A Review on The Gothic Tarot by Joseph Vargo

Hello all,

Here is a review on the Gothic Tarot by yours truly. Visit my site to read other reviews.

The Gothic Tarot

The Gothic Tarot is an outstanding deck featuring the art work of Joseph Vargo and a very well written booklet by Christine Filipak. For quick reference I will divide this review into two parts. The first part will put the spotlight on the accompanying booklet (something important not done frequently enough in my opinion), whilst the second part will concentrate on the deck itself.

The Booklet

The Gothic Tarot booklet begins with a brief synopsis on the Major Arcana and how it may be interpreted as a whole. In just seven clear and concise sentences Christine clearly introduces six important concepts that will help both the experienced and the inexperienced reader to confidently interpret these twenty-two cards in any spread.

Following this introduction to the Majors, Christine proceeds to give key concepts and words for each card. I found two things extremely refreshing in the manner she chose to do this. The first was that she made all concepts and keywords relevant to the artwork. Some are very traditional whilst others are strictly for this deck. I was also impressed that the reverse meanings were well considered negative aspects of the upright meanings as opposed to simply indicating the complete opposite. This opens a greater range for the readers intuition to expand and work with.

After artfully wrapping up the Majors, Christine goes to work on the Minors. Once again a clear and concise synopsis explains how to interpret the cards in this Arcana as a whole. I particularly enjoyed the fact that she views the court cards as generally representing people or character qualities of the querent. I have long held this view and have struggled with other readers who interpret them almost synonymously with other cards (if they are meant to be the same as other cards, why include the Court Cards at all?).

The praises I had for the Majors are equally earned in the Minors. Clearly Christine does not view the Minors as any less significant to the life of the reader. This helps the him/her to understand the dual levels of existence that we are influenced by daily.

Christine ends the booklet with two spreads. The first is entitled “The Mystic Seven” and is designed to answer a specific question. The other is the ancient and most well-known “Celtic Cross” which is primarily designed to see the influences around one and how they impact his/her life. Between the two, any question may be answered with ease.

To sum this section up, I want to applaud Christine’s work. She makes stepping into reading and interpreting the Tarot both easy and pleasant for people of all experience levels.

The Deck

The fronts of the cards are pitch black in colour and have a thin lined blue frame both around the artwork itself and around the key words. The thin blue frame accomplishes two things. First, it adds a smart symmetrical look that pleases the eye. More importantly, however, it creates the illusion of a door into the Gothic scenes.

This makes it possible for the reader to more easily interact with the experiences portrayed rather than just see it with his/her eyes. The card backs are also pitch black in colour. In brilliant contrast to the fronts these are framed in thin blood red lines that encompass a Gothic Design.

Each card is marked for quick reference as well as reading ease. The Major Arcana have a Roman numeral at the top centre of the card and the traditional title at the bottom. The set-up is quite similar for the Minors. The number cards also have a Roman numeral on top, but instead of the title they list the appropriate suit (Wands, Cups, Swords, or Pentacles) at the bottom. The court cards list rank (Page, Knight, Queen, or King) on top and the appropriate suit at the bottom.

Using only six colours (blue, red, green, brown, silver, and black) Joseph Vargo depicts scenes of both darkness and light, despair and joy, as well as good and evil. As one would expect the characters consist mostly of vampires but there is a strong supporting cast of spirits (gentle and violent), ghouls, skeletons, gargoyles, werewolves, sorcerers, and even some angels. Add to these the following animals: crows, horses, bats, serpents, dragons, and you have all the makings of a crew that will bring a message to the strongest sceptic as well as the one who believes s/he has seen it all.

When I lay these cards out on a black lay cloth and watch the story unfold it reminds me of the classic black and white Dracula movies with Christopher Lee that I watched as a boy. Perhaps this is a big reason why I am so drawn to this deck.

I would highly recommend this deck to everyone but especially to the following people: Goths, movie monster lovers, and any who have walked in the shadow and know from experience and the bottom of their souls that monsters as well as angels surround us both inside and out.



And the answer is…

I’ve spent the last few nights restless – tossing and turning much to the annoyance of my husband.

Whilst in this turbulent state the answer to my problems came in a dream.

And it is the 3 of Cups

It’s not often I dream of Tarot Cards (even though I dream every night) so I know this has a deep significance for me. So what does it all mean?

The card I saw clearly was from the Robin Wood deck (shown below).

3 of Cups

This picture is one of joy – the ladies are happy, dancing and celebrating.  On a very simplistic level that’s what I need to do.  I’m in a position right now where the feelings that are associated with this card are missing from my life.  I’m stuck, stagnating and my soul is shouting to be free so I can rejoice in the beauty of life.



Tarot Bad Boys – The Devil

The thing about the Bad Boys of Tarot (Death, The Tower, The Devil, 3 of Swords, 9 of Swords & 10 of Swords) is that they give the immediate response of ‘oh, look at all the terrible things that are going to happen to me’. Ok, sometimes this reaction is valid because life doesn’t always run to plan and unexpected things happen.

However, with the Devil you should be asking ‘what terrible things am I doing to myself?’ or ‘what have I done to get myself into this situation?.

The Devil

When the Devil appears in a reading it isn’t so much as a case of possession (although never say never!!) but rather than you’ve got yourself in a situation and only you can get out of it.

