“Theda was well versed on all religions. However, closest to her heart was her crystal ball, the Ouija Board, Tarot Cards and the spirits around her. She felt that her karma was from a former life. “
– Joan Craig, author of ‘Theda Bara, My Mentor: Under The Wing Of Hollywood’s First Femme Fatale’
This is my main page for VAMP, the Theda Bara tarot. I explain the reason why I decided to create this deck on my blog post here.
Theda Bara was a star of the silent film era, and the first ‘Vamp’. She was a huge star, making over 40 films. She was enormously famous and as well known as Charlie Chaplin to audiences at the time. Sadly she is not well known today, as the majority of her films were lost in 1937 in the great fire at Fox studios. So all that is left from most of these films are the photography stills.
Each card combines an image of Theda Bara with specific text for that card. All text is hand written by me using a nib pen and ink, scanned and then merged with the Theda image to create the card.
All card names and numbers are hand written in a text of my own design inspired by the art deco period.
For the major arcana, the text is taken from ‘The Symbolism of the Tarot’ by PD Ouspenskypublished in 1913. This book consists of pen pictures describing a journey through the 22 cards of the majors.
For the VAMP majors, snippets of this text can be seen intertwined with the image so that only certain words can be seen, and I have found that depending on the question, different words make themselves apparent to me.
For the minor arcana, the text is taken from the 15th century tarot poetry of Count Matteo Boiardo. He proposed a 78 card tarot deck with the minors being split into suits based on the Four Passions of Fear, Jealousy, Hope and Love. The VAMP tarot deck uses these minors which are well suited to the themes of Theda’s films dealing with such passions and emotions.
Boiardo wrote a three-line poem for each card, and these are shown in their entirety on each minor card in the deck. As with the majors, all text is handwritten by myself using pen and ink, and in a chancery cursive style that was developed in Italy in the 15th century as well.
The poem for the court cards are based on historical, mythical or biblical figures that would have been familiar to 15th century audiences.
The poems for the minor pip cards deal directly with the relevant passion, and are not linked to people as with the court cards.
The majors can be read in the traditional manner, as the imagery of each card will be familiar to tarot readers. The text adds an additional element to aid the reader.
The minors are based on the four suits of Fear, Jealousy, Hope and Love. These can be read by either matching each card to it’s corresponding equivalent in the traditional minors of Swords, Wands, Coins and Cups. Or, by using the Boiardo system of the four passions scale combined with the relevant poem.
The accompanying book will describe all the cards and show the Ouspensky and Boiardo text in their entirety with notes on how to read the cards.
The VAMP tarot deck consists of 78 cards at the standard size of 120mm x 70mm printed on high quality 340g black core card stock.
The VAMP tarot deck is available on our Etsy shop here.