Review by Solandia
The Fairy Ring Oracle, the second deck from Anna Franklin and Paul Mason, creators of the Sacred Circle Tarot, is not a set of a tarot cards but a sixty-card oracle deck. Its cards do not have pretty Victorian fairies with blonde hair and gossamer wings, but the full spectrum of naughty, nice, troublesome and plain malicious fairies and sprites from Britain and Ireland.
The Fairy Ring Oracle it has four suits - the Spring Court, the Summer Court, Autumn Court and Winter Court - and eight 'Fairy Festival' cards representing the Sabbats and Esbats of the year. Each of the suit cards is associated with a figure from the fairy pantheon, like Mab or Gwynn ap Nudd, or one of the Fairy species like Brownie, Leprechaun or Unicorn. The fives are slightly different, being day/night reversals of animal fairies: the Five of the Spring Court is the Fairy Hart upright and the Unicorn reversed.
The cards have dark green borders, and a seasonally themed inner leafy border according to the suit. Created in a very similar photomontage style to the Sacred Circle Tarot - and even with some of the same people - the Fairy Ring's art blends photo and illustration with more finesse. Some cards do show evidence of their computer-generated origins (there are a few female fairies, particularly the White Lady, who look rather like Lara Croft) but graphics programs have come a long way since the Sacred Circle deck was published in 1998. The overall effect of the deck is far smoother and more polished; some of the fairies are blend seamlessly with their background and appear positively realistic. Jack Frost… Fachan… Brownie… Jenny Greenteeth… And Boggart, the Three of the Winter Court... not something I'd like to meet on a cold and dark night. Other cards, like The Elder Queen and, my favourites, the four Sabbat cards of the Fairy Festivals, are just magical.
The Guide to the Fairy Ring is the standard size Llewellyn companion book packaged with the Fairy Oracle cards. It has a quick introduction on the fairies in the deck, a couple of pages of very basic instructions on how to use the cards, and nine different spreads. (Some of these spreads, the Fairy Oak, The Fairy Mound, the Fairy Market and the Fairy Ring are printed on blank white cards the same size as the rest of the deck.) The rest of the book is devoted to explaining the cards, describing the art, the associated fairies traits and legends, divinatory meanings, reversed meanings, and how to work with that fairy. (Or not - it is not recommended to work with a Bogeyman, for example.)
Don't knock it because it's not a tarot deck… if you like fairies, British and Celtic legends, or visually stunning art, don't miss the beautiful Fairy Ring.
Kate Hill (also known as Solandia) is the founder and editor of Aeclectic Tarot, and has reviewed more than 200 decks over the years.
Review by Bonnie Cehovet
Anna Franklin and Paul
Mason (co-creators of the Sacred Circle Tarot) have done
a wonderful job of creating a non-Tarot divinatory
deck using Celtic myth. Ms Franklin brings with her a
background of thirty years as a practicing Pagan (sixteen
years as a High Priestess), and many years of collecting
and studying Celtic folklore. If you ever wanted to
work with leprechauns, elves and other fairy folk -
here is your chance. A word of warning - these are not
all gossamer winged little fairies! Presented here is
a good representation of all of the energies of the
"other world" - helpful, mischievous and dangerous.
Fairy Ring" is presented somewhat in the format of the
Tarot: there are four suits, representing the four
elements, and four court cards to each suit. The pips in
this deck, however, only go up to nine - the
transitional ten of the Tarot has been left off. There is no
Major Arcana, although similar energies are expressed in
the eight Fairy Festival cards (which represent the
four fire festivals of the Celts and the solstices and
equinoxes of each year). They do form a journey of sorts,
but not the Fool's Journey of the Tarot.
starts out with a brief introduction into the Fairy world
- interesting and concise, a good basis for working
with the cards. She then talks about setting up a
reading. She does not talk about framing the question, but
she does insist on the use of reversals. I think the
framing of the question should be addressed, as it is
integral to the reading - it is indeed the foundation for
the reading. As for reversals - I feel that is up to
the reader, and should never be "insisted" upon. These
are my personal "quirks"!
The next section is one
that I look for in every book on divination - the
presentation of spreads! I am always looking for new spreads to
work with, and I was quite impressed with what I saw
here. I find them important enough to list them
The Fairy Mound: This is a thirteen card spread used
for looking into issues/events from the past, how they
effect the present and how best to move into the
The Fairy Oracle: This is a seven card linear spread
used to address a single question.
The Fairy Gifts: This is a five card spread used to determine the skills
the Seeker will need to fulfill his/her destiny.
The Fairy Market: This is an eleven card spread useful for
general readings or single questions.
The Year Spread: This is a twelve card spread that shows the influences
coming in over the next year. Franklin suggests doing
this at the beginning of the year, but does not
indicate if she is referring to the calendar year, or to
the Seeker's "new year", which begins at their
birthday. I vote for doing these types of readings starting
with the birthday for a "personal" year.
The Life Reading: This is a twelve card reading used for in-depth
analysis of the Seeker's life.
