In the essay Sins and Virtues, I organize a collection of sins and virtues upon a numerological grid with a spine of contrast between the extreme of Sins and the between moderation of Virtues:
The Spine of Tarot
This essay will focus on the Virtue of Love, which, through a process of elimination, made it onto the aforementioned chart. Keep in mind though, that these essays are not meant to be the last word on virtues, I leave that up to the philosophers among us who have already written volumes and volumes of wisdom concerning these ideas. Instead, these essays are only meant to show how these concepts fit, within the parameters of the theoretical model of existence being put forth everywhere on this site. If the other ideas put forth elsewhere on this site have not already been read and understood, they probably should be, before reading any of these Virtue essays.
In my opinion, the first thing that has to be said about the virtue of Love as an emotion of love, is that it ought not to be confused with the emotions of desire and wanting. We naturally want what we love to be with us always, but we should not confuse our wanting, desires and passions with love.
Love is a rose
but you better not pick it
It only grows when it's on the vine.
A handful of thorns and
you'll know you've missed it
You lose your love
when you say the word "mine".
It may be hard for some people to believe, but it is in fact possible to love people, places or things without having to own and possess them. Thus, love is not so much about the getting and having of what we want and need, it's about something else. In the design of vices and virtues being presented here, desires and passions are characteristics that are distinctly of the 4/6 Visceral personality type (see All of Human Behavior elsewhere on this site). Love has become associated with these ideas of wanting, needing, longing and desire because the 4/6 Visceral types dominate the landscape of human endeavor, and these are concepts that are important to them (see Consider the Source elsewhere on this site). The 4/6 Visceral types are the majority opinion, thus, what they say love is, it is. But is love really about having and getting what we want and need? We could let the majority opinion stand, and rest with the idea that love is about satisfying our passions, desires, wants and needs. But I don't agree.
Love and Sex
As an alternative view, consider the possibility that love might not be so much about longing for what we want and need as it is about touching and being touched - physically, mentally or spiritually - whether we ever come to own and possess that which touches us or not. In this schema, love is about connecting... in ways that soothe us, and lead to enduring happiness. The possessive ownership of those things that make us happy, as well as the sexual intercourse that so often follows, may naturally flow from such connective intimacy, but as something that follows from something else, these concepts would not be considered an essential component of love itself. In this schema of love, it would in fact be considered possible to love something or someone without that love ever morphing into possessive ownership or a sexual encounter.
In fact, for many, the sexual encounters that result from confusing feelings of desire and wanting for that of love, often have a destructive effect on what we think are feelings of love... or what we mistake for love. Like Neil Young's lyrics suggest, we often lose our sense of love when we try to carry what we think is love into a realm in which it doesn't belong. Thus, love that thereby fades is considered to have never been love to begin with, but instead, the passions of desire, wanting and needing of things which are eventually no longer wanted or needed. This is the typical 4/6 Visceral approach to love. True love, however, does not fade. True love does not increase when we get something or someone. True love does not decrease when we lose something or someone. True love is about an abiding connection. And... like our subatomic quantum scientists tell us - once connected always connected.
In its best possible form, a sexual encounter can be a way of physically demonstrating a connection of true love between people who touch each other in intimate ways - physically, mentally and spiritually. But if that connection is not there on all three levels, such encounters usually end up being sexual gratification for the sake of sexual gratification and the getting of what we want. To possess such people sexually, or things materially, only for their ability to keep our urges of desire satisfied might be considered appropriate and acceptable to the 4/6 Visceral majority who typically fall into this trap more than any other, and can't hardly control themselves to begin with, but I would not call such associations true love. For many, it is nearly impossible to love without wanting to own that which affects us so deeply. But to really understand what love is, I think it necessary to for us to disassociate one thing from another and examine love by itself.
In the schema being presented on this site, love is about connecting, touching, or being touched - physically, mentally and spiritually. Thus, the ones who know love best are not the 4/6 Visceral types, but the 3/7 Sensorial types - the ones with the sensitivity to know when, and in what ways they are being touched, and how to touch back. And while some 4/6 Visceral types might hold on to the idea that a sexual encounter is a most emphatic form of connecting - as in male and female completing each other in some sort of RE-union from a former hermaphroditic state in a mythical past - true love, on the 3/7 Sensorial level, does not require, or involve, sexual mating at all. True love is not about the passions and desires of mating, true love is about a bond of unity that transcends sexual dualities and sexual - or even material desires, thereby allowing us to love many things for which a sexual encounter would either be questionable (like with parents), or just plain impossible (like loving a painting). Thus, true love is where sexual identities are in fact indistinguishable or indeed irrelevant to the act or state of connecting.
