In the cards of The Fairy Ring, you will find beautiful fairies and ugly fairies, good fairies and wicked fairies, helpful creatures and mischievous beings who will try to trick you and lead you astray. We have gathered them all together to form this divination deck where each fairy may work its own particular magic for you.
Today, people are as interested in fairies as they ever were, though most now think of them as amusing myths. However, only a few hundred years ago, belief in fairies was absolute in every strata of society. Gradually this notion dwindled among town dwellers and so-called "sophisticated" people, but country folk well into the twentieth century worried about offending the fairies. Building on a fairy path, digging into a fairy mound, forgetting to leave out cream, or omitting to pour milk on a fairy stone, all of these things and more could incur the wrath of the Little People. The crops might be ruined, the cows might sicken and the milk dry in the udder, the family might be cursed with bad luck, the baby stolen and replaced by a withered changeling, or the breadwinner paralyzed by an elf stroke.
If the fairies are treated with respect and given their due, they will help those who honor them, and may bestow great gifts on their favorites. They can teach a bard how to play music that will move an audience to tears or have them dancing with joy. They can bestow the power of healing on a mortal. The famous witch Biddy Early (d. 1873) maintained that she derived her powers from the fairies. She used a blue bottle, given to her by them, for healing. At her death it was thrown into a lake.
During the persecutions, many witches insisted that their powers were derived from fairies, not devils, as their prosecutors insisted. In the north of England, a man was accused of witchcraft and trafficking with the devil to gain a medicinal white powder. The man contended that he had received the medicine from the fairies. He would go up to the fairy mound, knock three times, and the hill would open. He would then go inside and confer with the fairies, after which they would give him a white powder with which he was able to cure those who requested his aid. He offered to take the judge and jury to the fairy hill to see for themselves. The judge was unimpressed, but the jury refused to convict him.1
In Ireland, the young girls that fairies carried off for brides would be sent back to the human world when they grew old and ugly, but with the knowledge of herbs, philters, and secret spells to give them power over men.2 In 1613, Isobel Halfdane of Perth in Scotland was carried from her bed into the fairy hills where she spent three days learning the secrets of witchcraft.
Fairies and witches were on good terms with each other, and witches were frequent visitors to the fairy hills; being accused of such visits was enough to secure a conviction as a witch. Witches were also known to grow many of the fairy plants (such as foxgloves, elder, primrose, thyme, and bluebells) in their gardens or to gather them from the wild to attract their fairy friends. At one time, even the presence of such plants in a garden was enough to warrant an accusation of witchcraft. Modern witches working in the traditional way still derive the greater part of their knowledge from the wildfolk spirits of the land.
Fairies hate idleness and are very hardworking. They will help favored humans around the house and farm, spinning, weaving, baking, churning, and building, or working as gold or silversmiths. This work is all done at night as the people sleep, as long as the house is left tidy and the hearth is swept, as fairies cannot tolerate dirt and mess. If the customary dish of cream is not left as the small reward the fairies require, then the helpful home sprite will be mortally offended and smash the crockery, wreck the spinning, and hide valuable objects. Fairies like luxury and have contempt for those who penny pinch, especially those who drain the last drop of milk from the churn or strip all the fruit from the trees, leaving none for the fairies. They punish kitchen maids who do not sweep the hearth clean and put out clean water for bathing fairy babies with pinches, cramps, and lameness, while conscientious maids are rewarded with money in their shoes and good luck.
In the past it was considered unlucky to name the fairies, or even to use the word fairy, perhaps because to do so may have summoned them, or because using a name without its owner''s permission was a threat or challenge. It was wise to call them "the Good People," "the Little People," "the Gentry," "the Mother''s Blessing," "Good Neighbors," "Wee Folk," or "the Hidden People."
The English word fairy, or faerie, is derived by way of the French fée, from the Latin fatare, meaning "to enchant." Variations on the spelling include fayerye, fairye, fayre, and faery. In England, Geoffrey Chaucer made the words fairy and elf interchangeable, though the word elf is from the Scandinavian alfar, a term that seems to mean "bright" or "shining."
Though this deck features fairies from Britain and Ireland, there are legends of fairies all over the world, from the tiny South African Abatwa, to the Japanese Chin-Chin Kobakama, the Arabian Djinn, the Russian Deduska Domovoi, the ancient Greek nymphs, and the Albanian Zera. I have been collecting legends of fairies for many years and have recorded over three thousand individuals, and realize that I have only uncovered the tip of the iceberg. Around the world, fairies are mysterious creatures who live apart from the race of humankind, but who are sometimes seen in wild and lonely places.
