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It’s World Goth Day, so let’s celebrate all that’s gothic about tarot!

Death, Three of Swords, and The Hermit from the: Modern Witch Tarot Deck Photo: Loveday May
Death, Three of Swords, and The Hermit from the: Modern Witch Tarot Deck Photo: Loveday May

Don’t fear pulling the Death card in your tarot readings

By Rebecca Bell

What is World Goth Day? World Goth Day celebrates the diversity of subcultures and promotes the goth culture to the wider world. It falls on the 22nd May, so this year we would like to look at goth culture: its origins, and how it relates to tarot and everything witchy!

What is goth? Not a style, but a way of thinking.

Goth is often assumed to be a subculture derived around only wearing black, and listening to metal or rock music, and having a cultish religion revolving around Satan. But that is wrong! Goths come in all shapes and sizes; they can dress in a variety of colour palletes and listen to any music they like. There’s also no set religion for the goth subculture.

So, what does it mean to be goth? Well, you might be goth-minded: it is not something one steps into as and when you feel like it. It is a way of seeing the world — a way of thinking. The gothic mindset appreciates the darker things in life, be that the aesthetic of death and decay, or siding with the misunderstood villains in popular books and films. Where others would shy away from a skull on a bookshelf, you may find yourself intrigued by its aesthetic and wish to appreciate it on your own shelf.


Goth in tarot

Tarot is a mysterious and curious practice of reading cards with your intuition to understand what they are trying to tell you. How you read them is a combination of your point of view and that of the creator of the cards, who provides the common meanings of the card in an accompanying booklet. Over time, tarot cards become very personal to the reader, and some cards will resonate more from person to person. So, lets look at the cards influenced by the gothic aesthetic…

Death, from the: Modern Witch Tarot Deck  photo: Rebecca Bell
Death, from the: Modern Witch Tarot Deck photo: Rebecca Bell
Death

A card that depicts well… Death, usually as a skeleton riding horseback, and featuring a strong use of black and white — to find out more about colours in tarot click here.

“Death is light and dark, truly and deeply part of life. The queen tries to fight it, and fails. The old woman is wise and is ready to greet it without fear. The young woman can’t even bear to think about it at all, and turns away, pretending it’s not there. The little girl is bright-eyed and innocent; she doesn’t even understand why she would be afraid. Death is eternal, inescapable and necessary.”

Lisa Sterle, the Modern Witch Tarot

It’s easy to see why some people fear this card in a reading, but when you take a closer look at the meaning and bring a gothic point of view to it, you will see the beauty in this card. Death is an essential part of life: it is beautiful in its symbolism of the end of something, but also the new life it births from the rich nutrients of decay. For us to deeply appreciate life we must be aware of its impermanence. Pulling Death is a gentle reminder of how precious life is, and that we should not waste it in fear of the inevitable, but should appreciate it instead, by seizing each day with joy of what we have!

The Hermit  

Cloaked in black and devoid of colour, the Hermit is almost a spector in its appearance; there is nothing wrong with wearing all black and flicking your hood up for comfort.

“Through solitude, we can discover new things about ourselves. The Hermit has shrugged off material and superficial concerns and distractions, and has retreated to an inner sanctum.”

Lisa Sterle, the Modern Witch Tarot

A rather neutral card, The Hermit is neither bad nor good, but a reminder that it is ok to be alone and spend time looking inward and reflecting. Being alone can be fun: there is so much you can get done without the pressure of entertaining someone else. You don’t need to wear a black hoodie, but hoodies are a comfy choice.

The Devil from the: Modern Witch Tarot Deck photo: Rebecca Bell
The Devil from the: Modern Witch Tarot Deck photo: Rebecca Bell
The Devil

The Devil isn’t so bad… just misunderstood, as he lures his chained victims into his grasp.

“Unhealthy habits and desires can consume and control us. The Devil has tempted and captured us with their false promises of wealth, power and pleasure.”

Lisa Sterle, the Modern Witch Tarot

Another card we don’t want to get in our readings… But take a different look at the Devil; maybe they’re just telling you to be rebellious and selfish for a moment, or to enjoy the pleasures of life. Living in the moment with spontaneity, and indulging in life is sometimes something we need in our lives. However, be mindful of the consequences and ready to face them if you do go wild, but don’t let them hold you back from living a little. Have some sympathy for the Devil: they just want to have a bit of fun!

The Hanged One

Morbid in name, but more innocent in the illustration, as they dangle upside down from an ankle.

“True peace can only come from within. The Hanged one has found inner zen in what seems like an unusual place.”

Lisa Sterle, the Modern Witch Tarot

The Hanged One can be a bit of a shock when you first draw it, so let your morbid curiosity take you further to understand the meaning. Peace comes from within, and it might be you find that peace in a strange place. We don’t recommend hanging upside down for hours, however a peaceful place might be found in taking a stroll through a Victorian graveyard and talking to the crows. Odin used to listen to crows and ravens, and they had lots of wisdom to share. The essence of this card is subversion, be that of perception, expectation, or societal norms. In that way, it’s directly connected to goth sensibilities, as this subculture is all about defying what’s expected to find identity in what’s seen as dark and disturbing…

Ten of Swords and Three of Swords from the: Modern Witch Tarot Deck photo: Rebecca Bell
Ten of Swords and Three of Swords from the: Modern Witch Tarot Deck photo: Rebecca Bell
Three of Swords

A heart pierced with three swords: a grim image or a poetic one? Ether way, it’s got to hurt!

“You’re in for a stab of betrayal and heartbreak

Lisa Sterle, the Modern Witch Tarot

The image of this card is beautiful in its own way, and definitely gets to the point. Fearing the heartbreak, we might never get close to others if we try too hard to avoid this fate. Or we could look at it a different way, and see the beauty in heartbreak. Chapters open and chapters close, and sometimes a sharp heartbreak is what you need to close the book on something that was not meant to be. Yet in the wake of the carnage, you will heal — and you’ll find new opportunities for better company.

Ten of Swords

Iconic in its depiction of being run through with ten sharp swords against a black background.

“You’re struggling, just trying to survive, as the weight grows heavier. You’re going through something truly soul-crushing and it feels like the world is ending.

Lisa Sterle, the Modern Witch Tarot

This is quite possibly the worst card to appear in a reading about your future. However, the silver lining is that by surviving the pain you will grow stronger! As the bonus card states in the Modern Witch Tarot… “everything is fine.”


So there you have it, you might be more goth than you think! We can thank the goth subculture for celebrating the point of view that questions dark things more deeply, so we can see and appreciate the beautiful message hidden below the surface. What will you find in the darker words and illustrations of our titles?

Read on for more…

The Power Of Dreams: Jungian Archetypes In Tarot


A Look Inside The Modern Witch Coloring Book


How is colour used to convey meaning in Tarot?

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