How to Interpret Dreams with Tarot Cards

In this article I want to share a method I have been honing for many years, of using the Tarot cards to unlock the meaning of a particular dream. Dreams can hold powerful information for us to help change our lives but often the symbols and meaning are obscure and hard to fathom. You can look at the Tarot as a dictionary of symbols and their meanings. Every card pictures an image which you can easily reference to get its meaning, so it seems reasonable we could use the Tarot deck to decipher some of the symbols that occur in our dreams.

There are basically three techniques I have found to be the most useful: The Dream Spread, Symbol Immersion and Dream Incubation. Anyone can do these techniques. All you need is a standard Tarot deck and a dream to work on.

The Dream Spread

Shuffle the deck in the usual way, focusing on the dream and asking for guidance as to its message. Then deal out 3 cards from the top face up. These cards represent the following:

  1.  Conflicts
  2.  Healing
  3.  Why now?

The best way to explain how these cards relate to a dream is to illustrate with an example. In this example a divorced man in his fifties is having a recurring dream where he is driving through the mountains towing a trailer. All of a sudden the trailer becomes detached and he, in a panic, has to slam on the brakes. In some occurrences of the dream the trailer starts, alarmingly rolling back down the hill. In others there is a hosepipe connecting the two vehicles which gets severed, uncontrollably gushing water over the road. The dream usually ends with him desperately calling for help on his phone.

1. Conflicts

This card represents the key conflict, problem or disruption in the dream. Basically the thing that is wrong. If you are in any doubt what the key conflict of a dream is, look for what has the strongest feeling for you within the dream. In our example this is clearly referring to the separation of the two vehicles and the card drawn here was the Five of Cups. The Five of Cups talks of loss and regret. It points to those painful feelings associated with having to say goodbye to something. Our questioner identified with these feelings, connecting them to his painful divorce a few years previously. The more he thought about it the more sense it made to him as he and his wife had many happy times vacationing in the mountains. Having identified that the dream is about the unresolved feelings of loss and separation the next stage is to look at the healing symbol within the dream.

2. Healing

A healing symbol within a dream is anything which resolves a situation or in some way makes things better. In the case of this dream the nearest thing to a healing symbol is the telephone with which our dreamer summons help. Although help never arrives before he wakes, it still suggest some potential hope of resolution. In this case the card drawn was the Seven of Wands which represents self belief and self-assertion. It reminds us to stand up for ourselves and take care to look after our own needs. This suggests that the driver in the dream is calling himself – asking himself to come to his own aid. In other words our questioner needs to become more self-relient and confident in order to overcome his feelings of loss.

3. Why now?

In this position the Ten of Coins was drawn. This card represents security and arriving at a stable, safe place in our lives. This suggests that our questioner has reached a place of material and emotional stability in his life; so his subconscious is telling him he is now in a good place to deal with these unresolved feelings of loss, arising from the difficult separation from his wife.

Dream Incubation

Dream incubation is where we actively seek a dream to help solve a problem or give some insight. Dreams can be seen as messages from our subconscious to our conscious mind. Whereas the language of our waking mind is made of words, the language of our subconscious is symbols. So if we wish to put in a request for a dream to our subconscious mind we need to communicate this using symbols; and the Tarot deck is simply a pack of symbols.

The first step then is to select a Tarot card that, to you, represents the issue at hand. In my case I wanted a dream to help me deal with some feelings of responsibility and overwhelm in my life. The card I chose to represent this was the Ten of Wands . If you don’t know the Tarot well you can just flip through the deck and look for an image that speaks to you concerning your problem. Before you go to sleep sit quietly with the card and run your issue through your mind, quietly requesting a dream. Then place the card under your pillow. Some people like to write out a request on paper and place this under the pillow as well. This should all be enough to give your subconscious the message. Make sure to have pen and paper beside the bed so you can record any insightful dreams before you forget them.

Symbol Immersion

Symbol immersion is another technique I turn to frequently when I have an image or symbol within a dream that I just can’t make sense of. To practice this technique sit still in a quiet place and focus on the symbol, say for example a waterfall. Hold the image in your mind’s eye and remember any feelings it evoked in your dream. Try viewing it from different angles. Imagine touching it or smelling it. How does it sound? When you feel completely emerged in the experience and with your eyes still closed, reach out to the Tarot deck in front of you and feel through it to locate a card that feels right to you. Look at the card and see if it has any insight for you. You may be surprised how often this unlock the meaning of a dream.

Dream Interpretation Tarot Reading

If you’re interested in exploring further we have created a Dream Interpretation Tarot Spread as part of our Instant Tarot Readings service. Take a look and check out the sample reading to see a case study for this spread.

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