The Lovers — Tarot of the Absurd

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Tarot Lovers Meaning

Back when I had time to go to yoga class, I used to take Ashtanga with a teacher who liked to sing and tell stories. I like to listen in challenging postures. I went often as I could.


One time, she told a creation story about how, before anything existed, there was nothing. Or maybe she said, before all things existed, everything was one thing. Anyhow. Either way, being that there was nothing to compare anything to, debating whether there was one thing or nothing is moot. We will call it homogenized. It was No-One-Thing.


Eventually and all at once, the No-One-Thing desired to self-reflect, but of course when there is no self because everything is so homogenous, one cannot self-reflect. To solve the problem, the No-One-Thing cracked. Split. Divided. It reflected itself, and then there were Two. Two! One became Two! Oh, but as soon as there were Two, they wanted to be One. So they made love. Mmm, mmm, mmm. And from their making love, all the universe and all that ever was or ever will be came into existence. Divine Bliss.


She told the story years ago and I was trying to attain one difficult posture or another, and that’s mostly all I could remember. I know it is a Tantric creation story. I know that the highest form of making love is to do so in a way that one’s actions become a prayer to god, that that it becomes a form of partner meditation in an attempt to re-create the world. It is possible.  So I wrote my teacher a note and asked what the story was.


Shiva and Shakti, she wrote back. She will tell the story to me again, provided we can find a moment within this universe that belongs to the two of us. It is there, this moment, we just need to find it. Meanwhile, unwilling to wait the possible eons that reunion could require, I read all sorts of stuff on line. Nothing I found compared to the sensuality of her telling. The best website I found is here. I read it at least a dozen times. It’s circuitous, but then, so is all creation.


Eventually, I wrote the following—



A Shiva-Shakti Creation Story

Jessica Rose Shanahan


In the beginning,

all was darkness

hidden by darkness

in an ocean without consciousness.

A principle without limitation,

the One lived without breath:




And then— a throb.

Desire moved the primal seed of Mind.

Vibration throbbed within the One.

Energy swelled. A quickening!

A pulse! And fragmentation

broke the One-ness One of Universal Being.


Action exploded: the One split!


Shiva, desiring to know his mind,

engaged in self-reflection, split!

Shakti pulled from Shiva;

Desire pulled from Mind.

The universe pulled itself in two.

Mother! Father!


The first sound.


One became Two.

Shakti, torn from Shiva;

Shiva and Shakti:Two.

No longer Shiva-Shakti.

But as soon as they were separate,

the Mind chased his Desire.




Shiva after Shakti:

the Mind chasing Desire.

As soon as they were separate

they wished to re-unite.

Shiva after Shakti:

the Mind chasing Desire.


And O! He caught her.


O! Mind, at One with Desire!

And yes and, O! And how,

when their bodies moved together, dancing,

universes came and went,

expanded and contracted

according to their play.


Shiva. Shakti. Play.


They moved in love like

ribbons of light interweaving,

aching to re-join.

And from their mouths emerged

the sounds of alphabets.

Exultant joy. Divine play.




From the womb of Shakti:

all the forms of gods and goddesses

and all the worlds that ever were or will be

and everything to fill them: all creation.

Universes come and go.

Universes come and go.


The lovers’ dance is all creation.

The Lovers — Love Poetry & Tarot Readings

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

As we all know by now, I am supposed to be writing a book about my tarot deck. I love writing. I also thoroughly enjoy cooking and going for long walks and keeping my daughter happy. I have a few things I must do now and again, such as washing diapers and dishes and maybe some dusting on days when a blue moon falls on an odd-numbered Monday in May. Occasionally I sleep.


So I said to myself, “You know, Jess, you’ve already written plenty of stuff that no one’s ever going to see. Why don’t you just make a book of that?”


And I said to myself, “That’s a great idea!”


I’m not sure if I was aware at the time that it was a procrastination technique. It is a great idea! Here you go:


I have years of poetry behind me. Reams of it. One of the most delightful things to write is love poetry, or poetic love letters. I could put it together in a little book, match the poems with three-card readings in which The Lovers is modified by two other cards that would describe the flavor of love in the poem, and I could call it The Lovers— Love Poetry & Tarot Readings. So I began.

