Saturday, 26 December 2015

The Faeries' Oracle Review


Reviewing Divination Decks Part 1

I wanted to review this divination deck I picked up recently. I found it in a church-run thrift store of all places! It was a whopping $2.50. In it's day (originally published in 2000) it fetched as much as $37 CAD. I obviously saved a bunch and the kit is in immaculate condition.

Now, it may seem odd that I'm reviewing a divination deck. I'm someone who approaches anything in an empirical manner. I'll give it to you straight, I'm not spiritualistic. I don't believe much in divination or faeries, witchcraft, or any thing supernatural (unlike preternatural, which I feel differently about). I'm very scientific and I love a good chunk of proof to base my beliefs off of. So why the hell do I own two tarot decks and an old school oujia board?! Because I find them mildly interesting. I don't believe I'll contact the great beyond, but I enjoy the symbolic imagery in tarot cards, and I find them about as amusing as reading my horoscope.

I tend to use my tarot cards for self reflection, to ask questions about how I approach things. For instance, if a card proposes I might be acting childish, I take a good long look at my recent behaviors. I don't believe the cards are providing any supernatural insight, I'm the one doing the reflecting. I think "reading" tarot cards is a lot like being interviewed by someone; you pick a card, remember what is represents, then meditate on it for awhile. Maybe by the end of a session you'll have learned something about yourself that you didn't know before, simply because you had never asked yourself the right questions.

I received my first tarot deck when I was fourteen years of age. My deck came from a starter kit and it was kind of ugly. It was the Jonathon Dee Rider-Waite tarot kit, and the art style was some kind of weird abstract wood cut art. It looks like clipart from the 1990's. You remember that don't you? Hideous! I just found it somewhat repulsive to look at, although some cards bothered me more than others. The Sun card being my only true favorite. After learning what the Rider-Waite cards actually looked like, I felt that my deck was a watered down version of it. It was an alright departure point, but in time I came to donate the kit to my friend to give to her daughter. I craved something with better, more stimulating imagery.

Jonathon Dee Tarot Deck as Illustrated by Shirley Baker

I eventually came to own the Vampire Tarot deck, which I have a love/hate relationship with, but I'm going to leave that for a separate review. In summary, the deck does have some symbolic imagery that I can pull meaning from. One of the main things we're encouraged to do when looking over a deck is to develop our own associations with cards. I had a little trouble doing that with some of the cards in the Vampire Tarot deck. It makes me want to buy other decks, mostly out of curiosity. I have always wanted the Halloween deck because it looks adorable, or the Gothic deck, which my ex had but the art was sadly inconsistent. In a way, I look at these things as trading cards, or collectibles, I enjoy them mostly for their artistic merit. This is what lead me to purchase The Faeries' Oracle.

The Faeries' Oracle Deck Review

I picked this deck up because it looked pretty. My mom is really into faeries. I thought it would be nice to share the artwork with her for inspiration, because she paints watercolor. She and my father found the cards very interesting to look at. Sadly, that's kind of where it ends with this deck. They're neat looking cards, but for a divination deck I found it lacking in quite a few areas.


First, this isn't even a tarot deck. Apparently this was originally commissioned to be a tarot deck but the artist changed his mind and made it only 66 cards (the Rider-Waite containing 78). He then calls it an "oracle". There are cards in the deck that were clearly designed with the tarot in mind. For example the Death card is the same, Solus (Sun Card), The Journeymen (Fool Card), The Bright Mother (Empress Card), The Dark Lady (High Priestess), The Sage (Hermit); so on and so forth. There are only a handful of cards that have an apparent connection to the tarot. The rest of the cards are more like afterthoughts, and some are downright confusing. To add to that, the book isn't any better and the author seems entirely aware of that fact. It starts off suggesting to ditch the book entirely and meditate on the cards yourself. "Don't read the book" is repeatedly thrown at you, as if to say, you'll only be disappointed if you do. And truth be told, it is entirely disappointing.

It seems to me that after the artist changed the deck into an oracle, there was this disconnection between him and the author. The author was forced to come up with meanings for cards that had never existed before. Cards that lacked detailed imagery and might as well have been ink blots out of a Rorschach test, only you'd probably get more meaning out of ink blots... While there are a handful of cards in the book that have meanings that are distinctly unique to them, well over half of the deck features definitions that are repetitious and generalized. Perhaps the author warns you not to read the book, not for the sake of developing your own intuitive interpretations, but to avoid the embarrassing truth that she is completely unaware of the definitions, herself.


