When I was little I had badly crooked teeth: my front teeth pointed strongly backwards, my canines pointed extremely forward. Because of these prominent little fangs I was often called names: witch, vampire. This is one of the reasons I have had trouble calling myself a witch, as the term hasn’t always been a positive one for me. With vampires it was different for some reason, they were so obviously fantasy figures that they had little to do with who I really was. I thought vampires were good scary fun. A bit old fashioned maybe.
I studied vampire lore along with other folk traditions, read Dracula, was (& still am) a huge fan of Buffy. And then I read Anne Rice, whose wise & wicked & tortured Immortals are like nothing else. And then I found the Vampire Tarot by Robert M. Place . Which was the moment that the Vampires really began to speak to me. Or rather, sing.
Let me first give you a short review of the Vampire Tarot. I’d had my eye on it for quite some time, because I am a great fan of Robert Place’s art. His Alchemical Tarot was the first deck that truly spoke to me & it has been my go-to deck for some years now. The Burning Serpent Lenormand is equally stunning & enlightning. In fact the two work perectly together as well. So Place doing vampires? Bring it! As you have guessed by now I was not disappointed. People, this is a Deck.
As one can expect from an accomplished tarot scholar this is not a whimsical or gimmicky deck: the idea of the vampire is optimally utilized for some intense shadow work. Place explains in the hefty guide book that he realized that especially Dracula by Bram Stoker is in fact an Arthurian quest story, which can be linked to the Quest of the Soul as depicted in the Neoplatonist tarot, like we know it from the Renaissance onward. Interestingly Stoker knew Pamela Coleman-Smith very well & it can be argued that he based several of his characters on tarot figures. So this is not some far-fetched idea, but a convincing & very fruitful association.
And so we find the Vampire Tarot populated with figures from Dracula, but also other well-known vampire stories & authors. For example, Mina in her suffering is the High Priestess, the Count is the Emperor, the naive Jonathan is the Fool, etc. But the vampires don’t just tell bleak stories only to leave us brokenhearted. No, the Minors consist of the tools to beat our inner vampires: Holy Water, Garlic Flowers, Knives & Stakes. They are fully illustrated & add greatly to the story, with surprising (if dark) humour, too.
The one thing that doesn’t work so well for me are the court cards. They consist of portraits of fictional & real life persons important to vampire literature, such as Bram Stoker himself, his mother & his wife, but also femmes fatales from Poe’s or Coleridge’s work. For me as a storytelling reader who looks at pictures before symbolism, these figures just sitting there are dead in the water & add nothing to the story of the reading.
So when doing my Vampire Readings (about which more in a minute) I don’t use them. In fact I’ve been using the Majors mostly, with the Minors for clarification here & there. That doesn’t mean the court cards are completely useless, on the contrary. They can be used for some pretty accurate characterization of the people your spread is talking about & also make great significators. And they are of course all stunning miniature paintings, just as every single card in this deck.
About the physical item: the cards are quite large & come with square corners which I have rounded off to spare my small hands. I found the card stock rather heavy & also sticky from being tightly packaged, but this has greatly improved with use. As I said the book is a BRV (Big Red Volume) instead of an LWB. It contains a concise history of the tarot & tarot symbolism, a history of vampire lore & fiction, an explanation of Jung’s idea of the Shadow Self, plus how it all comes together in the Vampire Tarot.
A fantastically beautiful & inspired tarot set. Again, this is a Deck & I could not recommend it more.
So it was with considerable excitement & (some) trepidation that I did my first readings with it, for myself & some friends, and I was completely bowled over. A bonus for me personally is that the already rich imagery receives my charms extremely well, with stunning results. In my previous post I have already mentioned how useful this deck has been for me. But I only found out how truly spectacular it is when I started using it for my clients.
As some of you may have experienced for yourselves, my readings often come out in poetry, or poetic prose if you will: a flow that can be very moving & powerful according to my clients. Therefore I was not completely surprised when the Vampyrs (their preferred spelling) spoke in a poetic voice as well.
However, I was completely blown away by its unique tone, the depth of insight & the level of accuracy. The Vampyrs are not afraid to put their finger on the sore spot (gladly in fact) & can be quite scathing, but also gentle & wise from their Immortal perspective. To paraphrase one of my clients, it’s like the voice of an older friend who really does know better. No negative pattern will remain undetected & the Vampyrs mince no words telling you Where You Went Wrong.
All this comes wrapped in beautiful imagery, dark humour, sensuality, delicious wickedness & a decidedly amoral stance. The only thing they judge very sharply is letting yourself be fed on by another, in whatever form, which is something they would never, ever do, obviously.
The result is a reading that another client has described as a life changing experience, and as much of a joy it is to let this voice come through, that is what I -and they!- really do it for. As for me, I’m still pondering what this means, to have such a powerful Inner Vampyr! Maybe I didn’t get those little fangs for nothing after all…
Do you think you need some proper vampsplaining? You can order your very own Revamp Your Life Vampire Tarot Reading here.
Also, the Un-Suck Your Love Life Vampire Tarot Reading is still on special offer until February 29th for only €20!
I’m sure the Immortals will welcome you with open
jaws claws arms…