Dreams and Tarot

Written by Tayria Ward on October 5, 2010

Many years ago, once upon a time, I had a dream of a person I had never heard of named Angeles Arrien. I wrote her name in my dream journal and thought it must be a metaphor or story about angels. I kept playing with the words in my head. Then within a week I was in a bookstore and saw, to my amazement, a book called Tarot Handbook, by Angeles Arrien! I felt chills all through my body. I bought the book of course. She is a cultural anthropolgist, a brilliant teacher and author, and quite studied in Jungian thought. I had heard of tarot before, but that is the extent of it. I knew nothing about it, nor did I ever have any interest in it nor bias against it, or any other thought of it before this event. I started using Angeles’ book along with a tarot deck on a daily basis. At first I was fascinated, then helped, then healed, then it became my most powerful ally and blessed guide during shifting times of divorce and breakdown. I used it for nearly 10 years alone before I ever started reading for anyone else.

The first day of the first retreat I ever had at my new retreat center in February 2005 I was heading in toward the group to do morning dreamwork when a very insistent thought occurred. I didn’t even begin to question, even though it was brand new. I would bring the tarot deck out and have each person draw a card, and would use the messages from these along with the dreamwork.

With the success of that first experiment I never looked back. I have been using the two in combination regularly ever since. I had never heard of work done like this before, but it has been so powerful and inspirational, undeniably insightful and healing, precise, practical, intuitive, dead-on, prescient, and resonant with others that – even though an academic and conservative voice in myself and the world says not to speak of it too openly – I can’t not speak of the strength of the work. When I hesitated to use the word “tarot” in my new brochure, my daughter Arlene, who bravely came out as gay when she was only 17 years old in front of a whole high school not familiar with such announcements, said to me, “Mom. You’ve got to come out.” My hero had spoken.

Imagine my delight when I read these words last night in a book I am reading called Dreamways of the Iroquois, by Robert Moss: “Today, it is popular on the Iroquois reservation for people to supplement their dreams with readings of tarot cards, tea leaves, or shreds of native tobacco bobbing in a simmering saucepan.” (p.42) Wow, thank you! I feel affirmed and not so alone in the world! I also am interested in this statement, “The early Iroquois regarded someone who was not in touch with their dreams as the victim of serious soul-loss.” (p.38)

Native people on every continent have regarded dreams as messages from the divine, and honored them sacredly. Now reading that today certain of these native people are using some more modern and Western oracular methods along with the old ones, thrills and shivers my bones. Especially when we feel out there on the margins of everything, an affirmation from the wisdom of the past is grounding. Thank you.

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