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The Fairy Ring Oracle Review

This article was written on October 17, 2008 posted under

Summary: An oracle deck (not a Tarot) with photorealistic (and surrealistic) art that crosses the boundaries between our physical world and the spiritual world of the fairy. Itís ideal for learning about the classical myths of fairies and various fairy folk, and perfect for use by those interested in the fairy. For people who do divinations for others, it will certainly appeal as a deck to use for people with interests in this area. But for those who donít read for others and arenít interested in the fairy, other decks may be more desirable.

Name of deck:The Fairy Ring
Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide
ISBN: 0-7387-0274-9
Creatorís name: Anna Franklin
Artistís name: Paul Mason
Brief biography of artist(s): Paul Mason is an English Pagan artist, photographer, and illustrator best known for his stunning photomontage images and book jacket designs. He has worked previously with Anna Franklin as illustrator of The Sacred Circle Tarot and co-author of Lammas. Mason lives in the English Midlands.
Name of accompanying book: Guide to The Fairy Ring
Number of pages of book: 264
Author of book: Anna Franklin
Brief biography of author: Anna Franklin [England] has been a Witch for 30 years, and a Pagan in her heart for all her life. She has conducted many rituals, handfastings and sabbat rites. She is the High Priestess of the Hearth of Arianrhod, a coven of the Coranieid Clan, a group of traditional Witches with their roots in the New Forest, and branches in several parts of the UK. The Hearth publishes the long running Silver Wheel Magazine, runs teaching circles and postal courses as well as a working coven. Anna Franklin is the author of eighteen books on the Craft including the popular Sacred Circle Tarot, Midsummer, Lammas [with Paul Mason], and The Fairy Ring.
Available in a boxed set?: Yes, the set includes the deck, a full-sized book and a protective box.
Magical Uses: Meditation, Working with Fairies
Reading Uses: General, Romance
Artistic Style: Computer modified photomontage
Theme: Fairies

This is a divination deck, "an oracle of the fairy folk," with a very unique structure. It has four suits, one for each season. Each suit has only nine pip cards and four court cards, Lady, Knave, Queen and King, giving the thirteen cards found in a suit of regular playing cards (rather than the fourteen usually found in the Tarot). In addition there are eight cards representing the Pagan "Wheel of the Year," These "Fairy Festival" cards include Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Midsummer, Lughnasa, Herfest, Samhain and Yule. Thus, the deck per se consists of 60 cards, each with an illustration. There are also four double-sided cards that give brief descriptions of four of the original spreads revealed in the book.

Review

There are two things you are bound to notice first when looking at this oracle. First, it is not a Tarot. It does not have a Major Arcana and the suits each have only thirteen cards, not fourteen. Although this means it should not be confused with a Tarot deck, there is no reason that the cards cannot be used in your favorite layouts.

Second, as you go through this deck youíre simply going to be bowled over by the art. The artist, Paul Mason, has used graphics and photos blended together to produce cards of breathtaking realism and surrealism, with landscapes and characters (mostly fairy folk) ranging from great beauty to bizarre angularity. Each of the 52 cards has the name of a character of fairy or associated mythology. The images bring them to startling life. In fact, I would say that the harmony of the imagery on the cards matches the name of the characters as well or better than on any deck Iíve ever seen. If youíve ever looked at a deck and wondered how the image on a card is supposed to represent the description given in a book about the deck, The Fairy Ring will end that problem.

On the other hand, because it is most assuredly not a Tarot deck, youíre going to find yourself consulting the book frequently to learn the meanings of the cards. Luckily, the book by Anna Franklin is really great. For each card there is a brief description of the image, a well-researched article revealing the myths and stories associated with the name of the character, the divinatory meaning (both upright and inverted), and how to work magically with the fairy or character on the card. Itís quite a marvelous introduction to the fairy world.

The book includes nine spreads you can use for readings. It also has one example reading so you can see how the deck works. There is also a meditation method described for contacting the fairy energies.

You may notice that this review, so far, has basically been nothing but a thorough description. Thatís because although I have worked with fairy folk, that has not been a focus of my spiritual path. As a result, I am somewhatÖseparatedÖfrom all of these characters. And thatís the key to this deck. If you work with the fae, or are interested in knowing more about them, this deck is excellent. The illustrations are so real while at the same time have such an aura of otherworldliness that they seem to cross the usual barriers that normally separate our world from that of fairy.

Even if you are not interested in the fairy, if you do divinations for other people you might want to keep this deck around. The uniqueness of Masonís art is such that it might attract others and they might ask you to use it.

While Llewellyn's Classic Tarot has my name on the cover, I did not so much design this project as direct it. Llewellyn wanted a deck that was designed to be faithful to the traditional tarot images, symbols, and meanings recognizable to most modern tarot readers and students. Creating a faithful yet new expression of timeless tarot imagery is... read this article
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