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.



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