heart

INTERPRETATION


(Romantic) love, care, tenderness, forgiveness, wholeheartedness


About the meaning: Traditionally the Heart almost exclusively represents love. Not just romantic love - love in all its forms and their manifold expressions. But still: the card is about this one dimension of human life, love. If you use Lenormand cards for classic fortune telling, where the assurance of (prospective) love is often a major motivation, the Heart is probably one of the most important cards. But I employ Lenormand cards for self-exploration, problem-solving, and inspiration. For this purpose, the Heart's one-dimensional simplicity makes it quite unwieldy, sometimes of only limited use. I've tried to expand the traditional meaning beyond the preserve of interpersonal relationships. But, while I think I did quite well, I was still limited by having (and wanting) to keep within the boundaries of the heart as a symbol. And these boundaries are pretty narrow.

Romance / infatuation / romanticisation: While this isn't the most applicable part of the Heart's interpretations for me personally it is probably the very first which comes to most people's minds: romance. The Heart can signify romantic love, the chance of a new relationship, butterflies in the stomach. Whenever you ask about a romantic relationship, the presence or absence of the heart, the position it turns up in, and/or its surrounding cards can give you important clues. In this context it is important to note, though, that the Heart alone only represents romantic love but not automatically commitment, too!
In addition to interpreting the Heart as a representative of inter-personal romance I have found it helpful to use the Heart as a hint at quasi-romantic but decidedly non-sexual infatuation. For example, the Heart could stand for a strong infatuation with a specific TV series (which we absolutely can't live without), or for infatuation with our new cabriolet (with which we spend more time than with our spouse), or for the infatuation with a certain concept (of whose perfect beauty we're so convinced that we can't see its glaring flaws). And taking this only a small step further, the Heart also stands for romanticisation. Sometimes the card may warn us we're wearing rose-coloured glasses; that we are so "in love" with someone or something that we are not able to see any (possibly dangerous) flaws.

Love in all its forms / a loved one / fondness: Apart from romantic love the Heart stands for any type of love imagunable. The love between parents and children, for example, the love we have for close friends, strong platonic love, or the grace of charity, altruism - the Heart can suggest to "love thy neighbour as thyself". As the representative of a person the Heart can stand for a lover, or a loved one, but also for someone with a golden heart, for someone with a very sweet temper, for someone who has a disposition of benevolence. Furthermore, the Heart can represent fondness not just of another person but also of something; it represents all those things, even activities, which are dear to us, beloved by us.

Acts of love / care / charity: Love is not just something we feel - it is something we do. When we tell someone we love them but then don't give them comfort when they need us to, what we called love was either a lie or very, very weak. When we truly love someone we also act accordingly. So the Heart represents all the acts of love which arise out of a loving disposition: loving care, the showing of compassion, or of being happy for someone, the act of giving comfort, or of tending to someone who is ill. Often, the Heart seems to suggests that we should spend more quality time with our loved ones. Additionally, the Heart can also represent charity, donations, and even welfare.

The loving gaze / tenderness / forgiveness: To look at someone or something with a loving gaze means seeing them as worthy of love - in the way they are right now. When we switch on our loving gaze we quieten the cynic in us, the eternal fault-finder. We stop criticising, we cease to compare. Instead, we accept what we see for what it is and love it as such. The loving gaze also encourages us to treat others (and ourselves) with tenderness. It tells us that everything and everyone can be injured or even broken when handled harshly, and thus it suggests a gentle, soft approach. Now, how this applies to actual readings depends on the context. As advice, for example, the Heart can be understood as a hint that we are much too hard on ourselves or others and should adopt a softer, more tender, approach. Taken as a warning, on the other hand, the Heart may warn us that we're too soft; that we're mollycoddling ourselves or others to the point where it becomes unhealthy.
Furthermore: When we manage to look at someone we have an argument with, at someone who hurt us, with a loving gaze, forgiveness and reconciliation will be a likely outcome. Both are very useful meanings of the Heart, even when the question asked had nothing to do with a lover's quarrel or recent interpersonal conflict. Often, the Heart is a useful hint that there's something we haven't forgiven ourselves for yet but should, or, that there are some unpleasant facts or past experiences we need to reconcile ourselves with in order to be able to move on.

Wholeheartedness / promptings of the heart: Many Lenormand readers associate the Heart not just with romance but with passion, too. But for me, "passion" is something rather wild; consuming - and I see that in the (Sensual) Lily. The Heart doesn't indicate wild abundance of passion to me. It represents something much quieter but not any less intense: promptings of the heart, wholeheartedness. The card can say that "our heart is in it", that we've "set our heart on something", or that we've "put our heart and soul in it". The Heart to me represents that which we know "in our heart of hearts", things we say "from the bottom of our heart". It may represent a person who wears their heart on their sleeve. And it can represent anything we take to heart, or that which tugs on our heartstrings.

See also the annakblogs article >> So, is the Heart a positive card, then?

See also the annakblogs article >> What's the difference between the Lenormand card Heart and the Tarot card The Lovers?


About the Image: The Heart was one of the three cards that kept me stuck in a painter's block for over two years. Because obviously I couldn't paint an actual heart, with tubes and arteries. This would have been very graphic, almost gory, and thus contort the card's meaning, possibly beyond recognition. But neither did I want to paint a red comic style heart. And all the other symbolic depictions I could think of (e.g. swans necks or fingers bent in the shape of a heart, or a heart-shaped flower-wreath) seemed worn out to me, and not very meaningful intrinsically. Finally, I settled with a very simple but hopefully also emotionally evocative design: A person is cradling a glowing heart in their arms. This heart which they are holding so tenderly, almost protectively, could represent their own inner being, or it could stand for someone they care for deeply. Because the heart is glowing, it is casting warmth and light on its surroundings. This aspect of the image symbolises what the loving gaze does to the world: it transforms it into a brighter, warmer place.
My first sketch of the card didn't include the soft, silky, cloth which is wrapped partly around the Heart - but the image didn't feel right until I added it. For our (metaphorical) hearts are almost frighteningly vulnerable. They are so easily wounded, they shatter so easily! Without the additional protective wrapping not only did the Heart look exposed, unsafe, but much more importantly, it made the person holding the heart look uncaring! The protective cloth, on the other hand, tells the viewer that the person cradling the heart is handling it with care; keeping it safe and warm. In addition, the not quite full visibility of the heart expresses metaphorically that we don't immediately bare our heart to just anybody. Fully baring our heart is a truly intimate act which usually requires quite some time and trust.
Another detail which might interest you is that I chose the red colouring of the cloth and the person's shirt not just because red is a warm colour and commonly associated with love! I mentioned above that I felt that painting an actual, anatomically correct, heart, was not an option. But part of me regretted this. Because while an actual heart would have been too graphic it would also have introduced a sense of bodily reality. And profound love (whether romantic or non-romantic) is not just something that takes place in our minds. It is a very, very physical process, which for example involves our hormones and even influences blood pressure and breathing patterns. So I chose the blood red colouring to introduce at least an echo of this bodily reality, a hint of flowing blood, of the actual, pulsing myocardial muscle.  
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