This deck, based on the New Forest in the UK, is a charmingly drawn and evocative deck, portraying nature, animals, the faerie folk and a very wide variety of human studies. The designer, Kessia Beverley-Smith notes in the booklet that accompanies the deck, that she based many of the figures on members of her family and her circle of friends, doing her best to match the subjects to the card she wanted to portray them in. For me this works nowhere better than with the Strength card, where a garlanded old woman opens a lion’s jaws with what seems to be an almost reverential expression on her face. The gentleness and harmony evoked by this image are quite difficult to explain. The Majors follow traditional lines, but often offer thought-provoking insights into the traditional cards. I particularly liked the Judgement card.
The Minors deviate somewhat from tradition – Courts follow the format King, Queen, Knight, Lady, and each suit has a given type of forest folk associated with it, and incorporated into the imagery. Wands associate to fairies “who love to get into mischief when they lack mental or physical stimulation” – I rather liked that additional input into the interpretation of the suit – it reflects the occasionally rash expenditure of energy often associated with younger Wands. I really loved the knight in this suit, depicting a young male fairy setting off on a journey, his steed a fine looking hen. The 10 was particularly evocative too.
Sprites are associated with Cups, because of their elegance and fluidity. The 9 is wonderful – a really expressive, replete card, where an older sprite cups a basketful of fruit with a contented expression. The 5 is a misty evocative card too.
Each of the Swords suit has an image of an imp somewhere incorporated into the imagery “as they delight in havoc and misfortune”. One thing the artist does not say, but clearly portrays with the Maid of Swords, is that imps can be a very handy force when brought under your control. This same impression comes from the 2 of the suit as well.
The biggest deviation from regular tarot decks comes with what would usually be Pentacles…here they are called Rings, and are associated with dwarves. The artist points to the legendary dwarven penchant for crafting and hard work. I loved the Queen in this suit, and the 5 made me smile.
I enjoy the imagery a good deal, and I think a beginner –could- happily use this deck. However anyone will get a lot more out of it by studying the accompanying instruction book in order to gain insight into the reasoning of the artist when selecting the images she chose. She often shows herself perceptive and attuned both to the forest theme and to tarot itself.