The Vampire Tarot by Robert M. Place is based on the story of Dracula by Bram Stoker. It is published by St. Martin’s Press. The Strength illustration from this deck appeared in the third episode of the 2008 season of the television series “Moonlight.” The illustrations for the Brides, the Lovers, Death, and the Moon will appear in a documentary about vampires on Animal Planet, in October, 2009.
The art for the deck is complete and may be purchased as prints for $30 each. Below you will find a selection of thirteen of the trumps and four pips. The details for purchasing are at the bottom of the page. You can also use the Pay Pal shopping cart as you go.
The Vamprie Tarot is $28 plus $7 shipping for one copy and $3 for each editional copy in the U.S.A.
Jonathan the Fool
In the first section of Dracula, Jonathan Harker, foolishly visits Dracula at his remote castle to settle the Count’s business and real-estate negotiations in England. It is likely that the similarity between Harker, Percival, and the Tarot Fool were intended by Stoker. Like Percival, in the Grail legend, Harker will become the hero of the story in the end when he destroys Dracula and restores Mina to purity.
Mina, the High Priestess
Mina is the heroine of Dracula and the one who is credited within the novel as having organized and typed the documents that comprise the novel. However Mina was also bitten by Dracula and, in the “baptism of blood,” forced to drink his blood. Although she is not dead, she is transforming into a vampire. Because of this connection with Dracula, Mina is between the living and the dead, between good and evil, and, therefore, between the conscious world and the unconscious. The Heroes must destroy Dracula to save her and because of the connection she has to the vampire she is able to lead the heroes to him while she is in a trance.
Dracula had a harem of three brides and was busy obtaining more. We, therefore, have a triple Empress or Countess for this deck. We may wonder why Stoker chose this mythologically significant number, related to ancient triple goddesses, for Dracula’s brides. Stoker was the manager of the Lyceum Theater in London where Shakespearean plays were often performed and it is likely that he was influenced in his creation of three mysterious brides by the three witches in Shakespear’s Macbeth. Like Shakespear’s witches, he referred to them as the weird sisters.
The illustration of the Count depicts Dracula as he is described by Stoker, with repulsive white skin, hair, and moustache; aquiline features; red eyes and lips; pointy ears; and long fingernails. However, his clothing has been changed from the all-black nineteenth century outfit that Stoker described to the clothing of a Renaissance noble. In keeping with the traditional Emperor card, he is seen in profile wearing a helmet. He does not have a shield to display his coat of arms but his heraldic dragon, symbolic of the Order of the Dragon from which he derived his name, is worked into the helmet. His brooch that fastens his cape depicts his teacher, the Devil.
The blood of young women rejunivates Dracula, but his penetrating bite is also a symbolic lustful, sex act. Dracula demonstrates this by only preying on young women and attempting to steal them away from their lovers and husbands to add them to his harem. Like the young man in the Marseilles deck, once the heroines in Dracula are bitten they have to make a choice. Lucy gives in to Dracula’s lust and becomes a lusting vampire herself. Mina chooses to make use of Dracula’s bite to capture him and transforms her lust into a higher form of love. Lucy and Mina, therefore, are also like the two women on the Marseilles Lovers.
In eastern Europe, remote forests and mountain tops are considered the realm of the dead and the most likely place to meet a vampire. This is reflected in Dracula by the remote location of his castle and the eeriness of the landscape. Beside residing in a forested mountain remote from civilization, Dracula also possesses seeming limitless time to sit or stand brooding in stillness. If we compare Stoker’s novel to the myth of the Grail, Dracula is comparable to the Grail King who also lives on indefinitely in a barren landscape in a state of despair.
It may seem that with the potential to live for centuries the vampire has found the cure for mortality, but, his or her soulless answer is shallow and still under the control of the fates, seen on the bottom of the card. The vampire may still encounter death and even while alive he or she is only half alive, doomed to return to the tomb or find shelter from the sun for the light half of the day. The existential weariness of the vampire as depicted in late twentieth century novels and films is similar to the problem of life as described in Buddhism and ancient Classical philosophies. By existing for centuries through the selfish destruction of others the vampire’s existence becomes a curse that wears on the intelligent and introspective.
Although the band of heroes, who oppose Dracula, also exhibit strength they are outdone in this virtue by Dracula. This is why it is necessary to integrate the unconscious forces that the vampire represents. It is only when one possess all of the virtues that one is whole. The vampire was said to have the strength of twenty men, but beyond the physical, like the woman on the Tarot card, he or she could control animals particularly wolves, bats, and other creatures of the night.
In Dracula, Renfield is a psychotic inmate in Dr. Seward’s asylum. Renfield has a morbid fear of death and to prolong his life he eats as many live flies as he can. Later he feeds the flies to spiders and eats them instead. Because of his fear, Renfield is easily influenced by Dracula, who offers him eternal life. Mina, the object of Dracula’s lust, is staying in the asylum where she seems safe because a vampire cannot enter a house unless he is invited. Renfield invites Dracula in, therefore, like the traditional Hanged Man, Renfield is a traitor. Similarly, his hands are tied or restrained in a straightjacket.
To the Vampire blood is wine, sex, and sustenance. The fact that the vampire satisfies his or her lusts by murdering human victims turns him or her into a monster, or a mythological serial killer. There is a more temperate answer, however, to the vampire’s lust. Everywhere in the world prehistoric graves can be found in which the corpse has been covered in red ocher, as a substitute for blood, to insure survival after death. From the earliest historic period in Greece and eastern Europe bull’s blood has been offered to the dead as part of the funeral service and in the Odyssey we find Odysseus using sheep’s blood to draw the dead in a necromantic rite. In all of these examples, Temperance has reigned and substitutes have been found for human blood.
In the novel, Dracula and his three brides are continually associated with the night and the moon. They are even able to turn into moonlight. Like the moon, they rule animals and weather, are associated with the world of the dead, and are sexual and nonsexual at the same time. It seems that they are modern incarnations of moon gods and goddesses.
The Vampire is mythologically connected to ancient gods of death and the moon and therefore his natural enemy is the sun. The vampire and the moon symbolize the unconscious and intuition, an indistinct area where symbols flow from one to another as in a dream. The sun symbolizes consciousness, logic, and clarity. The sun destroys a vampire in the same way that a dream may be forgotten when one wakes at sunrise.
The image of the dead rising from their graves fits well with the vampire theme and Dracula, like Gabriel, has the power to raise the dead. Instead of being called to a higher life in heaven, however, the vampire reanimates his corpse and feeds on the blood of the living to remain in this world. His existence represents a shallow substitute for eternal life in the spirit and he must continually return to the grave to rest. In Stokers novel, Dracula, besides being able to rest in his tomb or in a box of his native soil, could inhabit an unhollowed grave such as the grave of a suicide victim that he found in the eighteenth century cemetery in Whitby.
Seven of Garlic Flowers
Among Dracula’s powers was the ability to shape-shift into an animal, particularly a wolf or a bat. Here we see a vampire transforming into a bat. As we can see intermediary stages are necessary for this change of form.
Six of Holy Water
A suave vampire is shown in a protective stance with his Daughter. This image demonstrates that even vampires can display parental affection
Nine of Knives
Here we see Lucy held in the count’s grasp with a look of utter fright on her face.
Three of Stakes
One of the animals that Dracula could call on and that he relied on often were wolves. Wolves were a powerful ally that could serve as a natural army ready to enforce Dracula’s will. Here we see three wolves approaching as if they have been summoned by Dracula.