BOHEMIAN GOTHIC TAROT REVIEW
The Bohemian Gothic Tarot is the dark sister of the Victorian Romantic Tarot. It’s a deck of the shadows; dark, beautiful, a little melancholy and mysterious. The editions of the deck and a deck-and-book set are now out of print.
“Explore the shadow sides of life; the wisdom and truth that may lie in nightmare, dark imagination, and the fear of the supernatural.”
The Bohemian Gothic Tarot is the most recent deck released by Publishing house Magic Realist Press, and their first deck with an edgy and Gothic-themed theme.
The style of the cards are inspired by nineteenth-century studio portraits as well as German romantic postcards. It was during the 18th century when Gothic started, starting in the form of the book “The Castle of Otranto” that was published during 1764, by Walpole but is most famous for its revival during Victorian time, thanks to Edgar Allen Poe and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
BOHEMIAN GOTHIC TAROT CARD DETAILS
The cards don’t have any connection to particular Gothic stories or characters however, Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov have combined the best elements of the genre into an extremely atmospheric deck. The deck is designed to work on an unconscious level, stimulating the imagination and teasing the brain, instead of being outright scary or terrifying. There are some cards that resemble the horror genre, however they generally rely on characters with ghostly skin tone and differently frightening facial expressions. depicting dark corners, stormy skies bats, gargoyles and castles that have been destroyed, to create a Gothic-themed setting.
There are a few decks that take on the shadowy side – the majority of them contain gothic or dark imagery that are layered over Rider-Waite style of scenes. But this deck Bohemian Gothic explores more than just the usual images and the meanings. The images express emotions and emotions that are usually only portrayed in decks with more positive themes such as melancholy, cunning wicked genius, terror, anxiety, submission, longing sad, devilish merriment and of course the horror.
Certain cards have an edgy twist to the standard (aside from the dark hue). The Sun is usually a straightforward and straightforward card of joy but this one shows an incredibly shrewd and sarcastic child on the side of the animal (in sharp contrast with his blonde locks and adorable Red coat). The two of Swords appears simple, but is bizarrely creepy. Two tall towers of tile stand rigidly behind a woman who is blindfolded in the night light. Other characters are attractive or uninteresting on first sight – until you take a second look. Within the Four of Wands, three women are standing outside an old castle, with lighting dimly from the window. They appear to be beautiful and well-dressed. However, they have a somewhat glazed appearance and an unholy zeal like they’re waiting the next person to stroll through the streets.
Some are more disturbing. The Devil card isn’t gruesome however, it depicts a gruesome red-haired, blue-skinned woman is seen holding the needle of a hypodermic (this isn’t a flimsy anachronism; hypodermic were used in the 18th century) towards the arm of a beautiful woman. It’s the Seven of Wands is the most spooky of the cards one, depicting the gargoyle, ram-horned creature with sharp fangs dangling out of a castle’s window.
They are made of the typical thick, but sturdy card stock commonly used by Magic Realist Press decks. The backs feature a reversed black and white geometric skull and bone pattern as well as a’momentomori’ pattern inside the bone hexagon. The fronts of the cards have no borders. There are two editions that are part of Bohemian Gothic: the Silver Edition, which is limited to 500 copies, comes with an additional card called Danse Macabre, which has no Rider-Waite companion, but is designed to serve as an ode to the passing of time and dying. The standard edition comes with an accompanying book.
The book’s 232 pages are targeted to readers at all levels. For the beginner, it offers a place to begin if it’s your first time deck: it includes an overview of the history of the tarot as well as tips about how to learn the tarot, reading techniques and spreads as well as samples of spreads. If you have an excellent understanding of traditional meanings of the cards, there’s shadow meanings that are included in addition to the standard card meaning. Also, interspersed with the card meanings are further explanations of Gothic themes and settings for instance, the Vampire following the Lovers cards as well as The Haunted house or Castle following the 8 of Cups, and Madness and Delusion after the 10 of Cups.
There are many methods to read this Bohemian Gothic deck, too using the traditional positive meanings for the cards when they are upright, and shadow meanings of the reverseddeck; make use of all the meanings of shadows to get an insight into your unconscious motives, and the less appealing aspects of your life, or, you can read using a different deck, such as that of the Victorian Romantic and select a card from the Bohemian Gothic for a hidden influence or shadow.
The Bohemian Gothic Tarot has a design that is completely different from Karen and Alex’s earlier decks, yet was designed with the same expert artistic manipulation of images and digital technology. The dark sister to The Victorian Romantic Tarot is best played at night in a space with velvet curtains and some flickering candles.