Electric Dreams

I Ching, Tarot, Star+Gate And Dreams

Linda Lane Magallón

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Magallón, Linda Lane (2003 December). I Ching, Tarot, Star+Gate And Dreams.
Electric Dreams 10(12).

There are a variety of tools on the market that you can use to reveal the hidden side of things, but the ones I've found most useful for dream inquiry are I Ching, the Rider-Waite Tarot and Star+Gate.

The best beginner's tool is the Star+Gate card deck, by Richard H. Geer (Orinda, CA: Star+Gate Enterprises, 1984). The images are simple and easy to comprehend, plus there are helpful hints for interpretation on the reverse of each card. For instance, a picture of "The Stone" is backed by the words "Steadfastness" and "Integrity."

Even though they are more popular, I don't recommend Tarot cards for the first time explorer. The images are so complex, that when you begin to work with them, you must lean heavily upon someone else to interpret the cards for you. To read the Rider-Waite deck, I use A Feminist Tarot by Sally Gearhart and Susan Rennie (Boston: Alyson Publications, 1981). It's a well-worn book that I've supplemented with plenty of my own notation so that I never depend on it entirely. I treat it as a source of inspiration, not a dogmatic decree.

There's also plenty of room to write notes in R. L. Wing's The I Ching Workbook (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1979). In fact, Wing encourages it. The more you work with each tool, and compare written notes accumulated over time, the more you come to understand your own unique dream language.

I Ching

"What did soaring mean in my dream?" I wondered, throwing 3 pennies and recording whether they fell as heads or tails. I was consulting the I Ching to ask about my first high flying dream. The results formed the hexagram "Repair." Following the instructions, I changed the hexagram to "Potential Energy."

My dream had been a joyful flight, with the colors of the blue sky, green fields and pink buildings below bright and clear. Acting in the traditional Super Hero role, I had flown a young boy to a hospital. As a high flyer, I was an agent of change and repair. According to the I Ching, the emphasis was on the potential energy of flying being rising from a healing pursuit. High flying is healthy, it seemed to say.

"Why couldn't I attain greater height?" I asked the workbook a year later, about a dream in which I was slow and low to the ground.

The I Ching advised, "It is best now to develop a continuous caution and inner strength...Through intense awareness you gain in security and need not fear difficulties." I read this as a call to develop lucid dreaming in order to overcome the drag in dream flight. I heeded that advice.


I switched to Star+Gate when I had a dream about a group of people in a stadium. I had the feeling that I had to support them; they couldn't fly on their own. I grabbed a couple of men by the buttocks and flew them over to the stands where the audience burst into applause. Evidently the dream was a pun. The Star+Gate cards said the issue for me was the "condition of resting on one's laurels; being afraid to go forward." The resolution or new focus was being "courageous and adventurous."

I don't limit my inquires to regular picture dreams. Once I asked about a phrase that I'd heard a voice say in the hypnogogic state. The Star+Gate suggested that my new focus was "redirecting energy to bring change" and "the challenge of decision making." The energy of change, I'd known from previous dreams, but the emphasis on decision making was new.

Later that year, I had a dream in which I climbed a wire mesh fence, but in such an agile manner that I actually levitated a couple of inches above each foothold. As I laid out the Star+Gate cards in the manner that had been recommended, I wrote down each of their meanings. Finally, I found myself writing "Reach a conclusion, then follow it until you form a new conclusion. Follow the trail. Trust your instinct as to which path to choose." Then I sketched this "trail" of suggestions. The path on the paper looked just like a decision matrix! So I figured the dream was saying, that reaching decisions helps me climb the path to greater and greater heights, whereas letting go of worries and concerns means I can levitate. Note that the path of decision making is the path of free will choices, not a fated card layout.

Because I wrote down my responses and put them in a binder, I could discover such recurring themes. Change and decision making, skill building and repair were common associations with the symbol of flight.


Getting airborne is never guaranteed, no matter how long I've been flying in my dreams. Try as I might, there are times when I experience lulls and lack of lift. I want to know why: to find out what's deterring me and seek suggestions for release.

For this inquiry, I selected 4 Tarot cards to represent reasons why I couldn't fly. Then I selected 4 more cards to resolve the issues at hand. Symbolically, the number "4" refers to the 4 elements or 4 directions. Practically speaking, I wanted a balance view of the situation. For me, flying is about keeping the balance between seeming polarities. It's a sort of mental discipline, a kind of "dream air-obics."

