Tarot Cards

Dark Tarot Cards: the key to your shadow self

dark wood tarot deck set

We all want to present our highest selves to the world– putting our best foot forward and hiding the darkness. However, for the light to shine, it’s essential to take a quest into the darkness. In doing so, we illuminate the hidden places and connect with the shadow self. Only when we do the shadow work can we discover our genuine selves. By looking at our secret desires and shadowy dreams, we can work with ourselves to unlock our potential and power. This is what dark tarot cards can do for you.

The Dark Wood Tarot is an incredible tool to use as you journey into the darkness, meeting with your shadow self and doing the work that will enable you to live out your highest good. In this blog post, we’ll look at the history of tarot cards, meet the author of Dark Wood Tarot, and discover how to make the most out of this deck. 

The history of tarot cards

So many of us use tarot cards in our witchy practice. Have you ever taken the time to understand the history of tarot cards and how they’ve changed over the centuries? 

Today, we use tarot cards primarily for fortune-telling, divination, and mystical purposes. However, that’s not how people used these cards in the 14th and 15th centuries. Back then, Italian aristocrats played a game called tarocci, which had similarities to the modern game of bridge. The wealthy Italians played with gorgeous, hand-painted cards, and eventually, the game spread across the continent. The French renamed the game tarot, giving us the name we use today. 

Jean-Baptiste Alliette and the first tarot deck for divination

So how did tarot cards go from an aristocrat’s game to being associated with the occult? We can thank a man named Jean-Baptiste Alliette for that. He published the first definitive guide to tarot card reading under the pseudonym Etteilla (Alliette spelled backward). In the late 1700s, he assigned meaning to each card, claiming to draw inspiration from the ancient Egyptian text Book of Thoth, supposedly written by Thoth, the Egyptian god of writing, magic, wisdom, and the moon. Alongside his guide, Alliette also released a deck designed for esoteric purposes and became the first professional tarot card reader. 

For a lighter read, check out or article on Disney tarot here.

How to read tarot

Now that we know how modern tarot cards came to be, let’s learn how to read tarot cards. Most decks consist of 78 cards, split into two groups. These two groups are called the minor and major arcana. The 56 minor arcana are divided into swords, pentacles, wands, and cups. Each of the four suits contains 14 cards. The 22 major arcana, also known as trumps, illustrate symbolic elements. In a tarot reading, minor arcana sheds light on everyday situations while major arcana clarify major life lessons or events. 

We wrote a great guide on what are tarot cards. Click here to read.

Rider-Waite-Smith deck

The deck didn’t stop evolving with Alliette. When the Rider Company published a tarot deck illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith based on the teachings of academic and mystic A. E. Waite in 1909, the world of tarot evolved once more. The Rider-Waite-Smith deck focused on simple, yet symbolism-rich images. It also leaned into astrological associations and modified the Christian imagery of earlier decks. Today’s featured deck, the Dark Wood Tarot, is a Rider-Waite-Smith deck.

Meet Dark Wood Tarot author, Sasha Graham

According to Sasha Graham’s Instagram, @sashatarotdiva, she’s a “metaphysical author, tarot deck creator, international teacher, and storyteller.” Sasha is a contributing author for Llewellyn’s Magical Almanac, and her resume includes a weekly tarot column for Marie Claire. Her work has been translated into eight languages and is enjoyed by witches worldwide.  

Sasha encourages everyone to look at the things they hide from themselves to evolve into the person they hope to become. She believes shadow work is the key to changing your life and speaks to enrapt audiences around the globe on the topic of the shadow self. 

For the Dark Wood Tarot, she teamed up with Abigail Larson (who you may remember from her art in Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Tarot Deck). Abigail’s website says she’s most inspired by “fairy tales, folklore and ghost stories,” making her the perfect artist for this deck that delves into the shadow self. 

Intention and symbolism

Dark Wood Tarot is a Rider-Waite-Smith deck that attaches specific imagery to the usual suits. When you pull cards, you’ll explore legends (wands), fears (swords), animals (cups), and the natural world (pentacles). The deck holds big fairytale energy with a dose of delectable darkness. All witches who want to use their shadow side for their highest good should own this deck. The dark tarot cards will enhance all your inner gifts.

How to use the Cards 

To discover your hidden talents and personal power, you must first journey through darkness and delve into your shadow side. It’s only in the darkness that you can find your light. Through card pulls, you will learn to “examine your secret desires, your shadowy dreams, and the unknown recesses of your psyche.” The purpose of delving into your shadow side is to shine a light on hidden places. Are you ready to coax your shadow into the light, discover your purpose, and use it all for the highest good?

While the Dark Wood Tarot comes with a guidebook that makes each card easy to understand, this deck may not be an ideal first-timer’s tarot deck. Tarot enthusiasts will get the most out of this deck, forging ahead into uncharted darkness with the ultimate goal of finding their inner light.  

What is Dark Wood Tarot, and where can I buy it?

The Dark Wood Tarot is a beautiful tarot deck written by famed storyteller and teacher Sasha Graham. If you’re looking for the key to your shadow self, this is it. The fairytale-esque imagery encourages you to peer into the depths of your psyche. Bring your shadow self into the light, creating balance and working for your higher good. 

The 78-card deck comes with a 240-page guidebook to direct you on your journey, and it all comes in a gorgeous storage box to display your deck while protecting the cards. Ready to start your shadow work? Buy your deck from Pure Journi, a California-based online shop that’s a trusted source for your mystical, tarot, and oracle card needs. 

If you are a Disney fan, you will want to check out our articles on the best-loved Disney Tarot Deck. Click here to read.