Now onto the deck. The majority of this oracle deck looks like the artist's portfolio. It honestly looks as though he ran out of ideas and pooled together as many sketches and collages as he could to make up for the unfinished project. That's a good word to use, unfinished really describes how this deck feels. I broke down the cards into groups so you could see that parts of the deck look entirely different and all their own. Other than faeries, there appears to be no unifying element that brings the deck together as a whole. One section looks as though it has come out of a sketch book, all the images are sketched in charcoal. Another grouping shows abstract auras, which happen to be my least favorite cards in the deck because they lack substantial symbolism and almost all look the same. Yet another grouping of cards is all collages in sepia tones, which appear to me to have the most symbolic meaning and are my favorite cards to look at. Another grouping, which I refer to as the creature or character cards, are cards that feature faeries or creatures that are paired with a partner or are completely alone. The creature cards may do nothing for me because I have the personal bias of not believing in the supernatural. Whereas, if you do in fact believe in fae, you may choose to create certain associations with each character. I just find it difficult to get my head around them and lament seeing them whenever they show up in a reading, but not nearly as much as I hate the aura cards. I hates them so much!!


I feel that this deck could appeal to fae enthusiasts, but I think it kind of fails as a divination deck. Since so much of the character art looks identical, it's likely you'll end up mesmerizing the cards by name only, and to me that makes this deck a failure. Decks, whether they be oracle or tarot, should be visually rich; they should have a cohesive and meaningful colour palette; have multiple elements in each card to read from; and be distinctly unique in their own right, yet unified as part of a whole deck.

Overall the deck gets only ★★☆☆☆; ★★★ for the art and ★ for the book and its interpretations and information.

Best,

12 comments:

  1. I also mostly like tarot cards for their aesthetics, but for divination I don't know how to use them. I have angel tarot cards, the artwork is pretty, but the booklet and the interpretations are useless :/

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    1. I just googled it, is it the one with the interpretations printed on the cards themselves? It's unfortunate that they chose to do that, it's better to have a card that you can read the symbolism for yourself. There are some cards in my vampire tarot that I don't even bother looking up in my little white booklet because I get the "feeling" behind them. Contrary to that, there are some cards in my deck that make no sense at all. Like the sun card, which is a vampire committing suicide. It shows self sacrifice, whereas that card typically indicates happiness, fulfillment, celebration (etc.).

      Creating tarot decks is an art in itself, and I think some people overlook the complexities of making a deck. It's a lot more than just pretty pictures lol.

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  2. Ugh there are a lot of these bogus decks out there. My local shop has a flip book you can flip through so you can see the cards before you buy. Lol about those cards looking like an artist's portfolio. It looks it!

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    1. I'm so jealous that your metaphysical shop has a book you can use! My local shop doesn't have that. I think the store owner would rather not open the boxes for fear of damaging the cards. I don't think they have enough buyers to warrant the use of samples, but it would help tremendously. That's like my vampire tarot, some of the art is cool, other cards are just meh. If I had seen it beforehand I probably wouldn't have bought it.

      I've seen a few of these "oracle" decks emerging on aeclectic.net. Some artists want $33 USD for a deck of 12 cards (and they're usually not that good looking). Those kind of decks seem a little half-assed to me lol. One girl's small deck consisted of 1 symbol per card (I think 15 cards total); what kind of reading could you possibly get out of that?!

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    2. Yeah I remember a number of decks I thought I wanted... Vampire ones included... And was saved from a terrible purchase by the flip book. Yeah they lost a sale that day, but I go there all the time now. Lol you can't do a reading with 12 or 15 cards. My husband used to do readings with just the major arcana, and those readings were terrible. I then found out his card deck... The tarot of the witches, the worst deck ever... Only had pips on the minor arcana. I hate pip cards and so does everyone. There is a special place for craP tarot cards

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    3. lol I have rarely ever seen a deck where the pip cards are any good!

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  3. I don't like reading tarot because I don't want cards to tell me what's gonna happen. Unlike you I think I believe in divination. Sometimes some women magazines offer a free deck with beautiful pictures. I send the positive ones (those on which it is written "love" "friendship" "hope" etc.) to my friends as a lucky charm. I hide the negative ones in a box.

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    1. My best friend in high school was like you, she was far too nervous to even get near my deck because she was worried about the "bad" cards. Eventually she invested in a huge oracle deck using angels (she's hardcore Christian), and she loved to use them all the time. I guess she just needed to find the right deck lol. Some decks don't use negative cards, and are meant for spiritual exploration. Perhaps that's the kind of deck you would prefer. :)

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  4. Thank you for all the information! I have read through all the comments too. I have to admit, at the end of 2014, I got rid of all my decks. I know I could have cleansed them, but I was really mixed up. I haven't purchased any yet, but will be for the new year.

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    1. You're welcome! I'm looking forward to seeing what deck you choose next. :) And I wouldn't worry too much about not cleansing them, I think most practioners think to cleanse their decks when receiving/buying them. I know traditionalists will argue you shouldn't buy used decks, but tarot cards can get expensive. I'd rather buy them used for a fraction of the cost, so long as they're in good condition.

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  5. Hmmm I think you're right when you mentioned they remind of a portfolio - the pictures are nice but looking at them I would not know what card is in front of me... the text would not help much since (at least to me) it is difficult to read that kind of fonts... still pretty though ^^

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    1. They're very hard to read, even the text. There was one card where I couldn't tell if the first letter was an F, M or G, that's pretty bad. Cards should be legible and visually comprehensible. I shouldn't have to stare at it and wonder what it is lol.

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