From Vargo himself...


I am so excited about this. After the recent discussions over the meaning of the characters under the Knave of Pentacles, and the temperance cards, and the previous discussion on the symbols on the steps under the magician I thought I would email Vargo and ask him. I just recieved his reply, and thought everyone would like to read it, and that he would not mind me posting it, so here it goes.....

" Thank you for your compliments and interest in the Gothic Tarot. I have read the forum posts and find your observations fascinating and quite astute. Your group has unveiled several of the intentionally subliminal elements that were imbedded into the designs of each image, and I am honored by your quest to fully understand the symbolism of each card.

In regard to your questions about the symbols on certain cards:

The inscription on the pedestal below the Knave of Pentacles is written in the alphabet of the Magi and reads "GOLEM."

The inscription on the staircase of the Magician has a much more elaborate history and meaning. The original painting upon which this design was based was entitled "Seventh Son" and depicted the central magus figure(the father) presiding over a mystical ceremony to indoctrinate and endow the seventh son of a seventh son with six gifts. A male child was suspended in the flame and six hooded figures(the elder sons), each presenting a gift, flanked the sides of the staircase. The six gifts were: a scale, a book, a crown, a sword, a chalice and a crystal ball. The inscriptions in the stairs beneath their feet tell what each symbolic gift represents. I have included 2 attached files that show the original artwork in detail. The symmetrical symbols are actually stylized letters of the English alphabet, vertically mirrored in order to disguise them. To crack the code, just read the right half of each symbol. The top step says "seventh son." I will leave the rest for the group to decipher. Though the symbols are virtually unintelligible at the size the tarot cards were printed, I left the original inscriptions in the steps because I felt they were very appropriate for the Magician.

The symbols in the mystic circle on Temperance have no actual meaning. They were based on the Theban alphabet and the alphabet of the Magi, however they were designed purely as an artistic element to lend an air of mystery and mysticism.

Again, I am flattered by the amount of time and research that the discussion group has dedicated to my deck. I offer my sincere best regards to each of you.

Darkest wishes,
Joseph Vargo"


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I'm quite excited to hear that Vargo himself has come to our forum and has read the threads concerning his tarot. It would even be better if he could do like others (retrokat, the Golden Tarot designer, and others here) and talk by himself about his tarot here, and give us tidbits of informations. :)

Alissa said:
Of course, "Golem" brings to mind our classic LOTR "Gollum"...

If my memory serves me right, a golem has nothing to do with Gollum in LOTR. A golem is part of the jewish mysticism, and a golem is some sort of souless creature made by someone and that souless creature does his master's bidings. I think a golem is made of clay. I'm going to check later to see if I'm right and to get more details.


There is an interesting tidbit about the Golem in Tarot of Prague. It is one of my favorite cards from that deck; The Five of Cups.

In typical fantasy settings a golem is an animated creature made from inanimate materials, clay, flesh, wood, stone, iron...ect. They do their masters bidding following simple direction.

I will have to check this particular card out in the Gothic Tarot.

How cool is it that Vargo comes out here to check us out!!!!

I am soooo tempted to subscribe to the periodical that they have on his main site.


Sorry I forgot to put down what the steps actually husband and I read it last night...
from the top step down....

I left out spaces because that is how they appear on the steps
It is a rather simple code but when you are thinking of languages and not code it is hard to figure it out. I saw the I with appears II and thought gemini and one of the "E"s on the card, at least, is partly obscured and looked like aries.
I also think he is correct that the words have signifigance to the card, and the card's relation to the rest of the deck.



You are both correct...
"in Jewish legend, a man artificially created by cabalistic rites; robot; automaton. [Hebrew , orig. embryo; later monster]" - Websters New Universal Unabridged Dictionary

I believe the story goes that a Rabbi in Prague created a golem to help the people, the Jewish people and the poor people were being attacked by mobs (or something like that). He molded a man out of clay, walked around it 7 times and said "Shanti, Shanti, Dahat, Dahat!" as the Cabahah perscribed. The golem helped around town by night, cleaning and protecting until the rabbi decided to teach him/her/it to eat and then to read, and it decided it would like to be real and attacked the townspeople, who ran it off never to be seen again. There are many versons of this...
see one at

another description of golems (if that is the plural)

It just reminds me of prague...if you haven't been and have the chance, go! I lived in Italy for a bit, and made my way there for a trip. The artwork there is so beautiful, and the people are so nice. The artwork is heavily Art Nouveau. (as a side that is the style of the Madame Endora's Fortune Cards
also printed by monolith graphics and that deck I believe has a golem card (I have only seen it online, i am planning on buying it soon). The artwork is either done by or in a similar style to Alphonse Mucha who was brom the Czech Republic, and is one of my favorites (I used to be an Art History major way back when) plus the food is excellent.
Anyway while we were there, as everyone should we took a tour of the Jewish quarter, and were lucky enough to latch on to a tour being given by an older woman, who was a holucost survivor. She told us her story, eventually of how her husband was killed during the war. There is one of the oldest cemeteries there too, it is beyond what I could describe.

Sorry for the long post, It was just such a great experience to go to Prague. Now I will remember it when that card comes up.


oh and...
p.s. i think "vargo-licious" sums it up pretty nicely


Thank you everyone for helping me out with my ignorance on Jewish culture, and translating "Golem" for me :D

I guess I rather like both possible shades of meaning....