The Victorian Fairy Tarot (Anglais) Cartes – 30 septembre 2013
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Decades ago, when I purchased my first tarot deck, I never thought that I would become a collector. I'm a devout Catholic, for one. As a creative writer and a teacher of anthropology, I am fascinated by tarot as an art form and as an expression of humanity's wrestling with the big questions. I love comparing how different decks treat the themes encapsulated in a given card. Tarot decks offer mini voyages into the human mind, perception, interpretation, communication, morality, soul, and heart.
As much as I love tarot decks as reflections of human depth, I am often less than taken by the aesthetic qualities of tarot art. It often isn't quite as good as the art in, say, illustrated children's books or in advertising. There is an overabundance of kitsch: willowy goddesses very unlike the real life Pagans one meets at neighborhood potlucks, and romance-novel, cover-model gods. Everyone tends to be a twenty-something, with few children or old people. A notable exception is the excellent Druidcraft Tarot which includes saggy breasts on grey-haired queens and large bellies on balding kings. All too often in tarot decks nature, for all the neo-Pagan stated embrace of it, is a vague blur of green, with again the Druidcraft Tarot a notable exception, depicting as it does recognizable plants.
The decks with really good artwork tend to take pre-existing art by celebrated artists and repurpose that art for a tarot deck. One example: the Lo Scarabeo Tarot of the Thousand and One Nights. That deck uses the exquisite Orientalist artwork of Leon Carre. These cards are eye-poppingly gorgeous, but Carre was not painting for Tarot, so sometimes the relationship between the card and its meaning is vague.
Kat Black has taken medieval and Renaissance art to make her collage decks, the Golden Tarot and the Touchstone Tarot. Both decks are among the most beautiful of tarot decks.
Okay, enough about other decks. Back to the Victorian Fairy Tarot.
This is the finest original art I've ever seen on a Tarot deck. It is every bit as good as the artwork you might see in an award-winning children's book. Lunaea Weatherstone, the deck's author, dedicates the book to "The spirits of Arthur Rackham and J. M. Barrie." J. M. Barrie was the Victorian children's author who wrote "Peter Pan." Arthur Rackham was a Victorian children's book illustrator. Victorian tarot author and illustrator Lunaea Weatherstone and Gary A Lippincott - your reach did not exceed your grasp. Your work is every bit as fine as that of your heroes.
I identify real species of birds on these cards, real plants, real dilemmas that the natural world presents. The seven of spring - the deck's analogue to the seven of wands - depicts a farmer trying to shield his grain from birds. This is an intelligent and apt illustration of the seven of wands' concept - struggling and succeeding in spite of significant odds. There's a very believable Norway rat stealing milk on the seven of winter - the seven of swords. Temperance depicts fennel, wormwood, and absinthe, all as recognizable as they would be in a field guide. For all of his realism, Lippincott conveys nature's magic, as well. This is the natural world as it looked to you through the enchanted eyes you had as a child.
The deck honors the "Victorian" component of its name, as well. The Emperor looks a bit like Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband, with his mustache, muttonchops, and butterfly wings. Okay, the butterfly wings are an added delight, and not historically accurate. The Hierophant is a Vicar, delivering a sermon to English country folk. The nine of spring is a Victorian eccentric occupying his cabinet of curios - skulls, pressed plants, botanical drawings, feathers. One thinks of Victorian explorers like Charles Darwin who traveled the world collecting artifacts.
The Major Arcana card 8, Strength, is meant to convey, strength, yes, but a certain kind of strength, the mastery of self that a woman who tames a lion exhibits. In the Victorian Fairy tarot, card 8 is a barefoot, grey-haired lady. She is surrounded by beautifully realistic honeybees, a wicker hive, and clover. She exhibits her strength by stroking one of her charges as if it were a pet. A beatific smile crinkles her aged face.
Lippincott's use of light is entrancing. The Hermit card is an old man reading in his oak tree house, lit with the golden glow of a lantern. A grey and white owl, perhaps a saw-whet owl, perches a bit back, out of the light, in the grey gloom. I am warmed by, and drawn into, this image.
But wait! There's more! The minor arcana cards are every bit as sublime as the majors. And even more. When I go through a new deck, I rapidly discern that some cards were just not worth the price of admission. I assess decks as fifty percent worth it, or sixty. This deck is one hundred percent worth it. Every card is lovely and intellectually provocative. Every interpretation is worth a pause, worth some thought.
Lippincott's use of color is masterful and authentic; this is the palette of the Victorian era. The deck never strays from its theme; it never strikes discordant notes that make you question what a given interpretation is doing in this deck.
Lunaea Weatherstone's texts combine a bit of fairy whimsy, a bit of Victorian history or culture, and a bit of sound common sense. Each major arcana card is preceded by a quote from a Victorian author. Every card is followed by a pithy "in a nutshell" summation. Wands are spring, cups are summer, pentacles are autumn, and swords are winter, and that scheme works beautifully.
With its borderless imagery, unique title font and extraordinary watercolor art by Gary A. Lippincott, there’s a lot to love about the Victorian Fairy Tarot (companion book by Lunaea Weatherstone).
Although they feature pointy ears and wings, the fairies in this deck display all-too human situations, tools, garb and backdrops, making this an accessible set of cards for all users.
Vic Fairy BonusSave for the Six of Winter depicting a fleeing family gliding downriver on a swan and the Nine of Winter showing a worried fairy sitting up in bed, the Victorian Fairy Tarot is (blessedly) without Rider-Waite-Smith iconography. Yet, the cards skillfully depict what the cards usually mean—with some additional thought-provoking touches (many highlighted by Weatherstone’s engaging commentary).
