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Saturday, April 16, 2016

In the Dream – Reading Tarot in a Church

For this series here at Tarot notes, I describe a dream I had recently and devise a Tarot spread to explore possible interpretations.

Here is a description of a recent dream:
I am in a church building, where preparations are under way for a large event, with a lot of different activities for people to do. As I walk through the building, I happen upon a man and a woman talking about reading Tarot cards at the event. I recognize the woman as a well-known Tarot reader. I know her name, and repeat it to myself several times so that I can look it up on the internet when I wake up (so in some sense, I am aware that I’m dreaming).
I am surprised that Tarot readers are being featured at a church event, as many churches consider Tarot cards evil or, at the very least, inappropriate for a church setting. I want to talk to the woman Tarot reader about possibly participating in the Tarot reading, but she is focused on her discussion with the man, and then turns and leaves the room without noticing me.
I follow her, still hoping to speak with her, but when I find her, she is standing on a small stage or platform at one end of a large room. She is chanting or singing in a language I do not understand. As she chants/sings, her voice separates into two or maybe more notes at once, creating beautiful harmony. She seems to be consecrating the space in which she stands, to prepare it for the readings.
I am amazed, and I realize that she must be at a much higher level in her spiritual journey than I am, and that I am not at a level where I could "share the stage" with her at the event.
Just then, a priest (judging from his attire) enters the church through the front door. He crosses himself and murmurs religious phrases that seem designed for protection against the energy invoked by the Tarot reader. As he enters the building, the Tarot reader hurries out. It is obvious they do not want to be in the same space together, yet they don’t appear to be enemies or interested in keeping the other one out. This intrigues me. I wonder how this is going to affect their ability to both be involved in the same event in the same place at the same time. 
I wake up.

Below are the layout and the questions I will be asking the Mystic Dreamer Tarot by Heidi Darras, accompanied by The Dreamer’s Journal by Barbara Moore (Llewellyn Worldwide):


1) What type of energy will help me interpret and utilize the message(s) of this dream?
2) What might the church building represent in this dream?
3) What might the male Tarot reader represent in this dream?
4) What might the female Tarot reader represent in this dream?
5) What might be the purpose of her chanting/singing in the dream?
6) What might the priest represent in this dream?
7) What might it mean that I don’t have a chance to talk to the Tarot reader in the dream?
8) What message might the dream as a whole have for me?

And here is my understanding of what the Mystic Dreamer Tarot has to say:


1) What type of energy will help me interpret and utilize the message(s) of this dream?
FIVE OF PENTACLES – The suit of Pentacles usually points to energy of a physical or material nature, but can also refer to values, security, and power. On the Five of Pentacles, we see people outside a church door – fascinating, given the setting of my dream. Fives often represent difficulties, struggles, and hard times.

The people on the card linger outside the door, unable or unwilling to seek help that might lie within the church. They seem to have given up, to believe that nothing they do will improve their situation. One may be injured or ill. The other’s posture suggests pride or an attempt to shut people out. This is the image I need to keep in mind to help me interpret and utilize the message(s) of the dream.


2) What might the church building represent in this dream?
SIX OF WANDS – The central figure on this card is a somewhat bedraggled, armor-clad knight on horseback. (When considered as a reference to “the church building,” I immediately think of The Crusades --  a series of intermittent Papal sanctioned military campaigns beginning in the late 11th-century.) Although he has been through a tough fight, the knight on the Six of Wands has emerged victorious, which should result in satisfaction or happiness. Yet the card seems dark and heavy to me in general rather than joyous or triumphant. The color black can symbolize mystery, grief, justice, absorption, death, or emptiness.

The raven perched on the back of the horse is associated with death, loss, and war in western Europe, but widely venerated elsewhere. Perhaps the card is saying that the church building (or the Church in general) is viewed differently (negatively or positively) by different cultures and groups. Similarly, opinions concerning the conduct of crusaders have varied from laudatory to highly critical.

3) What might the male Tarot reader represent in this dream?
THREE OF WANDS – Interestingly, this card features a woman rather than a man. The energy of the suit of Wands, however, is masculine or active. In addition, the Three suggests the completion of an initial stage of something, which required action. A crescent moon, mostly hidden, hangs low in the sky, reinforcing the female energy of the card. In the dream, I am not especially impressed by the male Tarot reader. There is a sense that he may be more advanced in the craft of reading the cards than I am, but he is not the equal of the woman Tarot reader in the dream. In the Three of Wands perhaps we see that he represents the initiation of the first stage of something – Wands are symbolically masculine – with the understanding that female energy is also needed to move toward the next stage, toward completion, even as the crescent moon “evolves” into a full moon over time.

