By Karen Hollis with Karen M. Rider
Published in the Dream Network Journal, Spring 2012
Published in Om Times Magazine, June, 2012
Much like Jung's archetypes and the collective unconscious, the Tarot Deck embodies symbolism of universal ideas, behind which lies all the workings of the human psyche—memories and dreams, hopes and fears, and the journey from life to death. Tapping the rich symbolism of the dream world is one of the royal roads to personal insight, healing and creativity. Combining the Tarot with dream analysis is a powerful tool for understanding the meaning of dreams and how dream symbolism relates to waking-life.
Dream Analysis with the Tarot, developed and taught to me by esteemed Tarot scholar and author, Rachel Pollack, may be done with any Tarot deck that you (or your client) feel in-synch with. It is important that you are familiar with the meaning of the cards, regardless of the deck chosen.When used for dream analysis (rather than divination), The Tarot cards are used like prompts for triggering connections that help you understand what you experienced in the dream state. Dream analysis with the Tarot can provide great insight about action you might take (or not take) to fulfill your highest good.
Steps for Dream Analysis with The Tarot
- Write down the dream exactly as you remember it. Divide your dream into segments that make sense to you. You might call each segment a 'scene.' Be brief and simple. One or two sentences are all you need.
- Shuffle the Tarot deck that you prefer to use to inquire about the dream.
- Pull cards for each segment of the dream as shown in the vignette.
- Read the sentence aloud, and interpret the Tarot card as it relates to the sentence you wrote for each scene or segment.
- Piece together the meanings of the cards to form a story of what your dream may have meant.
Tarot Dream Analysis Vignette
Over the past few months, Shelly has been experiencing a recurrent weekly dream. She is walking in a woodsy glen where she meets a tree fairy, or dryad. The dryad has rough, brownish skin, green leafy hair and glowing yellow eyes. Hints of copper shimmer within the dryad's gossamer wings. She never speaks. When Anna looks at her, the dryad holds a black notebook up to her. She indicates that she wants Anna to take the book. Anna refuses and runs from the dryad. Being faster, the dryad always gets ahead of her. The dryad persists in attempting to get Anna to take the notebook. Just as she reaches out to take the notebook from the dryad, Anna wakes up—sweaty and heart racing.
Anna's Dream Segments & Tarot Analysis
Anna is walking in a garden.
Card Drawn: Seven of Rods
Analysis – You are on guard and afraid that someone or something will challenge you.
The dryad follows Anna and tries to get her to take the black notebook.
Card Drawn: Three of Cups
Analysis – There is information in the black notebook that will lead to some type of celebration of life!
The dryad continues to insist that Anna take the book.
Card Drawn: The Tower
Analysis – Anna is afraid to take the book because it will mean that her sense of herself and her life might change drastically by having it.
Anna keeps running from the dryad so that she does not have to accept the notebook.
Card Drawn: Six of Rods
Analysis – By refusing to accept the notebook, Anna's life remains the same. This feels like a personal victory for some reason known only to her.
Anna is about to take the notebook from the dryad, she wakes-up in a cold sweat.
Card Drawn: Ace of Rods
Analysis – The dryad is offering Anna the opportunity to grow in some very personal way and that possibility is too scary to accept.
Anna and I reviewed each card she pulled as a part of her Dream Analysis with the Tarot session. I asked her questions to help her relate the Tarot Cards drawn with the dream imagery and circumstances occurring in her life. The intention here is to draw out of the client that which her subconscious mind already knows but her conscious mind is "guarding." Some of the questions I asked Anna:
Why do you feel challenged at this time, and the need to fight back?
There seems to be so much in life to "take care of"—children, family, finances. It is a constant challenge for me. Even celebrations or moments of celebration have been lost in the shadow of so many bigger issues.
Are you fearful of your own success in your own right as a person and a writer?
Fearful is, perhaps, too strong of a word. Apprehensive may be better. With apprehension, there is uncertainty and a questioning of confidence. And it is apprehension about how to make things work or fall into place so that all things important to me remain in focus. Going back to feeling challenged, everything seems to be important!
How would this "blow up" your sense of who you are—the important roles you have in life, wife, mother and so forth—if you were to focus on the writing you want to do?
I'm afraid to take the book because it represents change and I can't tell what kind of change and that leaves me unable to prepare for it. Part of this is how do I prepare my family. At first look, I thought all of this meant if I take that black notebook and focus on that part of myself, I'm likely to blow-up! (laughs) But we have this other card about celebration that is matched with when the dryad first offers this book to me. Maybe taking responsibility for the notebook is what leads to celebration. That not taking book is what is causing the upheaval!
So how is refusing to take the book a personal victory?
On the surface, the victory is that I remain in command or control. Not much changes. As I look at this card, I'm drawn to the character alongside the horseman. The horseman is not alone in his victory, whatever it is. He has a supporter. This reminds me to consider who supports me in my life and to talk to them about challenges I'm experiencing and changes I want to make.
Are you afraid of growing and becoming who you really are?
This Ace of Rods seems a very positive image to me. I am reminded to take up my rod and go forth with courage, even when I don't know the territory into which I am traveling. In this case, that's the black notebook. It's a mystery. But I don't have to solve the mystery on my own and I can be in command of how the book is written. Things will be okay.
Anna continues to work with this dream by dialoguing with the dryad. In subsequent sessions, we use the Tarot to interpret what different aspects of the dream represent, such as the dryad. The Tarot offers limitless possibilities as a tool for dream analysis.
A Tarot Primer
For those not entirely familiar with The Tarot, the traditional Tarot is a deck of 78 cards divided into two main groups: the major arcana and the minor arcana. The major arcana (also called the greater arcana or trumps) consist of 22 picture cards each having a pictorial representation of various cosmic forces such as Death, Justice, Strength, The World, and contain archetypal symbolism. Fifty-six cards of the minor arcana are divided into court and suit cards. There are sixteen court cards comprised of a King, Queen, Knight, and Page for each of the four suits of the deck. The four suits, which comprise the remaining forty cards, are Pentacles, Cups, Swords and Wands. The suit cards are numbered from 1 (ace) to 10 for each of the four suits. In the traditional Tarot decks (such as Rider-Waite or Hanson-Roberts decks), the suit cards represent specific opportunities and lessons we may encounter in life. The minor arcana cards are used to represent people, relationships, finances, places and actions that are present in life.
Karen Hollis is a professional intuitive guide with 25 years experience. She is a sought-after Master Tarot Reader who works with clients from around the globe. She teaches the Tarot for Dream Analysis in her Beginner Tarot class. Readings are by appointment, in person or by telephone: (860) 665-8024
Illustrations of the Hanson-Roberts Tarot deck reproduced by permission of U. S. Games Systems, Inc., Stanford, CT 06092 USA.
© 1985 U. S. Games Systems, Inc. Further reproduction prohibited.