The Wildfolk Guides: This
is a seven card reading that helps the Seeker access
supportive fairy energies.
The Fairy Oak: This is a ten card
reading that looks at the cause of an issue, and how the
present circumstances came about.
The Fairy Ring: This is
an eight card reading that gives a life overview, and
how to best proceed into the future.
Four of these
spreads are presented on cards the same size as the deck,
with layout graphics and positional information. These
are: the Fairy Ring, The Fairy Oak, The Fairy Market
and The Fairy Mound. I find these very handy - and
they can also be transferred to other divinatory
systems, such as Tarot or the Runes.
The cards themselves
are a nice size for small hands - approximately 3" by
4 1/2 ". They are on good quality, glossy card
stock. The backs of the cards are a textured earth green,
with entwined "Celtic-knot" type circles in the center
(for those who read with reversals, a reversed card
would not be evident until it was turned over).
front of the cards has a dark green 1/4 inch outer
border, with an inner border color coded to the suit. The
card number is at the top, in white lettering; the card
title is across the bottom, in white lettering. The
artwork in this deck is imaginative and evocative, leaving
one with a sense of having truly journeyed amongst the
fairy people! The Five of The Winter Court(Fairy
Dog/Black Shuck) shows a white dog standing in profile in
front of a castle like structure, in the moonlight.
Reflected in the water below is the same scene - with a
black dog. The Six of the Spring Court (Garconer) is a
very Buckland-Romani style setting, with a young gypsy
looking elf standing in front of a gypsy tinkers
cart/caravan. The Fairy Festival card for HerFest shows a
circle of winged fairies, with the Poppy Fairy in the
foreground and a fairy hunter stalking his prey. The fairy
castle stands, shrouded in mist, on an island in the
background. The Ace of The Winter Court (Knocker) shows a
stone building (an abandoned engine house for a tin
mine) in the background, with a Raven flying near it and
a series of four dark fairies (that normally live in
the mine) with lanterns in hand, carrying mining
tools, walking down the hill.
Each card is presented
with a black and white scan, a description of the card,
a description of the fairy energy, divinatory
meanings, reversed meanings, and a section on pathworking
that shows how to work with the energy of the card.
(Please note: not all fairy energy is to be worked with.
Ms Franklin does note when this is the case - as an
energy worker, I think it is best to take heed here.)
found it interesting that Franklin notes that the
specific names of the fairies are sacred - not to be
mentioned. We see this also in cultures such as the Native
American - I find this something to take heed of, as the
energies being worked with are exceedingly powerful. The
fairies also wish not to be thanked - something that I
never would have known, and will keep in mind, as I do
intend to do some of the pathwork from this book.
is a sample presentation from the book, that of the
Fairy Festival card Ostara:
The Card: The card shows a
mysterious fairy island. Fairy islands appear and disappear
in the twinkling of an eye, and may never be seen in
the same place twice, though a few lucky humans have
been able to visit them. It is the Spring Equinox, also
called Ostara, when many fairies emerge from their winter
hideaways. Some of them can be seen on the cards, such as the
formidable woodwose and the pretty winged fairy in the
foreground. Early daffodils decorate the foreground.
Festival: At the spring equinox - called Ostara by the
Saxons - the days have noticeably lengthened. Day and
night are of equal length, but the light is gaining and
spring has really arrived. Birds are busy building nests,
and young animals are mating. Green leaves appear on
the trees, and drifts of daffodiles appear in the
As the weather starts to brighten, some good fairies
emerge from their winter hideaways, and others become
more active. Some shed their winter skins and adopt a
fresh guise for the coming summer. If fairies are denied
their rightful portion of the festival feast, you will
have to give them twice as much at midsummer, or you
will be troubled until the next Ostara.
are associated with vegetation, crops and the
fertility of the land, with the power of either blessing or
blighting. These fairies may be directly related to ancient
vegetation sprites. In winter the spirit of vegetation seems
to die, to go down as seed into the earth until it is
resurrected the next spring. Ancient religion was largely
concerned with entreating the gods and nature spirits to
provide the harvest. It was often thought that when
fairies awake in the spring, sacrifice should be made to
them, perhaps an offering of milk, honey, cream, melted
butter, or, in some cases, a cock.
In Britain and
elsewhere in Europe, the vegetation spirit is portrayed as
the Green Man or woodwose at spring festivals, a
symbol of regeneration, vegetation, life and hope.
the equinox, many fairies bathe in rivers and streams.
It is safer for humans to stay away from such places,
or the fairies might take them away or drown them in
Divinatory Meaning: When the festival card
of Ostara appears in a spread, it heralds dawning
creativity , emergence, an inpouring of energy and ideas,
versatility, dexterity, idealism and individuality. An idea or
situation begins to crystallize or take form.
Meanings: The reversed card denotes restlessness, wasted
energy, rashness, impatience, superficiality,
indecisiveness, thoughtlessness and inconsistency.
recommend this deck - for the artwork as well as the
wonderful Celtic background, and the gift of peeking into
the "other world" and pathworking with them.
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.