In my experience, tarot spreads for dream analysis haven’t really cut it. I’ve wanted them to work, and tried to reconfigure the positions and meanings of the cards in multiple ways in order to make them work, but it always comes down to the same problem: there are so many symbols in a dream that I’d need a 30-card spread to get any real guidance.
So I decided to step away from the idea of a spread, and instead construct a technique. Here’s how it works:
1. Condense the whole dream, or a vivid portion of the dream, into a sentence. It can even be just one scene or moment. As an example, here's a condensed sentence about what hit me hardest in a recent dream:
"I was wading through a swamp of giant frogs and bugs, looking for something."
2. Then, isolate that sentence into actions and things. Or moments. Or logical symbolic distinctions. So for me, that ended up being:
a. I was wading through a swamp
b. Of giant frogs and bugs
c. Looking for something
3. As many pieces you have is as many cards you will draw. So I thought about that moment in my dream, and drew a card for “wading through a swamp,” another for “giant frogs and bugs,” and a last card for “looking for something.”
The cards that come out are the meaning of those things, but can also be hints as to what their physical/spiritual correlation are in your life.
I was wading through a giant swamp: Lacerta + Musca, Necessity for Transition and Renewal. The fact that this card is itself a picture of a swamp was fantastic, but it also gave me some valuable meaning. I was wading through a giant swamp, moving through a place of transition and renewal. Perhaps I am in a state of transition myself.
Giant frogs and bugs: Canis Minor, Underdog, Overlooked Talent, Unglorified Action. All around me are the things and people that we overlook. Again, I’m struck by the appropriateness of the fact that in my dream the bugs and frogs were huge, oversized, and this card hints at how the small things can be really important. In my place of transition, I should be aware of the unglorified actions and people. Perhaps I’m overlooking my own abilities, and other people’s abilities, too.
Looking for something: Binary System, Coexistence, Gravity, Harmony. What was I looking for? It’s all there in the card’s keywords. Was I looking for harmony? In my waking life, yes. I am. This resonates.
The swamp represents the metaphorical landscape I’m in right now. One of transition. And as I navigate through this transition, looking for harmony, I need to not ignore the bugs and frogs. That they were out of proportion in my dream seems to be an indication that I need to really keep my eye on the little things that are created by others and myself.
You can use this technique with any kind of divination system. If you don’t have cards, or runes, or do mediumship, well then…this is your invitation to learn! However, if you’re adverse to at the very least purchasing a deck of cards and learning how to read them, then I suggest trying either Stichomancy and/or Shufflemancy.
(This article is an excerpt from "Dreamwork," issue no. 1 of the Sacred Space Journal. Want more articles and insights into dreamwork?)