Electric Dreams

 Using Dreams with the Tarot

Jean Campbell

(Electric Dreams)  (Article Index)  (Search for Topic)  (View Article Options)

Campbell, Jean (1999 July). Using Dreams with the Tarot. Electric Dreams 6(7).Retrieved July 13, 2000 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams

When I told a friend not long ago that I was writing a series of articles on the relationship between dreams and the tarot, she said, "Yech! What a stupid thing to do. I always hate it when those New Agey types get a hold of dreams. They make everything so difficult. Why not use the dreams themselves?"

In one way, she is absolutely correct. Nothing is needed for dream interpretation except the dreamer and the dream. Yet there is no getting around the fact that the tarot cards can be useful to the process.


The reason for this is something we touched upon in the last issue of Electric Dreams. The tarot, like dreams, is built around symbols, and what Jung called archetypes--symbols so deep in human consciousness that they span the world and its cultures.

Since the original article in this series last month, I have gotten some comments from people who say, "I want a tarot with presidents not kings, and women astronauts." They are talking about what those archetypes mean for us, what resonance they set off in our psyches.

Thus I say that, although the A.E. Waite tarot deck is my personal favorite for the exercises I suggest here, other tarots and dream card decks, even those you make yourself (or maybe, most particularly, those you make yourself) will work.


According to information delivered by psychics such as Jane Roberts and Edgar Cayce, the body itself is a symbol which we create. "Our body," says Seth, through Jane Roberts, "Is our most intimate personal symbol." Meaning that we can interpret the body and its functions as if they were dream.

What does that mean? How can we possibly use that information?

Some psychotherapists, such as Eugene Gendlin and others, who have a foundation in Alexander Lowen's Bioenergetic Therapy, talk about how we can feel our dreams in our bodies, especially if we physically assume the stance that we took in a dream.

Author Stanley Kelleman, who has been in private practice in the San Francisco area for over twenty years, asserts that our dreams are often trial runs for things that we want to change in waking reality. "We em-BODY the dream," Kelleman told dream researchers at the 1997 conference of the Association for the Study of Dreams, where he was a featured speaker.

According to Gendlin, who speaks of the body as containing a "felt sense," which is not the same as an emotion, "A dream typically leaves a felt sense. If it is already there, give it your attention. It isn't plain fear, joy, or sadness, it feels a unique way for which there is no word. (Let Your Body Interpret Your Dreams, 53)."


My initial experience with using the tarot in conjunction with dreams came at a workshop led by Dr. Hector Kuri of Guadalajara, Mexico, with whom I later studied bioenergetic therapy.
With a particular dream in mind, we were told to select a tarot card from the shuffled deck, and then to begin to connect that card with the dream.

As often happens, the dream I recalled was one in which I had been driving the car. The tarot card I drew, synchronistically, was one of the Major Arcana, the Chariot.

As with most tarot cards, this particular one involves a person or animal (sometimes more than one.) Hector put on some music. He told us to stand in the manner of the person we had selected from our cards. I found myself standing, knees bent and arms outstretched, as if I were driving the chariot. Head erect, eyes forward.

"Now, dance your card," he told us. And for the next twenty minutes, the room was full of dancing Magicians and Hermits, lions and eagles.

As I danced the charioteer, images from my dream flooded my mind. My breathing opened, and I could feel how I had been holding my body. I realized how I had been driving myself, insistently, with eyes only for the road ahead, and no attention for the scenery.
The meaning of my dream and others of its type became clear for me, effortlessly, without laboring over the analysis.


There are many, many ways in which this concept of letting the body interpret the dream can be used.

One of them, not involving the dance, was suggested by our own Richard Wilkerson. It calls for selecting a card, selecting a dream, and once again getting the felt sense of each, exploring gently, and sensitively comparing the sensations in the body when "feeling" the character you chose to become in the dream with the character you chose from the card.

There is one further suggestion I would make regarding this exercise. Many of us are so focused on thinking that we use this as a defense against being aware of our bodies at all.

Prior to doing the exercise with the dream, it would probably be useful to pay attention to "how do I stand" in waking life. Let yourself just stand naturally. Then begin to allow yourself awareness of how your feet feel, how your shoulders and arms feel, and the rest of your body. Are you tense? Combative? Breathing shallowly or depressed? It may help to face yourself in a mirror, meeting your eyes in the mirror and saying to yourself, "Hello. Here's how I stand in my life."

Then, when we move to the tarot and into the dream, we can knowledgeably compare how we stand there with our usual, waking life, stance.