This is the eight post in a series on the creation of Divination’s setting and magical universe as defined by the tarot. The first post in the series is Making a tarot-defined setting, and you can find the entire series linked at the bottom of each entry.
The Garden Road (The Lovers)
Direct Source: The Sun (Blessing)
Practitioners: Citizens and Celebrants
Artists who are not above getting their hands dirty in service of creating the most orderly, stable, healthy world they can.
The Way of Love, which promises gifts that strengthen, heal, revive, and nourish. This Road rewards efforts that foster the best environment for True Love to occur—peaceful, orderly environments. These Artists think of stability as a metaphoric garden, one which often requires pruning, adjustment, and a firm hand. While no Artists trust Artists on the Crooked Road, Artists on the Garden Road cannot tolerate Crooked Road Artists at all—their ideals are too antithetical. These Artists are called to remain vigilant and to find a way they’ll serve the Road. Will they become healers, teachers, leaders and gurus? Or will they become fixers, defenders, wardens? Whatever role they play in society, their motivation is to always foster the stability that True Love needs to flourish.
I think about gardens a lot.
I don’t have a garden; I live in a big city and my apartment doesn’t have that nice kind of outside space where you could grow tomatoes or something. I do have lots of natural light though, so I have lots of houseplants.
Most of my houseplants are succulents, because when my husband and I got married, we made our own centerpieces and they were all succulents.
They stuck around. Ten years in, mine are still alive. A few of my friends have kept theirs alive too. Succulents are pretty easy, to be honest. They last forever and they abide humanity with a zen-like patience. If they have sun and soil they’ll thrive without water for days, perking up and restoring to health instantly once you give them a few drops of water.
But even if they’re willing to tolerate neglect, they won’t last forever without that necessary few drops of water. If I let them go entirely, they’d all die.
But also, I trim them. I make sure they look nice in their arrangements and don’t get too leggy. I chop bits up and put their fronds in a vase in the bathroom to make a little green splash of color in there.
I make them a garden of sorts, by shaping their looks and keeping them healthy.
The Lovers card depicts a famous garden and four of its famous denizens: Adam, Eve, an Angel (perhaps Gabriel or Raphael), and the Serpent.
So many weird forces at play! This is a depiction of desire, the connection of two souls of course, but there is also this: a threat (the Serpent) and, seemingly, a coordinator (the Angel).
Why are they depicted there? The card is called The Lovers, but the scene seems to suggest the parable of original sin.
The Angel is maintaining order; presiding over the event of their connection, even though it’s considered “a fall from grace.” They’re the largest depiction on the card.
The card is actually a depiction of the Angel. Not the Lovers at all.
I interpret it this way: love is a divine manifestation. It’s meant to be. And it has to be protected, as Serpents lurk everywhere.
So, a Road built on this idea: how do you emulate the Angel in the image? You’d have to make protecting the Garden your job. You have to make sure the conditions that create love are present: peace, stability, harmony.
Just like tending a garden (or pruning your windowsill succulents), you’d have to make sure everyone got water. You’d have to make sure that everyone in the pot was healthy.
And you’d have to prune at times. You have to pull weeds.
Because what a gardener really does is impose order on the randomness of life. Where a gardener exists there can be an unnatural beauty. The Artists on the Garden Road would see this as a divine command, to create the stability that allows love to grow.
I see this as a bit tragic for them. The Angel isn’t depicted as getting to know or experience love. They have to keep an eye out for the Serpents and make sure the sun is shining on everything else.
I think this is true for Artists on this Road as well—they are forbidden from love, as the calling of their Road will always want them to prioritize the garden over the selfish indulgence of love.
These Artists, like the plants of any garden, would be drawn to the Source of The Sun, which in tarot, represents good fortune, optimism, and freshness. I drew the Esoteric Art of Blessings from this, to tell the stories of “good magic” and all the ways something as powerful as the Art could be used to nourish, stabilize, and heal.
I envisioned Artists who could bless a newborn on the first day of their life and know that their blessing would stick for life. I saw healers, shamans, and mystics who knew how to hasten healing with teas and songs, using wisdom passed down through time to make life more enjoyable, more stable and more healthy.
These Gardener-Artists would hate the Artists of the Crooked Road. These two cards are depicted in the same composition, but have polar interpretations; their two corresponding Roads would have to do the same.
I could see a culture of war. Of language like “weeding the garden.” I could see ways the Garden Road would be more complicated than just “the good guys.”
The Crooked Road says: satisfy yourself. The Garden Road says: protect the garden. Both are lonely paths. They’re extremes, both promising enlightenment at their endpoints; but both ask their Artist to transform themselves entirely in order to access their benefits.
>> Read the next post in this series: The Road of Scale and Blade
Find the rest of the series here:
- Entry 1: Making a tarot-defined setting
- Entry 2: The Roads and Sources
- Entry 3: This game will teach you tarot
- Entry 4: The Road of Two Lands
- Entry 5: The Unwritten Road
- Entry 6: The Shivering Road
- Entry 7: The Crooked Road
- Entry 8: The Garden Road (this post)
- Entry 9: The Road of Scale and Blade
- Entry 10: The Road of the Infinite Loop
- Entry 11: Itinerant Artists
- Entry 12: The Esoteric Renaissance