Table of Contents


Tarot Reflections


 September 15, 2003

Book Review: Tarot & Dream Interpretation
Sarah C. Costello, CPTR

Sarah Costello, CPTR, has been studying the Tarot since 1999. She actively reads on the Free Tarot Network, Free Reading Network, and privately. She considers herself a student of the Tarot and is also a mentor. She reads with many decks. Her favorite is The New Palladini.



When looking at a tarot card, have you ever remembered a scene from one of your dreams? If so, Julie Gillentine's book Tarot & Dream Interpretation, where she links the symbolism of dreams with the symbolism of the Tarot, will interest you. Gillentine who has studied metaphysics for 25 years asks, "Where do we begin to blend these two ancient disciplines, bridging the language of Tarot and dreams?"

Gillentine breaks her book down into three parts. Part One, titled: "Tarot and Dream Principles," includes a brief history of dream and of the Tarot. It explains what a dream is, how to record it, and what to do with a dream once you've recorded it.

Part One is my favorite part of this book. A section in chapter one, "Dreamers Through Time," gives examples of famous dreamers through history.  Among those included are: Tutmosis IV of Egypt, Joseph (of the coat of many colors), John (author of the biblical Apocalypse), Joseph (Mary's husband), Abraham Lincoln, and Edgar Cayce.

Beneath the paws of the Great Sphinx of Egypt is a stone monument that figures prominently in one of Tutmosis's dreams.  The story goes that when the Sphinx was still buried under the sand, Prince Tutmosis had a dream in which the monument spoke to him. "Compelled by the voice in his dream, the prince awoke and ordered workers to free the massive statue from the tons of sand surrounding its enormous body. Tutmosis was soon crowned pharaoh. He inscribed the stela of the dream and placed the stone between the leonine paws of the Great Sphinx, where it remains today." I found this section fascinating because though we all know that we dream, we tend to forget that pharaohs were dreaming 2,500 years ago and making decisions based on their dreams.

Part One also includes a very specific example of a dream journal. Gillentine divides the dream into a beginning, middle, and ending scene. She asks you to consider each of the dream elements as parts of a play and analyze them accordingly, but does not mention the well-known Jungian concept that the ending of the dream tells you where to go and what to work on next. This would have been helpful in creating spreads to understand and work on the dream.

Part Two covers Tarot and Dream Practices. It includes nine tarot spreads, ranging from one to six cards, to help you interpret your dreams. They are followed by examples of how dreams were interpreted using these tarot spreads.

In Part Three, "Tarot and Dream Interpretations," Gillentine gives descriptions of the 78 Tarot cards with possible dream interpretations.  She includes a Keyword or Key concept, a Significator, and a Reversed interpretation for each card. For the Major Arcana and the court cards, Gillentine provides a description of the card and a Dream Spread meaning. For example the entry for the Strength card says:

     Keyword: Suggestion
     Significator: Inner strength
     Reversed: Reckless or unconscious use of force.

She names the card "Kundalini, Serpent power" and also includes the card's astrological sign, (Leo for Strength), color (yellow) and a list of symbols (red lion, mountain, and roses). She uses the Lo Scarabeo version of the Universal Tarot.

Although Gillentine introduces the Major Arcana by saying that universal archetypes and their meanings are focused for use with dreams, she is inconsistent in suggesting which mythological figures, which she calls archetypes, match which Major Arcana cards.  Perhaps she thought it obvious to all, but I would tend to disagree.

In Gillentine's description of the court cards, she gives a brief description of the aspects of wands, cups, swords, and pentacles and how they apply to dream interpretation. She also offers insight on how aces and princesses (pages) correlate. However, she does not include insight on princes (knights), queens, and kings and their correlations.

The Minor Arcana cards are divided numerically, rather than by suit and each is preceded by an explanation of the numbers of the Minor Arcana (1-10). For instance, the number eight is described as holding the meaning that "opposite forms of expression are effects of a single cause.  Eight implies the ebb and
flow and the flux and reflux of a single breath-like motion, like the tides of the ocean.  Eight corresponds with Hod, Splendor, and the Sphere of Mercury on the Tree of Life.  Meanings of the number eight include vibration, rhythm, involution and evolution, and resurrection."

Part Three also includes a dictionary of symbols intended to correlate with dreams and the Tarot although they seem to pertain more to dreams than symbols on Tarot cards.

Tarot & Dream Interpretation (ISBN 0-7387-0220-X) is published by Llewellyn Publications. It is available at and at your local bookstore.


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Tarot Reflections is a publication of the American Tarot Association - Copyright (C) 2003
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