The Spirit of Dreaming Way
Dreaming Way Tarot is a very young and rebellious deck. The more I work with it, the more I think so. It’s got an insatiable adolescent spirit, capturing all the self-consciousness, carelessness, the passion and the grandiose of youth. Its artwork, filled with both fashion and style and a semi-Victorian, fairytalesque spin on modern culture, fuels its youthful spirit with fierceness and glamour. It burns with idealism, yearns for a future glittering with perfection, and journeys down the winding road of curious exploration, personal transformation and ultimate individuation.
One of the reasons I have bonded deeply with this deck is because, indeed, of its youthful spirit. I feel like part of me is always going to be a teenager: despite having grown up, part of me still remains idealistic, still dreams with the same ferocity and dedication that I had when I was younger, and still feels and experiences just as much as my young trembling heart did. I still get temperamental at times: the signature of youth, I suppose. The difference is that right now, as an adult, I now have what I lacked when I was a teenager: perspective, and a much better sense of reality.
On the other hand, this is also the reason why sometimes I feel extremely disconnected and detached from this deck–precisely because I am no longer a teenager. You don’t always need the exaggerated, bloated sentiments of youth. You don’t always want to be seen as young and inexperienced. However, I have learned to embrace it as it is. Everything seems so dramatic when you are young, no? Because everything is new, everything is fresh and glowing and glorious. Dreaming Way Tarot reminds me that I should always be young, that I should never give up on my ideals, to never stop daring and challenging the world, to never stop myself from feeling and savouring all that is wonderful.
I remember I used to draw extensive comparisons between Dreaming Way and the traditional Rider-Waite. Although it was a necessary learning process for me to draw on the Rider-Waite, the father deck of modern tarot, the age-old wisdom doesn’t always apply to this deck. In retrospect, of course this comparison is not effective. Why? Because no teenager is going to listen to some ancient elder that is righteous by age. In the world of youth, nothing is righteous by age…yet, ironically, everything is: the contempt and disregard for the old, for rules, for traditions, for boundaries–contrasted by the intense desire to break free, break through, to reinvent and reshape the world with dreams and visions–Dreaming Way is, indeed, a Way to the boldest of Dreams.
The Major Arcana
Dreaming Way Tarot is a “young” deck, and the majority of the people depicted in Dreaming Way are young–which is to say that most of the characters look like they’re in their twenties or early thirties. The exceptions are obviously the “older” characters and archetypes such as The Emperor, The Heirophant, and the World. Interestingly, you don’t see many old women in Dreaming Way. But then, come to think of it, you don’t see a lot of old women depicted in tarot decks, either (potential blog post?).
Every single card in the Major Arcana , except for The Tower, contains a human figure that is seen to dominate the scene. Proportionately speaking, they occupy the spotlight when it comes down to symbolic interpretations. Also, I find that the characters are often androgynous, which could be just the art style since it mildly carries qualities of Japanese shojo anime. The fashion certainly emits an anime vibe.
Speaking of The World card, it is absolutely fascinating that the representation of worldly spirit, the sense of completion and self-realization, is an old man! Yes. It is an old man, sitting in his armchair, dozing off into a nap as he gently puts his book and glasses down. The young, impulsive teen has at last, “grown up” to be someone perfectly at ease, perfectly comfortable with who he is, and perfectly carefree after a lifetime of hardcore adventures.
The Minor Arcana
I love the way the four suits are represented in this deck, especially the suit of cups and the suit of swords. The cups look like something you can find in Ikea (which I love, by the way) and I am a big fan of the polka dot design. They’re absolutely adorable. Meanwhile, the swords (sometimes daggers or short swords) have amazingly and exquisitely designed handles, and they are very eye-pleasing in terms of aesthetics. Not your average, medieval swords with boring metal blades and lackluster hilts.
The four suits each correspond to a specific season. This is actually something I just noticed (like literally, just now as I am writing this post!). The Suit of Cups pertain to Spring; the surroundings are very floral, and are often depicted to be near the ocean–capturing the receptivity, sensitivity and intuitive quality of the water element. The Suit of Wands pertain to Summer, and almost all the cards have lush, vivid greenery and trees either in the background or foreground–capturing the vivacious and unchanging spirit of the fire element. The Suit of Pentacles pertain to Fall, containing scenes of harvest and earth–representing the earth element and its abundance, solidity and interconnectedness. Lastly, the Suit of Swords pertain to Winter, the starkness and barren landscape of snow seem to reflect the coldness of reason and logic, as well as the poignancy and precision of the air element.
