It is a garden of possibility in a box, lit by lunar magic.
I’m so excited to be sharing this guest post from Wren McMurdo, the artist behind the gorgeous forthcoming tarot deck, the Dark Days Tarot, currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter. Intrigued by the many moons imagery in the deck, it’s characters and symbols, I contacted Wren to ask more about the Dark Days Tarot’s lunar influences and the meaning of ‘dark days’. Below, she shares some of her favourite card images and the ideas behind her deck.
The Dark Days Tarot: Travelling in the dark
I am deeply inspired by the lunar cycle, particularly the darkest waning and waxing days, where the sky is dark and energy is low. It is during these days that we are thrust inside of ourselves, to be still, listening, and knowing intuitively.
I created the Dark Days Tarot deck as a devotional exercise to the moon, my favorite femme.
She is dreams, weight, sex and wild abandon. She is the all-seeing princess of the starry night sky, the silkiest orb of my universe. She is heavy and full no matter how you spin her. This deck reflects her, as she has always reflected us. Did I mention I am absolutely and completely in love with her? Her many faces soothe me like lavender, rock me like a baby, and light my intuitive fire.
The characters in the deck, my muses, voluptuous and speaking, appeared before me, somewhat to my surprise each time I sat down to illustrate. Each figure is a spirit guide that leapt from the moon to my heart to the card. As a queer-identified woman in the Pacific Northwest, I’m no stranger to deep moonlit nights, tall, dark trees, lush landscapes of flora, and of course, badass witchy types and the sacred feminine. I’m particularly inspired these and by my partner, Schquay. Her magnificent spirit and shape/form are the stars that fill my veins and send me cascading like phosphorescence in the Puget Sound. I didn’t realize she was a consistent figure in the cards until someone pointed it out to me as a compliment about them when I was about halfway through the deck.
Tarot is one of my tools. It’s a celebration of life as a game, no matter the circumstances. It’s my map out of anxiety and depression. This project was my path to realization of this. In times of particular distress or nervousness I pulled, studied and illustrating tarot cards in rhythm with the four quarter phases of the moon. I let the combination of lunar pull and tarot story manifest from my pen/wand until the world made sense to me again.
Study, draw, rest, repeat. Of course, it was a cyclical practice.
We all operate in congruence with cycles, rhythms and universal pulses. As a teenager and throughout my twenties, my menstrual cycle, a connection with the moon as strong as the tides, would cease for long stretches of time. In its absence, I felt incomplete and longed for its return. When it finally would, it felt as though I became part of the beating heart of the universe again. Though I do not mean to say that all folks need a menstrual cycle, I got that I and others need cycles of cultivation and release to keep our hearts beating in rhythm with our world.
I discovered that cyclical practices require maintenance. That sacred feminine energies and witchy warriors need protection.
The Dark Days Tarot Deck is my offering in this regard. It is a garden of possibility in a box, lit by lunar magic. The cards can be read any way the reader desires, and will find lunar influences inherent in their experience. Tarot readers will be romanced by the added mechanics and possibilities of this deck, which give the reader more room to be creative and develop their practice. Upright cards, for example, may point to full moon manifestation, right may be last quarter, left first quarter, and reversed may suggest new moon vibes. These interpretations can be applied predictively or figuratively. A spread at the new moon may lay out the coming lunar cycle in themes and archetypes.
Some of my experiences as I explored and illustrated this deck: The Queen of Pentacles at the new moon revealed the possibility of a practice of smarter financial cultivation for the purpose of family building with my new wife. The Hanged Man at the last quarter moon suggested I practice personal physical restraint, faith, and connect with my spirit guides and take a bit of rest for health. The Ten of Cups at the full moon was a cause for celebration with my community in the light of her most reflective, fullest light.
A Kickstarter fundraising drive has been launched to produce this deck, and backers contributing $40 plus shipping will receive decks as rewards. Included guidebooks by poet and reader Emily Mundy and fancy long-lasting pull-away boxes will ensure ease of readability and minimal wear and tear. Readers are encouraged to back these efforts, and get a deck – or two! Printable e-cards will be sent in lieu of coming decks for those gifting them this holiday season.
Inspired to create her way out of complacency surrounding a wary political climate, Wren McMurdo published the Dark Days Tarot deck in late 2016. This deck is inspired by the dark side of the lunar cycle, when gravity and tide unearth deeper truths. Wren has studied art and the metaphysical world for as long as she can remember.
She’s also a feminist queer and lives with her wife in Seattle, Washington. Her Dark Days Tarot Deck and the Dark Days New Moon column can be found at Little Red Tarot, and more information can be found at darkdaystarot.com.