Louis: You see that old woman? That would never happen to you.
You will never grow old and you will never die.”
Claudia: And it means something else, too, doesn’t it? I shall
never grow up.
~ From Interview with a Vampire
The Gothic Tarot of Vampires is not a deck for beginning readers or the faint of heart either. It is not an easy deck to understand or like – it repels, it is violent, it is sexual, it is painful, it assaults the senses.
Author, Riccardo Minetti (who also gave us the Fey Tarot and the Etruscan) now asks us to look deep within ourselves, to see our own thoughts and ideas via the vampire mind. The little white booklet (LWB) takes pains to explain, “the Metaphor is the symbolic parallel between the Vampire and Man.” For example, the Vampire’s thirst for blood is a metaphor for man’s insatiable greed. We might identify with the Vampire’s loneliness, we can envy his charm, fear his anger. Although vampires are feared and dreaded, if we go deep enough might we find we are not so very different after all?
Artist Emiliano Mammucari uses his combined expertise with Italian comic strips and movie graphics to give a cartoonish element to the deck but these are not humorous cards. There is no romantic Count Dracula, no brooding castles – the backgrounds of the cards are set in the modern world and the vampires are of today.
The Minors are well illustrated but with slightly different connotations:
Chalices – represent the world of the mortals (are we humans a source of emotions and feelings or are we a source of food?)
Pentacles – reflect the Vampire’s growth and power
Wands – represent the Natural Order of Things – an area in which vampires do not belong
Swords – reflect the darkest part of the Vampire’s world – fear, loneliness, guilt, loss, pain, sadness
The Majors also give a unique view. Vampires are creatures of the dark, called forth by the Moon. On the Moon card, a woman sits in front of a large mirror with her hands over her eyes. Her reflection shows ghostly images (demons, shadows?) behind her. The woman’s image holds her hands opened in front of her as if to say, “What did you expect? This is how you really look, this is how you really are.”
The Wheel of Fortune (above) is another gripping card. Here is a face – weary, worn, furrowed brow – and yet it is a timeless face. Here also is a hand and, in the hand, what might be a single die, but all we see on the die is the hourglass shape on one side. Is our time endless or is our time running out? At first, the eyes of this face appear to be looking at the hand but the next second, you realize these eyes are looking at you – or are they looking into you?
One of the exercises in the LWB is to pull a single card, imagine you are the vampire in that scene of that card, and then see your own life in the same way. I pulled the Eight of Pentacles. The LWB says, “following the rules, conformism, adapting to the opinions of others.”
The card shows the vampire with a victim in his arms. It is nighttime, of course, and the vampire is on the roof of a church. We see the bell, the cross, the gargoyle, and modern buildings in the background. It’s easy to imagine the vampire’s mixed feelings – he’s killed and so he can live again – but he has killed – and so, here amid all that is normal, accepted, beautiful, he stands alone – vilified, feared, guilty. There is no satisfaction on his face, only pain. And how many times in our own lives have we made the decision to stand alone because of what we felt we must do instead of what others felt was right or acceptable? Did we not know some of that loneliness, that pain? And yet, if we gave in, if we adapted, conformed – would not a small piece of us die in the process?
The Gothic Tarot of Vampires is not a deck to use at parties or for casual readings. It requires soul searching, honesty, and the ability to make changes in our lives. Without these objectives, how do we grow?
Armand: The world changes, we do not, there lies the irony
that finally kills us. ~ From Interview with a Vampire
You can see more cards from this deck here.
Arielle Smith, well on her way to becoming a weird eccentric, is a Certified Tarot Grand Master living in Florida with her husband and four cats. Both tree-hugger and animal lover, she is also a part-time teacher and lifetime student of the Tarot. You can visit her at her website, Mystik Moons.
Images © 2003 Lo Scarabeo
2003 Arielle Smith
Page © 2003 Diane Wilkes