Dreaming Way’s courts are like celebrities in many ways (in a…dreaming way? Excuse the terrible pun 🙂 ). The pages, knights, queens and kings look like they have just walked out of an urban fantasy movie set–stylish boots and elegant scarves, glamorous,costumes and exquisite props–all poise and fairy-tale magic. One of the things that I like about the courts is the way they dress is relevant to their personalities and who they are. For example, The King of Pentacles is dressed in a loose, vivaciously rippling robe with lush green vines and grapes patterning the cloth. This obviously reflects his sense of abundance, his eye for great investment and his ability to “harvest”. Grapes are also associated with prosperity. This, again, reflects the wealth and graciousness of the King of Pentacles.
Another thing I like about the courts is that their “scene” is an extension of their core being. When they are “on set”, every aspect of their environment showcases what they represent, including the way they posit themselves. For example, the Queen of Swords is depicted to be sitting in the middle of a winter forest covered in snow. This highlights the quality of air and the starkness of the suit of swords. Furthermore, tiny clockworks of silver and gold patterned on her throne chair, which is highly regal, fully cushioned but sturdy in the legs. This, I feel, attempts to portray her excellence and aptitude in the mental faculties: the clockworks being the logical, methodical workings of her mind while the regal, sturdy chair captures the simple yet powerfully functioning abilities to ground anything in reason. The Queen of Swords sits with perfect posture. unmoving, her back straight and her feet firmly planted on the ground. This means that she is just, fair, and a public ideal to be aspired to–a perfect depiction of who she is.
A Taste of This Deck
This is one of my favourite cards to get in a reading when using this deck, because the Devil reminds me to look deeper within myself in order to free myself from the mental shackles that are currently holding me back. The representation of The Devil in Dreaming Way is a fascinating one. What drew me to this card is the straitjacket. Immediately, I am channeling a disturbing, creepy vibe. And indeed, as The Devil represents the darker parts of ourselves that we sometimes fail to reconcile with, as well as soul-eating addictions on the ego level–the straitjacket makes sense because The Devil IS creepy! When your spirit is in a dark place, you are literally not in your right mind–as if you are mentally disturbed or mad. This kind of mentality chains you, suffocates you, exposes the raw ugly parts of you and shames you. You become the numb puppet in the hands of this masterful puppeteer. You fall under the control of your own ego, your own inner Devil, your own inner insanity.
Seven of Pentacles
Initially, this was by far one of my least favourite cards in Dreaming Way. It took me so much effort not to throw a tantrum over this card because I thought this card failed to capture the original theme of patience in the Seven of Pentacles that is present in the Rider-Waite Deck. This was when I first started seriously working with tarot and I didn’t know better then. Now, as I look at this card, I love it! I love its theme on materialism because it’s something the original Rider-Waite doesn’t have. Of course, you can always achieve this theme with proper context and the correct combination of cards, but there is not one single card that depicts modern materialism in the original Rider-Waite, and in many decks that I’ve come across. A shopping card! Who would have thought? This is the “grand reaping” in our contemporary society–what beats a shopping spree after days of hard work and diligent savings? This card is almost genius in a cute, whimsical way.
Dreaming Way is one of those decks that you learn to love from a distance. That is how you love a teenager as an adult; that is how you admire youth. I will say that it is not the best deck to go to when undergoing troubling times–when you are in need of a deeper exploration of your psychological realms and your inner workings. However, this is a great deck to go to whenever you are feeling “young”, whenever you are stricken with a sense of adventure, when you want to do things with style, when you want something to uplift your spirit and ideals, when you want to feel untouched, energetic, and wondrous.
I mentioned that I didn’t consult Dreaming Way for more solemn or serious questions like shadow work. That was a bias I had back then. Now I ask it all kinds of questions. 🙂 It is without a doubt my soul-mate deck. ❤