I Go To Rila, Not Dracula’s Castle

Daily Draw June 27th, 2009

I’ve never liked vampire stuff but the Vampire Tarot by Robert Place is a silly theme.  Great art, beautifully rendered and composed as you’d expect from Place, but a silly subject. Bram Stoker was not a good writer, he’s famous for sensationalism rather than good writing. All that lust and violence, the fans love it!

For me, Robert Place has definitely Jumped the Shark with this one. Bite me.

Ah well, maybe next time he’ll do Dante.

And today’s card is from the Golden Tarot of the Tsar:


This shows the death of St. John of Rila and indicates tiredness, impossibility of acting and serious illness. Yes, I am not entirely well. No, I am not dying. I think.

John or Ivan as he is called in his native country, was an abbot in Bulgaria at Rila in the mountains south of Sofia. He was one of the earliest Bulgarian monks and his monastery has survived, although ruined by fire in the 19th century and rebuilt, but was turned into a meteorolical station by the communist government in 1947. Fortunately someone woke up to reality (and perhaps the money engendered by tourism) and it became a national historical monument in 1976 and a UNESCO world heritage site in 1983 and is now firmly back in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Apart from the architecture which is wonderful, it contains beautiful icons, woodcarvings, frescoes, and a library of manuscripts and historical documents. There is also a museum there, and the complex is huge, about 8800 squares metres–definitely a neat place to visit.

John was another fellow who spent time as a hermit in a cave contemplating God and sin; he stayed there for twelve years but moved to other caves seeking solitude after he became a monk. People came to him and his followers became so many that they set up camp outside his cave and wouldn’t leave him alone, so eventually the monastery at Rila was built. He did once meet Tsar Peter I, who came to see him seeking advice, hearing of John’s spirituality and helpful attitude toward others.