Dec 21, 2014

The Lovers, or, The Brothers: How to Get Away with Murder Every Day

L'amoureux Marseilles Tarot card Jodorowsky


From The Fool to The Emperor, the cards illustrated an accumulation of massive, individual concepts or energies. In The Hierophant, we reached a point of ("sexual") interaction between those energies. From there down, the Tarot is a theater of play between modes of Consciousness, strengths (or weaknesses) of Will, Physical/Emotional energies, Spiritual states of being... You get the idea; you're alive...

Every bullshit, flea market psychic hopes The Lovers will turn up in a reading. The only card that is more effective in manipulation of a client is XIII, the Nameless Arcanum, often called Death. The true lessons of both cards are more similar than you may first suspect.

The Marseilles design is confused. Three human figures below, Cupid above. The first assumption is that we're witnessing an awkward confrontation resulting from a love triangle. Okay, but what's the actual situation here? Aside from the woman to our right, we can't ascertain the genders of these people. In fact, if you look closely, there's no way to even be sure which of the five visible hands belongs to which person...

L'Amoureux translates to "The Lover." Which of these humans is the lover, then? Which of these humans represents you, or the person you love, or the person who doesn't love you back? These are the mundane questions presented by traditional Tarot decks. These are the ambiguities that leave the door open for charismatic persons (read: fortune tellers and charlatans) to feed on weaker persons by twisting Tarot images to support the existence of whatever crisis-of-life can be used to extract money or devotion from the victim. Love is the root of so much desperation in humanity...

Aleister Crowley's Thoth deck answers the questions posed by traditional cards. Often, general familiarity with the religious/mythological constructs of various cultures is a prerequisite to assembling his far-reaching references. However, in almost every instance, Crowley's ultimate aims are the unwrapping of knowledge and truth, rather than occultation.

Lovers Tarot Thoth Crowley

The Lovers

The ordered balance of this image is refreshing, as is typical of Thoth cards when compared to others. Conversely, the depth of the symbols, diversity of their origins and the implication of their presence here is staggering. Let us examine only a few.

This entire scene takes place beneath a canopy of swords - the suit of Air, which is the Element of Intellect and Transmission - because the Hebrew letter assigned to this Trump is Zain, which means "sword." Crowley notes that the sword is an instrument of division. Where an actual sword could be used to divide, say, someone's arm from their body, the Sword of the Mind is used for analysis. Solve et coagula, as the alchemists said, or, "Separate, then join together again."* This is an allegory of Meditation.

The hooded figure is The Hermit, whom we met as a young Magus. Acting as master of ceremony, directed by his hands is a MobiĆ¼s strip, reminiscent of the infinity symbol and indicative of His authority over the mesmeric properties of the latent illusion we call Reality. At his shoulders are two statuesque female figures. These are throwbacks to previous designs, the Rider-Waite specifically, which often depict Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden, the setting of Creation. Why, then, statues of two women, here? 

According to ancient Jewish folklore, Lilith was Adam's first wife. [That's right, motherfuckers - divorce is as old as The Garden.] Basically, Lilith and Adam were created in the same moment, from the same dust of the earth. Being Adam's equal, Lilith naturally refused to submit to him as her superior and left the Garden of Eden, eventually shacking up with Samael, the Angel of Death, which is, yeah, some pretty dark shit to bring up at a wedding...

The angel in this card isn't Samael, though. It's Cupid! The little rascal who's always ruining someone's life with Love's arrows of obsession... One of Crowley's most famous epithets - Love is the Law - has an oft-annexed caveat: Love under Will. Get out your magnifying glass and you'll see that Cupid's quiver is branded with the Greek word for "will" - Thelema. But what does Love have to do with Will? Is Love not a blind, wild force and heedless of all reason? One cannot make the decision to fall in Love...

There's another thing people say about Love: opposites attract.

Ancient Syrian coin showing Atargatis with Cosmic Egg

2 = 0

Early in his (rambling) description of this card, Crowley makes an off-hand statement - "there is an Assyrian legend of a woman with a fish” - to which he does not return or explain. Atargatis, half-woman, half-fish, was the Syrian equivalent of Venus, a goddess of fertility. Fish being symbolic of Death and the head regarded as the seat of Consciousness, a mermaid is a symbol of human incarnation: Yeats' "soul [...] fastened to a dying animal." Curious that men were said to castrate themselves in honor of this fertility goddess? View again from the Buddhist perspective that All Is Sorrow and the only true goal is freedom from Samsara, the eternal cycle of birth, death & reincarnation...

