Recombinant Trumps: Lovers and Tower

This pair presents what might be considered a “turnaround” of the previous one since the trump cards swap position from top to bottom and left to right: where before the Tower and the Lovers were subsidiary counterparts to the Chariot and the Devil, respectively, here they are the primary trumps. The Lovers now appears to the left of Justice and the Tower to the right, and in the same tier. The differences are mainly symbolic rather than functional; however, the key pip card association changes to match the element of the trump card in each case, producing a slightly altered narrative.


The series Lovers/Justice/Tower at its most basic describes the inevitable consequences of making a really bad decision, while The Lovers/6 of Swords/Devil combination suggests that the seeker at the crossroads (Lovers) is being steered reluctantly (6 of Swords) down the moral “low road” to temptation and deception (Devil). Substituting the other Sixes brings to mind the aphorism “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” The implication is that all forms of mundane self-realization (the quest for wealth, honor, love, acceptance)  ultimately lead to the same place, and not an ideally gratifying one unless one’s aims are purely sensual; in that case, it might be said “A good time was had by all.”

The Chariot has been described as “victory after great struggle,” which is perfectly expressed by the combination of the Tower, the 7 of Wands and the Chariot. While this combination is courageous in the extreme, substituting the other Sevens creates a more complex scenario in which compromise is more likely than outright victory. I also get the random notion of “looting after a disaster.” Interestingly, the Hebrew letter for this card is related to the word “fence,” but not the kind I’m thinking of here.

The Lovers and the Tower both occupy a pivotal position in the sequence; the Lovers offers the opportunity to advance by making a fortunate choice that keeps to the ethical “high road” and receives its “just desserts” accordingly, while the Tower metes out harsh justice for succumbing to the allure of a less savory destination. The supporting Sixes seem innocuous but they all have a dark side, while the Sevens are inherently conflicted in nature.

As we would expect, the numerical correlation between the cards in the opposite “wings” is identical to the previous array, with all of the two-card combinations reducing to “4,” the number of the Emperor. I’m thinking that the Emperor might well be placed at the open end of the column below Justice to complete the visual impression of a “closed loop” in which the energies circulate freely between the two sides. I’ll do that for the next pair, the Hierophant and the Star.

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