Over recent years, I have developed a greater appreciation for Doreen Virtue and her work. While her oracles have not always been my first choice for readings, I genuinely enjoy some of her decks and have found that there is a place within my practice for them. This has had a lot to do with my clients – some prefer the no-nonsense practicalities of my standard tarot readings, but in a time of grief or confusion, others who come to see me are looking for a message of reassurance or comfort. I have found that the warmth within some of Doreen and Radleigh’s decks can get the message across sensitively when someone is just not strong enough for a ‘good talking to’ from the tarot.
I’d not expected this deck to be out just yet, so was surprised to see it sitting on the shelf in an out-of-town bookstore. Having seen a few samples online and still enjoying my Angel Tarot (Doreen and Radleigh’s first tarot deck – Fairy Tarot Cards is their fourth), I added it to the pile which was slowly growing in my hands.
One of the things you will notice about Fairy Tarot Cards is that it follows Angel Tarot closely in terms of style and presentation. The cover design is pretty much identical and the cards inside are laid out in exactly the same way. Each card has a title and the interpretation is seated just beneath the image. The Majors and suits are all colour co-ordinated, using the same coding as Angel Tarot. However, there is one notable difference; the Minor Arcana have been renamed. Similar to the Victorian Fairy Tarot (Llewellyn), they have been changed to seasons. Wands are Spring, Cups are Summer, Pentacles are Autumn, and Swords are Winter.
I believe that Angel Tarot has been Doreen’s most well-received tarot to date, which could account for why this one has the feel of a ‘sister deck’. In many ways, this will be it’s selling point and asset, but it will also encourage readers and reviewers to notice its differences more readily when comparing the two. Unfortunately, I have already seen two reviewers mention problems with quality. Like one of these, the cutting of my copy of Fairy Tarot Cards is slightly out, showing a slither of colour from a different card at the top where they have not been cut accurately. This is a shame, since one of the bonuses of buying a set of cards from Hay House is their usual outstanding presentation and quality. Their boxes are my favourite of all publishers – attractive, sturdy, and easy to store.
Unlike a lot of card readers, I do have time for Doreen Virtue. For this reason, I will concentrate on my issues with this deck to begin with, before I share the cards I really do enjoy.
Anyone who has read my reviews of either Angel Tarot or Archangel Power Tarot will know that I am very sensitive to a deck’s artwork. In this set, the artwork is by the artist Howard David Johnson. In his bio it says that he has created a variety of works, ranging from oil on canvas to digital media. Many of the oil paintings in this set are simply breathtaking, but unfortunately, I feel that they do not sit next to his digital pieces comfortably. Before I read Johnson’s biography, I presumed that this deck was made up by two contributing artists. There are some cards which clearly show photographs and others which are illustrations (see the Ace of Autumn and 3 of Autumn below), making the artwork inconsistent. This is not a major problem but I do have a preference to the paintings, since together, it can make the digital and photographic work appear crude.
I was once again disappointed by another display of cut-and-paste in a deck. Both the King of Summer and King of Autumn have the exact same face, horizontally switched and awkwardly slipped in to an awaiting figure. As I have mentioned previously, this kind of thing can appear rushed, so I was sad to see it happen in another of Doreen’s tarots.
Many people receiving this deck will very likely be less picky than I am and as a whole, these elements will not faze most readers. While there is a difference between the art styles, when laid out on the table, this will not affect readings for the majority of people who purchase it. In fact, it is an attractive set with many enchanting images.
Set around Glastonbury and Scotland, Fairy Tarot Cards focuses on what are described as ‘nature angels’. The book is very much set out as most Hay House accompanying books are, with a short introduction, two standard spreads, and card interpretations. The interpretations have been adapted to include fairies, but like usual, are well written and thought-provoking. On the whole, they support the Rider Waite system, while shining light on the darker aspects of life and suggesting ways in which the seeker can move forward with a more positive outlook. As an example, in the 5 of Summer (5 of Cups), it says “There’s much serene beauty in life. However, that tranquility may be overlooked when you’re fixated on things that make you unhappy … Envisage the present and future that you want to manifest, and forget about the past. If you need to mourn a loss, don’t hesitate to reach out to those around you who love you and can help you recover in a healthy way”.
On the whole, there are some very beautiful cards in this deck, which will delight fairy and Virtue/Valentine fans alike. Noticeably, the seductive Moon, traditional 6 of Winter (6 of Swords) and delightful 2 of Summer (2 of Cups). I do like the change from traditional suits to seasons, especially if you wish to incorporate timing into a reading, though some readers will possibly have different seasonal associations to those chosen here. Each suit lives within its season, which is a nice touch.
While this deck has it’s own flavour, it feels like more of an accompaniment to Angel Tarot than a step into a new creative territory. Angel Tarot included the Archangels, which enriched and deepened the traditional tarot images, but the fairies do not have that same overwhelming influence here.
So, what are my concluding thoughts?
Many people will love this deck, since it brings together some stunning imagery and a workable pack, right out of the box. Personally though, its great points only succeed in highlighting those aspects I am less fond of. The inconsistencies in art style will not bother most people, but will most likely only remind me of the deck I wish it could have been.
Illustrations from Fairy Tarot Cards by Howard David Johnson