October 24th, 2010



There was a dream in which I was a member of a scooby-gang type of crowd; some of the others were friends of mine from real life, some were people I didn't recognize after waking but in the dream they were also close friends, and some were fictional characters from the real world. In the dream we were a group of friends who had some important mission to accomplish (about which I no longer remember anything) and had no idea whatsoever how to go about it. Discussing the matter just made us all more confused.

For some reason, there were lots of cards around. There were standard playing cards, Pokemon-style game cards, business cards, recipe cards, ID cards, pop-culture-based collectible cards, tarot cards, credit cards, baseball cards, every kind of card one might find lying around. We gathered all the various cards we could and shuffled them all together, then dealt them out to all of us to play a serious game which would help us figure out how to deal with the problem. Within the dream this seemed like a normal method this group had always used to solve problems like this, and I knew how to proceed as though I'd done it a million times before.

We began by stating the problem we were all facing, in the manner of the intro to a story. Then each person in turn would take a card from their hand, place it down on the deck, and come up with the next part of the story which somehow related to the card itself or something on it. A Pokemon card of a Pikachu, which uses electricity attacks, could mean the next bit of the story had something to do with electricity. A playing card could mean the number or the suit was important to what was going on. A business card for a plumber could mean the next part of the plan involved using some pipes. And so on.

After a number of rounds of this we had a complete plan to tackle whatever the job was we had to do. That's when I woke up.

I used to read tarot cards a lot, the fully-illustrated sort rather than just numbered, and that activity tends to work on the same principle. Strip away the "OMG PSYCHIC POWARZ" or other trappings some might attach to it and tarot reading boils down to basically an intuitive storytelling device. Each card has an archetypal illustration which provides part of a narrative. If you lay out the cards of a traditionally-illustrated tarot deck in numerical order, they basically tell the archetypal story of life from start to end with each card serving as one of the chapters. If you're reading a card in a tarot spread you can use the story behind its image, or if some particular detail of the image "jumps out" at the reader that can be used by itself to inspire that bit of story, and they each provide part of a running narrative which builds throughout the tarot spread. When reading cards for someone, the spread's narrative as read by the reader will ostensibly cohere and relate to whatever the querent was asking about.

I don't do tarot readings much for others anymore, but for myself I find them quite useful for getting past writer's block, providing random things to meditate on, and other situations in which I just need something to start from and let my mind wander and build onto. The card game in this dream was sort of a weird collaborative version of that, using all sorts of source material to enable the group to tell a story which, had the dream continued, I assume would have matched up with subsequent events.

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