The Victorian view of fairies was that they were all delicate, miniature, butterfly-winged creatures, but in older legends they are of human or even giant size. In medieval lore, fairies came to be divided into the aristocracy, who appeared in groups, and the common fairies, who appeared individually. The common fairies were elusive, and often the only sign of their existence was in their passing, with the bending of the flowers or the rustling of the leaves in the branches, or the patterns of Jack Frost in the windowpane. They were the guardians of individual streams, trees, forests, pools, and streams, or sometimes of private houses and particular families. The aristocrats were called Heroic or Trooping Fairies in England, and belonged to the Seelie Courts of Scotland or the Daoine Sidhe (pronounced "Theena Shee") of Ireland. The Daoine Sidhe were believed to be the diminished remnants of the Tuatha dé Danaan ("People of the Goddess Dana"), driven underground by the Celtic invaders.
Fairies are often said to live beneath the ancient burial mounds, the Hollow Hills of lore, where they feast and dance. Sometimes at night these hills sparkle with light, and if you press an ear to the hill you will hear their revels. If you sleep on the mound, fairy music will enter your soul and you will never be the same again. Earthworks are also associated with fairies; it is said that when the ancient race moved out, the fairies moved in. No tree on them should be cut down, nor should anything be built on them. If a man should be rash enough to attempt either sacrilege, the fairies will blast his eyes or give him a crooked mouth.
The Fairy Ring is a divination deck that calls upon the powers of the fay to guide you and to give you a glimpse of what destiny has in store for you. All fairies can see into the future and are capable of bestowing the gift of prophecy on those they love, like the Fairy Boy of Leith, who had amazing powers of second sight, and who visited his fairy friends every Thursday at Calton Hill, near Edinburgh. The entrance to the hill was only visible to those with fairy gifts, and once inside, the boy joined in the revels, playing a drum for the fairies to dance to. Sometimes they all flew off to France or Holland for the evening. Once some men tried to keep the boy in conversation one Thursday evening, but despite all their efforts, the boy slipped away to keep his appointment with the People of the Hills.3
The fairy hills are calling, and the gateway to the Otherworld stands open. Its denizens are ready to take you by the hand and lead you into the Fairy Ring . . .
1.Durant Hotham, Life of Jacob Behmen (1654).
2. Lady Wilde, Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms and Superstitions of Ireland (London: Ward & Downey, 1887).
3.Captain George Burton, Pandaemonium (1684).
Using Your Cards
The cards in the Fairy Ring deck are divided into four suits: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Most fairies are seasonal creatures, and individual fairies are featured during the period when they are most likely to appear. The thirteen cards in each suit are numbered one to nine, with four court cards: Lady, Knave, Queen, and King. Each card features a different fairy, with fifty-two fairies in all.
In addition, there are eight festival cards marking the chief fairy feasts of Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Midsummer, Lughnasa, Herfest, Samhain, and Yule.
Reading the Cards
The cards should be shuffled by the person for whom the reading is to be made\emdash this might be yourself, a friend, or a client, if you are a professional clairvoyant. I shall call this person "the questioner" for the sake of simplicity. The questioner should take care to reverse some of the cards, so that when they are laid out, they will be "upside down" (i.e., the top of the picture will be at the bottom). Like Tarot cards, the Fairy Ring cards have both upright and reversed meanings. While some Tarot readers prefer not to use reversed meanings, the Fairy Ring deck is specifically designed to employ both upright and reversed meanings, and only by using both will an accurate result be achieved.
The reader should take the shuffled cards from the questioner and lay them out, facedown, in the chosen spread. You will find a selection of spreads in the pages that follow. Some layouts will give you a quick answer to a single question; others will give you a more detailed life reading. Some spreads are better for practical matters, and others for emotional or spiritual concerns. I suggest that you read through the spreads and choose the one that appeals to you. The cards will also work well with your favorite Tarot spread.
When you are ready, begin at card one and turn it faceup. Note whether it is upright or reversed. When you are reading for yourself, you might like to look at the descriptions found under the heading "The Fairy," as this will give you insight into the characteristics and influences of each fairy. However, when you are reading for another person, it is not necessary to read this material to the person each time, unless you feel it would be particularly helpful; but you can just read the upright (divinatory) or reversed meanings as appropriate. Interpret each card before turning over the next. It is useful to summarize, in your own words, everything you have discovered at the end of the reading. As you become experienced and learn more about the fairy energies involved, you will find that additional interpretations occur to you. Don''t be afraid to mention these; as with the Tarot, the given interpretations are only a starting point.
