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The Gothic Tarot

Joseph Vargo’s critically acclaimed and best-selling Tarot deck offers a host of gargoyles, vampires, ghosts, and dark angels that give this ancient oracle a unique Gothic flair. All of the Major and Minor Arcana are included in this set of 78 cards, and every card features a unique and original illustration depicting Vargo’s gothic interpretation of the traditional Tarot. Cards are rendered in full color with exquisite detail on heavyweight glossy card stock. The enclosed booklet provides definitions and an easy-to-use pictorial guide of Tarot spreads with instructions for readings. For more in-depth readings and spreads, get The Gothic Tarot Compendium (sold separately).

Product Features

  • All cards illustrated by Joseph Vargo.
  • Dark and gothic imagery.

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Tags: Tarot

3 comments on “The Gothic Tarot

  1. Eerie,dark and accurate! This is a deck that needs to be given broader exposure to the tarot audience in general. This is wonderfully clever in its representation of the dark fantasy world that lives on the periphery of all fans of the genre. I understand this could be taken the wrong way by many, but the title alone should be a warning. It would get a PG rating in theatres.There are vampires, gargoyles, mummies, and a plethora of ghostly images. The other decks done in this fashion seem to fall short on many aspects. Either they focus on one subject, namely vampires and that is it. Not the case with this dark treasury of the arcane. The artist sways away from “kitsch”, quite difficult in the gothic subculture.The deck itself remains loyal to classic Rider-Waite organization. There is some new wisdom provided as well. The overall mood here is is an old gothic horror movie set in some dark corner of Europe. One could imagine Gypsies in the wolfmans forest using these cards. If one reads in a professional setting it sould feature all the traditonal props; black velvet table cloth, a crystal ball and red and black candles.As for using the deck itself, reading are surprisingly accurate. I am particularly fond of the heavy use of Egyptian images. That is not all. All the minors have some illustration giving the meaning of the cards. Some ever so subtle. This makes it great for the beginner, as well as advanced. If this fits your style, then by all means get a copy of this darkly brilliant interpretation of a powerful tool. A word of caution here-the deck has a feeling of the spirit world being very close! No kidding!

  2. Enter the Darkly Splendid World It’s my business to catch the overtones of the soul… the ghosts of beings highly organized enough to have looked on Hell and known the meaning of what they saw. –Richard Upton Pickman, in H.P. Lovecraft’s “Pickman’s Model”If there is a modern artistic successor to Richard Pickman, surely it must be Joseph Vargo. Vargo draws like H.P Lovecraft writes — his work does more than illustrate or describe; it creates feelings of melancholy and dread that give his works emotional impact, drawing the observer deep into the world of the dark and sinister. In his images of graveyards you can almost smell the cool, damp, moldy air as it gently blows by. That WAS just the wind, right? — or was it something less tangible, something that should have been left deep within the mind, but somehow escaped to pass by almost unnoticed in the night. Many of his creatures are hideous, yet also convey a sense of sympathetic humanity: one just has to ask, what’s it like to be a gargoyle?The Gothic Tarot is a collection of Vargo’s artwork cleverly arranged in the form of a Tarot deck. In some ways, this is a traditional Tarot deck — the arrangement roughly follows the Golden Dawn lineage, though some interesting adaptations and interpretations prevent this deck from being considered an RWS “clone.” On the other hand, the images are not the usual, standard Rider-Waite or Marseilles graphics re-cast in some particular theme. The images stand on their own, and are art works in their own right, whose meaning is enhanced by presenting them in the Tarot framework. This concept of using the Tarot as a medium for presenting the images, as opposed to the usual process of creating images that follow the expected Tarot format, is one of the features of this deck that places it well outside — and imaginatively beyond — the usual flurry of clones.The deck follows the traditional Marseilles arrangement of Major Arcana, suits and court cards. Most of the artwork is in Vargo’s usual tones of bluish grey set against black borders and backgrounds, suggesting ancient stonework and forgotten graveyards lit by the moon on a dark night. There are notable exceptions, particularly among the Major Arcana: the Fool is Vargo’s “Realm of Shadows,” showing a ghostly figure in a stone archway with an eerie green luminescence, to which a large wolf was added for the Tarot version. The Emperor is Count Dracula himself, with details added in blood red. Red dominates Death and Temperance (adapted from Vargo’s “Sorceress”), while greens return in the Devil. The Minor Arcana are, for the most part, moonlit style art to which the appropriate number of wands, cups, swords, or pentacles have been added. The backs are black with Vargo’s “Realm Icon” in red; the backs are not reversible, though why that should matter is beyond me, since most readers read the fronts and not the backs.The small booklet that accompanies the deck gives some short interpretations for the cards, and suggested layouts for reading them. This is only minimally useful, mostly for those who read only occasionally, or have only a passing interest in the Tarot. A more useful book has recently appeared: “The Gothic Tarot Compendium,” written by Joseph Vargo and Joseph Iorillo, is a far more comprehensive guide to the cards and their interpretation. Each card is illustrated in black and white, along with a divinatory meaning, description of the card, and more extensive notes on the background and interpretation of the artwork.The trouble with this kind of thing is that the interpretations found in any book or booklet are those of one individual, arising out of that individual’s background and understanding, which may be very different from yours. Further, reading Tarot cards according to keywords or one-liners amounts to the same thing as reading fortune cookies, and misses the whole point of the Oracle. A Tarot card does not “mean” what any book or expert — or even its author — says it means. It “means” what it draws forth from your own imagination, and skill in reading the cards does not mean learning any system or set of meanings, but rather learning how to immerse your own consciousness in the imagery of the card. The Tarot is not about your “personality” or your own situations; it is about Poe’s “vast formless things that shift the scenery to and fro” — the invisible, impersonal forces of spirit and nature that shape the events of past, present and future. The wind is not about you, the movement of the sun and stars is not about you, but those things can affect you, and how you interact with then can affect the past, present and future. That is what the Tarot is about: understanding those forces, how they affect you, and how your own consciousness interacts with them.This is particularly true of the Gothic Tarot — its imagery is unusually rich in feeling tones and imaginative depth, and how its images…

  3. WOW! I bought this deck after seeing the pictures on various sites and on this one as well. Being an admirer of the fantasy realm which is primarily dark, and is full of mythical characters such as vampires, I was quite taken by the images.It was totally worth it! The images are vivid and beautiful in their portrayal of the fantasy dark side. It is definately one of the best decks that I now own!A big WOW to Mr. Vargo! Great Work! Keep it up!

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