Dreams and Tarot

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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8 Responses to “Dreams and Tarot”

  1. Michael Martin Says:

    I am from Six Nations and am a Mohawk. You are correct and Mr. Moss is also correct that native people hold dreams in high regard. I do not attempt to analyse the whys about dreams but have been taught that dreams, Deja Vue are the Creators way of letting me know that I am on the correct path in my life. In our teachings we talk of being on the cedar path. this again is an affirmation that our lives are as they are supposed to be.

    I and my family believe that to try and know the future is the dark sides influence in our life to try and change something. Faith dictates that what is meant to be will be and the creator through dreams gives us peace letting us know that we are where we are supposed to be in our lives. You have to temper this that if we are searching for something to fill a puzzle in your mind we can make things fit that may not be reality other than personal desire to understand a sequence of events.

    This is why I personaly put a lot of faith in Dreams that show me something not sought after that come to reality. This event firmly seats the belief that I am where I am supposed to be.

    • Tayria Ward Says:

      Hello Michael, thank you for your wonderful comments. I agree with you that dreams help us understand where we are now, to see what we need to know about the present moment. That is all we need to know, and is where the power is. If we can see that with deeper insight with the help of dreams and spirit, and act on it, then the future takes care of itself. I never presume to look at the future, the present is always pregnant with so many possibilities. I love hearing about the love and respect you and your family hold for dreams. Thank you.

  2. Joy Parker Says:

    A couple of days ago I began reading The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton. After reading the science in the first three chapters, I got excited and began madly skimming through the book to get to “the good stuff” (actually it’s all “the good stuff). What really impressed itself upon me were his comments on how our actions and limitations are driven by the contents of our unconscious minds, but how our unconscious could be reprogrammed to weed out our self-imposed limitations and beliefs that we didn’t deserve to be happy, to have a job we like, etc. and open to new possibilities, perspectives, and actions.

    Reading your blog, I was thinking of the power of imagery to speak directly to the unconscious, especially imagery like the tarot that has its roots in the collective unconscious we all share and the ancient vocabulary of symbol.

    I understand that part, but what is mysterious and totally wonderful to me is the other part: how we come to pick the cards we do, the ones that has meaning for us.

    Last Thursday I was getting adjusted at my network chiropractor’s. She had a deck of body divination cards on her desk. As you know, I have a partially paralyzed left vocal cord and have not been able to speak well for 8 months, although that is turning around now. My chiropractor had been massaging the painful left side of my neck and the painfully contracted left side of my body. Our goal was to see if relaxing the throat muscles would help bring my voice back, based on an NPR program about an ENT doctor who did this work at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic.

    After my session, I looked down at the box of cards on her desk, and I saw the card that said “I Love My Neck” right on top. I said, “Wow,” and picked it up. Our of curiosity, I skipped ahead a couple of cards. The next card said “I Love My Lungs” (I am in remission from lung cancer). I joked and said, if the next card says, “I Love My Liver” it will be a miracle” (the cancer I am in remission from was also in my liver). Sure enough, the next card was the liver card. On a roll, I picked one more card, which said, “I Love My Immune System.” I have been working with guided imagery and affirmations every day fir weeks to strengthen my immune system.

    Why did I pick those four cards in a box with a lot of other cards? (They were even on top, for heaven’s sake!) Because the information they carried was the information I needed.

    So nonbelievers can scoff all they want. I believe that human consciousness is relearning some of the skills we once all possesed when we understood that symbol and imagery weren’t pretty pictures or old stories, but trunk lines to the motherload of consciousness and life itself.

    • Tayria Ward Says:

      Gorgeous story, Joy! I have to say that after a couple of decades of working consistently with cards for myself and with others, the “magic” of the synchronicity of which cards come up always having such perfect, insightful, pertinent and often obvious (giving you permission to just know what you know) information, that I have learned to trust it completely. It seems magical, but I guess that is because we just don’t understand the universe yet. The setting needs to be sacred though, I never would do it without prayer or casually, so maybe without that the outcome would be different. I don’t even like to think about that. I recommend always calling in sacred, guardian spirits that you trust in such work, those who only look to the highest good of all. When that is in place, the magic is just there. I re-encountered a tape of a session with an Irish woman who read tea leaves. The session had been nine years before, and with the perspective and time and distance the accuracy of what she said that I couldn’t even see at the time astounded me. Now how do little tea leaves fall into place just like that so a reader can see? It is such a wonderful world. And – I’m so glad your voice is getting better.

  3. Cyndee Says:

    Hi Tayria~
    What a powerful story! Have you ever studied w/ Angeles? Or taken any of her workshops?
    I discovered her a little over 4 years ago. She had an impact on me from the first moment that I heard someone speaking about the 4 Fold Way. Within 2 months, I was sitting at her feet for 3 years.
    I had a therapist that had suggested her Tarot Handbook because of the numerology piece in it. I bought that & the cards. And I would pull a card once in a while for guidance.
    About 5 months ago, I finally decided to do her Daily Spread & chart it. A friend of mine had also suggested reading the card in the appendix. Then I discovered the Bardo states section & her brilliant description of the progression of our challenges & gifts & opportunities. For the past several months, I have been tracing each card thru her book.
    Tayria, I had gotten readings of Tarot in the past. I always enjoyed it. But when I read some meaning of a card in another book, I would get confused. Angeles has such a way of empowering us thru her challenge to us to grow & evolve.
    I’ll never forget one of her last statements in my last class w/ her. She said “I really have great admiration for all of you, because it is only 1 to 2% of the population that is willing to work on themselves”
    Thank you for staying true to yourself & speaking about the Tarot. I have had some of the same misgivings. You are an inspiration to me. My dream is to have property where people come to heal. And to lead retreats such as you. So l thank you for your inspiration & your courage!!

    • Tayria Ward Says:

      Cyndee, Thank you for your feedback and the story of your journey with Angeles and Tarot. I have not studied with her beyond a one-week session I had with her and Brooke Medicine Eagle years ago. She remains an “angel” in my psyche though, and guide and inspirer. I took a course to study other tarot decks at the Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles. I can see why you are confused when you look at other books and decks, because the Thoth deck Angeles uses is different than the more traditional decks. They are similar, but different systems of interpretation. I use the traditional decks more now, but often revisit Angeles’s book and that deck. I think a daily card or daily spread is such a great support in life, I love hearing that you are doing that. All the best on your journey with this, and thank you for being in touch.

  4. James Mitchell Says:

    I had a dream in 1998 that I was reading playing cards, as I had never seen or heard of Tarot, like yourself. I discovered, in working with the dream symbology, that playing cards are the descendant of Tarot cards. Feeling the dream was prompting me to learn to read the Tarot, I went to the public library, down the street form my apartment. There was only one book on the shelf pertaining to Tarot: Angeles Arrien’s book. I checked it out, and bought the corresponding deck used to illustrate the book. I have been in love with the Tarot ever since. And it does find itself coming into my dreams to this day.
    Loved reading the post. Brought back memories.

    • Tayria Ward Says:

      James, thank you for your story and response. I’m intrigued to hear how Angeles’ book also brought you in to the journey with the Tarot. I think it is such a valuable tool. I was also taught to read the regular playing cared deck by a woman named Dianne Skafte. She wrote a wonderful book called Listening to the Oracle, and taught me the method for understanding the symbols in the deck that someone else had taught her when she was very young. I use them alongside the Tarot regularly.

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