When you consider the meanings of the cards, bear in mind that any court card\emdash a Knave, Lady, Queen, or King\emdash may indicate real people in the life of the questioner. In addition, the appearance of one of the eight festival cards should be given extra weight in the interpretation of a spread. They indicate powerful trends that cannot be fought, but must be accepted and worked with. Occasionally\emdash and this will have to be carefully considered\emdash they might indicate a time period when an event might occur.
The Fairy Mound
The Fairy Mound spread will help you determine the important issues and events of your past, what influences and concerns have a bearing on the present, and how best to move into the future.
Shuffle the cards, taking care to invert some of them to make use of the reversed meanings. Lay out the cards according to the diagram, starting with card one and finishing with card thirteen. Begin your reading at card one.
1. This card best represents the questioner at the present time. Even if the card seems a little surprising, it will point to those aspects of the questioner that are currently most significant.
2. This card reveals the influences closest to the questioner at the present moment.
3. This card reveals what the questioner most desires.
4. This card reveals the questioner''s mental processes as they relate to current events.
5. This card reflects the questioner''s emotions.
6. Card six indicates past influences and trends that are still affecting present circumstances.
7. This card relates to spiritual questions and concerns.
8. Card eight concerns practical matters, money, and material issues.
9. This card indicates karmic events that cannot be avoided.
10. Card ten reveals important future influences, whether helpful or not.
11. This card indicates immediate concerns.
12. Card twelve advises the questioner on the best path to success.
13. Card thirteen indicates the outcome.
The Fairy Oracle
The Fairy Oracle spread may be used to find the answer to a single question.
Shuffle the cards, taking care to invert some of them to make use of the reversed meanings. Lay out the cards according to the diagram, starting with card one and finishing with card seven. Begin your reading at card one.
1. This card represents the questioner in his or her present circumstances. The card may be surprising, but some aspect of the card will reveal the truth of the situation.
2. This card discloses the nature of the questioner''s most pressing query.
3. Card three makes known what influences may help the questioner.
4. Card four reveals what influences may hinder the questioner''s desires.
5. This card indicates which course of action is the best to follow.
6. Card six reveals the root of the problem, which may lie in the distant past.
7. Card seven divulges the outcome of the situation in the near future.
In general, a greater number of upright cards indicates a yes answer, while a greater number of reversed cards indicates a no.
The Fairy Gifts
The Fairy Gift spread is used to ascertain what skills the questioner may call upon to fulfill his or her destiny, or what trends and obstacles are preventing him or her from doing so.
Shuffle the cards, taking care to invert some of them to make use of the reversed meanings. Lay out the cards according to the diagram, starting with card one and finishing with card five. Begin your reading at card one.
1. The questioner, or significant aspects of the questioner, at the present moment.
2. The questioner''s innate talents that will aid him or her in gaining fulfillment.
3. Potentials as yet unrealized or untapped.
4. What will guide the questioner''s choices.
5. Events in which fate or destiny takes a hand, for good or bad; perhaps problems that need to be overcome.
The Fairy Market
The Fairy Market spread is a versatile layout that may be used for general readings, or to determine answers to specific questions.
Shuffle the cards, taking care to invert some of them to make use of the reversed meanings. Lay out the cards according to the diagram, starting with card one and finishing with card eleven. Begin your reading at card one.
1. This card represents the questioner, or significant aspects of the questioner.
2. This card concerns the question.
3. Card three represents obstacles in the way of the questioner.
4. This card relates to the questioner''s past.
5. Card five shows present trends surrounding the questioner.
6. Card six demonstrates what the questioner can expect in the near future.
7. This card predicts events or trends in the distant future.
8. This card indicates the mental aspects of the question.
9. This card advises the questioner as to what will help.
10. Card ten reveals what the questioner hopes or fears.
11. Card eleven reveals the final outcome.
The Year Spread
The Year Spread may be utilized to gain insight into what the current year holds for the questioner. It is best to perform this spread at the beginning of the year. If the spread is used midyear, some of the cards will relate to the past (those months of the year already past), one to the present (the current month), and some to the future.
Remove the eight festival cards from the pack: these are not used in this layout. Shuffle the cards, taking care to invert some of them to make use of the reversed meanings. Lay out the cards according to the diagram, starting with card one and finishing with card twelve.
Begin your reading at card one, which represents January; proceed to card two, which represents February; and carry on through the year to card twelve, which represents December. An interpretation of the general trends of each month is made from the twelve cards.
The Life Reading
The Life Reading may be used when an in-depth analysis of the questioner''s life and circumstances is required.
