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September 2014

skull-adorned altar-cloth, Romburk museum

Skull-adorned altar-cloth, Romburk museum

Over the years, the human skull has somehow represented almost everything – life and death, perilous danger and good luck. We see it worn by Hell’s Angels and Hello Kitty alike. I am far from a casual observer in this strange fashion phenomenon: even as I write I am surrounded by trinkets and textiles, all adorned with that grim and grinning motif. The skull’s association with the Gothic hardly needs much explanation – a culture that is nourished by an artistic fascination with the dead is sure to find beauty in one of the most consistently used symbols of death – a beauty backed up by centuries of funereal art. However, the fallacy that skull symbolism belongs to fans of the Gothic alone has caught me out before, assuming that skull-wearing acquaintances share a certain morbid outlook with me, only to realise that they are simply following fashions with little thought to the symbolism behind the design.

It’s a Saturday night at Prague’s Palac Akropolis. While the canopy-covered benches outside the somewhat infamous venue never fail to attract a crowd on weekends, tonight something is different: instead of the usual suspects sinking pints to muffled bass beats, I am greeted with a veritable parade of frock coats and corsetry, drainpipe jeans and doublets – even the children are black-clad for the event. What, you ask, is the occasion? A celebration of the Czech Republic’s small yet tenacious Gothic music scene, oddly and wonderfully enough featuring a trio from England’s idyllic Cotswolds – Inkubus Sukkubus.

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10177263_10152082547252672_8819269431177047326_nIt would be madness to run a Gothic blog inspired by a deck of tarot cards, and not address the link between “The Gothic” and the art of tarot.  Of course, if you’re reading this, chances are you already have your own philosophies on tarot, and at least a basic grasp of its story. I know for a fact that at least some of you will be experts on the matter. Thus I dare not attempt to educate you on tarot’s lengthy and often obscure history, but perhaps I can impart a few interesting facts about tarot’s Gothic connection to something I know and love – writing.