Review by Cerulean
...The Fey Tarot...
The cards are interwoven with Dreams
that soar above daily routine;
with Joy that
allows us to come through storms
without losing our way;
and with Magic, the vital
breath of every Fey.
---end note by Riccardo Minetti, The Fey Tarot
I find this anime style a
refreshing change. Engaging, not for young children, but
perhaps it will remind you of certain wistful memories.
If I were to assign a tarot card mood, it would be a
One of my childish delights was
imported reruns from Japan, usually cartoons or campy
movies. So I saw Dr. Seuss and family-style shows, but
also techno-fantasy (Astroboy, Speed Racer) and
eclectic anime (Kimba). I remember these stories as much
freer and visually different than regular American fare.
In some cases the differences were quaint.
Kimba from the 1960's had lion cubs as the stars of the
stories. But there was also a hard edge, as Kimba was an
albino lion cub trying to assume an adult role in his
pack after the death of his father. (If this sounds
like the Lion King, it predates that Disney cartoon by
about 30 years).
If you have developed a taste for
better graphic novels, this deck does not disappoint you.
The colors seem to be airbrushed in soft, rich
tints. The card back is a lavander plum color. Many of
the major characters in each scene seem to be in a
twilight or night backdrop, or skies of light hues.
you are into Asian graphic novels, you would this
coloring in the Shojo, the somewhat more reflective style
of Japanese anime. I see details in Fey that remind
me of Asian anime, although the Fey characters are
not traced to any one culture or time period.
first, I thought this tarot would be a happy choice to
share with my nephews brought up on Pokemon and Totoro.
Some of the cards, such as the Five of Pentacles, has a
funny Pikachu-style character with glowing eyes peering
wistfully into a window.
But after a comment from
Riccardo Minetti (the deck author), I do not think this is
anime for younger children. I find it more accurate to
say this tarot fits a more adult audience that might
warm to fairylike characters with many humanlike
In my opinion, Fey Tarot addresses a
different audience than the soft cuteness and nursery school
rhymes of the Whimsical Tarot by Mary Hanson Roberts. I
would say Fey belongs to an older audience. Perhaps if
you like the balance of archetypes shown in the Fairy
Ring Oracle, but want a slightly softer tarot take,
this would be an interesting tarot for you. I would
say this tarot does balance archetypes well, but the
harder archetypes do not pose an in-your-face challenge.
For instance, the Tarot of the Northern Shadows might
have some Fey beings, but there is a brutal aspect
(think Braveheart with Mel Gibson) to those life and
times. In comparison to the Fae Tarot recently reviewed
by Lee Burston on TarotPassages.com, I would say
those illustrations have a more challenging, courtly
The Fey majors are depicted clearly to me, so
that a tarot fan might remember the correct attribution
from one of their more standard decks. For instance,
the Fey Magician has a figure with upraised hands
performing magic in a room with symbols of the four suits in
the scene. But look closely---this Fey figure is
creating a small mouse in front of a real mouse. The four
suits of this tarot in the picture aren't their usual
form. My first glimpse of the Wands in the Magician
card is a green, growing branch. The wand or baton is
not a stick of wood in the Fey world.
majors follow a Rider-Waite-Smith ordering and have a mix
of imaginary figures. The winged sprites and the
small animals in these cards are appealing--mice, fish,
unicorns, teradactyls, mermaids and others interact with
wide-eyes and humanlike expressions. I would say most of
the pictures show original creations---although some
scenes may remind you of earlier Lo Scarabeo deck cards.
For instance, the Hanged Man is a male youth under
water among puzzled fish---a similar scene is in the
Marco Polo/Journey to the Orient deck.
The minors in
this deck are also original. Each suit has a mix of
colors that portray a feeling or mood. Each pictorial
scene does not have the usual pip arrangement. For
instance, all cup minor cards have a decorative cup
somewhere in the scene, but you need to look at the title
and number printed on the card to realize which pip
number that you picked.
Below are some comments on the
suits and colors. Some people might be able to pick up
the tarot deck and included little white book and use
the deck right away. But I liked the book for both
the artistic history of the deck, the sketches and
discussion of each scene and general colors. These comments
aren't covered in the little white book and might assist
if you are deciding whether to buy the Fey as a book
and deck kit or just the deck.
without the book I would have guessed, but been a little
puzzled that the element of wands might be growing plants
instead of sticks. I would have also guessed some of the
minors showed an integrated impression of what the card
should mean. Below, my notes include some of the book
commentary on the minors.
Chalices, with the element
water, refer to sentiments and the spirit. The Chalice is
nourishment for the soul and the water symbolism shows a free
flowing spirit that is full of life and wisdom. These Fey
focus on beauty and enjoyment, finding pleasure from
observing people in gentle and close relationships and small
moments of joy. If one is in touch with their emotions and
able to reflect what they feel at any given moment,
that is what is important to these Fey beings. Colors
of each card range mainly from a delicate mint and
soft blue to a deeper midnight, with plenty of
gradations and other color accents.
Pentacles in this
tarot refer to the sphere of the world and material
possessions. We normally equate pentacles to coins or money and
the element earth. We typically use the pentacles suit
seeks to show what we as human beings define as our
concept of wealth, how we measure what we have, what has
been built and what is being conserved or hoarded. We
also show the pentacles suit usually in the form of
being in touch with the earth.
The Fey tarots colors
in the Pentacles are red, violet and light touches of
yellow. Pentacles as yellow bits of matter--a highlight or
accent. The Fey beings show how to live in harmony with
the material world without denying the world of magic
Wands normally are associated with
fire, passions and ambition. In other tarots and
idealogies, we see this as the sphere of social relationships
between humans. But wands are not expressed as red flames
of fire in the Fey tarots. Instead, this is where the
power of green growth and its vivid, reaching strength
is more reflective of the world of the Fey. The Wands
are the colors that reflect natural tones of greens
and blue, with lighter touches of brown. The Wand Fey
live in harmony with trees and nature.
usually associated with air, usually refer to the
intellect and responsibility. The Sword Fey are courageous,
noble and their main objectives are the responsibility
and understanding of of what their actions bring. In
this suit, the color red is a key highlight against
backgrounds of gray, with plum and blue tints. The deep red
might be thought of as resembling the courageous heart,
a life-giving rose. In Asian cultures this red is a
positive sign, where blood is life and full of good
All in all, I find this a very unique and
engaging deck. The addition of the book of 155 pages is
quite notable in the kit. The book includes 36 pages of
black and white sketches, background notes behind the
deck with concise notes on tarot history that is quite
a treat. The rest of the pages go into nice detail
about all the cards in this deck and offer the reader
four spreads. This is a unique book that gives full
credit to the artist and a very modest, engaging
description of the writer-artist collaboration from Riccardo
Minetti's point of view.
I am thinking, even if my
nephews outgrow anime titles, my own reawakened interest
in such things might be lasting. If so, this will be
a very good tarot to continue to have and enjoy for
quite awhile. And if my nephews grow to be interested in
this style of tarot as they get older, I'll show them
But as far as this kit goes, they'll have
to get their own.
Mari Hoshizaki, 04/15/03
P.S. On Tarotforum.net we have a general study group for
subscribers on discussing the Fey Tarot deck. I hope that you
join us and we can get a regular discussion group going
on the courts, majors, and other uses for this unique
Cerulean is starting new tarot projects that may
include the Sansai Experience and short stories. She is
exploring various Asian-Western art and literature topics.