Last night I dreamed I was attending a memorial service for someone who I didn’t know. It took place in what appeared to be someone’s home; it reminded me of the living room of a psychotherapist’s house that I used to visit (for weekly therapy sessions) twenty years ago. There were maybe two dozen people there, all seated in folding chairs in front of a pastor wearing street clothes who was speaking in front of a closed casket. As the service drew to an end, a blond woman, seated next to me and dressed in black, told me that she was the widow of the deceased, and that many of the people in the room were enemies who had spread slanderous rumors about her, claiming that she had engaged in numerous adulterous affairs during her marriage that had driven her poor husband to suicide. Then she stood up and left to pray at the casket. A woman sitting behind me said, “She’s lying.” A man’s voice whispered, “She’s always lying.” Looking to my right, I noticed a young couple staring intently at me with a stern and angry look on their faces. The young woman said, “People lie, you know.” The young man sitting next to her nodded and said to me, ”Haven’t you ever?” Sure, I thought—but here, like that? It would be one of the worst sins imaginable!
Before I could give voice to my thoughts, however, I awoke from the dream feeling sad beyond words.
An hour and a few cups of tea later, and still unable to shake off my feelings of sorrow, I consulted my personal “78-card therapist” for some one-card advice: “What is the meaning of the dream?” The card that turned up was this:
Awesome, thanks! . . . Okay, okay (takes a deep breath), so what does that mean? Time to lay out an explanatory spread, with the cards laid out in this order:
4 3 2 1
The cards’ meanings, are, roughly:
1. What I am thinking.
2. What I am feeling.
3. What I am perceiving.
4. What I am sensing.
5. Obstacles I am facing.
6. A course of action I should take.
7. The suggested outcome.
All of these may be influenced to some degree by The Devil—or perhaps not. We shall see! Anyway, here are the cards that decided to pay a visit today:
Now, I know that “dreams involving death” don’t necessarily correlate to the physical death of an actual person, and as a rule they only tend to imply the “end” or “beginning” of an episode or phase in one’s life. The “therapist’s house” I was reminded of in the dream took me back to a painful time in my life about 20 years ago when I was going through a divorce (that’s how I ended up in therapy in the first place—and no, the issues surrounding the divorce didn’t involve any adultery.) So perhaps, the dream is saying, the time has come to “bury” any feelings of loss or regret I may have about this period in my life. I didn’t think I still had any, but perhaps this is not the case—and in either event, it’s an idea worth considering: Clinging to the past, after all, is like committing adultery against the present, now, isn’t it?
But here’s the crazy thing: A few minutes after I laid down these cards, I heard from a friend about the death—which occurred last night—of a blond woman of my acquaintance, who I had not seen in many years and who I remember primarily because, one night long ago, she confessed a fond desire to enter into an adulterous relationship with me. (We were both romantically involved with other people at the time, and because of this, I declined the offer—not that I’m an angel on this score, but this time at least, I took a pass.) Anyway, after saying a prayer for her, I sat down to ponder the cards, deciding to “write my truth” as best I could and saving the more nuanced interpretations for a later time (the devil, as always, being in the details).
1. What I am thinking: Eight of Pentacles. Visits to the “dark side” are just another stop on the journey. Now it’s back to the work—that’s why I am here! Then again, what if I’m working in, uh, The Devil’s workshop?
2. What I am feeling: Judgement reversed. Yeah, but some days I just don’t want to get out of bed all the same.
3. What I am perceiving: Ace of Cups reversed. Today I remember a day when I turned down an opportunity to love. However appropriate my reaction may have seemed at the time, it was an offer rejected. More relevantly to the present, perhaps it is time to ask: What has caused me to reject love in my life since then? It has happened more than once!
4. What I am sensing: The Empress reversed. In the present day, a dull life in a barren and dying world. It wasn’t always like this—how to rediscover the joy of living?
5. Obstacles: Two of Pentacles. I’m trapped in a self-constraining view of myself and my world that I must overcome if I am ever to know a peaceful inner life.
6. Course of action: Eight of Wands. Something is about to change in my life. Good or bad, I know not—but news is likely coming my way, so I must not be fearful, and be prepared to adapt to sudden shifts in the wind. Be flexible, alert, and ready to move when opportunity knocks.
7. Outcome: The Hierophant. Could this “news on the wing” portend some “come to Jesus” moment in my life? A life-changing epiphany? A cathartic exorcism? Or could it simply be the stirrings of an inner religious impulse that the interpretation of dreams can activate? I guess I’ll find out soon enough. (With my own dream in mind, this card could also imply a “memorial service” for myself—yikes!—but let’s think positive today. It beats the alternative.)
Until I get a better grip on the day, dear reader, I will leave you to divine the meanings of the spread for yourself. I do, at least, take some measure of solace in knowing that the messenger of Christ, not The Devil, has “the final say” on the matter today. Love really is a mightier force than fear. At least that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it for now.