Divination Space Station: Tarot of the Vampires

Divination Space Station: Tarot of the Vampires January 30, 2024

Tarot of the Vampires- Strength card. By Charles Harrington and Craig Maher. All rights reserved.

It was my supreme pleasure to meet Charles Harrington last year at the Endless Night Vampire Ball in New Orleans. Harrington along with Craig Maher is the creator of Tarot of the Vampires published by Llewellyn Publications. The deck is stunning, a veritable must have for every creature of the night. As soon as I saw these cards I knew I wanted to interview Charles Harrington as part of our divination series. Questions are in boldface, and his responses follow.

When did you start divining?

I got my start in high school, purchasing my first deck from a game store in the mall. I was definitely one of the weird kids at that point so I would keep my deck in my backpack every day and give friends readings between (ok during) classes. People were very tolerant of this habit and I had almost no negative experience being the high school’s resident diviner. Looking back at some of those readings I used to give… let’s just say I had a lot to learn.

With what method?

Back when I got my start, I had one book (Tarot for the Apprentice by Eileen Connolly) and of course the Little White Book (I am told young readers today do not know the term “LWB” because guidebooks have improved so much). I only did three card spreads and the Celtic Cross because that’s all I knew and my approach was entirely predictive because, again, that’s all I was aware of. One day I picked up a copy of the Legend Arthurian Tarot by Anna-Marie Ferguson wherein I learned about the “Horseshoe Spread” which was much more straightforward than the Celtic Cross and had greater depth than those three card spreads. It was love at first sight and it became my primary Tarot spread for the next two decades. I wish it had a sexier name (the Arc of Destiny?) but that spread leveled up my practice and I was certain to include it in the guidebook for Tarot of the Vampires for this reason

Which method do you use most often now?

I still lean toward predictive / advice Tarot techniques but in college I became familiar with the works of Mary Greer and Rachel Pollack and began to incorporate Wisdom Readings into my practice. These are a way of asking the divine mind-expanding things like “What is the soul?” “How can I live my life as a reflection of this Goddess?” I also am a big proponent of using the Tarot for Shadow Work, which was an emphasis for the Tarot of the Vampires as vampires have always been a powerful cultural shadow for humanity that has evolved and shifted throughout the decades to continue to hold up a dark mirror to our faces.


How important is the choice/phrasing of the question?

This is going to get me in trouble. I apologize in advance. I feel like today there is too much emphasis on “correcting” the querent’s question. When someone asks us “Will I get this job?” we are supposed to say “Ah, your real question is ‘What do I need to know about prosperity?'” This bothers me. I imagine a person going to the doctor because they have an acute ache that won’t go away and having the doctor say “Ah let me tell you about wellness!” I think readers are often afraid that they won’t be able to make a correct prediction (or they don’t believe Tarot can make accurate predictions) and they sidestep by rephrasing the question to be more general. If this is you, (if you can hear the sound of my voice!) try to first address the question you were asked and then supplement with other advice that the cards offer. For example, with the question above “In terms of this job you are going after, it looks like there will be some challenges. Let’s see what you can do to find what you need…”

Do you have a yes/no method of divining you recommend?

I do! It’s a little complicated but I enjoy it. Take the Wheel of fortune out of your deck and then shuffle it and draw seven additional cards facedown. Add the Wheel of Fortune to this smaller pile of eight cards and shuffle them together. Lay the cards out in four quadrants with two cards in each quadrant. Turn the pairs of cards over and find the Wheel of Fortune. Now interpret this position (and only this position) with the additional card next to it.

Position 1: Yes, Because.

This is the enthusiastic Yes! The second card points to why the thing will happen

Position 2: Yes, If

This is a pretty good outlook but it will take some extra effort by the querent. The second card says what is needed to bring this over the finish line.

Position 3: No, Unless

This is not looking so good but the accompanying card may give some advice about what to do to bring about a desired change.

Position 4: No, Because

This is the enthusiastic No and the accompanying card can help explain why this won’t happen.


Is there any advice you have for newcomers when using divination?

There are three things I recommend:

Read the guidebook – A lot of love and hard work goes into that guidebook! Definitely trust your intuition but the guidebook might have some more advice that your intuition missed.

When reading for yourself, write the reading down – The main reason to do this is that it forces you to give yourself a complete reading instead of looking at the cards and saying “Yep, yep, that makes sense, that’s what I expected.” It will help you fully explore the spread and its possibilities. In the following days/weeks, instead of doing another spread because you are anxious about the question you can return to what you wrote down and continue to explore it in greater depth. It also helps justify the purchase of fancy journals we readers tend to love. If you prefer electronic record keeping, I highly recommend Evernote for storing readings.