Lovers Jean Noblet Marseille

 image from the Jean Noblet Tarot


I chose a number of poems then gave them all three-card readings.  Now I am trying to decide how to order them. Meanwhile, I get nervouser and nervouser because— well— these are all virgin love poems. So few of them have been seen by eyes aside from mine! Plus, I have no idea if they hang together well enough to form a book.


Whether or not anyone would actually purchase— let alone read— a book of love poetry is beside the point. I suspect maybe I would give a copy to Martin and a copy to my bestest of friends and then it would just be available on Amazon for random strangers to stumble across in the same manner that one stumbles across a needle in a haystack or an eyelash in a football field. Why, why have I spent my life writing poetry if not to share with the eyes of others? Is poetry merely a masturbatory form of writing?


In my 20s I went through the existential phase of “I write, therefore I exist.” Those things that are written are the things that make history. It was my method of self-manifestation: my Alchemist holds a pen.

Question: If a writer writes and no one is there to read it, does the writer exist?

Answer: Objectively, no. The human who writes does not exist as a “writer” in the eyes of “writer”-label givers unless the words that were written are read.

Someone wrote to me recently: “You would make a good writer.” To which I respond: “You would make a good reader.”

Enough of this existentialism.


Following is a sampler of the most diverse (not the best) of my love poetry and their associated three-card reads. But who would read this stuff? I mean, really. Who would read? Gosh, I hope nobody is reading this…


*   *   *


Expecting W___ in Oaxaca

(Lovers, Star, Knight of Cups)


This country is another world.

My bed is full of chocolate crumbs.

My patio crawls with cockroaches.

On the day you arrive

And ring the brass bell

Before the green gate,

I will sweep the tiles free from ants

And wash between my toes.


*   *   *


Two Verses for P___

(Lovers, 7 of Blades, 2 of Cups & Lovers, 5 of Blades, 4 of Blades)




I did not seek your kisses, mister.

I did not try to learn the way

your whiskers feel upon my neck

And be this as it may:

That I take pleasure in your touch

and would not mind the chance

to explore your navel

to see if I can find the universe inside,

I would give back all knowledge

of your affection

For the pure and simple freedom

found in unencumbered friendship.




The world was so loud in my ears that day,

I could not hear the words you said.

Your lips moved, your body moved,

shirtless, around the cab of that red truck—

but I did not heat the words you said!


I only heard the words you meant to say:

“Get away,

get away—




*   *   *


I was wanting to kiss someone.

Do you like kisses?

I can send you some.

(Lovers, Alchemist, Page of Cups)


Send me your lips. Send me

the teeth behind your lips,

send the tip of your tongue,

the whiskers on your cheek.

Send an earlobe, the nape of your neck,

some fingertips.

Send the side of your nose,

and I will press mine against it.

I will place my fingers on your neck,

my thumb light against your jaw bone,

my lips on your mouth,

and I will press against your teeth.

Your rough cheek on my smooth cheek,

your hand on my back,

your fingers, the back of my head.

Send breath, and breathe against me.

Send a heartbeat,

and let me place my ear against your chest.

Send me all of you for kissing.

I will kiss.


*   *   *



What is this



Four of Wands & Two of Cups — Napo Tarot

Friday, March 16th, 2012

My younger sister was willing to pick a card, although she was not willing to ask a question. She likes this deck. I asked her what the picture made her think of. She said, “Not a thing.” I think it’s great that she specifically does like the colors and shapes of the deck but attaches no meaning to the image because it is too abstract. I have trouble liking something that I find too abstract to attach meaning to.


Interpretation: “Completion of work. Activity at a standstill, work unresolved. Union of equal forces.”


I need to make a story for everything. Sometimes, the story is particularly boring. These people are cheerleaders, shaking their pom-poms of fruit and leaves because they are happy to be done with what they set out to do.


I need a clarifying question, as it is obvious to me that neither my sister nor I are accomplishing what we mean to be doing. “What is the purpose of procrastination?” I ask, and draw the Two of Cups, reversed.


Interpretation: “Love, affection, relationship, courtship, friendship, marriage, pleasure, joy.”


Procrastination happens when we do not love what we are supposed do and therefore we put off the task at hand by doing something we love to do more.


•   •   •


I somewhat do not like this deck, perhaps because the Little White Book totally sucks. The introduction starts out, “Argentina is a country brimming with esoteric possibilities. Our aboriginal mythology, rich and profound, always skirts around mystery, destiny and hope.”