4) What might the female Tarot reader represent in this dream?
THE HIGH PRIESTESS – This is the first card in the reading that makes obvious, immediate, and absolute sense to me. Clearly, in the dream, the female Tarot reader is of “Major Arcana” importance. If I were to choose any one card to represent the female Tarot reader in my dream, it would be The High Priestess. I think what strikes me most at this point is that The High Priestess is often about one’s own spiritual journey, searching within oneself for wisdom, using one’s intuition to gain understanding. I feel this card is telling me that not only *can* I be like the woman in my dream, I am already like her. She is already a part of me, a part that I need to explore and comprehend.


5) What might be the purpose of her chanting/singing in the dream?
THE DEVIL – Wow. This one, I didn’t see coming. One thing that strikes me right away is that when people chant or sing, we are releasing something, sending something out into the world, setting something free – not just notes or sounds, but feelings and other aspects of ourselves. The Devil card is often about being enslaved or held captive, or certainly believing that we are under someone or something else’s control. I am encouraged here, I think, to explore what I am holding back or keeping inside me, trapped, when I need to set it free, thereby setting myself free. What restricts and restrains me? Why and how have I allowed that to happen?

I notice there is a raven on this card. As I mentioned before (when discussing the Six of Wands), ravens often represent death, loss, and war in western Europe, but are widely venerated elsewhere. Perhaps there is something in my life which I have been viewing in a negative or oppressive way, when I could just as easily consider more positive connotations and meaning for my life. Two ravens represent “mind and memory” in Norse mythology. Ravens are seen as solar, oracular symbols, as guides who warn of danger, and as gods.

6) What might the priest represent in this dream?
TEN OF WANDS – My first thought upon seeing this card is that the priest represents the burdensome nature of organized religion – or, I should say, my experience with organized religion. The figure on the card struggles to carry his large bundle of wands as he staggers across a field, probably unaware of his surroundings, totally focused on keeping himself upright and moving. Yet the Ten of Wands also represents the imminent end of a burdensome journey, a victory or achievement of a goal, a time to put down the burden and “lighten up.” Certainly that resonates with the priest’s belief in salvation at the “end of the road.”

7) What might it mean that I don’t have a chance to talk to the Tarot reader in the dream?
PAGE OF SWORDS – Curious and sharp thinking, this Page has lots of questions and doesn’t hesitate to ask them. She would certainly want to ask the female Tarot reader (The High Priestess) many, many questions and be disappointed if prevented from doing so. I have a mental image of the young Page of Swords sitting at the feet of The High Priestess, eager to learn anything she can. The fact that I don’t get to talk to the woman in the dream suggests that I remain a “Page” (inexperienced, young, immature, not fully informed or developed). This Page is persistent, however, and I think I will continue to learn and seek resources for the answers I need.


8) What message might the dream as a whole have for me?
PAGE OF PENTACLES – Another Page, perhaps reinforcing the idea that I am still in a learning or “student” role, reinforcing the message that I need to continue in that way along my path. Here we return to the suit of Pentacles, where we began the reading, focusing perhaps on the physical, material world but also on values, security, and power. I think perhaps this suit also reminds me that in addition to mental and spiritual activity, I can pursue the knowledge and experience I seek in the physical world (the guidebook by Barbara Moore mentions “structured learning, classes, workshops, and programs”). Because the Page can represent “someone in a position of servitude or under someone’s control” (Moore), I also need to ask who or what I serve in this life and who or what might control me (a question also prompted by The Devil card).

* ~ *

I came to this reading with some preconceived ideas about what the dream might mean. I was raised along traditional Christian religious lines. Although I entertained a few questions and felt open to other spiritual paths in my teens, I became heavily entrenched in the beliefs instilled in childhood in my twenties and continued to try to fully embrace those beliefs into my mid-thirties. I say “try” because internally I struggled and questioned and was dissatisfied with what I had been taught and told.

From my late thirties to the present day, I have been open to a wide range of possibilities in terms of spirituality. I don’t feel a need to label or “pigeonhole” myself, or to sign on for a complete set of anyone’s religious tenants. I am one of those people who exemplifies Tolkien’s words: “Not all who wander are lost.” Upon awakening from the dream, I thought it probably represented the mix of spiritual notions and possibilities swirling inside me (with the church building representing my spiritual or religious foundation in this life). Within me, ideas and beliefs that are barely compatible (or downright incompatible) surface, subside, and resurface. Clearly the dream shows me the importance of the Feminine in my life (the female Tarot reader).

The question is: Can I reconcile or at least permit these factions to coexist at my “church-based event”? Or are they mutually exclusive? How does any attempt to reconcile them affect my own spiritual path and the possibility of growing and maturing along that path?

2 comments:

  1. It struck me with the first card 5 Pentacles that the people are outside the church, therefore they are separated from the spiritual benefit the church has to offer, I wonder could the card be saying that perhaps they way to help you interpret and utilise the message is to break down that barrier and form a union with your inner spirituality, then you will have the insight needed. Just a thought. ^_^

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think this is an excellent observation, Helen, and it makes a lot of sense. Thank you for your thoughts.

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~ Zanna