At its essence, this is a book about symbols. A symbol is a representation,
a mark, a picture or an image which stands for something else. All
communication, or transmission of ideas, takes place through the
use of symbols. Pictures are shorthand for ideas and demonstrate
concepts which might take pages of words to explain. Symbols are
perhaps the most enduring and fascinating characteristic of humanity.
Symbols are a silent and potent
language which reaches our conscious awareness through the agency
of subconsciousness, rising on wings of spirit from the deepest
parts of our being as messengers from our soul. Haunting images,
painted on cave walls in ancient France thirty thousand years ago,
still send a powerful message across time of humanity's need to
express ourselves in a transcendent way.
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.
It is a natural marriage to combine Tarot and dreams to deepen and
enhance the understanding of dream symbols and to expand our understanding
This book will explore how a
dream can be interpreted like a Tarot reading, and a Tarot reading
can be experienced as a dream. In a metaphorical sense, all of life
can be experienced as a symbolic reflection, offering us wisdom
and growth. Integrating these ancient and powerful methods of symbolic
communication provides enhanced ability to decode messages from
our soul, thereby aiding our spiritual path. Humans are creatures
of choice, and therefore we can ignore the signals which come gently,
and sometimes forcefully, from the inner reaches of existence. But
I believe ignoring these messengers can be a great loss.
A symbol is generally a graphic
or pictorial emblem for a concept or idea. A symbol is a shorthand
communication which bypasses linear, alphabetical language. For
example, in a religious context, a cross has become the symbol for
Christianity, a six-pointed star for Judaism, and a star in a crescent
represents Islam. We recognize these images without words.
Symbols are how we communicate
whether through an inviting smile, a finger to our lips asking for
silence, or through the words of the most exquisite prose. An arrow
with the point on top means "up" and with the point on the bottom
means "down." A black circle with diagonal line through the center
now says to the world "No . . . smoking, guns, . . . ," fill in
the blank. In America a bright red octagon means "stop." Male or
female figures on bathroom doors indicate which gender should use
the room. For purposes of this book, a symbol takes the place of
written or spoken words. Tarot and dreams both communicate through
symbols which are mostly pictures.
Words are symbols which have
been turned into sounds. Writing is the symbolic representation
of sounds, images and concepts. Scholars believe writing evolved
from simple hash marks, through pictographs, ideograms and complex
glyphs into the alphabets of modern languages. The word alphabet
comes from the Greek combination of Alpha and Beta, the first two
letters of that alphabet. This in turn came from the earlier Hebrew,
Aleph and Beth.
A universal symbol contains the
intrinsic meaning of the symbol itself. This type of symbol is said
to be recognized by the subconsciousness of everyone regardless
of culture or creed. A smile is a universal symbol of good will,
a beckoning hand is welcoming, hands helpd up palm out means do
not approach. Another example is "X marks the spot," an ancient
emblem of a cross road, and "making your mark" used when most people
Numbers are a good example of
universal symbols even if we don't usually use them in their symbolic
sense. While the number one represents a quantity of one, it also
connotes the qualitative notion of singleness, being first or alone,
and unity. These qualities are intrinsic to the nature of one. Two
likewise is a quantity but also signifies the quality of a pair,
duality, polarity, attraction and opposition.
Certain geometric shapes function
as universal symbols. A circle shows both potential and a closed
system. A triangle pointing upward implies spiritual aspiration
and hierarchy, a square signifies stability, and disolays a well-grounded
Cultural symbols, sometimes called
collective, are recognized by groups of people and include such
things as flags of nations, colloquialisms or slang such as the
currently popular "cool," clan plaids, family crests, and the seal
of a monarch. Sports team identifiers like Rams, Bulls, Cowboys,
and Eagles are cultural symbols as are state flowers or birds. The
American eagle, the Chinese dragon or the Russian bear are cultural
symbols of countries. Corporate logos and trademarks are also cultural
symbols, like the world-recognized icons of the Golden Arches of
McDonalds, and the mouse ears of the Walt Disney empire. A yellow
happy face became an emblem of simple good will, while the Playboy
bunny represented a lifestyle (or the unspoken desire for it) for
a period of time.
