The Dark Days Tarot slipped almost unnoticed into my Twitter feed a few weeks back. At first, I paid it little attention, because when you make it your business to try and know about every new tarot deck that comes out, off, that fatigue can be very real. But. This was one of those magical decks that drew me back for another peek, over and over, until I was well and truly under its spell.
It’s overarching theme is the moon, its cycles and phases, it’s push and pull. These cards follow the up and down energy of the moon, growing bolder as it waxes, retreating introspectively as it wanes, and I love how you can feel this tidal effect as you move through the cards. Black and white, with small, square cards, the Dark Days Tarot is quiet, subtle, rather humble. It doesn’t force itself upon you like some decks do, or tell you what to make of it. Instead, it presents a set of mystical yet somehow familiar-feeling scenes, blurring the lines between everyday life and fantasy and creating a world I’d really love to visit.
Of course, I’m saying all of this without having yet physically encountered the Dark Days Tarot — it’s currently fundraising on Kickstarter (and it’s so close to its goal, if you like it, go push it to the top!) In anticipation of the real thing, I got in touch with Wren to chat about about the lunar influences behind this deck, and how she feels it reflects her queerness.
A quick note: at the start of this interview Wren speaks candidly about the relationship between her own menstrual cycle and the moon, and the impact this relationship has had on her understanding of cycles in life, and the creation of this deck. Personally, having spent some time gazing at these images, and as a person who has some pretty strong feelings about the association of menstruation, lunar cycles and ‘witchy/womanliness’, I don’t feel that having periods is in any way a prerequisite for enjoying or working with this deck.
Hi Wren! The Dark Days Tarot is just beautiful — I’m excited for its publication! Can you tell us a little about the ideas behind the deck, what has guided you in creating these images and interpretations?
Hi Beth! This deck was inspired, like a lot of things in my life, by premenstrual musings. In my late teens I was bludgeoned to discover that periods have historically followed the moon’s rhythm and that due to modern lifestyle, we no longer typically do. I was also completely stymied to learn that premenstrual “syndrome” is linked to the dark moon days of the lunar cycle, and can evoke the expression of our greatest desires, reflectively. When a person is upset or angry while premenstrual, it is cause to listen, because that is literally their body telling the world what that person truly needs in their life. This cycle exists in all beings. This deck is named Dark Days after lunar connection, and the inherent communication in darkness.
To me, the deck feels hella-queer. Maybe that’s the awesome haircuts and the way the characters in this deck seem to exude that kind of confidence that comes from being truly comfortable on the margins, or maybe it’s something else that you’ve imbued in these drawings. What do you think? Have you consciously conveyed your own queerness in these cards?
I have definitely consciously included some queer vibes while creating these cards. Being queer is a part of everything I do. I can’t help it. My fiancée, Schquay is my ultimate muse, and she is very androgynous. Her gorgeous features and style appear in a lot of my drawings. I’m surrounded by awesome queers in my daily life, so of course they appear as characters in my artwork. Who wouldn’t be inspired by a bunch of bad-asses who live their truth? I consider queerness to be a genre of love and enlightenment superpowers. The world desperately needs us to take that kind of responsibility.
Can you tell us a little more about the role of the moon in this deck?
The moon is my other muse and ruler. I love her many faces. I love being her daughter, her sister, her boyfriend, her girlfriend, her theyfriend, her lover, her handmaiden, her houseboy — you name it and I’ve dreamed such things. I’m a Cancer, so I love to be alone with her. She is my maker. I’m a fool-in-love of an explorer charting my connection and devotion to the universe via her guidance. I pulled and illustrated one new card every quarter moon phase, to learn the cards and develop this deck, and also to be intentionally in harmony with her. I am in step with the moon via this practice of working with cards.
I love the square card shapes — their symmetry, strength and uniformity are deeply satisfying to me! I love that these cards can be read upright and reversed, but also in two other positions. Can you tell us a little about that?
I chose square because I wanted to the cards to have four directions. In my study as a solitary witch, I’ve found sets of four to be repeatedly relevant: the four directions, four moon phases, four seasons, etc. I wanted Dark Days Tarot to have this same kind of mechanism. As is explained in the guidebook that comes with the deck, a card facing right is “progressing” and facing left is “regressing.” The card’s clockwise motion mirrors progress of character. The cards can also be laid out in accordance with the seasons or lunar cycle. For example facing left is first quarter or spring, upright is the full moon or summer, right is last quarter or fall, and reversed is the new moon or winter. My intention is that this deck may open up a whole new level of intuition, and aid any reading to feel more fluid and moving, just as our fate may be.
How about your own personal journey with tarot?
My favorite deck is the Osho Zen Tarot deck. It was my first learning deck. Osho always leads the reader back to Zen, which is nice, because sometimes I need a safe space to go to when I read Tarot. Each card feels like a tiny universe that I could stare at forever. It helped me to see the creative potential in creating my own deck. I also love the Dark Grimoire Tarot — that deck is super spooky and the drawings are wild. My first deck was a miniature tarot deck in my Christmas stocking years back, given to me by my Pops. It’s the deck I pulled from to dictate the progression of the Dark Days deck.
My practice is pulling a daily card or a three card cut, usually before bed or when I’m doing my makeup. I like to keep my cards near mirrors, because they are my little psyche mirrors. I also love to do longer readings with family and friends. I’m interested in reading professionally.
Do you have a favourite card in this deck? If so, can you tell us about it?
The Lovers – VI card (below) stands out to me. I felt the most amazing sense of expression while illustrating this card. I imagined the sky opening up and seeing a writhing pair of bodies bursting with loving celestial explosion. No heads, just extensions of their bodies, muscled and emotional — hence the mermaid tails. A garden of flowers grows from their lovemaking. The stark white background against their night sky bodies is alluring and spellbinding. This card communicates a revelation in love.
What are your hopes and dreams for the Dark Days Tarot?
I see an opportunity for armor and enlightenment, and I imagine this deck in the proverbial tool belt of all of the superhero bad-ass babes, queers, and witches. Considering the current state of things, now is not the time to be complacent. Tarot can lay a path to success and warn of self-defeat in times of deep confusion. I also plan to donate a percentage of sales of this first printed edition to Black Lives Matter, Planned Parenthood, and/or the ACLU.
I also see this deck as an opportunity for connection. I love looking at the moon, the celeb in the sky we all crush on, knowing that a bunch of other people and animals and plants are gazing up at her, too. That we all sway with her pushing and pulling. My intention is that this deck may evoke a spirit of connectedness in all who explore its depths.