Review by Bonnie Cehovet
I am one of those people that very much enjoy theme decks, and find their companion books to be a wonderful journey all on their own. "A Guide To Mystic Faerie Tarot", part of a kit including the "Mystic Faerie Tarot" deck, a tarot bag, and the 282 page companion book, does not disappoint. Beginning with the cover, which is done in muted pastels of green, lavender, and cream, and features an adorable winged faerie, clear through to the theme supported original spreads, I enjoyed the time that I spent in this world.
In her artist notes, Ravenscroft gives us a peek into her English upbringing, and the world that she has drawn and painted "ever since she can remember". Painted in watercolors, she refers to the deck that she created as a "mystic garden" - a garden that includes faeries, sprites, elves, and nymphs, a garden that we see reflected in the world surrounding us.
In her introduction, Moore starts us on our journey with a description of an enchanted garden, with the faeries of the "Mystic Faerie Tarot" acting as our guides. The emphases here is on making better decisions, creating the life that you long to live, and achieving your heart's desire. It is also about facing our fears, and overcoming them.
There is a brief introduction to the Tarot, and what each section of the deck (Major Arcana, Minor Arcana, and Court Cards) contributes to a reading. Moore makes an interesting statement about the cards when she says that the names of the cards and the structure of the deck reflect our rational, conscious mind, while the images on the cards reflect our inner self. Together, they form a perfect bridge between our mind and our heart. The addition of the faeries acts as a portal that allows us to open our imaginations.
The Major Arcana cards are presented with a black and white scan, the card number above it, and the card title below it. There is a two page discussion of the energy of each archetype as it appears with the faerie energy, along with the card's message. No upright or reversed definitions are given in the card presentations. A sampling of the cards messages includes:
The Fool: "In the Fool's garden, you are surrounded by enchanting choices that will vanish if you become distracted by analysis. This is not a time to make a list of pros and cons. Rather, it is a time to have childlike faith in the yearnings of your heart and follow your dreams.
The Priestess: "When you find yourself in this part of the garden, your task is clear. You must identify that which you value most in the world. The knowledge that you seek exists in that value regardless of any other circumstances. However that value finds expression - whether through a religious or spiritual belief system, through family, or through some other means - immerse yourself in it. Connect in every way possible. Create a sacred space like The Priestess has done and stay there until you find perfect peace and serenity. In that space, and in that moment, you will hear, if you are willing to listen, the answer you seek.
The Star: "Your answer, should you find yourself by the Star's pool, should be very welcome. Whatever has been trying your spirit, whatever difficulties you've been facing, whatever sadness has torn your heart, the Star brings a time of serene quiet, a safe, cool place where you can be refreshed and find hope. Once you are renewed and feeling stronger, she will serve as your guiding star to help you find your way. But first, rest."
In the presentation for the Minor Arcana, we are gifted with a literal "story" that runs through each of the suits, a story that offers lessons and fresh insights into everyday life issues. The story of the Wands is the tale of two faeries who set off to seek their fortune. Wands are represented by actual wands. Cups, represented by the magickal Celandine blooms, tell the story of love between a water nymph and a wood elf. Swords, represented by the thorns on the roses, tell the story of the two young fae, their resourcefulness, and their Queen's valiant efforts to save her people. Pentacles are represented by pentacles, and tell the story of an industrious faerie whose hard work takes an unexpected turn, and how taking advantage of an unexpected opportunity that turns out to be beneficial for everyone involved. At the end of each suit presentation, the "moral" of the story is reviewed.
Each card in the Minors is presented with a black and white scan, the story of the card, and its message. A sampling of these messages includes:
Ten of Wands: "You are carrying a very heavy burden. Responsibilities overwhelm you. Your life feels pretty miserable. There will be times in your life when this is true. In those cases, you must find hope and strength where you can, such as turning to other people for help or inspiration. However, you should make sure that you aren't carrying a burden needlessly. When you are feeling overwhelmed, examine your load. Do you really need to be responsible for it all? Is there perhaps a better way to handle the load? Is there some way to make your path easier?
Three of Cups: "You are at the beginning of an exciting partnership, romantic or otherwise. Everything feels magical and wonderful. Enjoy this time to the utmost, and store up the memories of it. The happiness of this period will give you strength through the harder times. You are finding it easier to make promises and vows right now. These memories will help you keep the promises later when you may wonder why you ever made them."
Ace of Swords: "You are facing a challenge or problems of some sort. Instead of bemoaning the fact that life has ups and downs, learn to find healthy ways to face the challenge or solve the problems or develop realistic ways to cope with them."
Seven of Pentacles: "A situation is approaching that requires careful consideration and planning. As you think about the upcoming situation, make sure that you determine what your needs will be and figure out the best way to meet those needs. A little planning ahead can make the future much easier and more enjoyable. Lack of planning can create unnecessary stress. Why scramble about at the last minute dealing with crisis if they can be avoided."
Each of the Court Cards is presented with a black and white scan and a one page write-up about the personality to be found within each card.
Moore presents a chapter on the mechanics of doing a reading, which she breaks down into the following steps: (1) create a sacred space, (2) ask a question, (3) select a spread, (4) shuffle the cards, (5) lay out the cards, (6) interpret the reading, (7) thank the faeries for their help, and (8) cleanse and store your cards.
The section on spreads is very creative, both in the development of spreads, and in naming them. The spreads included in this book are: Dew Drop (a single card reading that is meant to act as a mirror), Lily Pond (a three card Past/Present/Future spread), Faerie Ring (a six card spread meant to help you define the aspects of yourself that you want to celebrate, as well as aspects of yourself that need improving on), Two Paths In The Garden (a seven card spread about making a choice between two paths), Love Me, Love Me Not Daisy Spread (a nine card spread focusing on how the Seeker feels about relationship), Your Birthday Sunflower Spread (a thirteen card spread that follows an astrological house format), Rose Petals (a five card spread to help the Seeker draw love into their life), Acorn To Oak (a nine card spread focusing on helping the Seeker to manifest their dreams, and A Nighttime Forest Stroll (an eight card spread focusing on identifying fears and separating reality from illusion). Sample readings in the next chapter show how to put everything together.
At the end of the book is a Quick Reference Guide, listing basic meanings for all 78 cards.
I found the book to be somewhat basic in nature (addressing none of the esoteric qualities found in the cards), but it is well written, and acts as a good connection to the use of the deck. (Note: The book that I am reviewing is a proof copy. Llewellyn did include color scans of the cards for reference.) For those that enjoy opening themselves to the faerie world, this book and deck are a joy. All levels of readers would be able to take something away with them from this work.
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.