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Bohemian Gothic Tarot - tarot decks

Playing Cards
Playing Cards -> Tarot decks

Price: US $13.36

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About this item
  • The Bohemian Gothic Tarot is the dark sister of the ictorian 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.

Name Bohemian Gothic Tarot
Creators Alex Ukolov, Karen Mahony
Publisher agic Realist Press 2007
Deck Type Tarot Deck
Cards 78
Major Arcana 22
Minor Arcana 56
Deck Tradition Rider-Waite-Smith
Minor Arcana Style Unique Scenes With Suit Symbols
Card Language English
Card Back Reversible
Companion Material 285-page companion book in English.
Learn more Join the tudy group in the forum.


The Bohemian Gothic Tarot is the latest deck from publishing house Magic Realist Press, and their first with a dark and Gothic-inspired theme.

Artistically, the style of the cards is based on nineteenth century studio portraits and German romantic photographic postcards. It was in the eighteenth century that Gothic began, with the book of ‘The Castle of Otranto’ which was written in 1764 by Walpole, though it’s most well-known for the revival in Victorian times, thanks to Edgar Allen Poe and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

The cards aren’t linked with specific Gothic tales or characters, but Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov have blended typical aspects of the genre to create an incredibly atmospheric deck. It’s designed to a work on a subconscious level, provoking the imagination and tickling at the mind rather than being outright freaky or gory. There are a couple of cards that tend towards a horror movie, but generally they rely on people with ghostly skin tones and variously disturbing facial expressions, inhabiting scenes with stormy skies, shadowy corners, bats, gargoyles, and ruined castles, to give a gothic atmosphere.

There are few dark decks that fully embrace the shadow side – most just have dark or gothic imagery overlaid over the usual Rider-Waite style scenes - but the Bohemian Gothic explores more than just the traditional images and meanings. The scenes express emotions and feelings normally only touched upon in more ‘positive’ decks: melancholy, cunning, evil genius, fear and apprehension, submission, dark longing, sadness, devilish merriment, and of course, horror.

Some cards just have a small twist from the traditional (aside from the darkish colour hue). The Sun is normally a simple and uncomplicated card of happiness, and now shows a rather too knowing and sardonic child on the back of the horse (in stark contrast to his blond locks and cute red coat). The Two of Swords is outwardly simple but oddly creepy: two tall tiled towers stand rigidly behind a blindfolded woman standing in the moonlight. Others are pretty or innocuous on first glance – until you look again. In the Four of Wands, three women stand outside a castle, dim light showing through the windows. The women are apparently pretty and well-dressed, but have a slightly glazed look and an unholy enthusiasm as though they’re waiting eagerly for their next victim to walk down the street.

Some are more overtly disturbing. The Devil card is not gory, but an evil-looking blue-skinned, red-haired woman holds a hypodermic needle (this isn’t anachronistic; hypodermics were actually in use in the nineteenth century) to the arm of a swooning woman. The Seven of Wands is the most stereotypically horror-like, and depicts a ram-horned, gargoyle-like created with sharp fangs leaning from a castle window.

The cards are printed on the usual strong but thin card stock used by Magic Realist Press decks. The backs have a reversible, black and white, geometric skull and bones pattern, with ‘momentomori’ repeated in the inner bone hexagon. On the face, the cards are borderless. The are two editions of the Bohemian Gothic: the Silver, a limited edition of 500 copies has an extra card, Danse Macabre, which has no Rider-Waite counterpart but is intended to be a reminder of mortality and death. The standard edition has the companion book.

The 232-page book is aimed at readers of all levels. For beginners it gives somewhere to start if it’s a first deck: there is a quick history of tarot and info on how to learn the tarot, reading styles, spreads and sample spreads. For those who have a good familiarity with the traditional meanings, there are shadow meanings provided as well as the traditional card meaning. And, interspersed between the card meanings are deeper explanations on Gothic settings and themes, like the Vampire after the Lovers cards, the Haunted House or Castle after the 8 of Cups, and Madness and Delusion after the 10 of Cups.

There are several ways to read with the Bohemian Gothic deck, too: use the standard positive meanings when the cards are upright, and the shadow meanings for the reversed; use all the shadow meanings for a look at your subconscious motivations, the less palatable aspects of life; or do a normal reading with another deck like the Victorian Romantic and select a card from the Bohemian Gothic for a hidden influence or shadow position.

The Bohemian Gothic Tarot has a character totally different to Karen and Alex’s previous decks, but was created with the same skilled graphic manipulation and digital artistry. The ‘dark sister’ of the Victorian Romantic Tarot is best used at midnight in a room with velvet curtains, lit by a few flickering candles.

Combine shipping is possible.

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