All tarot decks have their own personality and their own strengths. The Tarot of the Hidden Realm, being inspired by the world of the fae, has a flavor all its own. The artist, Julia Jeffrey, has a special gift for interacting with and capturing the wisdom of faerie in images, particularly portraits. As I wrote the text, I used shamanic journey techniques to discover many of the messages. It is our hope that you will experience the power and wisdom from the Hidden Realm as you work with these cards.
While the images are, like all art, evocative and can be interpreted intuitively, like all tarot decks there is a structure in the Hidden Realm. Understanding the underlying foundation will make interpreting and understanding the cards even easier. In addition, understanding the energy intended by the suits and the numbers will help with interpreting spreads as a whole. (See the article "Scanning A Tarot Reading" for more information on this.)
Here we will look briefly at the energy of the suits and the numbers in the Hidden Realm, then explore an example.
Unlike the other three elements, fire needs fuel to exist. Once it has consumed its source, it burns out and vanishes. It can also be extinguished by the other three elements, since it can be blown out, the fuel can be too wet to burn, or earth can suffocate the flame. While it is powerful, it is also fragile. In tarot, fire symbolizes boldness, courage, and determination. It represents our will and our passions. The suit of Wands is one of action and creativity. Because fire can purify even as it destroys, Wands are also associated with spirituality.
Water is considered passive because it is said to take the shape of whatever is containing it. It is also true that water can shape rock. Floods and hurricanes and other water-based events are certainly not constrained by anything. Like fire, it can be life-giving or life-destroying. In tarot, water represents our subconscious as well as the emotions that flow in, through, and around (and sometimes threaten to destroy) our lives. It connects us with others through relationships and intimacy; it can also push us apart. Like fire, water is also associated with spiritual cleansing. Unlike the harsh destruction of fire, the spiritual experience of water is gentle cleansing, healing, and nurturing.
Probably the most interesting shift in focus from the traditional tarot point of view to the Hidden Realm's view is seen in the suit of Swords. Air can be motionless, invisible stuff that we need to live. It can also be a tornado that destroys, leaving a bizarre, surreal world in its wake. In tarot, air represents our thoughts and logic, from the Greek word "logos," which means words, reason, order, and knowledge. These are things that we, as a culture, value above all else, and so the suit of Swords is also associated with truth, which is truly a double-edged sword. Like air itself, our thoughts and words are invisible and yet so powerful. With them, we can heal, create, or destroy. While we humans value and wield our swords almost, ironically, without a thought, the fey are more careful and in some ways more respectful with these dangerous weapons.
In contrast to the other elements, earth is relatively stable. Perhaps to some, who prefer action and movement, it can seem stagnant and dull. In tarot, the suit of Pentacles represents our physical world, including our bodies and our senses. We think of money, resources, and abundance. Time, as well, is associated with the element of the earth, since it is a resource, and a limited one at that, albeit much more abundant to the fey, as they live, it is said, much longer than humans. Because earth represents the tangible world, many consider it the most mundane of the suits. However, to the faerie (and many humans who walk a Pagan path) the earth is the culmination of spirit, it is the Divine manifest. Therefore, the relationship between the fae and the element of earth is also very different from ours.
In addition to being familiar with elemental energy, tarot readers and (even more so) the inhabitants of the Hidden Realm are aware of the energy of numbers. All the cards except the court cards are numbered. Numbers also have their own energy. The numbers along with the suit combine together to create the essential energy of a card. While we like to use numbers for counting, ordering, and calculating, the fae also feel the numeric energy that exists in the world. Just as the elemental energies swirl around, interacting with each other, numeric energy is in the air and can be felt, like music. The broader energy of the elements is shaped by the energy of the numbers, like sounds given nuance by tempo and type of note. The number and element of each card creates its essence. The numeric energy you'll find in the Hidden Realm is similar to traditional tarot and is as follows:
Ace: the seed, a beginning, potential
2: division, duality, opening
3: creation, abundance, heart
4: stability, shelter, ease
5: trials, tests, harshness
6: beauty, harmony, union, vitality
7: progress, the unknown, a leap ahead
8: determination, purpose, strength
9: culmination, fruition, consequences
10: excess, transcendence, ending
For our example we will look at the 8s of each suit to compare and contrast how the different elements are expressed when combined with different numeral energy.
The energy of the eight vibrates with determination, purpose, and strength. An effect of these characteristics is a sense of the moment before movement or action that is expressed in the demeanor of the characters in the cards.
In the 8 of Wands, the energy of fire, which itself is an expression of boldness and courage creates a very taut energy. It is like a tightly wound spring. One slight touch will release power that will be difficult to stop or alter once in motion.
In the 8 of Cups, the energy of water, which for the fae is a more accurate reflection of truth than logic, is made more active by the energy of eight. The gentle, healing, and yet revealing power of water nourishes and purifies determination, purpose, and strength. It compels action that will be life changing but that will be taken with the quietness of an exhale.
In the 8 of Swords, logic galvanizes the determination, purpose, and strength of the eight. While the energy of fire vibrates in the eight, the energy of air becomes very still and very quiet. It swirls in a whirlwind, perhaps even an infinity symbol shape, becoming almost a solid, unbendable thing.
In the 8 of Pentacles, the energy of earth, solid and stable, becomes purified. Determination, purpose, and strength of the eight burns out impurities and increases the desire for perfection.
The Hidden Realm's structure is designed to highlight the wisdom of the tarot from the point of view of the fae. This wisdom can help guide us as we traverse our world and our lives. Our wish, mine and Julia's, is that in these cards the Hidden Realm is revealed along with the guidance you seek.