Shuffle the cards, taking care to invert some of them to make use of the reversed meanings. Lay out the cards according to the diagram, starting with card one and finishing with card twelve.
To give you a picture of the questioner''s past, begin your reading at card one (past mental attitudes), next read card four (past health), then card seven (past spiritual concerns), and then card ten (past emotional concerns). Next read the cards in the "Present" column: cards two, five, eight, and eleven. Finally, read the cards in the "Future" column: cards three, six, nine, and twelve.
The Wildfolk Guides
According to the old teachings, witches learn all their secrets from the fairy wildfolk. The Wildfolk Guides spread helps you access those fairy energies that will help you throughout your life.
Remove the eight festival cards, as they are not used for this spread. Lay out the cards according to the diagram, beginning with card one and finishing with card seven. Begin reading at card one and finish with card seven. If you draw cards with negative implications, this is telling you that you are blocking some essential part of yourself or your connection to these energies. Any reading of this spread should be interpreted in this light.
1. The fairy guide at your left heel holds the key to accessing your most powerful wellspring of vitality, sensual pleasure, and raw instinct.
2. The fairy at your right heel is your guide to emotional well-being and boundless joy.
3. The guide at your left hand teaches you about personal balance and the use of the intellect.
4. The fairy companion at your right hand shows you the way to inner harmony and personal growth.
5. The guide behind you helps you access greater creativity and self-expression.
6. The guide before you opens the psychic senses, clairvoyance, imagination, and vision.
7. The guide at your heart holds the key to spiritual awareness and illuminates your path to eternal truth.
The Fairy Oak
The Fairy Oak Spread can be used when you wish to discover the root of an issue or problem, and determine how events and circumstances have progressed from this cause.
1. Card one relates to the physical world and material matters.
2. Card two indicates the root of the questioner''s personality and approach, and his or her subconscious influences.
3. This card indicates the intellectual basis of the question and offers insights into the situation.
4. Card four deals with emotional matters, relationships, and love.
5. Card five deals with matters the questioner needs to bring into balance.
6. This card suggests what lessons need to be learned in order to grow and move forward.
7. This card indicates the best way the questioner can direct his or her energies.
8. Card eight reveals what the questioner intuitively knows.
9. Card nine points out any action the questioner need to take.
10. Card ten reveals the heart of the matter.
The Fairy Ring
The Fairy Ring Spread will give you an overview of your life trends, and insight on how best to move forward.
1. Card one reveals your current life phase.
2. Card two shows what is behind you.
3. Card three shows what is before you.
4. Card four indicates weaknesses to be overcome.
5. Card five shows strengths that need to be developed.
6. Card six indicates obstacles that lie in your way.
7. Card seven shows what will help you.
8. Card eight reveals the final outcome of this phase.
A Sample Reading
This sample reading uses the Fairy Market spread. The questioner was a middle-aged woman with teenage children.
1. The first card revealed was the Green Lady, who represented the questioner. This indicated a loving, resourceful woman who was loyal to her family, clever and enthusiastic, quick to anger, but also quick to love.
2. The second card revealed the principal reason the questioner sought a reading. The card was the Boggart, indicating trouble at the questioner''s home involving family arguments, quarrels, and disruptions, probably involving a troublesome child or teenager.
3. Card three indicated obstacles in the way of the questioner. This card suggested that she was perhaps having difficulty with the lessons of Jenny Greenteeth\emdash the necessity of letting go of one thing in order to gain another, flexibility, and the need to adapt to change.
4. Card four concerned the questioner''s past. Béfind indicated that the questioner had many talents she hadn''t used, leading to feelings of incompletenes and dissatisfaction.
5. Card five denoted the questioner''s present circumstances. Queen Mab indicated dreams, wishes, and unfulfilled longings, but also new ideas and impulses.
6. Card six concerned the near future and was revealed as the Ace of the Winter Court, the Knocker. This suggested financial or material gain, and establishing a firm foundation in some practical matter.
7. Card seven related to the distant future. The Elder Queen indicated warmth, friendship, and the success of a venture.
8. Card eight revealed the mental aspects of the problem. When the Queen of the Autumn Court appears reversed in a spread, she indicates overwhelming emotions, mood swings, and emotional instability.
9. This card gives advice on what will help. When the kindly Tiddy Mun appears, he heralds new opportunities or the development of a venture that may bring material rewards. This card also indicated a real person in the life of the questioner, a charming young man with a mercurial temperament who is romantic, idealistic, chivalrous, freedom loving, and gentle.
10. Hopes and fears: The appearance of the Will o'' the Wisp betokened illusion, falseness, delusion, fallacy, deception, trickery, self-delusion, wishful thinking, broken promises, and unreliability.