In the schema being presented everywhere on this site, love is mapped out in such a way as to occupy a particular region where opposites are not diametrically opposed (like a 1/9 Cerebral type), not magnetically attracted (like a 2/8 Perceptual type), not mutually engaged (like a 4/6 Visceral type), but... the same, or identical (like a 3/7 Sensorial type) (see diagram below and/or The Apart/Together Model or the Neither, Either Both Model elsewhere on this site). Thus, as illustrated in the diagram below, love represents a point of duality where we feel a sensation of sameness with something or someone else... where we feel the same or as identical as we can possibly be on a living, mortal, consciousness level of being. Thus it is, that a person can love a man or a woman, or a dog or a cat, or a painting in a gallery - because love is not about sex or mating... it's about connecting, touching and being touched.
Love and Happiness
Love is about connecting, not desire. But... at the same time, separating our 4/6 Visceral desires from our 3/7 Sensorial acts of touching and connecting to people and things is about as impossible as separating our literal guts from our literal skin. Our skin encloses us in a form. Lots of people think that our human form is a prison into which our souls are trapped after falling from the high graces of Divinity. They speculate that our human form is a tomb, and that life on earth is the real death of us, with what follows upon death being a more inspired form of living. Those who present this model are typically the 4/6 Visceral types. Because the 4/6 types are archetypally influenced by the idea of a core of substance enclosed within a shell or surface or skin, it is not uncommon for the 4/6 Visceral types to feel trapped in their own skin, and as a result, spend a lifetime looking for ways to escape out of their skin (see Creativity, Talent and Drugs elsewhere on this site). Thus it is that things that succeed in letting them out of their skin become things for them to love, want and need.
Unfortunately, as we mature, some of us develop thick skin - both physically as well as metaphorically, around our minds and hearts. Others consciously or unconsciously build walls of protection against the slings and arrows of life's misfortunes. These walls, prison bars, and tombs are what make us feel trapped in our bodies and conscious minds. Thick walls, thick skin, and prison bars make connecting, through any literal or metaphorical sense of touch, difficult. Thus, the thicker the skin the harder it is for love to get in... or out. Some try to burn down those walls with the fires of passion. Others escape the prison bars by pretending to be someone they aren't. But these are usually less than satisfactory techniques for finding true love. To find true love, we need to make an honest connection, in a most natural and organic way. We don't do this by forcing our passions out, or by seductively drawing in the passions of others, and trapping them in our prison. A true and honest connection occurs only when our theoretical, metaphorical skin is open to an effortless passage of content in and out of our theoretical form. Like a house with open doors, where all are welcome to enter or leave as they please, our metaphorical skin needs to be as transparent as that open door, or better yet, no door because... no walls (if you love someone, set them free, they will come back to you if it was meant to be).
To eliminate, or at least thin out the metaphorical wall around our psyche that inhibits the free flow of content in and out, the insides and outsides of our physical and mental form need to be in perfect, relaxed harmony - the pressure outward and the pressure inward need to be the same. Our insides and outsides are most closely the same when our skin is the thinnest. Likewise, our metaphorical skin is the thinnest when our insides and outsides are the same. But, thin skin implies vulnerability to the slings and arrows of misfortune... which is why so many never find love, and settle for sex, or other forms of 4/6 friendship instead. But for those capable of "thinning their skin," finding another with skin equally thin will allow 4/6 passions to flow back and forth effortlessly like a single entity bonded in unity. Or, when relating to things not human, thin skin will allow more substantial connections by way of increased sensitivity to the literal and metaphorical touch of things upon our psyche.
Here we see how the concept of Love is in fact a combination or connecting of two other factors across a metaphorical layer of thin skin. The characteristic of simultaneity, found within the 3/7 stage of development makes this marriage possible.
But... strictly speaking, it's not really a marriage in the traditional Male and Female sense. Simultaneity is more about being the same - i.e. not opposites combined, but opposites as one. Opposites combined, or married, is a function of the number 5. The 3/7 stage is where sides "kiss" both figuratively and literally, before swapping sides in 4/6 sexual intercourse, leading from there to eventual marriage at 5.
Love is systemic: It enriches the 1/9 Mind, It elevates the 2/8 Spirit. It nourishes the 3/7 Soul. It appeases the 4/6 Heart.
