The Bohemian Gothic Tarot
Originally published in 2007, Baba Studio has re-released their classic tarot deck, The Boehmian Gothic Tarot. The original version was named “Deck of the Year” in 2007 by renowned website Aeclectic Tarot Forum.
The stunning artwork in these cards was based on 19th Century German romantic photographic postcards, as well as studio portraits. Having been based on photographs, this deck has just a little more life instilled in it than your average deck. That should inspire you to deeper and richer interpretations.
Many gothic, or otherwise “dark” decks, will dwell on blood and death for their imagery. Short of that, others will overcompensate for the lack of blood and deck by relying on the overuse of shadows to convey the darkness. The beauty of the images in this particular deck is that they show an entire range of emotions. Looking through the cards, you can see fear, intimidation, longing, hesitance, subjugation, longing, apprehension, and surprisingly, even joy, love, devotion.
The Minor Arcana - Numbered Cards
Traditionalists will find this an easy deck to incorporate into your collection. It utilizes the standard Cups, Swords, Wands, Pentacles approach. Unlike some decks, such as the classic Rider Waite, you will not see 6, 7, 8 of the symbols on cards. There aren’t five visible wands on the Five of Wands, or nine pentacles on the Nine of Pentacles. This will offer you an opportunity to delve deeper into the imagery on each card, and make it work for your own interpretation. This will give more experienced readers a great tableau with which to work.
Here we will look at one numbered card from each of the four suits.
For example, the Five of Pentacles is all about falling on hard times. If you want to dig deeper, it could also mean that your pride or arrogance are getting in the way of you seeking help. Both of these concepts are readily present in the artwork. There is a woman standing with her two children. The older one looks frightened/concerned. It is obvious she is afraid of being out on the streets. While the mother does have a look of determination on her face, the fact that there is a lit doorway right there, but she ignores it. Is she a fool for ignoring the help just beyond that door, or is she too determined to handle this problem on her own. That is left for you to interpret based on other cards in the reading.
The Three of Wands is about having your dreams and aspirations take flight. In a darker reading, it can also be about escaping a an oppressive situation. She is looking out at the horizon. The card leaves it to you to determine if she is looking at land or out at sea. Is it sunrise or sunset? You can look at it as sunrise, and she is giving rise to a new idea, or a new hope. Or, it could be sunset and she is desperate to find her way out of her current situation. I love how the imagery on these cards gives you varied interpretations to work in with the messages on the rest of the cards in your reading. Advanced readers will love delving into the imagery.
The Nine of Cups can be about being happy with the possessions that you have, even if you aren’t as successful as you would like. If you want to go darker, it can also be about putting yourself first or disregarding others in the acquisition of what you desired. This explains why this person seems to be enjoying himself, but is sitting alone. He appears well dressed, which would show a level of success, but the look on his face is not of pleasure. What price has he paid for what little he has? That is up for you to determine.
The Four of Swords is about period of rest and reflection. In a darker reading, it could also be about trying to rest, but still being anxious about the unfinished issue. Are you taking a moment to rest of your own accord, or is illness preventing you from fully relaxing, or fully finishing the issue. Having the sword next to her could denote her strength, but the raven resting atop her could be an omen. She is in a red dress, but there is also a red cloth under her, falling to the side. It is a nice image to convey how drained she is feeling, as if the blood is literally draining out of her. Again, this is what I love about these images. They leave it open to multiple interpretations.
The Minor Arcana - Court Cards
This deck uses the “King, Queen, Knight, Page” court cards. The Pages in this deck are all females. This gives you two male and two female cards in each suit.
The Page of Wands can be about enthusiasm, especially for a new project, or just about news itself. In a darker reading, it could also be about secrets or hidden passages. Although she is dressed all in white, she is carrying a small red book. Is it a diary? Does it contain insights into her secrets? Does the red book contradict her all white, virginal appearance? What secrets might it hold? Or is it simply her passion about embarking on a new journey which she will record in that book?
The Knight of Cups can be about creativity, but can be taken too far, and end up in impracticality. A darker reading would have it be about having that creativity wasted on fighting and conflict. The Knight is atop a horse on what appears to be either a balcony or elevated walkway. If it is indeed a balcony, that would certainly lend itself to impractical creativity, as how practical would it be to be on a horse on a balcony? The horse is also shown dressed for battle which would also lend itself to the concept of creativity wasted in conflict.
The Major Arcana
I am going to focus this section on only one of the cards in the Major Arcana. That card will be The Lovers.
There are some subtle changes made in some of the cards between the original deck and the re-released deck. However, for this re-released deck there is one card that was changed significantly. That card is The Lovers. As a bonus, both the original version and the new version of The Lovers are provided in this set.
The Lovers, as you would imagine, is about love/passion. It can be for a person, a thing, an idea. The two cards portray this concept in vastly different ways. On the one card, the female is dressed in red. She appears to be a willing participant, giving herself over to her lover. The fact that the moon is hidden behind the clouds might suggest that, while she is a willing participant, there is still some mystery, some taboo to this relationship. In the other card, the female is dressed in white, and looks nervous, unsure, hesitant. The male is the one in red now. Also, the moon is no longer hidden, but is out there for all to see. Is she nervous about giving herself over? Nervous about being discovered? Between the placement of the moon, the emotion on the female, and who is dressed in red, it leaves you many different possibilities for interpretation. How unique would it be to leave both cards in the deck, and not choose one or the other. Having them both turn up in a reading, with their major differences, could provide a most interesting reading.
Beginners will have no problems using this deck, as it utilizes a standard structure. Advanced readers will love to delve into the deeper imagery of each card and give much more detailed, nuanced readings. There is something for every level of tarot consultant to enjoy here. And, for those of you who are still novices, a deck like this will only grow with you, as you learn more about the cards, and can begin to see new ideas hidden within the imagery.
More from Baba Studios
Coming very soon from Baba Studios is a most unique and interesting deck. They are producing The Alice Tarot. This set will be based on Alice in Wonderland. The bright, vibrant, fun images will be a sharp contrast to the dark, gothic nature of this deck. There will be several versions of The Alice Tarot, including limited editions. You can find more information at the Facebook page for this deck: https://www.facebook.com/AliceTarot
We hope to bring you a review of The Alice Tarot when it is released. For now, we will leave you with this teaser: