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Dark Grimoire Tarot - tarot decks

Playing Cards
Playing Cards -> Tarot decks

Price: US $14.45

ProductID: alt834

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About this item
  • The Dark Grimoire Tarot takes its inspiration from magical texts of fiction and legend - the Necronomicon and other
  • grimoires. The 78 cards have non-traditional scenes of horror and nightmare. Often strange, they're also sometimes
  • disturbing, particularly in the literal Hanged Man.

Name Dark Grimoire Tarot
Creators Michele Penco
Publisher Lo Scarabeo 2008
Deck Type Tarot Deck
Cards 78
Major Arcana 22
Minor Arcana 56
Deck Tradition Mixed
Court Cards King, Queen, Knight, Knave
The Fool is 0
Strength is 11
Justice is 8
Card Size 2.60 x 4.72 in. = 6.60cm x 12.00cm
Card Language Spanish, Italian, German, French, English, Dutch
Card Back Non-reversible
Back Design Central portrait of a suited man surrounded by a dcorated grimoire-like border.
Companion Material Little white booklet in five languages.


This familiarity of structure combines with the strange and disturbing imagery to provide an extraordinary journey into the deepest recesses of the unconscious, an exploration of the darkest part of the psyche where hide the most powerful and most troubling of ones hopes and fears, dreams and nightmares; where dwell the dark gods and demons that rule the soul.

The deck takes its name from the books of magic, the grimoires, both real and imaginary that for centuries have promised knowledge and power for those brave enough to use them. This deck assumes that the Tarot itself is a grimoire, a book of illustrations that throw light into the darkness of the psyche and reveals that which the unconscious has hidden allowing it to be integrated into the conscious mind. The art reflects this theme, the illustrations are both dark and unsettling, nightmare figures step out of shadow and into a glowing, unholy light; twisted creatures, neither man nor beast but something other, inhabit the shadowed hinterlands with malevolent intent; dark path lead through stunted trees; grotesque statues peer across blasted landscapes; young women face monsters on desolate moor lands; scholars hang themselves in libraries for fear of the hard won knowledge they have gained. This is indeed not the deck for the faint of heart; rather it is a deck for those unafraid of the darkness in their own souls and who are willing to confront the night side of their own nature.

The major arcana draws it’s primary inspiration from the darkest grimoire of them all, the infamous and legendary Necronomicon, and from the mythos of the man whose portrait adorns the backs of these cards; H P Lovecraft who was both the master and the slave of the dark forces that lie in wait for the unwary at the edge of vision and on the borders of sleep. It is not necessary to know the Lovecraft mythos in order to use this deck; the images speak for themselves reaching out and touching a universal fear and awe of the dark and of the unseen, unnamed creatures that dwell therein.

The imagery of these cards, and therefore their inherent significance is substantially the same as in a more traditional tarot deck. Each card remains recognisable as itself. This however does not mean that this deck is merely a traditional deck overlaid by a theme, this is not, the standard RWS dressed up in Lovecraftian finery, it is rather a re-imagining of the traditional designs through the dark and distorted lens of Lovecraft’s fervid, nightmare strewn imagination, giving both images and meanings a malign and disturbing aspect not usually found in tarot. This is the dark side of tarot imagery, the Fool trapped in his madness; the power crazed Emperor destroying his servants for his own greed; the dying sun lighting the subhuman faces of the children of the earth.

For those that would wish to know more of the genesis of these images the booklet that accompanies this deck gives enough information for further research. But though this may shed further light upon the designs used or provide pleasure and interest to the Lovecraft scholar or aficionado it is unnecessary in order to use this deck.

The minor arcana are envisioned as four separate grimoires, one for each suit; four books of hidden knowledge each one pictured upon the ace. The progression through the suit describes the opening and use of that book, the pitfalls, the opportunities, the resolution gained from accessing that particular sphere of self knowledge. The suit of Chalices is the Grimoire of Dreams, here can be found knowledge of ones deepest emotions, the hope of love and the fear of loss. The suit of Pentacles represents the Grimoire of Shadows wherein is shown the path of the material world, the physical body, its needs and desires. The suit of Wands is the Grimoire of Lights, the creative ability, the fire and the force that contrives light from the darkness. Lastly the suit of Swords is the Grimoire of Demons, the obsessive thoughts that drive and control, and which, unchecked, lead to madness and despair.

The booklet provided with the deck does not give individual meanings for each of the minors, instead it tells only the spheres in which the suits operate, and meanings are given for the progression of knowledge from ace to ten. The reader themselves is allowed to decide how each number operates within each suit.

The images that adorn the minors are very different from those of most decks, not only are the images re-imagined in the same way as the majors, sometimes giving a wry nod to the RWS, sometimes wholly new and surprising; but, even more unusually, are fully pictorial; the suit signifiers do not appear in the pictures. The reader is given the suit and the number in the scrolled border at the bottom of the card but that is all, there are no swords to be seen in the suit of Swords, no wands visible in the suit of Wands. The artist has been allowed free rein to interpret the card without the constraining need to fit the requisite number of suit signifiers into the picture. This has allowed for a freedom of expression and a depth of detail unusual in the minor suits and more often found in the majors.

The court cards are envisioned in the usual way, four figures for each suit, each holding the proper symbol. According to the information given in the accompanying booklet it appears that these four characters represent a form of guardianship over the knowledge contained in the grimoires that are the suits. The female Knave holds the potential of knowledge contained in the book, the horsed Knight action in pursuing that knowledge whilst the enthroned King and Queen respectively bear the perception and the control of this intelligence.

The four court cards of each suit, while being in harmony with each other are distinctly different from those of the other suits, each displaying an aspect of character that makes them easily distinguished and easy to read as separate but related entities. The suit of swords features a predominance of severed heads, symbolic of the obsessive nature of the thought process. The suit of Chalices shows a leaning toward the dreamy mysteries of the east. The characters in the Pentacle court seem dark and somehow evasive, although their eyes will sometimes look out of the cards, still they are guarded, protective of their knowledge. The suit of Wands seem neither direct nor guarded, they look away, fully confident in their own power they have no need to protect that which they know, they stand proud and self contained.

Overall the Dark Grimoire Tarot presents an enthralling and disturbing vision of the dark side of the psyche. It is a perfect blend of familiarity and originality, the familiar structure allows the reader to concentrate their attention upon the extraordinary images. The detailed art work and the coherence of the images throughout the whole of the deck give an integrity of concept which allows the reader to fully enter the world presented by the artist. A world where symbols and images occur and reoccur in different and separate cards allowing for instinctive connections to be made by the reader and giving tremendous scope and freedom for those that read intuitively.

A sample reading done using the pentagram spread given in the instruction booklet showed that this deck can indeed cut to the heart of the matter. The imagery provided by the cards proved to be symbolically significant to the question and the cards showed, without doubt, that despite their apparent darkness they were able to provide a positive note of hope in the answer that they gave. A further one card reading for a third party, answering a question that was both simple and mundane, gave an answer that was staggering in its relevance and directness.

This deck is not only beautiful in a dark and foreboding way it is also useful for many styles and types of reading. Undoubtedly continued use of this deck and familiarisation with its images and symbols would only serve to enhance and deepen the reading experience.

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