Roswila's Dream & Poetry Realm

SEE ALSO: TRYING TO HOLD A BOX OF LIGHT (photos, realistic to abstract)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Using The Tarot To Explore Dreams

I mentioned in a recent post I’d talk about how I use The Tarot to explore my dreams. The following is an up-dated melding of two articles I’ve written on this subject.


I’ve heard it said that using The Tarot with a dream is like dreaming about your dream. If so, what I’ve also heard said, that sometimes the key to a dream is in a subsequent dream, is particularly apt. I use journaling and dream re-entry, write dream-based poetry, go to the I-Ching and the Runes, and share dreams with friends, and find that The Tarot is as effective as any of these methods for dream work.


In my dream I listened to a former friend deny what she was clearly feeling. Leading me to wonder when I awoke, what I might be denying. The card I pulled at random was the Two of Wands from the Rider/Waite/Smith deck. What struck me immediately is that he holds a world globe in one hand. Traditional meanings have to do with “dominion” and “attainment of goals,” which meanings could have served to calm my concern about the dream. After all, he’s holding the world in his hands. But I have learned to stay with images a while and what surfaced next was “The world you can hold in your hands is too small a world for you.” This is not a meaning for the card that I have ever run across anywhere, and it rang all too true. I realized I was about to repeat an old pattern and limit the reach, or grasp, if you will, of my life, by playing it safe. What I was denying was my awareness of this.

The Tarot offered me an immediately graspable (pun intended) image to amplify the dream image. I do not claim that in realizing this I fully understood the dream. Only that because of The Tarot image I was able to recognize an important area of my life referenced by the dream that needed my waking intervention. Of course, not every dream/Tarot interface is as immediate or dramatic. But most are enlightening in some way, and many are humorous--and laughing is sometimes the most healing thing we can do (and there's a lot to be said for just plain enjoyable).


My approach to The Tarot is through a mix of intuitive flashes and the more traditional meanings of the cards. However, you need not have studied or even be familiar with The Tarot’s abundant images and meanings to use it to explore your dreams.

What you need are a willingness to set aside the time to listen inwardly to whatever surfaces while viewing the cards in relationship to the dream images. Then to take the time to keep careful notes. Lastly, but actually primarily, you need to hold a basic respect and compassion for yourself and the process, just as if working with someone else and her dream.

If you are going to purchase a Tarot deck for dream work, I recommend getting one with "illustrated pips." I.e., a deck with an illustrated scene on each card of the four minor suits, such as The Rider/Waite/Smith deck, and not just suit symbols. There's more for your intuition to grab on to.


Before I go to the Tarot cards, I read over the dream. I let what surfaces, surface. I read the dream as many times as I wish or need to.

Whatever responses, insights, questions arise, I write them down. Sometimes this leads to an exploration of the entire dream and I feel no need or desire to go to the Tarot.

If this reading and note making does not lead to a satisfactory exploration of the dream then I go to the Tarot.

I do sometimes go directly to The Tarot for help with a dream, bypassing reading and mulling it over. I may be rushed, or the dream may be very dense and complicated. In these cases, one card can sometimes open the dream up. But on most occasions when I have gone to The Tarot before working with the dream, I have found it difficult to relate the cards to my dream. Most of the time, when I read and mull the dream over first, when I do go to The Tarot it opens my dreams in very helpful and sometimes astounding ways. I believe the attempt to work on the dream first without The Tarot prepares the fertile ground of our unconscious for the advice and insights The Tarot images will help us harvest.


You may not wish to ask any question of The Tarot before pulling a card on a dream. This works fine, too. I do find, though, that sometimes I want to address a particular aspect or area, so by asking a question in my mind as I shuffle I "fine tune" the answer The Tarot will give.

A good question to ask when pulling one card at random is “What is most important that I hear from this dream?” This can be very illuminating.

Other good questions are:
– “Where is this dream going?” Like our lives, dreams are in process.
– “What action is being urged by this dream?” I find this question useful when I’ve been getting masses of insights from dream work over an extended period of time, but not seeing any translation of these insights into concrete change in my life.

You can also ask any question that comes to you, or none at all, when you pull a card on a dream.

Strange as it may sound, I believe The Tarot can also help glean something from unremembered dreams. I’ll share those questions in a future post.


As I mention above, all you really need to do is to listen inwardly to whatever surfaces while viewing the cards. Whatever you think on first viewing the card, even before trying to relate it to the dream, is often most important. Most often I find it offers a welcome insight, though ocassionally it may seem silly, or off-putting. In the latter cases, don't immediately reject that insight, but try to see how it may be amplifying the dream.

Sometimes, one particular aspect of the card "jumps out." Pay close attention to that aspect and what you think or feel about it.

Often the relationship to the dream is immediate and obvious. Sometimes I have to look at the card a bit, and then re-read the dream to make a connection.

A note here to experienced Tarot card readers: The meanings for the cards can also be instructive. Especially when a card seems "dense" in relationship to the dream. However, in my experience intuition trumps meaning, on the rare occasion there is a conflict or contradiction between them. Almost always, though, I find my intuition and the meaning amplify each other nicely.


Lastly, remember to keep notes. I usually append the card notes to the dream exploration notes, which I append to the actual dream. At one time I kept separate dream and Tarot journals. That got to be unwieldy and confusing. I now find having everything relating to one dream in one place, works quite well. I highlight important things when I've completed working with a dream, to make searching through my notes in the future easier. Often, this actually works. :-) Although I like hand-writing my notes, I do see the advantages to keeping computerized notes, such as the "search" function. You will find what works for you.


These are my experiences. We all develop our own relationships with our dream worlds and with The Tarot. You may very well develop your own methods of using The Tarot with your dreams. I offer my experiences as starting points and guideposts.

May we all realize (in both senses of that word) the gifts our dreams offer us.

And, Happy Easter!

Tarot Resource: a wonderful, extensive Tarot site Aecletic Tarot, among other things it has book, software and deck reviews, Tarot reading lessons, and a forum; as a collector of Tarot decks, I especially love the scanned images from hundreds of Tarot decks; you can sign up for a regular email about what’s new to the site.

‘til next time, keep dreaming,


* * * *If you wish to copy or use any of my writing or poems, please email me for permission (under “View my complete profile”) * * * *
FUTURE POST(S): Writing Poetry Based on Dreams (with example dream-based poems); Using Your Dreams to Create Poetry & Stories (4 fun exercises); Using Tarot With Dreams That Got Away
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