Ace of Hearts

A stylized vulva appears in watery blue tones. It is open and receptive, inviting sensual pleasures and also offering a return to the womb.

The suit of hearts is about the growth and maturation of loving feelings between people. The ace, the beginning, symbolizes our capacity to open, to receive, to allow another inside us, emotionally and psychologically. Love begins when walls are lowered and doorways are opened. When we let a stranger into our home, we take a great risk, but we also commit a sacred act, offering shelter, safety, and sustenance to a traveler in need. Hospitality stories are common in the folklore of many cultures. Often gods, disguised as impoverished travelers, are welcomed by kind and trusting souls, who are then rewarded extravagantly for their generosity. The portal is a powerful symbol, mediating as it does between security and trust. The ancient stories remind us that the gatekeeper's responsibility is not only to defend, but also to receive.

We all begin our lives within the body of a woman, a connection more intimate than anything we can imagine as separate adults. Our individualistic culture tends to view pregnancy through the lens of fetal development, as being about a new person being created and eventually achieving independent existence. We seldom reflect on the profundity of the mother's experience of sharing the inside of her body with another. She goes beyond the gatekeeper's offering sanctuary to a stranger; she literally becomes sanctuary.

The child in the womb is totally immersed in the fluids of life. The waters support and surround; they buffer the senses and protect from extremes. It is no wonder that water is a metaphor for love in so many symbolic systems. When two portions of water combine, they merge completely and become an indivisible unity. The ocean is thus a mystical symbol for the deep unity behind our individual selves. Rejoining the sea of consciousness is the ultimate communion with the cosmos. It is also a return to the womb.

The ace of hearts is about allowing entry, about receiving another, opening one's heart, risking one's individual safety in a sacred act of generosity and trust. It is the first card in this suit, because it is a prerequisite for all the others. Unless the portal opens, there is no love. Love is not a feeling of attraction or a fantasy of what another can do for us. It is choosing to become a sanctuary.