[…and finishes…]

“Bringing this deck of cards to the public is the satisfying result of a search for inner symbols. The Tarot cards came out of my imagination, and the drawings by Napo came as a result of the knowledge of the cycles of life. We thus immerse myth in history and find the same meanings, the same question, as in the Tarot of the Middle Ages.”


Unfortunately, there is nothing in the book about what the esoteric possibilities of Argentina are, little mention of mythology or explanation of the symbols she used, no talk of what came out of her imagination, no mention about how she and Napo worked together, nothing. Mystery becomes uninteresting when there are zero clues. I’m glad she found her inner symbols. I am sure others of her culture understand the symbols of this deck better than I do. But because she does not help me relate, her symbols do nothing for me. Either that or I’m just grumpy because I’m really sleepy.

Lovers — Twenty-Two Keys of the Tarot

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Susan Kay TopaArtist: Susan Kay Topa


I like to keep my requests of the tarot deck simple. That way, the results are easier to interpret. It is when we request too much from tarot decks & life & such that things get confusing. So I said, “Give me peace—” not that I feel as if I am without peace— but just that peace is one thing we can always use more of. The deck showed me the Lovers.


The Lovers represent trust, harmony and divine union. Lovers are connected by Soul. This card does not necessarily represent a relationship between two people. The highest form of love is divine love. This manifests itself in as many ways as there are lovers of divinity.


Lovers of divinity know what they stand for. They are not the ones whose voices proclaim loudest their devotion to god— god defined here as the Lovers’ definition of divinity. Lovers are ones whose actions are truest to their beliefs. They are genuine.


I asked a good friend once why she believes in god. She said because all the people she admires most believed in god. Famously: Mohandas Ghandi; Mother Therisa; Albert Schweitzer; Martin Luther King, Jr.; His Holiness the Dali Lama. Not so famously, hundreds of others who lay low and do work behind which divine love is the driving force.


Despite numerous “holy” wars— despite “religious” countries rife with civil unrest— despite Joshua— true divine love is the abode of peace.

Twenty-Two Keys to the Tarot

The Lovers — Twenty-Two Keys of the Tarot

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Illustrator,  Author, Printer & Publisher: Susan Kay Topa


Outside my window, snow falls in gentle flakes, drifts like dandelion fluff. It is January in Vermont and the grass is green. I dream a thick white blanket— a snow-quilt. Remembering a life lived not too long ago, I say to the cards, “Tell me something about Hawaii.” A strong surf pounds in my bones. I pull The Lovers. This deck knows Kauai.


 [Hours later, a thin sheet of snow covers the ground and I have submitted a deck review and more card images to Aeclectic Tarot. It will eventually be found under “Deck Reviews.” I will provide an exact link when one appears.]


Interpretation: The Lovers— harmony, love, trust // Reverse— unreliability, fickleness

“This is the first card in which two figures appear, it is the marriage of the male and female principles of nature; the Sun and the Moon, Air and Earth, Fire and Water, etc. The result of the marriage is the Orphic egg which flies between them. It represents the essence of life. Its visibility is a sign of the success of the union which leads to harmony. The male carries the staff, a phallic symbol and the female carries a chalice, a symbol of the womb.”


This was the first deck I ever purchased. Knowing nothing of its value, I proceeded to live my regular vagrant, semi-homeless life. The first place I brought it was on a three-week backpacking trip to the Hawaiian island of Kauai. I was living in Fairbanks, Alaska at the time. After I bunged up the book and the box, I learned what a rare deck it is.


Almost three years later, I returned to Kauai from Fairbanks, this time to stay. The deck and I lived on the moist and mildewy south-shore together for four-and-a-half years. During that time I fell madly in love with the ocean. I swam for hours at a time, swimming from beach to beach all along the south shore. I wore a pair of swim trunks and a pair of goggles. I pulled my bikini top down around my waist so it wouldn’t chafe my arms. I coated my nostrils with Vasiline to help keep the membrane from drying out. I took nothing with me and told no one where I was going. I swam with turtles, spinner dolphins, humpback whales and a whole stained-glass window of tropical fish. I swam in pouring rain, strong rip-tides, and high surf. I swam out, out past the rocks, out past the surfers, out, out, out. I swam an undulating stroke and kept the rhythm of the waves. I fell madly, madly in love with the ocean. When it was time to leave Hawaii, leaving the ocean broke my heart. It was years before I was able to hear the word “ocean” without crying. We were lovers, the ocean and I, and I will never be the same.