The Lovers is the sixth card in the Major Arcana. The 2 of cups is from the minors (one of the four suits I talk about here).
The main distinction many people make between the majors and the minors is how epic the event is. For example, the Lovers card represents one’s soul mate, and 2 of cups is everyday, happy-to-be-paired-with-you living.
Another way to contrast them is in intensity.
“All along it was a fever. A cold-sweat hot-headed believer.”
“Makes me feel like I can’t live without you…Round and around and around and around we go.”
[Stay, sung by Rihanna and Mikky Ekko.]
About the Lovers card, I once heard another reader say, It burns hottest, but crashes harder.
Reversed, I see it as one of those angsty stories where the audience/reader knows they like each other, knows they’ll be perfect together, but they need to talk.
[Distance, sung by Christina Perri and Jason Mraz.]
“And I will make sure to keep my distance,
Say I love you when you’re not listening,
How long, can we keep this up?”
“And I keep waiting
For you to take me
And you keep waiting
To save what we had.”
~ ~ ~
In contrast, the 2 of cups is softer, often more secure. It can represent something light and sweet, just starting out, or it can represent a settled, sorted-out kind of attachment.
[Feels Like Home, sung by Chantal Kreviazuk.]
This song includes one type of intensity I see most in the 2 of cups: emotional support.
And a siren wails in the night
But I’m alright ’cause I have you here with me
And I can almost see through the dark there is light
And how long I’ve waited for your touch
If you knew how happy you are making me
I never thought that I’d love anyone so much
Of a romantic or aromantic nature – and that second option is worth remembering, too.
~ ~ ~
The neat thing is that these cards don’t have to be an either/or. These ideas and experiences can layer, or live side by side.
This next song includes the line, “When everything falls apart, your arms hold me together.” This represents the type of enduring emotional support and security I see in the 2 of cups, but it can also be seen as the Lovers because of its absolute lack of nuance.
That is, the absolute, supplicant-to-god, language.
When I see that tragedy has found me
I still believe your faithful arms will never let me go.”
Granted, I think this song was originally written as-to God, but the intensity well reflects the all-or-nothing one can feel in an intense relationship and represented in the Lovers card.
[Everything Falls, by Fee.]
~ ~ ~
For the reversed 2 of cups, I hear this song.
[Stranded, sung by Plumb.]
“You know it only breaks my heart
To see you standing in the dark
Alone waiting there for me
To come back.”
“I can only take so much
These tears are turning me to rust
I know you’re waiting there for me
To come back
I’m too afraid to show…”
The nuance I see here is the in-the-world details: Waiting in the dark, turning to rust, even the ocean wave – their connection to the physical world and time.
~ ~ ~
But the distinctions are only really for the purpose of study or contemplation. The point here isn’t an either-or; that one card in the deck must only mean this discrete, non-overlapping set of words, meanings or characteristics.
Rather, I feel that what we are exploring are shades of nuance that are ultimately compatible. Pairing always includes some of the same aspects: Finding, experiencing, feeling, expressing.
In both cards you have a significant pair (finding each other), but one is more inherently intense than the other (experience). You feel all the feels – which ones will depend on things as varied as uniqueness and personalities.
In general Lovers are the launch, the hopes and ideals (including the realization of those ideals). In the 2 of cups I see laundry, lunch, and long-term; willing and mutual self-giving (expressing love and commitment in the everyday).
You can see a visual example of this contrast in the following video. [Thinking Out Loud, sung by Ed Sheeran.]
The singer is on the dance floor, but he’s not a Wow-dancer. So they found him a partner who (in the words of one comment) “does some next level ninja moves around him.”
In this representation, she’s the Lover’s card, and he’s the 2 of cups.
Basically he’s not as powerful or flashy, but he’s consistent. He’s a solid base, and he did the work to execute his part with safety and attention. She, for her part, partners with him and doesn’t dial back to his level of ability.
She continues to be an amazing dancer and they stay together and both look like they had a really good time.
~ ~ ~
Depending on the day I honestly prefer the down-to-earth consistency of the 2 of cup over the frenetic energy of the Lovers.
I’m sure this says a lot about me, but it’s my blog, so that’s okay.
I just bring it up to say this is why I don’t consistently follow the tradition that default-elevates the Major Arcana over the Minor Arcana.
But neither do I say that the minors – with their more-frequent, more familiar (perhaps) sureness – are better.
There is a beautiful power in moments of significant connection, in the spark of sureness that you’ve made the right decision. That’s something I don’t always see in the 2 of cups.
As we continue in this series there will overlap and fine-distinctions, and there’s room for all of it.