Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Tarot Tales: L is for The Lovers

Welcome to the 2021 A to Z Blogging Challenge! My theme this year is Tarot Tales. I am making a selection of folktales, legends, and other traditional stories that correspond to tarot cards. Storytelling and tarot go well together. Do other stories come to mind? Let me know in the comments!

The card: The Lovers

Meanings: This card symbolizes the obvious: love, attraction, passion, romance, relationships, and following your heart. But it also broader than that, because it is connected to all kinds of meaningful relationships, harmony and communication, respect, and two forces coming together in a powerful union. In addition, this card is often used to symbolize choices and decisions, acting in accordance with your own values and beliefs, having integrity, and doing the right thing.

Selection process: The RWS Lovers card has very biblical imagery, with Adam and Eve and the angel and the serpent on the tree. I was looking for something less... biblical, and also something that makes a better love story. To make it extra difficult, I also wanted a tale that is about making choices. I finally decided on one of my favorite love stories in world folklore.

The story: The Pale Mountains (a.k.a. Prince of the Dolomites)

Origin: Italian, Tyrolean, Ladin

Summary: A prince falls in love with the moon, and pines away all his life wishing to reach it. One day he gets lost in the mountains, and in a dream he sees a radiant, beautiful girl who claims to be the daughter of the Moon King. The prince hands her a red flower, but when he wakes up, the girl is nowhere to be seen. 
Seeking the Moon Princess, the prince climbs the mountain with a bouquet of flowers, and encounters two old men who turn out to be citizens of the moon, on their way home. The prince begs them to take him along. They all fly up to she moon on a cloud, where the prince can finally meet the princess. They fall in love, get married, and live happily... for a while. The light of the moon is so radiant up close, however, that the mortal prince begins to go blind. He has to return to earth, and he takes his wife along. 
Once again, they are happy for a while; the princess plants moon flowers (edelweiss) all around, and she loves the people and colors of earth. However, she soon grows depressed and homesick, because the mountains seem dark and menacing to her. Eventually she has to go back home to heal; her husband follows her, but once again he begins to grow blind. The royal couple gives up hope of being together, and the prince, heartbroken, returns to earth alone.
Plot twist! The prince meets a band of Dwarves in the mountains, who are refugees from a war far East. Their king promises that if they can settle in the kingdom, they will help him. The prince convinces his father to give the high mountains to the Dwarves (since humans don't really go there anyway). In return, the Dwarves spin moonlight, and cover the rocks with it, turning the range of the Dolomites from dark grey to pale pastel colors - as they are to this very day. The Moon Princess can now happily return to earth, and live with her husband among the radiant mountains. 

Sources & notes: Read the story in this book, or here, or here.

Runner-ups: I was also considering some of my favorite feminist love stories, such as the Wooing of Pumei or Herburt and Hild. But since I already blogged about those, I wanted something new.

Have you ever been to the Dolomites? Would you like to visit now that you know the story? :)


  1. No, when my parents visited Italy I was 13, and as an average 13 year old, moody. We were in Europe for a year and I was afraid I'd be a year behind in school when we returned, so I refused to go to Italy and Morocco, opting to stay in a boarding school in Spain. I was so moody I didn't even get out of the car at the Eiffel Tower! Travel is wasted on 13 year olds! I would like to travel, but now the cost is beyond my means, and I get airsick worse than before. No, the bible story of the fruit and Adam and Eve and the serpent surely isn't a love story!

  2. Loved the story.
    And laughed at 'plot twist'.
    It pays to ne kind, I guess.

    The fact that the card represents integrity and doing the right thing sits at odds with the depiction of Eve and the serpent or Adam and Eve.

  3. What a fabulous tale, and perfect love story! I do love a good moon-related tale. I absolutely want to visit the Dolomites now, and I want to plant some edleweiss as well.

  4. I'm so glad they were able to compromise and find a way to live together!
    Black and White: L for Luilekkerland

  5. I've always loved that story :-)

    Ronel visiting for the A-Z Challenge with an A-Z of Faerie: Ly Ergs