I’ve always had an active dream-life. Most of the time they just seem to be the day tossed into a bag and like my Junk Oracle, rearranged in a different order or odd combinations.
My scary dreams were the Big Dark Monster chasing me. I never turned around to see its face. I only ran.
Another bad one recurred until my mid-20s. The interesting thing about this one is that, as I grew older, the dream changed slightly, which was a key to solving the puzzle of the dream. The basics were always the same. A tornado was headed towards our house, which, by the way, wasn’t really my house but was a farmhouse on a broad plain, dusty and dry. The idea was that I had to get away before the tornado hit. Then there were more tornadoes, three, then five or six. The wind is howling and the dust is swirling and I’m trying to convince my family to go now, leave in the big, old 1940’s-era long-nosed Buick or Pontiac sedan parked between the house and the barn. My mother instead continues to take the dried laundry flapping horizontally from the clotheslines.
My earliest versions of this dream have the terrified me in the car but unable to reach the pedals. As I grew older, I could reach the pedals, but I couldn’t drive the car because it was a manual transmission. As I grew more skilled, I got past one hurdle only to find another. Finally, and I mean seriously this dream chased me well into my 20’s, the last hurdle was that I could not get my family into the car. Led by my mother, as the storm approached they all turned into paper dolls.
I solved the problem by just letting the tornado take them away. I mean, seriously, folks, I had worked night after night to figure out how to rescue them, overcoming every obstacle. When I waved goodbye to my paper-doll family and let the tornado take them away, I was relieved of the dream and I never had it again.
I still have trouble watching the Wizard of Oz but at least it’s only a movie. And my feet reach the pedals. Whew!
Other dreams followed me year after year, flying at night above the power poles and trees, finding cats and kittens in sparkly turquoise, green, purple and red, and one of my favorites: Out on that same dusty plain there’s been a little rain and there’s a bit of green grass. It is night-time and there is a full moon. As I look for stars and planets, I realize that there are messages written in the stars, silly messages and intriguing messages. I realize there is not just one full moon, but it has suddenly turned into 2, then 4, then 8, then 16. I do cartwheels in my delight in the grassy field under the many moons. It is a lucky night.
These dreams, of course, are not the dream of future events that seem to have a more coherent narrative about them. Typically synesthetic, those dreams “smell” different from the colorful cats and multiple moons.
It’s pretty easy for me to figure out what’s going on with the tornado dream and the advice I gave myself—and followed—about my family drama, freeing myself from a co-dependent nightmare.
I look forward to the skywriting stars and multiple moons and perhaps, one night, the sparkly turquoise cats will come to do cartwheels with me.
The Moon in Tarot is a great card to signify dreams: In moonlight, things look real, almost. Some things are brought into high relief in moonlight and other things nearly invisible. You might not recognize the same landscape by light of day. In that way, the Moon sometimes signifies deception but I prefer to think of it as altered perception. After all, at high noon in the Grand Canyon, you can barely see the glorious colors of the canyon walls which, at sunset blaze in beauty and contrast. The danger in moonlight is that it comes and goes, that it hides things you may really need to see so you don’t step in a hole or stumble across the thing that was chasing you and wake it.
In one of my cute little antique books, Zadkiel’s Dream Book and Fortune Teller, there are some charming dream interpretations that I thought I would share. In no particular order, but using elements from the RWS Tarot deck:
Lamps (from the Hermit): If you dream that you are carrying a bright lamp, it foretells that in your particular calling you will succeed, and be highly esteemed…To dream of seeing many bright lamps denotes a coming festivity. If you appear to be exultant on the occasion it denotes your marriage.
Laurel (as the wreath on the head of the celebrant on the 6 of Wands): To dream of Laurel betokens victory and pleasure. If you marry it foretells possessions by your wife. It foreshadows great prosperity. If a woman dreams of it and smells it, it denotes that she will bear children [laurel is bay leaf, ed.]; to a maid, it shows speedy marriage.
Miser (from the 4 of Pentacles): This is an unfavourable dream. It foretells bad success through life and great troubles. You will never rise above your present circumstances, but probably become poorer and more wretched. In love it foretells marriage with a person who will make you miserable by low despicable ways and that you will have many bad children. [Well! Cross that one off the list, ed.]
Moon (from the Moon): To dream of the moon foretells unexpected joy and success in love. If it be a new moon it is a good dream for the tradesman and farmer and lover. The full moon denotes marriage; it is good for a widow. [OK, I’m not getting married 16 times. Not, ed.]
Crown (many Tarot cards have a crown, such as the Ace of Swords): To dream of a monarch’s crown denotes favour with the great and elevation in your state. To dream that you will wear a royal crown is a dream of contrary; it denotes your degradation. To dream that you give a crown shows that you will rise to independence. [Mixed blessing, that crown thing, ed.]
Snails (from the 9 of Pentacles): To dream of snails is not a very good dream. It foretells that you will be annoyed with very low evil-designing persons. Be watchful, lest you suffer through their designs. [Have always preferred my snails in butter and garlic anyway, ed.]
River (from the Empress, 5 of Cups, etc.): To dream that you see a broad, rapid and muddy river and tempestuous [sic] it denotes troubles and difficulties in love and business; but if the river appears calm, with a glassy surface, it foretells great happiness in love, happy wedlock, beautiful children and commercial prosperity.
And last, two of the most enduring symbols from the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, the lily and the rose:
Lily: To dream you see this lovely flower, it is a sign that by your virtuous and industrious career you will be very happy and prosperous. To the lover it denotes the virtue of the object beloved. The lily is the emblem of purity; therefore it augurs well. If you marry, you will be happy and have lovely children. If in your dream you see the lily wither, then your most ardent expectations will be nullified…portends failure….
Rose: To dream of roses in their season is the omen of happiness, prosperity and long life. If the roses are full and fragrant, it foretells to a young man who dreams it that his mistress will be fair and beautiful, intelligent and amiable, and that their union will follow in due time and be honourable and happy. It is a good dream for the tradesman and for all, prognosticating great success. If the roses are decayed, it indicates trouble and poverty.
So may your roses and lilies be full and fragrant and may moonlight and bright lamps shine on your calm river so that it sparkles like glass! See you in my dreams!