“The Dark Days Tarot deck is inspired by the dark days of the lunar cycle when we are energetically drawn toward reflection. I’m continually inspired by the way in which, like oceans, we are subtly synced with the moon. Dark days encourage deeper rest and heightened sensitivity, and thus a more intuitive state. This deck captures the essence of these days, making this energy available to you for the entirety of any lunar cycle. “ – darkdaystarot.com
Oh boy do I ever love this deck, y’all. Right away it became my main working deck and the insight I’ve gleamed from it has not only helped in my readings, but I’ve learned new ways to look at some tarot cards that I always struggled to connect with. A big thanks to the artist, Wren McMurdo for contacting me and sending me a copy of the deck to review. I’m so impressed with it!
So right away when the deck showed up in a lovely square box that matches the artwork of the cards I got super excited. SQUARE. From the back you can’t tell which end is up at all, and it features TONS of magical shapes and symbols layered and mirrored together that feature the tarot suits and thus the elements. As I went through the deck I noticed that a lot of the cards feature more than just the associated element, but others as well! This is great because it shows the elements all interacting with each other.
A further layer of elemental magic comes in when you find out these square cards can, and in fact are meant to, be read from all four directions. You can see the card pointing in that direction as further clues about the topic in question! So if your card is facing west or water you can surmise this is a situation that has more to do with emotions. Or, much like reading reversals in standard decks, each direction can mean you have to see this card or situation from a slightly different angle. Though the definitions for the cards in each direction are not in the small guidebook, they are on the Dark Days Tarot website and some cards even feature further insight by the artist.
Speaking of the guidebook, this tiny little book packs in so much meaning. Most of us have cards we never really connected with – maybe we never even figured out what they truly mean – and the prose in the guidebook co-written by Emily Mundy is so beautiful and insightful. It totally brought me a further depth of understanding with some cards, like the emperor! Like many of the cards associated with masculinity or masculine characters, I often failed to connect with it and see what it could mean. (Dad? Some dude I hate? My own tendency toward stubbornness?) Last night during the full moon a member of the Witch n’ Bitch mentioned that the card had been stalking her a bit, and that she also struggled to connect.
So I drew the card from this deck and we looked at what the book says about it and looked at the imagery. The picture on this card has a totally different vibe than many emperor cards I’ve seen without missing the main elements! The elements! The threads! His simple yet stately appearance! The birds and clouds and rainbow! I got less of an over-bearing dad vibe and more of a strong and stable ruler vibe. Plus he looks like a lil wizard and I’m about that. Even just reading the suggested meanings for this card in each direction shed light other decks hadn’t really before.
“upright: authority; power; professionalism
right: forward movement; stimulating dialogue and ideas
left: lack of creative power or inspiration
reversed: mess of motives; poor self-management”
Not only did it clear up her questions, but it gave me a new way of reading the emperor that’s much more relatable.
If I had any complaints at all about the deck, it’s that the elements associated with the suits of swords and wands are flipped from the meaning I use – but I also didn’t even notice at first. The wands felt right. The swords felt right. Only later did I notice. This is a weird pet-peeve of mine* that usually makes me act like a sucky baby, but these cards feature multiple element and directions on them right? I genuinely do see whatever it is I need to see in that card, inspired by the artwork, rather than obsessing over artistic choices lol.
*(Though I want to mention there is nothing wrong with this. Though more decks associate swords with air and wands with fire, the reasons why are just as valid as the reasons for the other way. At this point it’s all personal style. Actually, I think this is just yet another layer on the connection with, and connections between, the element that is so present in this deck.)
I definitely do not consider that a negative point, however. Just something I (eventually) noticed.
Finally – the moon. The entire deck is both dedicated to, and inspired by, the moon herself. The moon and her various phases are omnipresent throughout the deck. The moon appears on every card, front and back. The black and white tones evoke that spooky magical light of the moon, and you’re always aware that she’s watching over you and the characters in the card. The edges of the card are a shiny metallic silver, again connecting us to that lunar energy. The entire deck really radiates that intense stillness of sitting under the moon in any phase with the majors all brilliant white and the minors, and the minors a deep black. As someone obsessed with COLOURS I was worried the black and white imagery wouldn’t do it for me, but again I’d honestly say after a while I didn’t notice? Moonlight doesn’t technically have a colour either, but it’s also not devoid of any colour. Does that make sense?
I would definitely recommend this deck to absolutely anyone. It is a very inclusive deck that features people of all different colours and sizes and gender presentations and physical abilities engaging with the world and magic. One card features a character with prosthetic legs, for example!) Many of the cards also speak directly to exploring gender and sexuality in a safe and inclusive space, and queer relationships. The cards are gorgeous, shuffle really nice and smooth, and fit in your wand really well, once you get used to the fact that they’re square haha.
As we leave the full moon behind and head into the dark lunar days ahead, the Dark Days Tarot offers loving guidance and insight for all witches under the moon.
Learn more about the team behind the Dark Days Tarot here.