For example, stocked with fragrant perfumes, glittering jewels, fine fabrics, enticing elixirs and luscious fruits, The Goblin Market (The Devil) portrays the trap of materialism. Yet Weatherstone elaborates that not only are the Goblin’s wares mere temptations, but also illusive, damaging and addictive. Once bought, used or consumed, the gems turn into rough pebbles, the garments burn the skin and the fruits create more hunger. “You should have looked before you bought!” croons the Goblin.
Speaking of The Goblin Market serving as The Devil card, here are the other re-named cards in the Victorian Fairy Tarot:
• The Conjurer (The Magician)
• The Seeress (The High Priestess)
• The Vicar (The Hierophant)
• The Fairy Bride (The Lovers)
• Fortitude (Strength)
• The Wheel of Time (The Wheel of Fortune)
• The Magistrate (Justice)
• The Burning Oak (The Tower)
• The Stars (The Star)
• Awakening (Judgement)
• The Worlds (The World)
The Minor Arcana suits are divided according to the four seasons:
Wands – Spring Court
Cups – Summer Court
Pentacles – Autumn Court
Swords – Winter Court
I was pleased to see this particular demarcation since these are the personal seasonal associations I ascribe to the four suits. Even though the suits are assigned to a season, it doesn’t mean that the cards are set outdoors with obvious accoutrements (i.e. snow for winter, flower-filled fields for summer, etc.)
In fact, one of the most brilliant cards in the Victorian Fairy Tarot is the Three of Winter (aka the 3 of Swords). At a fairy theater, a couple performs a dramatic scene on the distant stage. In the foreground, three women (of course) whisper behind unfurled fans, not even looking at the production.
We could deduce “gossip” as an obvious meaning for the card, but Weatherstone gives us much more to think about:
“Some elegant fairy ladies are finding the intrigue in the audience as riveting as the scene onstage. With little to occupy them during the long winter months, gossip is a favorite pastime, and their opinions are not always kind. Small offenses are magnified, little lapses of judgment are thrown into high relief, and everyone minds everyone else’s business far better than they mind their own. There are real tragedies, to be sure, but exaggerated melodrama serves as well for petty minds and chilly hearts…Workplace intrigue is particularly insidious, as it can cause real damage to livelihood and reputation.”
What a fantastic re-casting of the traditional 3 of Swords card! (Personally, I’d ascribe this type of interpretation to the 3 of Cups reversed, but it works very well as the 3 of Swords—or the 3 of Winter—especially since both Death and the 5 of Summer demonstrate grief, disappointment, sadness and loss in this deck).
The Court Cards follow a Herald, Knight, Queen and King designation, reflecting the highly hierarchical preferences of English Victorian society (and influenced by royal aristocracy).
The 253-page companion book serves as a lovely tour guide of the Victorian Fairy Tarot, describing each scene, providing divination guidance, offering “in a nutshell” keywords and detailing three spreads (six, if you count the seasonal differentiations of The Herald’s Welcome spread).
I found the 8-card Dance of Happiness Spread especially revealing, making me wish that Weatherstone created even more spreads for the book!
The Victorian’s obsession with the “secret language of flowers” is renowned, so the artist’s use of 46 different flowers and plants (decoded in the Appendix by Weatherstone) add another interpretative, and visually appealing, layer to these cards.
In my estimation, the Victorian Fairy Tarot is one of the best decks to hit the market. Artist Gary A. Lippincott renders some of the most stunning watercolor art (Tarot or otherwise) I’ve ever seen (my artist husband concurs—and he’s hard to impress). With its gorgeous play of shadow and light, the sumptuous attention to detail in this deck is much more than just pretty pictures; rather, Lippincott packs a comprehensive sense of story into almost every card—giving readers and creative writers plenty of grist for the intuitive mill.
To see 18 more card images from this deck, visit the REVIEWS--DECKS section at JanetBoyer.com.
Today I want to review the Victorian Fairy Tarot as a divination device and tool. Years ago, I dabbled in Tarot. I did readings for friends and myself. However, I was never able to go past my initial attempts. I found I did not have the capacity to memorize the cards and was unable to do a reading without prompts and books to guide me. Everything I read told me that the "cards should speak" to me of their meaning. As this was not happening, I feared that I would never be successful at Tarot reading. I put aside my deck and lost interest.
While I worked with Gary Lippincott as he created the illustrations for this deck my interest was rekindled. I digitized his artwork as he created each card. When Gary gave me a copy of the published deck, I was thrilled with how well they reproduced his art. The accompanying book, written by Lunaea Weatherstone, was a delight to read. Her descriptions of the cards and their meaning are nothing short of dead on prefect! It is a testament to her and Gary's abilities to create and communicate.
After I had the cards for a little while, I found for the first time that the cards did, indeed, "speak" to me. The illustrations were clearly linked to the cards' meanings. The messages the cards were clear to me. Memorization was no longer an issue because the meanings clearly resonated with me. Lunaea Weatherstones' clear and concise writings on each card enhanced my initial understanding. I am once again reading the Tarot deck for myself and my friends. I feel that I can do so with more authority because of my affinity for this deck.
If you, like me, enjoy the Tarot but have not been successful, give this deck a try. You might be amazed at how easily the message of the Tarot is conveyed by the Victorian Fairy Tarot Deck.