Tarot Symbolism: The Dog – Truly Man’s Best Friend


For personal reasons I wanted to explore the symbolism of the Dog in Tarot for my first Tarot Symbolism post. Having recently lost my own loyal protector it seems apt. Especially as the day before I had to say my goodbyes to my sweetheart the 10 of Pentacles appeared in a reading that I did for myself on the subject and I was immediately drawn to the image of the child reaching out to touch the dog. My youngest child had not had a chance to say her goodbyes to our beloved pet and I knew this would upset her dearly, which it did, yet the alternative of her saying goodbye at the vets the day of the event did not seem like a wise alternative. That little corner of the 10 of Pentacles had tugged at my heart.

So, here I am once again focused on the bottom right corner of the 10 of Pentacles. What can be found here? My first thoughts are of the qualities that both a dog and a young child share… devotion, trust, playfulness, an openness to life and new experiences. As well as that they both have strong instinctual natures. In the 10 of Pentacles two adults are caught up in their own affairs, blind to what is happening around them. The old man in front of the archway with his magical coat may very well be a blessing in disguise, but they do not notice him. The dogs are instinctually drawn to him, and the child to the dog. The dogs and child are open to the magic around them, they are acting instinctively, they are engaged.

Again, in the Fool card I see the dog symbolising our instinctual nature. It is the voice of reason, of those inner gut feelings that can warn of danger. It is our own in-built protection mechanism. Yet although dogs are generally domesticated creatures, they are still beasts within, once running in the wild. They are capable of defending their territory with whatever means is necessary. The Fool is obeying his wild nature, he does not deny his urges. He knows his inner dog is there to protect him, so long as he listens.

In The Moon we see the beast in all its glory. This is the only Major Arcana card where there are no people depicted, the energy is all animal. The dog and the wolf are our id animal natures. They are not afraid to display their lunacy as they are roused to howl at the moon. One full moon some years back I actually found myself literally doing this. I was in such a state of despair. It came from nowhere and felt so good. I allowed it to come up and be released. In The Moon the wild unconscious comes to the surface. Unconscious energy needs to be released. It may take its time but it will come, from a dream, from an inner knowing.

A dog can symbolise many things however looking at these three cards it is the theme of primitive instinctual impulses and desires that emerges strongly for me. The dog is our id, it is our unconscious, our intuition. I know that for me now personally, whenever I view these cards and am drawn to our canine friend, that it will be a prompt for me to dig deep and listen to my gut, to my inner voice. To not ignore raw impulses that well up from within. I may have lost my dearly departed buddy but my inner four-legged friend will always be there. Truly ‘man’s best friend’.

Stella Luna © 2012 The Tarot Reader. All rights reserved.


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