Review by Bonnie Cehovet
“Twilight Realm – A Tarot of Faery” follows the traditional 78 card structure, using traditional card titles for the Major arcane, with Strength at VIII and Justice at XI. The suits are entitled Wands, Cups, Swords, and Rings (Pentacles). The suit of Rings is in deference to Faery Rings. Note: The suit of Wands is associated with Air in this deck, and the suit Swords with Fire. This change was based on the fact that dwarves craft swords using the element of Fire, while sylphs that inhabit the air are most likely portrayed with wands. The Court card titles are King, Queen, Prince, and Page.
The theme for this deck is that of faeries, and the world they inhabit. It is meant to be used as a vehicle that allows us to connect with the faery realm – for us to talk to them, and for them to talk to us. The imagery in this deck represents different types of faeries, some of which came to Wilder in dreamtime, and some of which came to her in a waking state. Some were created from faery lore to represent the type of faery that Wilder felt was appropriate to represent a specific card.
The deck and companion book come in a hard cardboard box, with a magnetic lift top. The top is opened using a short piece of ribbon that is attached to it. I love these boxes – kudos to Schiffer for using them, and for the lovely imagery on the covers. This cover is pale lavender, with a black background on the left hand side, and an image of the Empress.
The 176 page companion book has a short introduction, discussing the background of the deck, followed by templates for a Three Card Spread, the Star Spread, and the Elements Spread. Each card is presented with a black and white image, upright and reversed meanings, and the story behind the faery element that is represented. For instance, the Fool is Hobodie Wort, a little person with no fear, and completely in control of his own actions. Strength is a beautiful Unicorn, while the Hermit is represented by a solitary faery.
The cards themselves are 3 ˝” by 5”, and of heavy card stock. The backs show a black border, and a black background to a center graphic of latticework and small flowers, with a circle of small flowers in the center. The backs are reversible. The card faces show a black outer border, with a thin, color coded inner border. The Major arcane show only a wide black border, with the card number, in Roman numerals, and the card title in gold at the bottom of the card. Swords show a red border, Cups a light blue border, Wands a light lavender border, and Rings a light green border. For the Pips (the numbered cards), the nuber and suit are in text at the bottom of the card, in the same color as the border. The Court cards show the card title and suit at the bottom of the card, in the same color as the border.
The artwork varies between reality for the majority of the human figures, with a fantasy background, and fantasy figures in other cards, making use of pastels against a black background, The Fool is an adorable little figure, his hands braced on a rock sitting alongside a river, his feet high in the air and a smile on his face. The Ace of Cups shows a lovely white lotus floating on a black background. Death really drew me in – we see a female figure, in a lavender cape, walking out in the elements, lightening flashing around her and a dark castle behind her. The Chariot is driven by a goblin, who has managed to harness two faery dogs to a wagon.
The Magician to me is a somewhat sinister figure, sitting in his red robe, with an owl behind his right shoulder, and a quarter moon in the night sky. His left hand rests on the hilt of a sword, while his right hand rests on the table. The Lovers shows the story of Undine, a water nymph who became human and fell in love, then forfeited her life when the man she loved chose another over her.
I found this to be quite an interesting deck, one t hat would appeal to those wanting to learn more about faery lore, as well as those interested in fantasy art. I would not suggest it as a beginners deck, but it certainly would work as either a reading deck for someone who already knew the Tarot, and for journey work with the faery realm.
© August 2011 Bonnie Cehovet
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.