Tarot & Dream Interpretation
A reference book with tips, spreads and card interpretations designed for exploring the relationship between your dreams and Tarot symbolism.
By Julie Gillentine
Book - Published by Llewellyn
Review by Bonnie Cehovet
I was very interested to see a book come out that untied two of my interests - Tarot and dream interpretation. From the forward, speaking of drawing Tarot cards for each sequence of a dream, Rachel Pollack says: "... in other words, we match randomly pulled Tarot cards with the parts of the dream and see how each set of symbols illuminates the other. The 'private language' of dreams and the 'public language' of Tarot cards can learn to speak to each other. Through the two of them we can learn to speak to ourselves."
Dreams and Tarot both offer us guidance and counsel in our lives - they are tools of empowerment for our personal and spiritual growth. Gillentine does an excellent job of going into the background of dreams, and the mirror of our life that dreams present. We look into the the three basic types of dreams, which are, according to Gillentine: mental, which deal with aspects left over from our daily activities; physical, which deal with health issues or imbalances; and spiritual, which can be messages from our soul to our conscious selves. Gillentine also briefly covers subjects such as lucid dreaming; out of body experiences; collective precognitive dreams; shared dreams and waking dreams.
The fun really starts when we get into the subjects of the language an nature of symbols. (There is quite a good appendix that covers the area of dream symbols.) From the book: "The common denominator of Tarot and dreams is transmission of knowledge and understanding through the agency of subconsciousness and the mechanism of pictorial symbolism. Symbols are the language of the subconscious mind, and Tarot and dreams speak to us in exactly the same way, in the language of symbolism." 1
Gillentine speaks of three categories of symbols: universal, cultural and personal. The last category is what dream interpretation is all about for me. Universal and cultural symbols can be interpreted from the "outside" - i.e. they are well known, documented and understood. Personal symbols are exactly that - they are personal to the individual. (This is why the technique of dialoguing, a la Mary Greer, James Wanless and countless more proponents works so well.) The role of the Tarot counselor in interpreting dreams, IMHO, is to act as a bridge so that the client may connect the dream symbols, the Tarot symbols and their own feelings about their dreams.
Gillentine shares with us a
wealth of information on actual dreams, and how they were
interpreted. In essence, she gifts us with a template for
interpreting our own (or our clients) dreams. Information is
given on how to ask for dreams, how to prepare for
dreaming, how to best remember our dreams, and what kind of
information we want to bring back from dreamtime (essentially
- everything that we can!). She lists a summary for
working with dream symbols, and presents the following
Tarot and dream spreads for us to work with:
1. Meditation - single card spread
2. Dominant Image(s) - one to four card significator spread
3. The Gift - two card spread
4. State of Being - three card spread
5. Overall Guidance - three card spread
6. Levels of the Mind - three card spread
7. Crossroads - four card spread
8. Four Seasons - five card spread
9. Pyramid of Consciousness - six card spread
Each spread is accompanied by an in
depth sample reading. In the section on cards, each card
is presented with keywords, significator, reversed
meaning, a description of the card and a probable meaning
in a dream spread. From the book:
Leaping from a height into the unknown.
Significator: A leap of faith is required.
Reversed: The risk of a wrong choice; Look before you leap.
The Fool is generally portrayed as young and androgynous, blissfully poised on a precipice. Unencumbered by material possessions at this stage of the soul's journey, The Fool carries all he needs in a small pouch, gazing upwardly expectantly, ready to take the plunge into a new adventure. Trusting in the support of the universe to guide and guard is implied here. The Fool represents the beginning of the Hero's journey.
Astrologically, the Fool corresponds with the planet Uranus. The color is pale yellow and the number is zero. Symbols int he card include a dog, feather, mountains, precipice, wallet and wand.
A choice is before you - choose wisely. A new direction or a fresh start may soon present itself. Move forward with confidence and explore you untapped potential. Where is faith required? Where are you being foolish? 2
Gillentine, when dealing with the pips, presents pertinent information on the numbers themselves. For me, this is just as integral a part of the interpretation as t he suit represented. Alone - they only tell half of the story. When dealing with the court cards, Gillentine presents a fairly standard interpretation of what type of person (i.e. hair and eye color) they might represent.
The manner in which Gillentine deals with Aces and Pages is, at the very least, food for thought. From the book:
"Aces And Princesses (Pages)
Both aces and pages carry the energy of potential. An ace is the energy itself, expressing from the world of its manifestation before combining with the principles of the other numbers. The Page or Princess is the conceptual vehicle or container of its ultimate fulfillment in t he world of form." 3
The Page of Wands is presented as representing spring; the Page of Cups as representing Summer; the Page of Swords as representing Autumn; and the Page of Pentacles as representing Winter.
All in all, Tarot & Dream Interpretation has a great deal to offer. While you may not agree with Gillentine's interpretations for each card as they aspect dream interpretation, at the least she has given you a place to start on your dream journey. Each person will take what they will from this book - I recommend it as good reference material for dreamwork and Tarot.
Footnotes: 1. ibid. page 12. 2. ibid. pare 84. 3. ibid. page 151.
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.