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.
Reviewing Divination Decks Part 1
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 ReviewI 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.