11. Outcome: Wayland Smith appeared in the cards to indicate a period of hard work, forging new things from the old, creation, craftsmanship, transmutation, opportunities and success at hand, knowledge, skill, and mastery.
The questioner was a middle-aged woman with a nearly grown-up family. She wanted to return to work as a designer, and had been offered a job by the young man she recognized in the Tiddy Mun card. However, she worried about whether this was the right course of action, as her teenage son was experiencing problems that manifested as disruptive behavior. She was afraid that her return to employment might exacerbate the situation, and that, as she put it herself, "he might go off the rails completely.
The Will o'' the Wisp card suggested that the questioner''s fears were greatly exaggerated, that her son was experiencing no more than normal teenage angst. She admitted that she had mixed feelings. On the one hand, she wished to express all those talents she had put on hold while she raised her family\emdash as revealed by the Béfind card\emdash and on the other hand, she regretted that she was no longer needed on a twenty-four-hour-a-day basis by her family. The card of Jenny Greenteeth reminded her that there is a necessary process of letting go as children discover their own individuality and ready themselves to leave the nest. The questioner recognized that at least some of the family problems were caused by her trying to keep too tight a hold on her son.
The final card of Wayland Smith revealed that the woman would gain great pleasure, satisfaction, and success from her new career. While one phase of her life was drawing to an end, another exciting opportunity was hers for the taking.
Using the Cards for Meditation
Each of the sixty Fairy Ring cards can be used for meditation. The images act as a pictorial key to connect with the particular fairy energies involved, and the deck has been designed with this in mind.
Connecting with Fairy Energies
Take the card you have decided to work with and study the picture. Examine the elements that make up the image. Read about the fairy on the card. Hold the card in front of you and look at it again. When you feel you have the picture and the basic symbolism fixed in your mind, put the card down in front of you, close your eyes, and relax. You are going to enter into the card and interact with the fairy within.
For example, suppose you have chosen the Brownie. Close your eyes and relax. Imagine that you are in the warm kitchen of a cozy cottage, seated by the fire, toasting your toes. It is evening and getting dark outside. There is a wind rustling through the trees and whistling in the eaves, and you are glad to be inside. The kettle is on the stove, singing away, ready to make the tea. The fire crackles and the comforting scent of wood smoke and baking bread fills the room.
You are starting to doze when you become aware of movement behind you, and the swishing of a broom. Keeping quite still, you open your eyes halfway, and before you, busy at her work, is a homely female brownie in a drab dress and pinafore.
This is the house fairy of the cottage; every good home should have one to protect it and see to its needs. You keep quiet as you do not want to frighten away the creature. You know that brownies do not like to be thanked, but only given a bowl of cream each night, and to have all the family news whispered up the chimney. You may silently watch the brownie for as long as you wish, and are aware that some subtle level of communication exists between you.
When you are ready to leave, feel yourself back in your own room with the card in front of you, and bring yourself back to waking consciousness. When you are ready, open your eyes.
It is a good idea to write down your experience as soon as possible. Keep a record of your meditations and you will be able to perceive any patterns and lessons that are emerging and understand where your path is taking you.
The next time you repeat the exercise, visualize your own home. Not everyone has an open fire today, but the center of the home is often the kitchen, where people gather to eat and talk. Imagine yourself sitting quietly in whatever place is the center of your home, until you catch a glimpse of your own home sprite, which may be quite different in appearance to the one illustrated in the Fairy Ring card.
To attract and honor a brownie, make an altar in a small wall niche or on the mantle shelf over the fireplace, since this is the traditional shrine of the house spirit. Place on it an image that represents the spirit, or something that you associate with the sanctity and work of the home. Place regular offerings of milk, wine, and flowers on the altar, especially at family gatherings and occasions. Tell the fairy all the family news. Never make demands, and place offerings on the altar instead of saying "thank you," which brownies don''t like\emdash where fairies are concerned, the mysteries should not be acknowledged with words or discussed with others.
You can take this approach with all the fairies illustrated in the cards, though it is inadvisable to work with those inimical to humans, such as the Boggart. Begin by meditating on the fairy and the situation depicted in the card, then transfer the knowledge gained to your own locality, where the spirits may appear quite differently. To contact the local water fairy, sit by a stream or lake and meditate. To contact the spirits of the local forest, meditate beneath the trees. You may have to observe some fairies silently, others may talk with you and share their knowledge, and others you would be foolish to approach at all.
If you are serious about working with fairy energies, remember that they must all be treated with the greatest respect, and, above all, heed this decree.
And to Keep Silence.