Why read with a dark Tarot deckA dark deck is a Tarot deck that has dark, gothic, or macabre depictions of the cards. It still follows the traditional imagery of the Raider-Waite Tarot, only its cards don’t look happy and upbeat. They look depressed, scary, or gothic-like.


It unlocks the deeper layers of our intuition. The dark deck is just like any other Tarot deck, only it dares us to go farther than where we usually go. Like the skin of an onion, we need to peel off the positive and upbeat messages that start coming off the card. It’s automatic we want to stay as close to our comfort zone as possible. That means, “No crazy depressing stuff, please.” We don’t want to see the bad news. And that’s good! It’s excellent actually. We are lightworkers and our primary mission is to spread goodness throughout the world. However, have you been feeling like you want to expand your reading abilities and dig deeper? Or have you been thinking something in terms, “What if there is something more I can find in the cards?” Maybe you have wanted to do something different in your Tarot practice; something exciting, exhilarating. Reading with dark decks doesn’t have to grow into a long term relationship. It can be just a one-night stand or a short-term affair. It’s worth trying out.


Look closer at the imagery and listen to your inner self. Open your mind to the possibility that you can, indeed, read about something less positive than usual. Allow yourself to see that creepy man in the Ten of Pentacles. He could be a stalker or saboteur. He could represent the “stalker in you.” You have been watching your colleague, for example, and secretly seething because she’s been making the right moves and your boss is starting to prefer her suggestions. You may be feeling jealous and want to use every opportunity to sabotage her success. Like the creepy man in the picture, you are bidding your time until that moment when you can take your shot and wreck your competition. You greatest obstacle in life could be the fact that you always look at the others and compare yourself to them. As a result, you always feel like you are never good enough.

Or there is a man who wants the other person to notice him. You pull the King of Cups. Your positive self would automatically start thinking how the individual represented by the King has a calming and upbeat personality and how there’s no room for drama. That’s all fine, but don’t just end there. Dare to go deeper. Don’t be afraid to turn around a dark corner to see what’s hiding there. If we take a look at the King of cups from one of my dark decks, we see the creepy Count Dracula staring at his next victim. Could it be Mina? It could, but we don’t know for sure. What if this King of Cups has a twisted idea of what love is? What if he is a vampire ready to feed off of his next lover-victim? A relationship may be so intense that one partner is literally sucking the life out of the other. One partner could have very dark thoughts about how his relationship should be: not as partnership, but him being the “maker of the rules” all the time. There may be a danger of strong unhealthy dependency in the relationship. One of the partners could be emotionally abusive or there is a risk of him changing 180 degrees (from a sweet person to an abusive monster) right after they start dating (or get married). The love and infatuation are all-encompassing and intense so much that the King of Cups doesn’t see anything and anyone else. He is rules by his emotions completely. In the worst case scenario, the dark King of cups could be a sociopath, caring about nothing but himself and he uses his partner only to support his own agenda.

When we look at the Three of Swords, the card has somewhat negative meaning in a regular deck, but in the dark deck, the meaning could be so much more negative. In a dark reading, it could mean that the person in question is feeling so depressed he or she is thinking of suicide. Or this person has twisted and scary thinking and likes to kills animals. Could this person be a psychopath? Or is this person going through some dark emotional turmoil, all he or she can think about it death? Is this person trying to harm himself in order to feel better? Is his heart so broken, it will never mend completely? One’s thoughts could be going around and around trying to get away from the painful subject, but with no success. Eventually, the thoughts always come back to the source of the mental and emotional pain. Perhaps, medication is needed to help fix the mental problem. Perhaps we are dealing with chronic feelings of sadness and doom.


Let’s overcome our reluctance to read about something negative. We all have a dark side. Even if we don’t let these kinds of thoughts and emotions out, they can’t be denied. They do influence us. Reading with the dark deck, unlocks the hidden, scary, and maybe even embarrassing part of us. Reversed Tarot cards of a traditional deck provide us with negative interpretations to some extent, but the traditional imagery doesn’t support the dark and scary angle very much. Only the dark deck can do that without inhibitions. We get a proverbial permission to dwell on the negative by looking at the imagery of the cards and by the fact that we know we are using the dark deck. We can draw strength from it – we overcome our fear of the unknown and that it gives us courage and strength in return. Moreover, there is no need to read with reversals in dark decks. The cards in the upright position give us all we need.

I find reading with dark decks a very enlightening experience. I have been able to open my mind to the possibilities of darker interpretations and deepen my knowledge of Tarot. I have become a stronger reader. I am not afraid to see something deeply disturbing or negative in the cards. I understand, now, that there is nothing wrong with reading these kinds of cards and if I write my interpretations down in a non-offensive way to a client, he or she will benefit from the insight. For example, I did a reading about a man and I pulled the Page of Swords for him. I allowed myself to see everything coming to me from the card. I could clearly feel and see that he had deep mental problems. The Page of Swords gave me a lot of information: I described all the symptoms along with the accompanying destructive behavior the man in question had been expressing. I concluded he suffered from schizophrenia. He was completely under control of his mental illness. He was not using any medication. My interpretation was later confirmed to the letter.


One of the great places to do “dark readings” is a “DDT” reading exchange on Aeclectic.net. – The largest source of information and place to practice reading Tarot in the world.


There are many dark decks available. My favorite ones are Bohemian Gothic Tarot and The Gothic Tarot. There are many other great decks you can choose from like Dark Angels Tarot, The Dark Grimoire Tarot, Necronomicon TarotAlchemical Wedding Tarot, and the very popular The Steampunk Tarot.


How do you feel about dark Tarot decks? Do you own one? If so, which one is it? Why do you like your dark deck? Do you read with it often? Does this deck help you unlock deeper parts of your intuition? Share your thoughts and experience with me.

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