But... while we differentiate our 4/6 Visceral desires from our 3/7 skin of touching and connecting, there is another aspect of love that should probably be thought of separately. What we love makes us happy. But, like desire being more of a 4/6 quality, the way things are mapped out here, happiness is seen not so much a 3/7 quality but more as a 2/8 quality... being felt through our 3/7 touching of people and things. When our passions and desires are liberated through the metaphorical skin of our psyche, we feel a sense of euphoria. This lightening of our Spirit occurs at the 2/8 stage of our theoretical model of existence (see the The Orgasmic 8 or A Significant Signature of Nature elsewhere on this site). Shown above is another diagram, used elsewhere around this site, to illustrate the concept of simultaneity found at the 3/7 stage of our theoretical model of existence. In this diagram we see how love acquires its sense of passion from the desires of the 4/6 Heart and its sense of happiness from the from the euphoria, or harmony of the 2/8 Spirit. And how it is only when our skin is thin enough for these two forces to connect, touch, and blend as one at the 3/7 surface, or metaphorical skin of our psyche, that a sense of love occurs in our 3/7 Sensorial Soul. Thus, things that lift our 2/8 spirits and make us happy, and things that stir our 4/6 desires and make us passionate, become the things that we love, because of how they in fact generate love at the 3/7 surface of our Soul. Like mixing the colors of yellow and blue to get green, we mix the euphoria of our Spirit with the desires of our Heart to get the love of our Soul (see Colors elsewhere on this site).
Love and Perfection
Thinning our metaphorical skin is how we let love in, and how we express it out, feeling it at the 3/7 surface of our Sensorial Soul in each direction. But excessive degrees of thinness can be just as harmful to our psyche as excessive thickness. People who tend to go overboard in everything they do might think that if thin is good, thinner must be better. But such is not the case, as people with excessively thin skin tend to have their feelings trampled by the slightest offenses. Like a babe in the woods, their state of vulnerability can be precarious. Thin skin may allow us to love everyone and everything, but the fact of the matter is, that not everything will love us back to the degree of sensitivity required to not damage the content of our enclosed 4/6 Hearts... not to mention fragile Egos. Thus, like someone who must live within a plastic bubble because of excessive vulnerability, due to a lack of immunities, we need to always have SOME amount of metaphorical skin around our psyche, to protect us from the slings and arrows of life's misfortunes. The trick - like Goldilocks finding just the right bed in which to sleep - is to find a degree of thinness of metaphorical skin that allows our content to flow back and forth effortlessly, while still remaining sufficiently thick as to protect against harm.
Humans are not perfect. Thus finding the perfect degree of metaphorical skin thickness remains elusive, as we are all different under different conditions. But when someone meets a person or a thing that is expressive to a degree that is in perfect proportion to the thickness of their own metaphorical skin, the transfer of content to and fro is effortless, and leads to a true and organic connection, thereby producing a sensation of love toward a person or thing that is subsequently loved. In other words, when conditions are perfect, we are touched. By making such a perfect connection, that person or thing will draw our 4/6 passions and desires to the surface, where they will meet our euphoric 2/8 Spirit and produce the sensation of love. In this way - in addition to passions and euphoria - we come to also associate love with perfection - a perfect coming together in sameness. But, as stated, humans are not really perfect, only close at times. God, or Divinity, on the other hand, is perfect (see The Way elsewhere on this site). Thus, in associating love with perfection, and perfection with Divinity, we have come to associate love with Divinity and the making of a connection to, or from, a loving God - either The Hand of God reaching down to create us with the sensitive touch of a perfect artist, or us reaching up to God with the virtue of Piety (placed at position 7 in our Sins and Virtues chart shown above) in the hopes of a perfect expression of life having the power to connect back i.e. Re-ligare (see Religion elsewhere on this site).
Love is: Perception of Perfection in Connection
But... humans are not perfect. So... is it really God that we touch with our nearly perfect connections of love? In the essay Stop Being So Human it is suggested that the only forms of Unity capable of being reached and "known" by living mortal humans, are the Unities of Light and Dark, or Life and Death, or something and nothing... Me and We, and that perfect Divinity was neither Light or Dark, but an unobtainable, neutral Gray... or beyond Gray to a realm that lies in absentia to our universe. Thus it was suggested that it is in fact LIFE, not God, that we reach when we achieve a sense of Unity that is life enhancing, life preserving and life perpetuating, and DEATH, not God, that we reach when we achieve a sense of Unity that is life detracting, life threatening and life ending. In this way, Humanity was shown to aspire to an ultimate Unity, but nonetheless live and die in an ultimate Duality. Of the dualities we live with, love is life enhancing, while hate is life detracting. Thus, through our nearly perfect connections of love we don't really connect with God, but with LIFE... which is still pretty good! The ultimate Unity of The Absentia is unobtainable by mortals on a wheel of reincarnations, or otherwise. The Absentia is God (see Behold The Absentia! elsewhere on this site). LIFE, it is theorized, is an offspring of God - like a Son (for those who prefer to anthropomorphize abstract concepts). Thus, when we connect in ways that produce love on the surface of our 3/7 Sensorial Souls, we are not so much connecting to God as we are connecting to the Son of God! This makes us happy, as our 2/8 Spirits lift our 4/6 Hearts out of our mortal prison (for those who are inclined to view our bodies and minds that way).