Holiday icons (once holy days)
such as a shamrock, a red heart, a black cat, a Halloween pumpkin,
a Thanksgiving turkey, a Yule log or Christmas tree, Father Time
and Baby New Year are associated with holidays without any written
language. A four-leaf clover is a sign of good luck since they're
rare. However, these symbols are relative since a good omen in one
culture may be bad news in another context.
A personal symbol has meaning
only to a single individual, evoking emotions and unique responses.
Your signature is a personal symbol. Your son or daughter will represent
something to you personally that is an individual response. One
person may have a fascination with spiders, creatively spinning
webs, while another person may feel terror of arachnids.
A wise Chinese is credited with
the saying, "One picture is worth a thousand words." Oriental written
language takes the form of pictograms, and even though speaking
seven different languages and many different dialects, Japanese
and Chinese people can communicate through the visual images.
The evolution of Tarot is a testament
to the wisdom of this idea. One legend says that Tarot evolved after
the destruction of the Library of Alexandria when the Wise gathered
in Fez, Morocco. The marvelous book of Tarot was developed around
1200 C.E. to facilitate sharing of wisdom without spoken language.
Other legends tell compelling tales of Tarot coming out of ancient
Egypt shrouded in uncertainty along with the misty origins of Qabalah.
Paul Foster Case, author of The
Tarot, rightly said, "Tarot is a pictorial book of ancient wisdom."
The book of Tarot communicates to us through the language of symbols
and is said to speak directly to the subconscious mind. Tarot is
both a symbolic alphabet and a book of wisdom. Its ingenious design
renders it applicable to many different uses.
Sigmund Freud remarked that "the
dream is the royal road to the unconscious." Tarot has been called
the Royal Road to mastery, and traveling the twists and turns of
the Fool's Journey is not for the faint of heart. Mastering correspondences,
memorizing meanings and synthesizing interpretation can seem overwhelming
in the early stages. Tarot reveals the path of initiation, the internal
struggle of our own spiritual growth, and the conflicts with others
who become teachers and mirrors along this quest. For those students
of Tarot who persevere the rewards are great. Tarot is truly a jewel,
offering guidance, hope and inspiration to those who penetrate her
secrets. Tarot reveals the nature of the Universe, the Macrocosm,
and our nature, the Microcosm.
Tarot decks tend to use universal
symbols, although each deck also has the imprint of the author's
cultural orientation as wells as the artist's unique and individual
style. Through the combined use of color, shape and symbolic imagery,
Tarot automatically communicates certain truths to the conscious
mind. Like any language, repeated use and reflection on the symbolic
language of Tarot helps us become fluent.
In general, dreams are not meant
to be taken literally. For example, dreaming of an old man rather
than a new born may indicate the stage of an enterprise. Within
dreams symbols are the nouns; the persons, places and things, and
may be either universal, cultural or personal. The nature or quality
of the "nouns" in our dreams reveals how and what the symbols are
trying to tell us. For example, water is generally said to represent
emotions in dreams. How the water appears in a dream provides clues
to the dream's message. Do we dream of an ocean, and is it calm
or stormy? Is the body of water in our dream a clear, mountain lake
or a stagnant pool? Usually the most significant symbols in dreams
include the people, animals, houses, buildings, or vehicles.
Edgar Cayce also said that "The
dreams . . come to individuals through the subjugation of the conscious
mind, and the subconscious being of the soul -- when loosed -- is
able to communicate with the subconscious minds of those whether
in the material or the cosmic plane." (Reading number 243-5). The
counsel offered through our dreams is free to us and provides a
priceless opportunity to commune with the wisest part of our being.
If we believe spending time with our dreams is important, and expect
wise counsel, we will be amply rewarded. All that is asked is some
time and an earnest heart to open a dialog with our inner self.
We can learn to converse with the wisest part of us, the aspect
which lives in eternity.
Central to spiritual work is
formulating ideals in our life to which we can aspire. These ideals
become the central focus of our dream work. Dreams are like a school
we attend each night. Since most traditions agree that our sleeping
self is more attuned to our soul and spirit, our job is to learn
to understand the language of dreams, becoming receptive to guidance
from Spirit. Where do we begin to blend these two ancient disciplines,
bridging the language of Tarot and Dreams?