

Just when we think we have gotten over that horrible relationship or past trauma, we are experiencing it again, and the emotions seem to have no end. It is the subconscious mind that fills with past issues that we have left unresolved. Rather than setting up new learning opportunities, it regurgitates these old ones because it can not fulfill its primal function until we have acquired the knowledge and wisdom from our past experiences. Until then, it is like a janitor trying to clean up the endless messy trail of unlearned lessons in an attempt to return to the present and heal.

Fortunately, the secret to this more familiar process of repeating past hurts is also outlined for us through the Major Arcana of the Tarot. So let’s move down the Tree of Life from the individuality toward the personality to see the pattern of The Lovers repeated (as above, so below) but with some small tweaks that transform success into suffering.

The Lovers in Disguise

It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you the new players in our scene: Death (XIII), Temperance(XIV), and The Devil(XV). [Dun dun dunnnn…]

You may be able to see some similarities when the cards are laid out in the pattern above. In the 13th, 14th and 15th paths, we can see The Lovers again, but in a state of process, rather than in their state of fulfillment.

Temperance (XIV)

The Temperance card has a similar Angel to the one we find in The Lovers. Again, this represents Spirit or the superconscious that is in touch with and aware of all things. Here, Spirit is demonstrating balance, but not stillness. The Angel is engaged in a dance of balance that is required to stay present in this moment. The world around us is in a constant state of change. To stay in balance with this environment, we need to stay in motion and even anticipate the change around us. We temper fire with water and water with fire. We must first understand the elements and bring them into an active and fluid balance in order to clear the way to even the slightest perception of our infinite selves. Temperance invites us to join in this joyful and dynamic dance of balance.

There is a staying, “If you stop moving, you die.” Intense. But true. When we stop moving, resisting change, the world does not stop. It leaves us behind. It is much more work to run and catch up with life than it is to just keep moving.

The Devil (XV)

The Devil may not remind you much of the female figure from The Lovers, but there is a clear similarity between the two cards. There is a winged creature above and a female and male figure below. The Devil card is showing us what happens when we get caught up in the illusions of the mind. It shows us that we have a limited perspective, and that our conscious awareness tends to perceive only what we choose to focus on. In The Devil card, the human figures have animal traits like tails and horns, showing that we are reduced to our base survival instincts. They are chained to the pedestal where The Devil perches. But if they were paying more attention to the situation, they would realize that the chains that bind them are just loose enough to pull over their heads. The would also notice that the pedestal they are chained to is just a two-dimensional outline, an illusion of substance. But instead, they remain chained by their inability to see with enlightened eyes.

The Devil in this image is actually trying to help us out. Notice that he holds the fire to the male figure, the subconscious. This stimulates the subconscious to bring the attention of the female figure, the consciousness, toward the attachment. The formula from The Lovers is effectively reversed. All gazes are focused downward toward the attachment, and not to moving forward toward that higher ideal. This is the exact process we described earlier, where the subconscious is trying to clean up the messy attachments from the past. The Angel is wearing Devil clothing in order to show us that we are holding ourselves back, making something outside of us larger than us, and forgetting that we are capable of so much more.

Death (XIII)

Death may not resemble the male figure from The Lovers either, and Death at first glance has little in common with the layout of The Lovers. Look again, and you will see familiar faces. Here the Angel has become the Angel of Death. The female (conscious) is overcome with grief. The male (subconscious) has died. There are some new faces too. The child is the innocent product of the male and female coming together, looking on with curiosity and without fear. Another guest, The Heirophant, has come down from his card to intercede on our behalf.

What we are witnessing is what happens when we are overcome by emotions. Our awareness (feminine) can only see the emotional state, and all other awareness is blocked out… complete overwhelm. With her total focus on her experience, the subconscious gets no input, and stops functioning, effectively dead until something can intervene and bring us back to ourselves. Perhaps you can remember a time where you were so overcome with emotion that the world seemed to stop. Eventually, this state must end. In nature, it is Death that brings life. And the sun on the horizon is setting on this phase, and rising on the next, the innocent child just discovering a new world.


What would happen if we could become aware of our chains of attachments and remove them? What would happen if we let go of our emotional baggage and let it the rays of the sun back in? We could look up at the future we could be creating with a higher purpose, and then move to balance ourselves with our changing world. Then, with our gaze upturned, we would sow new seeds in our garden that would bloom us back into The Lovers.

Thank you, Lovers, for sharing this very important message with us who seek your wisdom. We also thank your partners: Death, Temperance, and The Devil for the parts they play in reminding us how much we can learn from our mistakes.

Act two of our story has clarified the amazing formula of consciousness by showing us what it looks like when things don’t go as well as they could. But to what end? How do we know when we are on the right track? Great questions, and you can learn the answers to these when we invite in the Judgement card for the conclusion of this story.

Continue with The Lovers Unveiled (part 3)

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