Tarot cards sometimes show up in dreams. Two such dreams were submitted for interpretation a couple of years ago and though its been sometime since I interpreted them I thought I would share some of the meaning of these cards and a few extra that have shown from time to time over the years.
Part of my interpretive source comes from the book Tarot ReVisioned by Leigh J. McCloskey, Olander Press Ltd., 2003.
Interestingly these cards reflect what G.G. Jung would have called ‘archetypes’ in that their image represents similar meaning across all cultures of the world– some of our dream material seems to be hardwired into our brains and rise from the collective unconscious of the human psyche into our dreams.
For me Tarot is another example of how the human psyche projects itself into the symbolism of our lives. I believe that a gifted reader can tap into the querent, the person for whom the reading is being done, much as a few rare people can psychically ‘read’ another person’s thoughts and emotions during other forms of psychic endeavors. As with a dream interpreter the reader’s visions and suggestions should always be filtered through ones own inner wisdom and sensibility i.e. if it resonates, use it to explore further if not, let it go.
Because the article is longer than usual, I’ll be splitting the represented cards between today and tomorrow. Today I’ll be looking at the Fool, Magus, and Empress while tomorrow I’ll look at the Emperor, Temperance and Death.
Tarot, the Fool: This card when seen in a dream can symbolize the archetype of awakening to self-knowledge. The Fool sometimes suggests that in all things spiritual one must always act as a beginner. It can also suggest that one may be blissfully ignorant of something (either they’re being foolish or fearless with some predicament). For Sufis the Fool is the voice of wisdom and humor and knows that it is madness to seek power and money as ends in themselves. He can also represent choice, that no one is ever really compelled, that there’s always a choice.
Magus (or Magician): This guy is also known as the Magician. The connection between the spirit self, the unconscious psyche and the conscious self sort of a divine intermediary. In the creation story where the “everything” wants a means of knowing itself it needed to create an “other than itself” i.e. the world and us. Thus the Magus becomes the mirror to the spirit’s real self, to our real self.
The Magus is also the balancing point between intellect and inspiration i.e. between the external world an ones inner life. He teaches that true magic isn’t about trying to have power over the world.
In a dream he may suggest that some issue may be trickier than you thought, perhaps you need to look at something from another perspective? His presence in a dream might also mean that you may be trying to fool yourself. If the magician is causing trouble he may represent deception. Are you trying to control something or do you fear someone else’s attempts at control?
Empress: Also known as the Great Mother, the Virgin Mary, Isis, Hecate, Qwan Yin, the Hindu goddess Kamala, and Gnosis. This card can sometimes represent Mother Nature. She can be seen as the sustaining nurturer, symbol of love (e.g. in her Venus form), and mother of ideas. She represents the potential of humankind.
She can be seen as a gateway to the light and the ultimate divine nature of humankind. She is also both wisdom and folly. She can represent the bridge or connection between the ineffable, what cannot be experienced in words, and the manifest, how the divine translates into the everyday. She is essentially the mother of creation.
I have seen a form of her in my dreams where she has appeared as Sophia showing and inviting me to take the path less traveled into a higher understanding, aka awareness, of reality.
In a dream she can represent power and honor and influence both in the positive and the negative. She can represent the influences our own mothers had, and in most cases continue to have, on our life and how we perceive it.
In a male’s dream she may represent a need for independence from ones own mother or a better or different interaction between his masculine and feminine personality selves/traits. Without a separation from his mother image a male might be always looking for her in all his relationships and only be projecting her image onto these relationships and never seeing the real person.
Emperor: The masculine archetype of leadership, assertiveness, and courage. He is the doer of the potential of the Empress. He is the energy behind the creative imagination of the Empress. He reflects power but not force. To confuse the two becomes destructive, not creative. He is the applier of the love represented in the Empress. He directs and applies the energies of the Magus and the Empress, essentially the igniter of their energies into the world. He represents the divine reason to the boundless imagination of the two. Essentially he is the yang to the Empress’ Yin and suggests the need for balance and the proper exercise between the masculine and feminine traits.
In a dream and in his positive aspect he can symbolize the need for action, decisiveness, completion and balance, or the need for harmony. Consider that his negative form would represent the opposites of his positive qualities, force instead of power, imbalance or disharmony and destructiveness. He can represent the negative or positive father, even God or the devil. The Emperor can also be represented by a priest, or ones own father. Sometimes ones father traits or habits can be helpful or debilitative. He often reflects our inner expectations for ourselves for good or bad.
He can represent control by others or self-control. In a female’s dream he can represent her animus her own inner masculine positive or negative and the need for balance and the manifesting of some needed trait e.g. assertiveness or decisiveness.
Temperance or Hermaphrodite: (the marriage of Hermese and Aphrodite) representing the conscious and unconscious, the masculine and feminine attributes, and the blending of opposites – it temporizes the headlong flight of the Fool. This union of opposite attributes can be seen in the Lovers card as well (notice that in this card a Temperance-like angel seems to be in the background). sometimes these images are speaking to the need for some kind of adjustment to a way of thinking. These cards can also speak to a way of bringing harmony to ones contrary thoughts. They can also be seen as a symbol of the need to unite the conscious and spiritual selves. Ultimately a dream with either or both of these images might be about love, giving or getting and what it is to mature and sustain it.
Lastly, I bring up the Death card: In a dream this doesn’t always mean ones own death or the death of someone close but can be symbolic of an ending or the need to end something. It can mean the death of a way of being, an idea, point-of-view or of a relationship of some kind. In a dream it can be about transformation or the need for it. It can symbolize change. Behind death waits something new so it can sometimes represent the generative power behind a new beginning.
Sometimes death in a dream symbolizing the lack of resistance needed to diminish the power that the resistance to evil actually gives to evil. The fear of death is often an impediment to healing and growing. Death’s dark aspect is often used to avoid dealing with scary things and yet there is treasure hidden in the darkness of death’s potential.
Death in a dream can be pointing to ones inner demons and the need to deal with them appropriately, to take personal responsibility for them and accept that they are a part of oneself. Accepting without becoming and acknowledging ones dark side without judgment begins the journey toward real change. Thus death can symbolize the need for or the beginning of real growth. Death in this light is a transpersonal image, a means for transcending the ego-self.