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The Gothic Tarot of Vampires

by Ricardo Minetti & Emiliano Mammucari

The Gothic Tarot of Vampires
Price: $19.95

Number of cards in deck: 78

Measurements: 2.6 x 4.7 inches, or 66 x 120 mm.

Back of card: The Thirteenth major arcana, Death, shown above. In one of many departures from Lo Scarabeo custom, the image on the back differs from the card it is taken from only in its color (sepia, the color of coagulated blood) and the border. The two heads on the back of the card are virtually the same size as the two heads on XIII, but, in true professional card-maker fashion, the back of the cards contrasts well with the fronts. Not for inversion. There are no inverted meanings in the notes with this deck.

Booklet included: Yes, 64 pages, 2.6 x 4.75 inches, or 65 x 120 mm. Notes in English, Italian, Spanish, French & German.

Publisher: Lo Scarabeo. Printed in Italy.

Comments: This is a shocking, disturbing deck, in many ways. I was going to tell you silly stories about vampires, but I concede to Mr. Minetti. He writes:

In the Vampire Tarot, the Metaphor is understood as the symbolic parallel between the Vampire and Man.

In the instructions, "within the Metaphor" is used when referring to descriptions or elements of the vampire world. "Beyond the Metaphor", rather, means the real world - in its various material, intellectual and spiritual aspects - for which the vampire world is a symbol.

The Vampire's thirst is therefore a metaphor for the insatiable greed of man. His supernatural power is a metaphor for human power. His passions and loves are also metaphors for human nature, just as his loneliness. The power and extraordinary charm of the vampire icon come from the easiness of this parallel and therefore from how easy it is for each man or woman to identify with the Vampire.

It would be a mistake, however, to think that the vampire reflects only the dark side of man. There is undoubtedly a dark side in each of us that contains all of our fears and weaknesses. The vampire, however, also possesses a strong and radiant side in which human nature is reflected in the same way. In him, light and darkness are magnified, are more visible, evident and clearer. And yet, after all, they are still mirrors of our human nature.

It will be easier to approach situations and people by proceeding within the Metaphor, in order to then reach real conclusions beyond the Metaphor which refer to oneself (if using the Tarot for oneself) or the Querent.

The Vampire
There are two reoccurring characters in the cards: They are like twins, a man and a woman. They and the Vampire are referred to in the instructions. They are, in fact, a single person and a single symbol, split into the two-fold importance of male and female. The attempt was made to depict him with a handsomeness that is not obvious or stereotypical but rather that comes from the intensity through which he lives his own life. He wears a chain with a medal around his neck which indicates life and he is young in order to indicate the time which lies ahead to do everything. The Vampire is the "Hero", not just the "Good Guy" (just like man for whom he is a symbol). His journey is full of errors, weaknesses, inability, abuse, beautiful but not long-lasting moments, and is the metaphor for the life of man. And like man, the vampire does not cease to try to improve. He does not give up and looks inward in search of his own happiness.

The Atmosphere
This Tarot deck is necessarily somber, at times gloomy, and sometimes violent. The vampire theme, unless reduced to a superficial stereotype of dress (wear black and be handsome and damned), first requires confrontation with blood as well as with the fury and relentlessness of a predator, with death and horror. In spite of this, the attempt was made to place greater attention on the vampire's spiritual and inner aspect instead of on the more conspicuous and material aspect.

The modern world, closer to what we are familiar with, was chosen for the settings for the Arcana rather than a nineteenth-century backdrop which would soften the messages of the images. These, in turn, are reproduced by the extraordinary artist Emiliano Mammucari who used violent and stimulating monochromatic light and motion-picture angles to emphasize the emotional importance of the symbols.


Major Arcana.
The Vampire's essential parts of existence, whether Material, Intellectual, or Spiritual, are described in the Major Arcana. The meanings of the traditional Major Arcana are reintroduced through the Metaphor. Their essence, if not their form, is immediately recognizable. The vampire's journey, from innocence, through initial awareness of his power and later of his damnation, to deliverance, is the
Journey of the Hero... a transposition of the path of growth of each human being during his or her existence.


Chalices: They reflect the world of the mortals, of common man, and the relationship the vampire develops within it. Insight is given on the double meanings of "human feelings" and "human nature" on the one hand, and "food" and "sustenance" on the other. Beyond the Metaphor, one's own feelings are confronted whether mature or immature, good or bad, as well as the complex relationship that develops from the need to stay under control and the need not to suppress emotions.

Pentacles: These, rather, reflect those parts during the Vampire's growth which regard his Power and his greater control over the surrounding world. Beyond the Metaphor the Vampire is a symbol of the power that man can have (or which he might need), of the limits regarding its use, of the responsibility and the relationship between the means and the end. The suit also reflects those situations in which human relationships are conditioned by power and hierarchy: Work or sometimes just the family.

Wands: They reflect the Natural Order of things, an order to which the vampire, whether he likes it or not, does not belong. This contrast makes him unique and at the same time plunges him into loneliness. Beyond the Metaphor, man searches for coexistence between his own individuality and the social context in which he lives. Solitude, after all, is the great enemy of human happiness, even if one must know how to live alone in order to be truly happy.

Swords: These, rather, reflect the darkest parts of the Vampire. The road of pain, guilt, regret, loss and responsibility. Perhaps there is growth which depends on a sense of guilt within the cultural heritage (non-religious) which Christianity left the Western world. Beyond the Metaphor, it is a road which everyone, sooner or later, takes and is the cause of our unhappiness as well as our identity. [Note: This is indicated in the cards by the picture of a single hole in the Knave, two holes in the Knight, three holes in the Queen, and four holes in the King.]

Note the lack of titles on all cards, especially the Major Arcanas. Overall, the deck looks like post-war German Expressionism, rather than the usual lightweight Italian fare. There are things in this deck which are not at all nice.

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207 Victory Lane, Bel Air, MD 21014
Tel: 410-638-7761; Toll-free (orders only): 800-475-2272

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