In this post I will show you an easy technique which will enable you to do a powerful intuitive tarot reading – the ‘Awake Dream’ method. Being able to read tarot intuitively is important for many types of tarot readings and will make it easier to start using tarot quickly and to help you work through everyday situations.
There is a common myth that in order to be able to read tarot you need to learn Qabalah (Jewish mysticism), astrology, numerology, elemental dignities, various card meanings etc. While knowledge of these things can certainly help you read the cards many people read tarot without ever doing any formal study. You can read more on this myth – and other tarot myths – in the post ‘9 Tarot Myths – False…Or True?‘ which you can read here.
You also don’t need to be psychic. But, intuitive tarot reading will strengthen those intuitive muscles generally. The more you use tarot intuitively, the better your intuition will become.
Which decks to use?
The technique I am going to describe was first presented by tarot author and deck creator Robert M. Place in his book ‘The Tarot, Magic, Alchemy, Hermeticism, and Neoplatonism.’ Place used one of his own decks to illustrate the method but the technique works well with the ever popular Rider Waite Smith Tarot (RWS). Other classic tarot decks that can be used include the Morgan Greer Tarot and the Aquarian Tarot.
Place’s own decks, The Alchemical Tarot and the Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery, will also work very well if you can get hold of them.
The main features that determine if the deck will be right for this technique are:
The deck should have human figures and/or animals which face mainly straight ahead, to the left, and to the right.
The art work should not be too ‘busy’ or cluttered which will make interpreting the pictures less effortful.
This means some decks, including the esoteric Thoth Tarot and pip decks, are completely unsuitable. However, the Tarot de Marseille Major Arcana work very well. For more information on choosing a tarot deck and the different tarot systems see the post ‘Choosing and Buying a Beginner Tarot Deck‘ which you can read here.
The Awake Dream Tarot Reading
This type of reading uses 3 cards and does not use reversed tarot cards. When you lay out the 3 cards, put them close together and view all 3 cards as forming one picture, or painting, which tells a story. Essentially, the picture will form the sort of image you may get in a dream, hence ‘Awake Dream.’
Forget any card meanings you may know for now. But, you do need to have a clear question in mind to get any benefit from the reading. For more on the importance of a clear question see the post ‘How To Read Tarot Cards – 10 Steps For Great Readings‘ which you can read here.
What is important to look for are where people are looking or gesturing. For instance, is one person turning their back on another person so it looks like they are ignoring the second person? Then that’s what they are doing. If someone is gesturing with their hands or gazing, look to see where the gesture or gaze is focused on. Are two people looking at each other? This could signify a meeting.
Here is an example to illustrate the Awake Dream intuitive tarot reading. The question I asked was ‘What do I need to know about work?’
The 3 cards have formed one ‘picture’ and there is definitely a story here. All you really have to do is describe what is happening in the context of the question. There are several ways I interpreted the reading:
‘I have to put being comfortable at home behind me and focus on finding work that pays well.’
‘I need to search thoroughly online for roles that will pay me enough so that I have no financial worries at home.’
‘When it comes to work, I want to have a good balance between providing for the family and having a great home life – finding a work life balance.’
I didn’t draw on my knowledge of card meanings or suit elemental energies to do this reading – I just interpreted the cards with my question in mind. If you want, you can use the card meanings to help deepen the reading but do this after the intuitive part.
One example of using the meanings in this reading is:
‘To have a very satisfying home life I really need to be in full control of looking for good paying roles, so I need to put enjoying time at home behind me for now.’
3 cards are all you really need to gain insight into many situations. But, if you want a more detailed tarot reading, you can use this method in a tarot spread.
Using the Awake Dream with a spread
If you want to use this method of intuitive tarot reading with a (small) tarot spread, you can. Instead of using 1 card in each spread position, you use 3 cards in each position to create the picture.
Here is the same reading as above but I have made it a ‘3’ card spread with 3 cards in each spread position. This is essentially a 3 card ‘Situation, What do I need to know, Advice‘ spread with 3 cards in each position instead of 1. So now we have 9 cards!
The bottom row is the ‘Situation‘ position and is the same as my first Awake Dream reading. The second row is the ‘What do I need to know‘ position and the top row is ‘Advice.’
For ‘Situation’ I kept the interpretations I described above. For ‘What do I need to know‘ my intuitive reading told me that the soul destroying nature of looking for work plus dealing with the strictures and regulations in organisations is going to lead to disappointment.
My advice to myself for the top ‘Advice’ position? To find fulfilling and rewarding work, I need to network with other people and then really act vigorously on what results from that.
For another, more detailed, example of an Awake Dream intuitive reading, see the post ‘Tarot For Self-Reflection And Action‘ which you can find here.
More tips on the Awake Dream intuitive reading
With the ‘3 card as one picture’ method of the Awake Dream intuitive tarot reading, don’t simply start reading the cards from left to right. Instead look at the picture as a whole.
In the example I gave above, the top ‘Advice’ row looked as though the reading progressed from right to left with the gardener in the 3 of Wands looking to his left. Same for the middle row.
Sometimes, the direction someone is facing can indicate whether the past or the future is involved. If a figure is looking to the left that could indicate the past; if they are looking to the right that could mean looking forward to the future. Looking straight ahead may mean ‘right now.’ This may not apply for every reading.
If you have one person on one card smaller than a person on another card, the larger person may indicate greater importance. For instance, in the middle row of the reading above, the Emperor is much larger than the figure in the 5 of Cups. This told me that the structures and regulations in the organisations may be overbearing and too much to handle. At least in the context of this reading about work!
Sometimes the people may represent actual people, other times they may represent behaviours to adopt.
A good way of practising this style of reading is to do a daily ‘Awake Dream’ reading in the morning or evening instead of the normally recommended 1 card draw.
I do this myself and I usually ask the question ‘What do I need to know about today?’
Practice regularly, daily if possible. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Using the Tarot de Marseille (TdM)
Traditionally only the major arcana of the TdM are used in readings. The Awake Dream intuitive tarot reading style is also known as the Open Reading method when it comes to using the TdM. The Open Reading normally only uses 3 cards which is often more than you need.
Here is an example of a majors only TdM Awake Dream/Open Reading on the same ‘What do I need to know about work?’ question.
The same things apply: look which direction people are facing; look where the people are gazing or gesturing to; are the people looking straight ahead; etc.
Again, the 3 cards form one picture. Think of it as a painting with 3 panels which tells a story. Don’t read the cards individually and don’ t use meanings – treat the cards as if they do not have meanings. Just let the pictures on the cards describe themselves.
For this reading I interpreted the answer as:
‘Setting out to look for work I really need to weigh up and be critical about what is going to give me the best chance of improving my circumstances. Don’t necessarily take the first role that comes along.‘
That in a nutshell is how you can easily read the Tarot de Marseille!
Exercise your Intuition
It’s worth repeating what I wrote earlier, the more you practice this way of intuitively reading the tarot the easier it becomes and the more intuitive you will become.
You may already naturally be very intuitive but if you are not you can improve. Think of your intuition as a primitive, instinctive ‘muscle’ that needs regular exercise to make stronger. Our modern society has dulled our intuition to a great degree but we are all capable of developing this instinct further.
Happy Tarot Reading!