An angel or cupid, a man and a woman, two trees (in Waite, it is Adam & Eve with one tree having a serpent and apples) - in some decks one tree is flowering, but the other has fruit. Also in some decks there is a man standing between two women.
Basic Tarot Story
The Fool comes to a cross-roads, filled with energy, confidence and purpose, knowing exactly where he wants to go and what he wants to do. And comes to a dead stop. A flowering tree marks the path he wants to take, the one he's been planning on taking. But standing before a fruit tree marking the other path is a woman. He's met and had relationships with women before, some far more beautiful and alluring. But she is different. Seeing her, he feels as though he's just been shot in the heart with cupid's arrow, so shocking, so painful is his "recognition" of her. As he speaks with her, the feeling intensifies; like finding a missing part of himself, a part he's been searching for his life long. It is clear that she feels the same about him. They finish each others sentences, think the same thoughts. It is as if an Angel above had introduced their souls to each other. Though it was his plan to follow the path of the flowering tree, and though it will cause some trouble for him to bring this woman with him, to go somewhere else entirely, the Fool knows he dare not leave her behind. Like the fruit tree, she will fulfill him. No matter how divergent from his original intent, she is his future. He chooses her, and together they head down a whole new road.
Basic Tarot Meaning
Originally, this card was called just LOVE. And that's actually more apt than "Lovers." Love follows in this sequence of growth and maturity. And, coming after the Emperor, who is about control, it is a radical change in perspective. LOVE is a force that makes you choose and decide for reasons you often can't understand; it makes you surrender control to a higher power. And that is what this card is all about. Finding something or someone who is so much a part of yourself, so perfectly attuned to you and you to them, that you cannot, dare not resist. In interpetation, the card indicates that the querent has come across, or will come across a person, career, challenge or thing that they will fall in love with. They will know instinctively that they must have this, even if it means diverging from their chosen path. No matter the difficulties, without it they will never be complete.
The Lovers is a confusing card as it is ruled not by an emotional water sign but by airy Gemini. The original trump featured a man and a woman with a cupid above them about to shoot his dart. Later this became three figures, the interpetation being a man choosing between two women, or a man meeting his true love with the help of a matchmaker. Still later, with Waite, we have an Angel above Adam and Eve. The Angel stands for Raphael, who is emblematic of Mercury and Air, planet and element of Gemini. Gemini is the communications sign. It's all about messages and making contact; also, as it is the twins, about finding your other self. In this regard, you can see that the Lovers begins to make sense. Especially if you change it back to "LOVE." Here is a card about perfect communication, about finding something your soul requires. In this regard, its most common interpetation about being "A Choice" makes sense. When this card appears, you are being told to trust you instincts, to choose this career, challenge, person or thing you're so strongly drawn to, no matter how scary, how difficult, irrational or troublesome. Because without it, you will never be wholly you. It's sudden and unexpected, and it means a compete change in plans; but this is LOVE. True love. Go for it!