The Lovers is the card of relationships and romance, as well as of choices. There isn’t a single Rune for this, because the entire Futhark is about family in one way or another. Even the conflicts inherent in ᚦ (Thurisaz) are an important part of every relationship. That said, I think of this card mostly in line with ᚾ (Naudhiz), in that it is a card of the need for companionship, love, and sex.
The Waite-Smith card shows a scene from Abrahamic mythology in which Adam stands with his third wife, Eve, in a garden. An angel floats over them, and they stand in front of two trees: the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of eternal life. In Abrahamic mythology, the god of that garden said that if they had eaten of both trees, they would have become gods. In that story, they ate from the tree of knowledge, but not of eternal life.
The Fool’s Journey
One would think that I was about to write about Odin’s marriage to Frigg at this point, but I don’t think The Lovers matches that relationship as well as his fling with Gunlod, the giantess who guarded the Mead of Poetry. The Lovers card has a note of this temptation, this forbidden love. Odin’s lament in the Havamal of how he treated her is exactly what I expect to show up in the next card after I see The Lovers.
A lot of decks focus on the sexual side of this card, emphasizing the carnal pleasures of the flesh. I can only imagine that Freya prefers this version of The Lovers. This is clearly associated with ᛜ (Inguz), the Rune of sex and fertility, although the man is almost never shown with the long blond hair associated with most pictures of Frey.
There is also almost always an association with ᚹ (Wunjo), the Rune of joy. The participants all look like they are having a good time. Remember, if both people aren’t having a good time during sex, you’re doing it wrong.
Other decks focus on the romantic or sensual side of The Lovers. I associate this version of the card with Frigg. The tenderness of the embrace or gaze is like the Rune of the warming hearth, ᚲ (Kenaz). The way they are entwined (literally in the Wildwood Tarot on the right) implies a sense of the Rune of that which is unchanging, ᛁ (Isa).