We LOVE perfection. When things are perfect - or as perfect as they can possibly be for imperfect humans living in our imperfect world - there is nothing more to be said - there is a sense of Divine Calm in perfection. Perfect resonance, perfect form, perfect moment, perfect expressions, they all elicit the emotion of love in us. Whereupon our possessive 4/6 Visceral qualities tend to want to keep what we love close to our heart. When someone or something fits so perfectly to our ideals of perfection, we want to keep them and own them, and subsequently build walls of protection around them so that others can't take them from us. But the real lesson here is how the possessive nature of the 4/6 Visceral type, that resides in all of us to some degree or another, destroys love, and how love can only flow through that metaphorical skin when there is no possession involved.
Love and Tarot
In a tarot deck, like the everpopular Rider/Waite/Smith deck, the thin skin of love is symbolized by the beauty and grace of The Empress (a 3). Thick skinned walls that must be destroyed are symbolized by The Tower (a 7). The spiritual transport to euphoria is symbolized by The Chariot. In the chart of virtues presented above, Love occupies position 3, while Piety becomes an equidistantly equivalent type of connection... Love being more mundane love of Humanity, and Piety being more spiritual love of Divinity. When the number line is viewed as a progression of ideas, Love enters at the 3 and is expressed back out again at the number 7 as Piety or love of the Divine - i.e. involution and evolution. But... only if our theoretical skin is thin enough to allow such effortless passage.
Interestingly, the charioteer depicted in The Chariot card of most decks has ironically thick skin. He is covered in armor. Thus he symbolizes an acknowledgment for the need to have SOME amount of protection against the slings and arrows of life's misfortunes, even at the moment of his spiritual transport, symbolized by his literal form of transport - a chariot. As mentioned above, making the metaphorical skin of our psyche extremely thin might enable us to love everything and everyone, but it also makes us extremely vulnerable to harm. If we want, we can take our extremely thin skin and live in a cloistered world, like a monk. But to shut ourselves away would be somewhat hypocritical, as the protective walls of our monastery would only be seen as a substitute for the thick skin we claim to have thinned in order to love everything and everyone. So... the lesson is, that we should not build monastery walls, like those of The Tower (sometimes called The House of God) (a 7), but that we should carry with us some measure of protection, like that of the armor seen on the body of charioteer in The Chariot card (a 7).
When our metaphorical skin is thin enough to connect to LIFE and living in ways that don't also allow harm, we become loving people, like The Empress (a 3). But, as implied, there are different amounts of thickness or thinness for different situations. When the thickness or thinness between two humans is perfect we call that rapport. When the thickness or thinness between a human and a thing is perfect we call that affinity. We love those with whom we have rapport. We love things with which we have affinity. We love things that bring our emotions to the metaphorical surface, or skin, of our psyche.
On the other hand... if our metaphorical skin remains too thick, we become hateful, hated people, like the despised Hanged Man (sometimes called The Traitor) (a 3). As equidistant partners, we see how the thick skinned Hanged Man in fact lives within The Tower. In The Tower, we see people (sinners) - like The Hanged Man, falling head first to the ground. The upside down condition of the Hanged Man, and the upside down condition of these sinners symbolically conveys the notion of wrongness along the entire path between card 12 (a 3) and card 16 (a 7). Likewise, they both convey the notion of hate - being hated, and hating. The Hanged Man (a 3) is hated by humans, the sinners from The Tower are hated by the divine. In The Numerical Tarot, this path of wrongness extends beyond card 12 and 16 to include cards 10 through 18. In The Numerical Tarot, all of these cards represent negative ways that we ought not to be... from which we should right ourselves. In their reversed orientation, they represent all the mitigated negativity that we find in most studies of tarot. People who prefer to mitigate the "bad" out of everything that crosses their path are welcome to focus exclusively on these mitigated interpretations. The Numerical Tarot prefers to illustrate dichotomies like love and hate with extremely high contrast.
For more on this idea of thin skin versus thick skin and how it can alter our perceptions of reality versus fantasy, try reading about Creativity, Talent and Drugs, within the book All Things Are Numbers where anything that gets us out of our skin is loved. Yes... there are dangers to having metaphorical skin around our psyche that is too thin! So, in case you were thinking about swinging the pendulum of excess away from metaphorically thick skin to an excess of metaphorically thin skin, in the hopes of finding true love everywhere you go, be forewarned: excesses of any kind are not healthy (see Stuck in the Mudaphore or Imagine a Reason to Believe or The Way elsewhere on this site).