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The Fairy Tarot

See pictures of this deck.

This offering from Lo Scarabeo has been around for a little while now, and features the distinctive artwork of Antonio Lupatelli, designer of the Tarot of the Gnomes. I must admit I think he is probably better at drawing my idea of gnomes than he is fairies.

However this is a charming, and often funny deck. The Sylph, which replaces Art or Temperance in this deck, is an outstandingly beautiful piece of artwork depicting a diaphanous winged fairy pouring sparkling rainbows of light from a pair of pitchers as she floats above the forest bed.

Several of the Majors have been changed to reflect the fairy theme. The Fool becomes the Elf, Justice becomes The Dryad (lovely card that one), Fortune becomes the Oread (spirit of good luck), the Devil converts to The Troll, the Star is the Naiad – a night spirit whose appearance clears cloud from the sky, and finally the World/Universe becomes the Globe.

The detail in these cards is quite outstanding, though the design of the pip cards means that the actual artwork is confined to the bottom half of the card, with the symbols for the suits in the upper section.

All the names of the suits have been changed, in my opinion, somewhat arbitrarily, which is liable to cause confusion to those new to the cards. Pentacles become Bells, Cups become Hearts, Wands are Acorns, and Swords Leaves. The images on the pip cards, whilst delightfully drawn, are also not particularly geared toward evoking traditional interpretation.

For example the explanation of the 10 of Bells refers only loosely to the more regular meanings associated with the 10 of Pentacles. It says “Fairies who receive some properties by inheritance generally present the poorer with part of it. This card foreshadows an inheritance and reminds to divide it with the other”. Since I know what the 10 of Disks traditionally means, I can see this as a reflection of one aspect of the card….however were I a beginner I think I might have some problems with that as my only guide, when looking at the image which shows an older fairies tending to a younger one.

Courts follow the traditional Knave/Knight/Queen/King pattern.

All the usual criticisms must be applied to the booklet accompanying the cards – covering five languages leaves little room for extended explanations. Yet all this said I did notice that the relationship between the divination meanings and the world of fairies did in fact pull out some unusual aspects of interpretation in places.

I liked the deck. It’s charming, a little whimsical and often unexpectedly insightful. I doubt I would read from it, and I definitely would not recommend it for a beginner. This one is more of a collector’s deck, and for those who love the fairy artwork.

Review by Jan

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