Deck for this week was The Dark Grimoire Tarot from Lo Scarabeo, a darker deck that draws inspiration from the works of H.P Lovecraft. I am not a Lovecraft buff, so I’m pleased to say that I didn’t need to read any of his overwrought (but delightful!) prose to “get” this deck. I approached it through a Gnostic lens, which served me very well.
For the interested, you can read a nice summary of Gnosticism here, but the two basic concepts that help make sense of The Dark Grimore are:
1. Life is full of suffering because the world was created by a flawed creator. (This creator is separate from the ultimate God, which doesn’t take action, but is more a representation of the divine essence)
2. The way to liberation is to purchase knowledge (gnosis)– spiritual truths.
This deck fits neatly into this theology. Beings of cosmic horror–huge god-like creatures that are incomprehensible and evil–skulk through the cards, wrecking havoc, but the deck also offers us a weapon: knowledge. At first I found the four Ace cards to be disappointing, in such a beautiful deck they seemed plain. All four show grimoires.
Viewed through a gnostic lens, they make perfect sense. Grimoires contain Truth, which is the essence of all, and thus the perfect symbol for the Aces. The deck does not show Truth as good or bad, just as something we cannot escape. I had a lot of “can I get a thematic HELLYEAH” moments flipping through the deck. Some cards are very dark, such as the woman on the 3 of Swords, who is haunted by the knowledge she unleashes. The deck is not all dark though. Look at Strength, where a woman uses the knowledge from a grimoire to calm a beast.
(note: This is how all the cards appear, with borders. Since I don’t have a scanner, the other images are taken from various sites online)
Some of my other favorites include the supremely creepy 7 of Swords and the delightful Judgment.
Seven of Swords
One card that I like, but find very limiting is the Hanged Man. I suspect this card might be a dealbreaker for some people. It is quite bleak and literal
The Hanged Man
I should also mention that while I had no problem reading them in spreads, I found the court cards to be very samey-samey and not up to the standard of the rest of the deck.
There’s a very strange sense of dread in this deck. Strange because it isn’t repellant, it’s quite attractive. I think it’s because the images are so dreamlike. They don’t seem real enough to truly terrify you, but they do leave you uneasy. It’s romantic and unsettling at the same time, which is an impressive contradiction.
Despite all this theological depth and cosmic terror, I think the deck works well for any kind of reader or reading. For example, I did a daily draw to see what I needed to be focusing on and got the Hermit:
Instead of fearing that I must find a mentor to guide me through the darkness , I started laughing. Yeah, okay, I get it. I need to work on my book more. ;) The man keeps one hand on an ancient tome and with his other hand, writes his own. One of the things I’ve realized lately is that I need to be drawing more from research and the knowledge of others. This card was a gentle reminder to do so. A dark deck yes, but strangely maternal and protective. Recommended to those who like the art, Lovecraft, art, Gnosticism, knowledge, or anyone trying to fill out their collection of darker decks! :)