The Gothic Tarot by Vargo - Five Of Cups


Vargo's cards were based on earlier works, you can see some of them on his website. This card is called Necromancer.

Necromancy is a divination by conjuring up the dead. A necromancer is someone who practices necromancy, who conjures up the dead.

This card is one of the rare inside scene. A young man is wearing a black cloak, with a raven on his left arm while he holds a skull with his right hand. He's eye to eye with the skull. There's arched window behind him. Two cups are right below the window, and on the shelf below stands three cups.

He has lost someone he cared about, perharps loved, and he's ready to conjure up that person. The raven on his arm is his guide to the world of the dead. The arched window represents a portal to another world (the world of the dead?), a portal he is ready to open. His life is focused on the dead, not on the living.


Here we have my least favorite card – the ‘Alas poor Yerick’ card. I mean it works in the classical RWS meaning thing – it does go with, “Alas, poor Yerick…I knew him well…” But it’s so overdone it leaves me cold.


I also look at this card and find it hard to get beyond the obvious Hamlet reference.

Knowing the necromancy connotation at least gives me something else to focus on in the card when it comes up.

Going with that, the skull he holds could be the bones of the one he wishes to call up. His reasons for calling the dead to do his bidding may be compelling ... or maybe they're not. How casual is he? Is he sincerely looking for assistance in reaching his goal?

The raven is cawing while perched on his left hand. The raven may be another participant in the spell to be worked ... or may simply be an observer.

Another option that presents itself is that he looks on the skull and remembers who this person once was. Does he long for them? Or is he satisfied at their demise, perhaps by his own hand?

The five of cups traditionally shows one (the RWS even wrapped in a black cloak too) who is overly focused on issues of the past, situations or people they perceive as lost. Here, no cups are spilled, but evidence of the past is still being considered.

September Pixie

Tall, then man with long dark hair and pale face (like most in this deck) wearing a black robe holding a skull in his right hand perched on his left is a crowing raven. There is a very dark window in the background and 5 cups sit neatly in a pyramid formation.

Initial Reactions:
Something in the questors life decaying.. possibly a 'reunion' of relationships.. It gives me a strange feeling of being "boxed in" somewhere.. even though there is a window.. there seems to be no escape.. dreadful feelings.. the raven is startled and is cawing.. perhaps there is an intruder coming.. or a warning of something yet to come...


Alissa said:
The five of cups traditionally shows one (the RWS even wrapped in a black cloak too) who is overly focused on issues of the past, situations or people they perceive as lost. Here, no cups are spilled, but evidence of the past is still being considered.

My feeling is that the man is focusing on the past, paying no attention to the raven cawing on his arm, nor to the 5 cups which have obviously been placed there for his use.


He is obviously contemplating, concentrating, thinking of someone lost to him. Because of the intense stare towards the skull I get the feeling he is unable to let go, he cant let go. His left hand fingers appear to want to grasp at something? He wants what he can no longer have.

Does he wait in his castle, looking out his window waiting for something, or someone to return to him. Does the Raven visit him every day to bring news? and still he waits?

I love how everyone gets different feelings from these cards.


Five of Cups

In a private chamber we have a vampire wearing a simple black robe. In his right hand is a skull without the jaw bone. He is holding it up as if studying it. His left arm is bent at the elbow to create a perch for his raven familiar. The raven seems to be in a launching or landing position. A long narrow window offers a view from this room. Below the window are two shelves which contain five chalices; two on the top and three on the bottom.

This card has Hamlet written all over it:

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow
of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath
borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how
abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at
it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know
not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your
gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment,
that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one
now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen?
Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let
her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must
come; make her laugh at that. Prithee, Horatio, tell
me one thing.


Being inside could put a claustrophobic reaction. It could signify a heavy atmosphere, a closed mind. The skull is liked with the past and memories. So the character may be mourning. His mourning is lasting more than others, the skull is all that remains from what he mourns about.


NECROMANCY: Or divination by means of the spirits of the dead, from the Greek work `nekos', dead; and `manteria', divination. It is through its Italian form nigromancia that it came to be known as the "Black Art". With the Greeks it originally signified the descent into Hades in order to consult the dead rather than summoning the dead into the mortal sphere again. - "For necromancy, associated as it is with ghosts and the underworld, always the most insistent powers of fear and darkness which impress the superstitious, naturally goes hand in hand with black magic." (Greek Divination page 235)

Necromancy is a form of divination in which the practitioner seeks to summon the spirits of the dead in order to gain knowledge of future events from them. These spirits are called Operative Spirits and Spirits of Divination.

In the middle ages the literate members of society were either the Nobility or Christian clergy. Either of these groups may have been responsible for the propagation and ongoing practice of necromancy, even though it is forbidden in Christianity. It is apparent that necromancy was not a method of witchcraft. It may have been only available to the scholarly of Europe, because of the accessibility, language, knowledge and methods it employs. Some suggest that Necromancy could have became a way for idle literate Europeans to integrate Hebrew and Arabic legend and language into forbidden manuals of sorcery.

The most common form of necromancy is to summon the spirit of the corpse by sacrifices and incantations but there is also the less common practice of attempting to raise the corpse to life. The rituals demand meticulous execution and exacting preparations involving the choice of a proper place, for example a cemetery or the ruins of an ancient monastery; the choice of the right time, usually between the hours of midnight and one in the morning; use of specific incantations; and accessories, such as bells. One of the most important elements is the use of a magic circle which protects the necromancer and his or her assistant from being harmed by provoking the dead.

I have searched various Grimoires and books on the Dark Arts but haven't found any reference to use of the skull or raven in ceremonial magick. A few works site the use of a portrait of the deceased, ornate robes, white linen and other complicated procedures that must take place sometime between two weeks and a month before the summoning of the dead. There is also no reference to an open window, olive wood is used to block out light. An alter is used for ceremonial tools, which I imagine the goblets would be placed on rather than steps or shelves that are used here.

I will venture therefore, that this is an imposter or poseur - he is not a true magi hence his lack of preparation and odd utensils. If he is a Necromancer, he is not in the sway of performing ceremonial magick. Instead his expression is fixed and thoughtful. It looks to me as though his is thinking about conjuring the spirit of the skull he holds which looks ages old. If he is bringing back a lost love, then she (or he) passed away a long time ago from the dried up look of the skull and lack of jaw bone.

The arrangement of the goblets whisper of union and possibly children: Two would be love and three offspring. But there is no tenderness in this poseurs face, no discernible love or longing. His expression is hardened and menacing. His hand clawed. I wonder if he didn't destroy the lives of those he thinks of, if a second later he won't fling the skull across the room and sweep out. I think he is angry and harbours evil thoughts about the person whose skull he glares at.

The raven also seems startled by his malice. If he did bring back the soul of the departed, it would be to further torture them in the maliciously cold way in which they were first destroyed.

I'm also begining to associate the ravens and Fives of this deck with the Trickster.