Beneath the icons of Creation and Meditation, a wedding ceremony takes place, the interplay of which is a DNA-like double helix of polar opposites - man/woman, black/white, cup/lance, weapon/bouquet - resulting in the birth of the Orphic, or Cosmic Egg, around which is wrapped the serpent of Kundalini life-force, or Pure Consciousness. The Cosmic Egg, in mythology, is the source of all existence - gods, universes, all of it.  Silver in color - halfway between Black and White - this Egg is the product of the marriage scene and, when it hatches, will perpetuate the cycle. The Egg may also be said to represent Zero - the product of two opposites canceling each other out. Here is Aleister Crowley's definition of "Love" and the reason he cites Love as the only Law: Existence is Nothing, or, The Marriage of Opposites.

From Atargatis' Wikipedia entry: "In [a] story, told by Hyginus, an egg fell from the sky into the Euphrates, was rolled onto land by fish, doves settled on it and hatched it, and Venus came forth." From this we see that Crowley's philosophy of "Existence is Nothing" is Nothing new. His suggested path to benefitting from these Truths, though, was highly innovative. 

Durer Cain Abel

The Brothers

"The shedding of blood is necessary, for God did not hear the children of Eve until blood was shed. And that is the external religion; but Cain spake not with God, nor had the mark of initiation upon his brow, so that he was shunned of all men [read: allowed to live out his days, unmolested], until he had shed blood. And this blood was the blood of his brother. This is the mystery of the sixth key of the Tarot, which ought not be called The Lovers, but The Brothers." - The Book of Thoth

This Trump is assigned to the sign of Gemini - The Twins - and Crowley explicitly states that the children in the card are Cain & Abel. Due to Crowley’s total immersion in the Hebrew language, it may be intuited that the passage above is referencing the etymology of the names Cain and Abel - literally and respectively, “Created One” and “Breath.” Any individual personality, being a total fabrication, is the "created one." [See analysis of previous card, The Hierophant.] "Breath" is Air, or Thought. So, this serves as another of ten thousand references to meditation in Crowley’s work. The shedding of brother's blood is another way of referring to the marriage of opposites; by the mere act of existing, any individual concept murders its brother.

How to Get Away with Murder Every Day

Though Life is a Marriage of Opposites, every day we set up an imbalance within ourselves by willfully ignoring aspects of existence which are unpleasant to consider. In striving toward happiness, we guarantee our own sadness. Life can not bring us anywhere but to Death. Therefore, the initiate is encouraged to attempt the following meditative practice: actively cancel out every thought which arises in you with its negative counterpart. All "truths" must be annihilated with their equally-true counterparts. With each of these marriages, the Initiate climbs the ladder of Nothing to a higher level of Consciousness - beyond care, beyond worry, beyond sanity....

Thank you for your time. Are there any questions?


*It would be a mistake to regard this formula as a purely mental process. It has been strongly argued that, save for ignorant materialists and con artists, true alchemists were actually writing in code of spiritual, emotional & psychological practices toward self-discovery, -achievement & -betterment. The Red Lion & White Eagle shown in this design do bring such connotations to the card. We will cover this and more with their reappearance in the Temperance, or Art, Trump. These two cards are closely related.

<<< V - The Hierophant
VII - The Chariot >>>

Recommended Reading:

Dion Fortune - The Mystical Qabalah
Aleister Crowley - The Book of Thoth
Alejandro Jodorowsky - The Way of Tarot: The Spiritual Teacher in the Cards
Naomi Ozaniec - The Kabbalah Experience
Joseph Campbell - Tarot Revelations
Paul Foster Case - Tarot Revelations
Lon Milo Duquette - Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot


  1. Excellent! Unique and authentic. Thank you :)

  2. Anonymous11:59 PM

    You are a wellspring of knowledge here and seem to grasp the inclination that all concepts of creation are indeed connected; I'm impressed. Did this deeper understanding of yours come from growing up so quick?

    1. Accepting your gracious compliment and speaking humbly, I've always suspected the main difference between the circumstance of my upbringing and that of most other Americans is that I dropped out of high school yet maintained a steady appetite for scholarly knowledge. In this manner, I was free to pursue interests which I deemed important, rather than subjects of study laid out by authority figures.

  3. Anonymous2:35 AM

    Hear! Hear! I did exactly the same thing (but took the GED later) & always had my own itinerary & now halfway through my 50's am still pursuing the knowledge I am passionate about & feel is worthy of expanding the mind on...The educational system is so very bogus, just basically another way to keep the masses in line, reinvent fallacious history & of course the "higher" education is all about money and power for show...Hoopla! You seem to have a pretty good head on your shoulders...I like your style & enjoy browsing through your blog once in a while ;)

  4. Anonymous5:41 PM

    {P.S.} Don't get me wrong: seeking knowledge or any form of schooling is always a good thing--expanding that old muscle between the ears--and some people choose the more conventional modes of education and maybe that works for them. But yours seems to be a sort of organic wisdom, naturally occurring so to speak. Again, I like your style and glad I stumbled across your blog. The almond butter story was hilarious! Who ever knew that a mini-tub of nut butter could be so entertaining?