In most Tarot decks, the image shows a man and a woman bound to the Devil. However, if you look closely the chains are easy to free – the 2 people remain where they are through their own choice.

The Tarot bad boys mean upheaval of some sorts and human nature never reacts kindly to duress. The Devil means confronting your own demons and freeing yourself. You can’t let someone else do it for you… you’re on your own with this one!

If you get the Devil in a reading, ask yourself what you are afraid of, where you are stagnating and what you are tied to. Then ask yourslef why. Why can’t you get a new job, lover, house etc? Why do you insist in over eating, excess alcohol or drugs? What is stopping you being free?

When you finally admit that you own the problem then you can begin to release the chains of the Devil and finally exorcise the gremlins that stop you leading a fabulous life.



Today I’m blogless

Most days I can prattle away about anything and everything but today I’m blog lost for words.  I’ve been working on my new Tarot correspondence course (which I’ve finished btw) and I feel too tired to blog.

However, help is at hand.  I’ve turned to my trusted Universal Waite deck for inspiration.  This is my deck I used when I was working for a Tarot telephone line – it’s brighter than the Rider Waite but still filled with the symbology and familiarity.  Like an old friend with a new hairdo!

Anyway, my card of inspiration is the Five of Cups.  This is one of those cards which you can instantly identify with when you’re in one of those ‘poor me’ moods.  All you can see is what’s been destroyed or lost from an upheaval, usually of the emotional kind.

Five of Cups

See, the tricky thing with this card is that when these moods hit it is feels impossible to turn around and still see the good things remaining. If you take a look at the card you can see there is a bridge to get home and two perfectly good cups still standing.

As a healer I see clients all the time who can’t bring themselves to look at what they’ve got in life and insist on clinging to the loses of the past.  Life’s too short!  We all take hits but to dwell on them is to miss out of the chance to grow and move up the Tarot ladder to the blissful 10 of Cups.  Remember you’re only a few cards away!




Backwards readings

I’ve been thinking a lot recently of beginners who have a hard time getting to know the Tarot cards. I remember thinking that 78 was just way too many cards to remember!

As I’m putting both workshops and a course together I want to make it easy for my students to bond with their cards. A Tarot journal is great – start the day and see what energies are in play. However, I keep thinking that for someone starting out a predictive journal may not be the best way to go.

This has been bothering me so much that I even dreamed about it last night.

My solution is a reflective journal.  At the end of the day draw a card or two to identify the events/energies/situations etc which have played a part in your day.  This way you can meditate on how a particular card interacted with you – write down your findings then you can use your knowledge for predictive readings in the future.



Card meanings

Good Afternoon all,

Lyn and I are currently recovering from our first week of holiday.  We spent some time in London and Glastonbury.  It was hard to return to the day to day routine, though now that I am here I am glad to be at it…lol 

I have received many emails asking which book contains the best meanings for the Tarot cards.  The answer that I usually respond with is quite nontraditional.  Because this is becoming a frequently asked question, I thought perhaps I would write about it a bit here.

In my opinion finding the meaning of the cards ( in any Tarot deck from Rider Waite to the hundreds of modernised ones) is as sacred as finding the deck that responds the best with your individual subconscious.  To accept the meanings of any one person is to limit the expression of your inner self (not all who read are of a magickal order or tradition…so why should we expect the interpretations of these scholars to be the same as everyone elses?).  It is true that your subconscious can learn to speak through the words of others, but how much more edifying it is to allow it to speak through its own.  I have come to this conclusion after years of studying more books, lists, and methodologies for interpretation than I care to remember.  Each one has my respect because each one was well constructed and workable based upon its own principles.  However, none of the authors ever have or ever will  experience the world in the exact same manner as myself.  This means that their words are just that “their words”.  For one to extract all the wonderful information that the Tarot can offer, s/he must name her/his own cards.  Only then will they begin to open doors into the celestial realms.

Do I then discourage the reading of Tarot books.  Not at all!  Read every blessed one that you can lay your hands on.  Experience the world through the eyes of the various authors and if you should find a meaning that speaks to you intertwine it with yours.  Never, however, allow it to become yours fully.  For if you allow it, your subconscious mind will blend the meanings into a rich cocktail that will allow a brilliant expression unique to the world.  And at the end of the day that is exactly what the world needs “unique individuals that can help it to see yet another brilliant aspect of life”.

So when you purchase a deck, name all of your cards first.  Then later on read books.  Mix and match and enjoy the power of being and learning as you become more enlightened using the Tarot as a tool.



Loving it!

I loved my camping trip so much so Paul and I spent Monday buying our own camping gear then travelled to Somerset to camp on our own for a few days. I enjoyed being out there in nature and being away from the pressures of urban living.

Our timing was wonderful – we wanted to go to Glastonbury and even though it is the busy season we were blessed to find a campsite with space for us.  What made it even more magical was that it was only a few fields away from Glastonbury Tor.

Climbing the Tor was hard work (note to self – must be fitter next time) but was well worth it once at the top.  The views of the countryside are outstanding and the energy of the Tor itself is spiritual and captivating.

Glastonbury town was a place I just fell in love with.  It was full of spiritual shops and bookstores.  I found a pre-owned Tarot deck – the Symbolon Tarot deck – which is now at home in my ever growing collection.

I had a wonderful week and just can’t wait to go back and do it all again.