Deck Name: Darkness of Light 3rd Ed.
Creator(s): Toni DiMauro
Publisher & Year: Wavelength Laboratory, LLC; 2019
Availability: The 3rd edition is sold out, but all news can be found at the creators website. https://darknesstarot.com

“The Tarot is a storybook about life, about the greatness of human accomplishment, and also the ugliness we are each capable of.” ~ Benebell Wen

When reading the cards, I always try to find the story inherent within the spread. Its core theme, its major concepts, its key players, all of it. And then I try to weave it all together in a package that my client can easily digest and appreciate for what it is. Sometimes those stories aren’t the prettiest, and sometimes they can be downright ugly. From stories of trauma, abuse, struggles, and even death, I still must deliver an honest and concise message for the person sitting across from me in a way that isn’t too hard for them to hear nor downplaying or disrespecting what they’ve been through and who they are. And that’s not even talking about reading for myself!

Whatever table I’m reading at is always a sacred place where there is no judgment, where the person receiving the reading can feel safe no matter what. So how do I respect those boundaries while still honoring the shadowy side of life? The darkness that is intrinsically a part of everyone and everything? I’ve found that part of the balance is using the right deck for the right reading. The message can be pretty much the same no matter the deck you use, but the subtle nuances can be harder to grasp for either party if the deck being used doesn’t necessarily have the appropriate voice or tone for the story being told.  

When I first opened the box containing Toni DiMauro’s Darkness of Light 3rd Ed, chills went down my spine. I kid you not, actual chills went down my spine, in August, in St. Louis. As I went through the deck card by card, I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cry. I didn’t understand why this deck was hitting me so hard. Why was this particular deck causing very real emotions to play out across my face and body? Beside the fact that the artwork is phenomenal, tying in seasons with the suits and showing actual thought and research into the creation of each card; Beside an eerie resemblance to some of my favorite artists from the pre-Raphaelite period; Beside the delicate balance of light and dark viscerally presented in all its glory, why was this deck affecting me in such a way?

When I did the mini review for the Instagram page, I just went off what I know of the cards and what they said to me as they were presented, and boy can they talk. I remember messaging the team with a picture of the Six of Cups and talking about how I was in tears just from looking at it. I’ve seen hundreds of variations of the six of cups, I’ve read and heard thousands of interpretations, but this particular imagery pulled hard at my heart strings and kept me thinking about how one must learn to accept and heal the inner child. I remember seeing the King of Cups for the first time and being shockingly reminded of three very distinct people in my life and experiencing a deep swelling of empathy for the starving artist archetype. I could almost feel his longing for a better world, and his need for absolute solitude at times. The Ten of Wands had my back hurting just looking at it. With the beauty of all that he’s carrying individually, it’s no wonder why he said yes to everything in his bundle. But all together? Now, there’s no look of joy on his face. And the Four of blades? At the risk of letting my midwestern slip, all I can say is OOF… What says we NEED to rest, to say no, to take the necessary time for ourselves, more than a cold and lonesome tombstone?

  On the flip side, when I saw the Three of Cups, I wanted to get up and dance with those ladies. The joy, the connection, the sacred ecstasy of shared revelry is so palpable, one can almost hear the distant laughter and singing coming from their stolen moment of togetherness. The Seven of Cups hit me with a wistful, dreamy vibe, making me wish for my very own Castle on a Cloud.Then came the Queen of Coins. Evocative of Greco-Roman Earth Goddesses, this Lady asked me if I was hungry and if I needed some extra cash for the bus ride home. (No, the picture didn’t actually talk to me, but if it could I know in the marrow of my bones this is what she would say.) This card exudes Earth Momma energy, making you want to sit a while and hear her stories and lessons. I swear I could almost smell the smoke of a bonfire when I saw this card.

  The Wheel of Fortune sits outside the realms of Darkness or Light for me. The image takes you to that hazy in between space where nothing and everything happens all at once. When this card came up, all I could do was stare, wide eyed and breath bated, waiting to hear the Voice that would determine what path I should take. Like a supplicate petitioning the Gods of old, I wanted to know what my fate was to be. And then the Hanged Man showed up. Like some well-built yoga instructor you initially want to write off or dislike, but find yourself warming up to and even *gasp* learning to like, he made me pause. What is he doing? Why is he doing it? How is he doing it? I found myself with questions, more than I usually have, for him, wanting to learn how to have such grace and poise in such extremities.

  Now I could go on for ages about the art work, it’s beauty, it’s layers, it’s awesomeness, but it should suffice to say that it’ll draw you in and make you want to stare for hours at each card until you’re pulling a Rossie Daniels just to explore the vibrant new world DiMauro has created in this deck series. Please keep in mind though, as amazing as the artwork is, I do have one complaint. The lack of diversity in the people depicted. All of the people in the imagery are white, able/cis/het normative. Does it take away from the imagery and story being told in this deck? No. Would it be a deck I read almost anyone with? For the most part, yes. Would I like to see more diversity in a deck? Without a doubt, yes.

  All in all, this deck is an absolute pleasure for me, and for several of my clients as well. The art is breathtaking, the size just right to fit in my hands and shuffle (as one friend commented “Smoother than the silkiest butter”), and the stories it tells keeps me wanting to go back time and time again to listen and hear more. Even the uglies are there, their voices whispering to you, sharing that not everything is going to be summer days, panda bears, and coffee shop kisses, but that everything is going to be real. And sometimes, real is better. I definitely would recommend getting your copy, and a copy of the accompanying book The Darkness of Light Tarot Guidebook by Tony and Mark DiMauro, today.