Charles Harrington, author of the Tarot of the Vampires

Charles Harrington, author of the Tarot of the Vampires

My guest for this episode was Charles Harrington. Charles is the author of the upcoming Tarot of the Vampires from Llewellyn Worldwide as well as the guidebooks to The Murder of Crows Tarot, Ferenc Pinter Tarot and Tarot V Lo Scarabeo. He has been reading, teaching and loving the tarot for 27 years. 

While our conversation covered a lot of ground, one theme was really central, the liminal nature of queer people. Queer people are outside of the norms of society and this outsider status gives us insights that are not available to others. We live at the edges between the normal and the paranormal. Charles believes this is why queer people are so drawn to vampires and to the art of divination. 

Why Vampires?

It was very obvious from our conversation that Charles is passionate about the vampire as a symbol. The vampire story is so much a product of the culture and time in which it is written. Vampires often represent the shadows and fears of the society in which it is written. For the Victorian era, Dracula was portrayed as aristocratic and represented the repressed sexuality of the era. 

Vampires have also recently been portrayed in very homoerotic terms. Partly this is due to the increased visibility of LGBTQ+ and their stories but it also represents in some ways the fears that society has about same sex love. The vampire is often the shadow or the repressed fears personified. 

Queer people are drawn to the idea of the vampire and to the paranormal in general and Charles posits that this is because queer people always see themselves as the other. Our society often emphasizes the ways in which we are different or outside the norm. As a result, we see ourselves as queer people in the image of the vampire. We are familiar with our love being relegated to the dark and to the shadows.

This is also why BDSM and leather don't seem out of place in queer spaces. We're already riding that edge between the worlds and so things like BDSM and leather that would be "Other" or hidden in straight spaces feel natural in queer spaces. 

Divination and Tarot

We talked a great deal on divination and tarot, a favorite topic of mine. 

Charles mentioned the movement to mainstream tarot that started in the past several decades. There was a definite move to talk about the tarot in terms of psychology and avoid any mention of fortunetelling or the future. Unfortunately, that really dilutes the power of the tarot and in Charles' opinion, a Tarot reader should answer the question asked, not try to couch it in terms of psychobabble.

In fact, the theater behind getting a tarot reading is really what makes it such a powerful tool. There's something about the experience of sitting across from a tarot reader and getting a reading that signals that you've moved out of the ordinary and into another world. That gives the insights that the tarot creates more weight. 

This is also why queer people seem to make such great readers. A queer reader is inherently liminal so it adds to the extraordinariness of getting a tarot reading. Queer people generally excel at elements of drama and theater which helps to maintain the mystique of getting a reading. There's also an interesting dynamic that someone getting a reading will share much more openly with a queer person than they might otherwise. 

Parting Thoughts

I wanted to highlight Charles' parting thoughts as I felt that they were particularly powerful: 

But I want to just explicitly state that queer people have this wonderful gift in that we are liminal. Within a world that sees most for the most part two genders. And one kind of sexuality, we are this other path. And because of that gift, when a person of any stripe needs information that is not available in the mainstream, and when they need wisdom or answers that are not available to them in tradition, and in the mainstream, they will leave behind that sort of center and come to the edges at the borders of society. And that is where they find the witch, or the fortune teller. And we have a wonderful gift and also maybe a sacred, I'm going to say the word, responsibility to be that person, that guardian, that Oracle, at the boundary of this world and the next who can share truths from that other place and bring them into this world.

Episode Summary

I got an opportunity to chat with Charles Harrington, author the upcoming Tarot of the Vampires from Llewellyn Worldwide. Being a tarot enthusiast myself, we talked about the cards a lot while also managing to cover a lot of other topics.
Key Points:

  • Vampires as the personification of otherness and repressed fears
  • Why mainstreaming tarot as a psychological tool was a bad idea
  • Why theater and drama contribute to a good tarot reading
  • The liminality of receiving a tarot reading
  • Tarot and queer portrayals in the cards
  • Queer people, liminality and otherness 

Charles' Links:

Tarot of the Vampires

Queer Spirituality Links:

Sacred Kin Samhain Retreat

Listen to the Full Episode

NOTE: This page may contain one or more affiliate links. Purchases made through these links result in a commission being paid to the blog author. 
About the Author, Julian Crosson-Hill

Julian Crosson-Hill, ACC is an ICF certified spiritual life coach and human design specialist. He coaches gay and bisexual men in living a life of purpose, meaning, and connection.

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