The Issues (and elements)

1. Page of Wands, reversed (Air)
Lack of verbal power. Frustration at having important ideas, but being unable to articulate them.
2. 6 of Pentacles, reversed (Earth)
Lack of cultural support, having to beg to be nurtured. No ready audience for my verbal or written expression. Lack of encouragement from the dream community.
3. 9 of Swords (Water)
Nightmares, fear and doubt. Recurring depression and angst clouding the fair skies needed for clear take-off and easy navigation.
4. Knight of Swords (Fire)
Fierce heroic action without staying power. My fatigue factor: running out of energy before the end of the day, a chronic problem.

The Resolutions (and eventual actions)

1. 9 of Pentacles
Solitary creativity in a safe universe. Concentrating on personal expression in my own backyard. (I directed focus away from presenting at conferences and towards creating a web site for flying dreams.)
2. The Tower
Overthrowing false consciousness. (I've been using cognitive therapy to change beliefs that hinder or are no longer appropriate for my current life.)
3. Ace of Wands
The beginning of adventure. Giving up the passive feminine in favor of the active female. Treating the subject as a hero's journey. (After seeking models in old myths, I returned to science fiction and comic books. The idea of an active flying female is extremely rare, in historical terms. It's a future-forward perspective of human potential.)
4. 7 of Wands
Taking a stand. Victory through sustained effort. (The struggle for balance in my dream life doesn't end, but I manage to get the upper hand by developing better control of negative forces.)

Tarot and Star+Gate

At another time when I was feeling especially discouraged, I wondered why I should bother expending so much effort trying to fly. What was my motivation for continuing the struggle? I went to both the Tarot and to the Star+Gate cards for answers.

From the Tarot deck I selected only one card. This time, it wasn't a game of chance. I turned the cards over so I could see the pictures. Then shuffled through them until I came upon an image that seemed to speak to the issue. This practice shifts the focus of inquiry from happenstance to directed will power. It's an affirmation of the opportunities for decision making.

The Magician

  • Creative will power. (Quite appropriate for this sort of approach.)
  • A synthesis of polarities. Bringing the inside out and the outside in. (Reciprocal energy flow. I help the dream; the dream helps me.)
  • The connectiveness of the 4 elements. (Achieving balance in waking and sleeping life.)
  • Advocate for the future. (The real fruits may lie ahead.)
Then I went to the Star+Gate to select a card for comparison.

The Token (The overall issue. A repeat of the theme of reciprocity: I get a gift; I give a gift.)

Since the single Star+Gate card had brought my attention back to the 4 elements, I decided to look at the gifts of flight from all of those perspectives. I selected 2 cards each.

1) Fire
The Candle and The Butterfly. (Enlightened fascination and the birth of new consciousness. Flying dreams are often peak experiences in and of themselves.)
2) Water
The Child and The Star of Laugh. (Discovering new potentials, inner attributes and externalizing them. Especial emphasis on humor and play. Unlike many other dreams topics, flying dreams are usually fun and upbeat, a decided advantage while sleeping and upon awakening.)
3) Earth
The Mud and The Harp. (Creative products and ideas plus musical harmony. Flying dreams have provided inspiration for my creative dream journals and picture collages. I sometimes use music to incubate flying dreams and, even if I don't fly, I might get musical dreams, which are also quite uplifting.)
4) Air
The Eye and The Star of Discovery. (Seeing and exploring, like Alice in Wonderland. A reminder that flying dreams often lead to lucidity. But even if they don't, my dreaming self is far more active and superheroic in her magical world, when she knows she can fly.)

Seen together, I was reminded that flying is very beneficial, from a number of points of view!

The Dream's Opinion of Inquiry Tools

One night, after playing with the Tarot deck, I had a dream in which I was flying above a valley. I knew the people below could see me and thought that they might think I was some kind of witch. Tree branches began to appear, suspended in the sky. They were barren except for a few leaves each. I grabbed a couple of the branches and extended both hands so it would appear to those below that I was using the branches as wings. But I knew I could really fly without them.

I've discovered that it's important to check your dreams to find out when to stop using a particular method. I recognized the tree branches as the suit of Wands: straight, staff-like branches with just a few leaves each. The dream was telling me that, yes, I could use the Tarot deck as a technique to interpret dreams, but I really didn't need it.

Do you know the best method to interpret your dreams? Your dreams! Who else knows what they really mean? So I suggest that if you think you understand, ask for another dream to comment on your waking state conclusion. You might be surprised to know what your dreaming self has to say. Inquiry tools can be great fun. But, in the end, the dream comes first.

(Dream Flights)