The “Morpheus Effect” Dream Analysis Experiment
Dream analysis is not one of my strong suits, so I decided to use the tarot cards to better understand my typically aimless somnolent ramblings. On the tarot forums I sometimes encounter interest in a dream-analysis spread but never created one specifically for that purpose. However, the effect of dreams on waking life might be considered similar to the impact of past-life experiences on present-life circumstances, and I do have a couple of those. I tweaked one to make it work for dream scenarios. It employs pairs of numerical “mirror” cards that echo each other’s position on opposite sides of the layout.
The whole subject reminds me of the line from the Coleridge poem Atalanta in Calydon regarding the “holy spirit of man:”
“His life is a watch or a vision
Between a sleep and a sleep”
I took the opportunity to use a fascinating dream I had recently to test this spread; most of my dreams have been too inconsequential to serve that purpose. The deck here is Ciro Marchetti’s Tarot of Dreams, an ideal vehicle for this subject.
I very seldom have memorable dreams that stay with me long after waking, but the following is a noteworthy exception. Although I’m of divided mind on the existence of “spirit guides,” this certainly seemed to represent that kind of contact. It’s something I should probably pursue more purposefully, since the last time I had such a dream (three years ago) it exhibited a similar pattern.
I dreamed that I was walking late at night in a dim city square with no streetlights. It seemed to be well after midnight since there were no other people about. The weather was comfortable and I was dressed in some kind of thin, loose fitting cotton t-shirt and shorts that felt like night-clothes, suggesting that I was enmeshed in a “dream-within-a-dream.” I found a cafe that I wanted to enter but it was of course closed, the time being long after normal business hours. As I started to leave I noticed a small, curly-haired blonde and blue-eyed girl about three years old lurking nearby. I wondered what the girl was doing out alone in the middle of the night, but I didn’t approach her. In retrospect, I found it notable that an older version of the girl/guide had appeared in my previous dream, whom at the time I took to be the prenatal spirit of my now three-year-old granddaughter.
I turned to go back to the apartment I was sharing with my brother, his girlfriend and three large dogs. As I walked the little girl came up and began matching strides with me. As we moved along, a rather large, matronly-looking woman with a very tranquil face came up behind us. I thought it must have been her mother or guardian. I asked the little girl who it was , and she said “That’s Diane.” I turned to Diane and asked, about the little girl, “Where does she belong?” Diane said “She’s from Llama,” which I took to be some kind of orphanage (or maybe a nocturnal “kiddie daycare”); the obvious reference to “Dalai Lama” didn’t occur to me until I woke up. The little girl grasped my hand and said eagerly “I can teach you magic.” Those were the only other words she spoke to me. Although it would be easy to think otherwise in a Freudian sense, this was all transparently innocent; there was nothing remotely prurient about the dream. I have long toyed with the idea of exploring Buddhism (the only established religion I would ever consider adopting), so this could have been a nudge in that direction.
We arrived at the apartment and went in; the little girl (whose name I hadn’t asked) was warmly welcomed by the dogs. One of them was a large terrier that was clearly trying to communicate with her in small, quiet whines and whimpers. There was an orange tiger cat in the apartment that was cuddling with the girlfriend, and my companion was magically transformed into a similar-looking kitten and began licking my face. I was immediately reminded of the orange tiger I once “owned” (as if you can own a cat) that had died a few years ago. Perhaps an outreach from “feline Paradise,” a gesture of forgiveness for having him put down?
A short while later (although there was no sense of time passing and no intervening activity), we were sitting at the kitchen table and I noticed that the girl had a third, smaller blue eye in the middle of her forehead; this didn’t seem at all odd so I didn’t ask her about it (although I was curious what she would see if she were able to close the other two). She looked remarkably wise, like the “three-eyed raven” in the Game of Thrones television series, and a bit like my maternal grandmother who always had a wily look about her. I went to a large Yellow Pages book on another table to look up “Llama” but of course it wasn’t there. (I probably should have looked for “Lama” as in “Dalai.”) About that time I awoke and immediately went to write it all down.
On to the reading shown above:
The four “dream-state hint” cards were Strength reversed, the Queen of Wands, the 8 of Wands reversed and the 2 of Wands reversed. These are all Fire cards , signifying the incursion (or, with the reversals, “insinuation”) of Spirit into my dream.
Strength reversed seems to be telling me to “Just let go!” It looks like an inversion or overthrow of unduly rigid self-control. That seems to be the message of the “child” metaphor in the dream. The inner beast is rising and wants to roar (or at least “meow” loudly)! The two cats in the dream are avatars of this urge, although reflecting its more benign side.
