- Animal Tarot Cards by Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine (Hay House)
- The Animal Totem Tarot by Leeza Robertson; illustrated by Eugene Smith (Llewellyn Publications)
- The Animal Wisdom Tarot by Dawn Brunke; illustrated by Ola Liola (CICO Books)
- The Animal-Wise Tarot by Ted Andrews (Dragonhawk Publishing)
- The Animals Divine Tarot by Lisa Hunt (Llewellyn Worldwide)
- The Animism Tarot by Joanna Cheung (Self-Published)
- Tarot of the Animal Lords with artwork by Angelo Giannini (Lo Scarabeo)
To read my previous posts in this series, enter “Animal Tarot Time” in the search field on the main page of the blog or scroll down and click on Animal Tarot Time under CATEGORIES.
Purely by accident (or is it?), I happen to be posting a discussion of The Lovers card on the day my husband and I are celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary.
Let’s look at how THE LOVERS is portrayed in seven different animal decks.
FLAMINGO (“True and long-lasting love finds its way into your life.”)
The Flamingo’s color is a key reason for a pair of Flamingos to represent love. The color pink commonly represents emotions, harmony, and sensuality. It is said to soothe conditions of anger and feelings of neglect. Pink can be used to awaken compassion, love, and purity. Flamingos form strong pair bonds, establishing and defending nesting territories. Just as flamingos stand on one leg, perfectly balanced, they can represent remaining balanced in your emotional or romantic life.
SWAN (“Come be with me and let me marvel in the You that is all magnificent.”)
Swans commonly symbolize peace, tranquility, loyalty, strength, beauty, grace, and love. Swans can form socially monogamous pair bonds from as early as 20 months that last for many years, in some cases, for life. Male and female take turns incubating the eggs. The image on this particular card shows swans in contrasting colors (black and white), representing contrasting states or identities that can create a harmonious whole. One of the trees on the card is filled with oranges (predominantly a symbol of fertility) and the other with white flowers (purity and innocence).
HONEYBEE / HEART AWAKENER: “Awaken to love.”
Keynotes for this card in this deck are “Relationship, Recognition, Blessings, Union, Joy.” The bee commonly symbolizes diligence, organizational and technical skills, sociability, purity, charity, cleanliness, spirituality, wisdom, courage, abstinence, sobriety, creativity, selflessness, eloquence, and illumination. Dawn Brunke writes that the honeybee signals “romance, passion, a new love or developing relationship” as well as “an opportunity to come home to self.” True honey bees do not form mating pairs. Rather, they live in colonies established by swarms, consisting of a queen and several hundred workers. In contrast, most other bees are solitary in the sense that every female is fertile, and typically inhabits a nest she constructs herself.
BEE: “Fertility and Spiritual Choice”
Like Dawn Burke, Ted Andrews uses the Bee to represent The Lovers. Unlike Burke, he incorporates the idea of choice (one of the common interpretations for Key 6) into his discussion. Given that bees operate in a highly organized society, each bee having distinct responsibilities, Andrews notes that the Bee reflects the need to make choices with integrity, adding, “If working with others, it is important to clearly define the job roles.” In reverse, this card can suggest scattered energy or indecision.
THE LOVERS / BRAHMA & SARASWATI: “relationships, seeking harmony
In the Hindu faith, Brahma was the principal creator god. His consort, Saraswati, was goddess of language, creative arts, and learning. It was said that she was the power behind Brahma’s actions. In Hindu art, Saraswati and Brahma are both sometimes shown riding either a swan or goose.
LONG-SNOUTED SEAHORSE: “joy, security, support, patience, equality, trust”
Seahorses are known to practice monogamy. It is no longer believed that they mate for life, but some do stay together for several mating seasons in a row. The male – not the female -- broods the eggs in its pouch before giving birth to live young called “fry.” In her write-up for this card, Joanna Cheung advises us: “Face the battle; stand united. Make your choice. Find your place.”
MANDARIN DUCK: “Test, important choice, indecision within sentimental relationships, unfaithfulness”
Mandarin ducks have long symbolized love and marriage in South East Asia, especially in China, Japan and South Korea. In traditional Chinese culture, mandarin ducks are believed to be lifelong couples. It is thought that those who do not yet have a sweetheart can speed up the process of finding a soul mate by getting two Mandarin duck figurines or a picture.
To summarize, we have:
Flamingos – 1
Swans – 2
Bees – 2
Seahorses – 1
Mandarin ducks – 1
Obviously, the birds win overall, with four of the seven decks using birds to represent The Lovers. I am charmed by the Seahorses and Mandarin Ducks. Not really buying the Bees. Okay with Swans and Flamingos. How about you? What do you think?