M2. I had a tarot dream the other night about a tarot card reading, and it reminded me of how dreams and the archetypal images of the Tarot Trump Cards are so closely related. Let’s take a quick look at the Fool’s Journey to see how the 22 Tarot Trumps are a metaphor for a spiritual quest in life based on a medieval christian heritage.
It is also helpful to bear in mind that your dream world doesn’t follow logic or reason, and even time itself is fluid.
Setting Up the Model
Dante (the poet) says in his work, The Banquet:
“The adolescent who enters into the wandering wood of this life would not know of how to keep the right path if it were not shown him by his elders”
In order to enter the Fool’s journey, one must already have experienced the basics of life and be inspired by either the Magician or the High Priestess. They are the door openers to this realm you desire. Both are spiritual guides in their own ways.
Next we have the Empress who represents a goal to follow, being the spiritual fulfillment of the promise of the High Priestess. And The Empress, of course, leads us to the Emperor who is the active and stable representation of the number 4. The number 4 occurs in the 4 seasons, 4 points of the compass, 4 walls of a room, and everything that is strong.
Finally in this sequence is the Hierophant who looks towards spiritual strength that is beyond the Emperor.
So how are we to achieve all this in our Tarot dream which stands as a metaphor in itself. The answer is the Lovers which is how many of us are taught to start off in our life. Following this is the Chariot which represents the mastery of the early life when one is able to apply self control.
Next comes Justice (in the old Tarot which was changed by Arthur Waite in his famous deck). Justice is a virtue of maturity, as is wisdom too. And after Justice comes the Hermit who holds up the sign of the spirit and is seen as an old man. He is the full first circle of the Fool’s journey and reflects the Magician.
Turning Intentions into Reality
The next round is a kind of repeat journey on a higher level and begins with the Wheel of Fortune that reminds us that life is full of up’s and down’s which we must simply accept in order to achieve our spiritual goal.
We will need Strength which is the next card, but it is not the physical strength of youth or a warrior but rather the strength of compassion. The Hanged Man comes next to indicate that one must often face social disapproval to follow this path. Next is even the un-named card that is Death. For following the path one must be indifferent to hardships and even death.
In my Tarot Dream I was reminded of this rather graphically.
Next to get beyond here you will need Temperance as a guide otherwise you will come crashing down, through depression, to earth. For next is The Devil Card waiting to claim you as “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.
Following the spiritual quest is to be rather like Dante and want to see God. But like Semele in Greek mythology, one can find the power of Zeus just a little too much and here we have The Tower we have constructed being destroyed too. There can be nothing new created in life without first destroying the old.
The Home Straight
But if you have managed to get this far without falling back then everything starts to open up beautifully. As in my own Tarot dream, we have the Star card. And like Dante at the end of each of his poems: Hell, Purgatory and Paradise he has the image of stars, because they signify the hope of the heavenly dimension.
Next comes the Moon card which connects us to our unconscious world. And then the Sun card that dazzles. Here we have brought consciousness to illuminate the unconscious and everything becomes clear. This is like bringing lucidity to our dreams: The laws of the real world no longer apply, and even reason with all its impediments becomes illusory, so that you can pass by without fear.
The final test is the Judgment Card. Because only with the Grace of God can one come out of The Waste Land to encounter the final card which is The World. Here one must have become as a compassionate child to enter into Heaven which, of course, is already here.
It’s interesting that a teaching at the heart of Protestantism is that one is saved by Grace and not by one’s works, whereas Roman Catholics receive Grace, bit-by-bit, by participating in the church. Either way it is required for salvation in the Judgment Card.
As in the Tarot dream there is no journey and nothing to do for the Fool is the start and the finish and all in between. He is the embodiment of the whole story. The Fool at the start of the journey and the Fool at the end of the journey are like opposite sides of the same coin.
As Shakespeare says in Macbeth:
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
The Fool becomes the master and the novice at the same time: The child and the old man: Caring about everything and caring for nothing: Actively engaged in the world and spiritually fulfilled: Always embracing everything just as it is.