This one reminds me very much of Charlotte Wessels, the lead singer of a Dutch heavy metal band, Delain.
Lots of eye candy for the guys, not so much for the ladies, but there are a few. The book that came with it is far more substantial than most, but since it only arrived yesterday I haven’t had much chance to even flip through the pages. It’s 300 pages long, and not with the oversized print to simply take up space. It seems well-made, which is more than I can say for the box the whole thing was packaged in and is already falling apart. The glue on the side let go yesterday as I was trying to fit the cards and book back in. C’mon, Llewellyn, you can do better than that. They may have rushed this one to the store shelves, maybe the QC department didn’t have time to do their thing. Originally it wasn’t supposed to ship until mid-September, and then I got an e-mail about a week and a half ago saying it was going to ship much sooner, and lo and behold, it did.
Here are a couple paragraphs from the intro explaining the basic system behind this deck (and happily there is one, it’s not just a collection of pretty pictures. How deep, meaningful, or useful this system will ultimately prove I couldn’t say).
Mystical thought often views the spiritual and physical not as separate but as a series of layers, or dimensions. Our thoughts and feelings affect the subtle matter within us. A thought or feeling is a vibration in the matter, set into motion within our spirit, which eventually affects matter in the world around us. Thoughts affect our surroundings in a four-stage process: the thought has to be transferred from that creative, spiritual realm (the seed) into the ethereal realm of feelings (the womb) which will affect the subtle web of matter through vibrations (conception). A thought stimulates the subtle matter — the ever-forming blueprint for things emerging into solid matter — by causing sympathetic vibrations in it and therefore moving its development into denser physical matter (birth). This process brings about the desired influence of the original seed, even at a distance. The four elements of the suits and the Court Cards represent the four stages of this process. Drawing into our selves and then conducting these inner energies for our well-being and desires is a central concept within The Tarot of the Vampyres.
The Seed – Fire – Scepters – Lords
The Womb – Water – Grails – Queens
Conception – Air – Knives – Princes
Birth – Earth – Skulls – Daughters
I have to admit I was ready to write this deck off when I first heard about it as yet another collection of random paintings shoe-horned into the Tarot. I’m still not entirely sure that wasn’t the case, since despite the illustrated pips, not one of them actually depicts the sign of the suit in a corresponding amount on the card. For instance, in the three of Wands above, there aren’t three wands pictured and on the Six of Knives, there is only one knife in evidence. Each of the Major Arcana are associated with an element, zodiac sign, or planet, and in the case of The World card, it gets both a planet (Saturn) and an element (Earth, natch). Further they are associated with a Hebrew letter, although those don’t seem to have been worked into the paintings, while the zodiacal and elemental symbols are. I’ve never paid much attention to Qabalah, or the Tree of Life, so I tend to ignore those things even when they’re front and center on the cards, as in Crowley’s Book of Thoth deck.
The Majors are unnumbered, all of them, so you can put Strength and Justice where you like, I suppose. They appear to have arrived with Justice as the eighth trump, and Strength was between the Wheel of Fortune and The Hanged Man, making it 11.
The beauty of the figures depicted initially seemed a little off-putting to me, but I have to admit that the way they often stare straight at you out of the card, I am finding myself more intrigued than I expected to be. The art is lovely, no question there, and I have the haunted eyes of the gentleman on the Six of Knives, raven perched atop his shoulder, hanging out on my desk at work with me today.
The back of the cards shows a red rose (the symbolism of this is discussed in the book), and with the roses from my yard above, I think it makes a very pretty display. I think I can find some writing inspiration in these cards!
Addendum 9/7/2010: When I was putting the cards back in order the other night, the better to find one quickly that I was looking for, I discovered to my horror that the Ace of Scepters was nowhere to be found! Honest to god, I have no idea if I lost it, or if it wasn’t there to begin with and I didn’t catch it. After the momentary cardiac arrest, I boldly e-mailed Llewellyn’s customer service with my tale of woe, admitting I wasn’t sure if I had lost it, and asked if there was any way they could send a replacement card. I’m saved! I got a very nice e-mail back from them this morning saying they would be happy to send me a replacement card (and no mention of charge, so I assume it’s gratis). I know they had some quality issues with some of the decks so maybe they have a bunch of spares sitting around. Anyway, just wanted to mention how nice they were about it and got back to me so quickly (I e-mailed them last Friday night just before the long weekend so getting back to me pronto on Tuesday morning is quick in my book). I’m a happy camper!