Get Liminal – As Tarot reading has become more psychologically influenced and we have worked to do away with some of the unhelpful superstitions, people have sometimes ditched the mystical parts of Tarot reading entirely. Enhance your practice by doing something to enter into sacred space and bring yourself between the worlds. Light some incense, say a prayer, visualize the temple of the High Priestess, whatever it takes and you have the bandwidth for. I find this makes me more receptive to receiving the answers from the Universe (or whomever is on the other side of this operation).


How did you come up with the idea for Tarot of the Vampires?

I have loved vampire stories my whole life and of course I’ve really enjoyed vampire tarot decks (I’ve owned pretty much all of them). I felt that most decks focused entirely on what I think of as the “Carpathian” vampire archetype with crumbling castles, helpless maidens, everybody’s white, etc. This didn’t reflect the modern stories I enjoy so much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, True Blood, the Vampire Diaries, Anita Blake, etc. One year the late and very great pagan author Margot Adler gave a talk about vampire novels at a pagan conference . Following the death of her husband, she read hundreds of them and formed her theory of the modern vampire which was that the vampire-as-hero is a powerful, dangerous being, trying desperately to be moral. This is a wonderful reflection of humanity as we are similarly powerful, dangerous beings who want to do good and create beauty but who are aware that they have a destructive nature as well. She wrote about this in her wonderful book Vampires R Us and her ideas really helped inform my approach to the cards, especially the Minor Arcana. This kept the deck from just being the Rider Waite Smith with fangs (though it is absolutely in the RWS School of Tarot).

Lilith Dorsey and Charles Harrington at Endless Night Vampire Ball – New Orleans.

What’s the most interesting thing that happened as a result of working on that project?

Just as divination is a sacred conversation between the diviner and the universe, the creation of a Tarot deck is a sacred conversation between author and illustrator. This project connected me to the incredible artist Craig Maher who partnered with me to bring the deck to life. If the author is the scriptwriter and executive producer, the illustrator is the director, set designer, casting director, costume designer, cinematographer, special effects department and all the other roles you can imagine. I’m a words guy and I am in awe of Craig’s gift for taking those words and communicating them visually. He has a wonderful gift for interpreting mood, lighting, composition, as well as venerable Tarot traditions to create these dynamic, interesting characters filled with depth and mystery. We had a dialog about every card in the deck and he could take a weird prompt that I didn’t even know fully how to begin to depict and turn it into what I feel is one of the most intense and compelling Strength cards in Tarot.

What’s next for you ?

I recently wrote the guidebook for an oracle deck based on Dante’s Inferno to go along with artwork created by the amazing artist Paolo Barbieri. That was a wild project because it required me to shelve my modern pagan sensibilities aside and fully embrace the worldview of Dante. It’s an intense deck with some very confronting imagery and requires a bit of courage to pull a card each day

From the Llewellyn publications website – Charles Harrington has been reading, teaching, and loving tarot for 25 years. He is the author of the guidebooks to the Murder of Crows Tarot, Ferenc Pinter Tarot, and Tarot V from Lo Scarabeo. His love of the cards and connecting with other readers has manifested in co-hosting podcasts, speaking at conferences, and leading meetups in the San Francisco Bay Area. In his free time, he loves to find new and strange ways to use the cards in pursuit of wisdom, fun, and the occasional free cocktail.

Note: This deck is especially precious to me as the Three of Cups card from it graces the cover of my new book Tarot Every Witch Way. Thank you Llewellyn Publications and Charles Harrington for making it possible.

Tarot of the Vampires- 3 of Cups. All rights reserved.


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About Lilith Dorsey
Lilith Dorsey M.A., hails from many magickal traditions, including Afro-Caribbean, Celtic, and Indigenous American spirituality. Their traditional education focused on Plant Science, Anthropology, and Film at the University of R.I, New York University, and the University of London, and their magickal training includes numerous initiations in Santeria also known as Lucumi, Haitian Vodoun, and New Orleans Voodoo. Lilith Dorsey is also a Voodoo Priestess and in that capacity has been doing successful magick since 1991 for patrons, is editor/publisher of Oshun-African Magickal Quarterly, filmmaker of the experimental documentary Bodies of Water :Voodoo Identity and Tranceformation,’ and choreographer/performer for jazz legend Dr. John’s “Night Tripper” Voodoo Show. They have long been committed to providing accurate and respectful information about the African Traditional Religions and are proud to be a published Black author of such titles as Voodoo and African Traditional Religion, 55 Ways to Connect to Goddess, The African-American Ritual Cookbook, Love Magic, the bestselling Orishas, Goddesses and Voodoo Queens and the award winning Water Magic. Keep a lookout for the newly released Tarot Every Witch Way now available for preorders online where books are sold. You can read more about the author here.
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