A Tarot of Faery
by Beth Wilder
Schiffer Books / April 2010
_About My Reviews_
TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)
I was going to begin by saying that I'm not that big a fan of "fairy" (or "faery" or "faerie") decks. But then, if you look at my Tarot deck shelves, you will see Faery Wicca Tarot (Stepanich, Yates / Llewellyn), The Fairy Tarot (Lupatelli / Lo Scarabeo), and Mystic Faerie Tarot (Ravenscroft / Llewellyn) -- not to mention the Dream Fairies oracle (Jeffrey, Luna / Lo Scarabeo) and Oracle of the Dragonfae (Cavendish / Blue Angel Gallery). Okay, fair(y) enough. The truth is, *some* fairy-themed decks do appeal to me. It depends on various factors.
It does not bother me that the images depart from the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) model. As I may have mentioned before, I like to combine my existing knowledge of those traditional symbols and images with personal touches and insights provided by the person who designed the deck. Yes, this is what many would call an "art deck," but for me, that doesn't automatically exclude it from my reading decks.
I like Wilder's approach to Tarot, which she describes in the Introduction: "The reader should always do what feels most comfortable." She does indicate that a card that falls from the deck during shuffling should receive special attention, as "that card wants to be heard." I think that is a matter of personal belief and reading style.
THE PUBLISHER'S PRODUCT SUMMARY
"Journey through the mystical land of Faery with this unique Tarot book and art card deck. Glowing images of ethereal creatures evoke the mystic nature of Faery, drawing readers into their twilight world of wonder. The accompanying book provides explanations for each card using Faery lore as the basis. Touching on aspects of nature and Faery tradition, readers will gain insight through the magical painting style of Beth Wilder."
Beth Wilder writes that she created this deck "as a way for fairies to communicate with other people" because that is what the fairies asked her to do. In her Introduction, Wilder apologizes to Tarot enthusiasts "who are used to cards appearing in certain ways with specific symbols and meanings attached to them." She explains that the cards in this deck were inspired by the fairies around her and therefore don't necessarily "reflect typical Tarot ideology."
Although the images are not tied strictly to the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition, many of them incorporate recognizable symbols, characters, and activities. For example, The Magician does not stand in his traditional "As Above, So Below" pose, but he does have the four suit symbols on the table before him. The Empress is not pregnant but the flowers surrounding her remind us of that card's association with fertility and regeneration.
The Hanged One (Trump 12) shows a woman hanging by her neck (instead of a man hanging by his ankles). An overturned stool lies under the woman's dangling feet, and she appears to be struggling with the rope around her neck. Yet Wilder tells us that "she is actually only testing the full extent of her own powers, fully confident that she will be able to free herself." Wilder also notes, "she has no fear of death, since it is merely another experience necessary for the growth of one's soul."
Major Arcana cards bear traditional titles and numbers, with Strength being Trump 8 and Justice being Trump 11.
The guidebook has the following sections:
- Tarot Spreads (includes three spreads)
- Major Arcana
- Minor Arcana
- About the Author/Artist
For each card, a black-and-white reproduction appears in the guidebook. Both upright and reversed meanings are provided. Majors get one and one-half pages of text each; Minors get one page of text each.
APPEARANCE, SIZE, QUALITY
Card faces have wide black borders, which are bound to put some people off. If you like to trim the borders, I think you can do this with Twilight Realm without destroying anything of value. You'll probably want to preserve a portion of the border at the bottom of the card on which the card title appears -- unless you like cards without titles, in which case, just slice away!
Card backs are reversible, decorated with a circle of white and purple violets in the center. A criss-cross lattice design forms a rectangular border.
The colors are dark, deep, moody, and mysterious. Each scene is set against a black background. I get a late autumn or winter feeling from the color scheme -- definitely a sense of shadows and secrets.
In accordance with the FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, I hereby disclose that this product was provided by the publisher for free. Other than the occasional review copy, I receive no monetary or in-kind compensation for my reviews. The substance of my reviews is not influenced by whether I do or do not receive a review copy.