The Queen of Wands knows how to “play with fire and not get burned.” This could be the promise of “magic” uttered by the child. The first thought that crossed my mind was that the “small, curly-haired, blonde and blue-eyed girl” was my “spirit guide,” obviously the Queen of Wands in a less intimidating, more ingratiating form. But I’m not entirely convinced that astral spirits are keen on proactively “guiding” us, although with the proper supplication and persuasion they might “serve” us. More likely this was an emissary from my Higher Self or maybe a “way-shower” from the solar “Oversoul” — the sephira Tiphareth, where spiritual exaltation (the goal of “magic” as intimated here) awaits the personal consciousness. Although “Opening of the Third Eye” has become something of a metaphysical cliche, the “third-eye” symbolism in the dream looked to me like an invitation to embrace the “Path of the Arrow” (Sagittarius) on the Hermetic Tree of Life that joins the sephira of the Moon (the astral realm of dreams) to that of the Sun (a fully awakened state of being).
The 8 of Wands reversed is an interesting card in this reading; rather than an onrushing advance, it suggests a strategic retreat into a more subdued state, kind of like a banked fire awaiting more fuel. It recommends patience, a virtue that is reiterated in the “waking-state” cards. It is the “Mercury in Sagittarius” card, combining the most philosophical expression of Fire with the planet of intellectual pursuits. However, Mercury is not “at home” in Sagittarius (its sign of detriment), so it won’t sit still for long. The advice is to “strike while the iron is hot,” but with discretion and finesse.
The 2 of Wands reversed also takes a step back from the brink of realization and revelation. It doesn’t show backsliding in any major way (Wands are ill-equipped for that; they’re “all forward gears and no reverse”) but it hints at “marking time” or “running in place.” It cautions not jumping into the fire with both feet.
The trajectory in these cards is one of retiring into a period of inner work, with the Queen of Wands acting as mentor, gatekeeper and warden.
Faith (Hierophant) reversed as “quint” card implies that the channel through which these spiritual insights were received was recondite in nature, operating via the dream state. Although the quote that immediately comes to mind is “O ye of little faith . . . ” the advice is to not doubt their veracity and remain open to spiritual guidance of the more mystical kind. Its reversal also shows that conventional religion is not “the Way.”
The four “waking-state implication” cards were Temperance; 2 of Coins; 7 of Coins and Queen of Coins. With the exception of Temperance, a Fire card, all of these card are associated with the element of Earth. (Note “mirror” cards are always placed upright to show the ideal state of completion for the initial energy.)
The very first card, Temperance, reiterates the emphasis on Sagittarius and the Path of the Arrow. This path links the watery sphere of the Moon (Yesod) to Tiphareth, the fiery domain of the Sun (as shown in Ciro Marchetti’s remarkable rendition). In qabalistic terms this leads to profound communion with the Higher Self. It is advising me to actively seek this evolution in conscious ways, not just through passive introspection. As the mirror of Strength, it shows a masterful way to enlist and direct the restless energies released by Strength’s reversal.
The 2 of Coins carries the esoteric title of “Lord of Harmonious Change” (or simply “Change”). To use an obvious metaphor, it indicates “getting off the dime” and starting to movie toward the goal. As the mirror of the Queen of Wands, it lends “boots-on-the-ground” traction to her magical inspiration.
The 7 of Coins conveys unfinished business; its esoteric title is “Lord of Success Unfulfilled.” As the mirror of the 8 of Wands, it suggests the fuel that is waiting for ignition. The combination lacks elemental Water to yield the “locomotion” of steam, so it is more likely to create a stationary blaze instead. I will keep the “fire extinguisher” (Star) handy.
The Queen of Coins is the patient counterpart to the impetuous Queen of Wands (Earth and Fire are “complementary opposites*”). As the mirror of the 2 of Wands, it “turns the tables” on the Queen of Wands/2 of Coins pairing. The “retiring” nature of the 2 of Wands reversed is taken in stride and built into the long-range worldview. I will be in it for the long haul.
The Star as the mirror of Faith reversed “lights the way” for spiritual illumination, bringing it out of the cloister and into full engagement. I still don’t know if and how the Dali Lama figures into it, though. Maybe I should go exploring.
The advice in all of this seems to be to stay poised and grounded, and not expect miracles. The descending order of the Fire cards in the dream-state gives the frustrating impression of trying to cram ten pounds of “stuff” into a five-pound sack. The waking-state “mirror” cards, while offering eventual satisfaction, recommend patience and acknowledge the futility of over-extending one’s reach. Faith reversed despairs of making much practical use of the ephemeral “stuff of dreams, while the transcendent Star and Temperance convey the idea that all will come in good time. The Earth cards show constructive ways to work with the enthusiasm of Fire by bringing overheated expectations within the confines of reality.
* See my previous post on the subject of “complementary opposites.”