If you enjoy seeing all the cards in a deck, check out my unboxing video here.
The Victorian Fairy Tarot (Llewellyn, 2013), hasn’t been as much of a learning curve as I feared. Once I had my head around the suit changes (Wands for Spring, Cups for Summer, Pentacles for Autumn, and Swords for Winter), everything else made a lot of sense. And the images are really beautiful: a lovely colour palette, and quality artwork from Gary Lippincott.
These images show both the colours and the lovely, nature-based artwork. The Conjuror takes the place of the Magician. He has flowers, berries, autumn leaves and snowflakes around him, to represent the suits/seasons/elements. He looks like a fakir, with his goatee beard, moustache, and red hat. He gestures both up and down, as the various objects float around him, as though dancing on the swirl of magical smoke he has created. The name change is interesting. Has he conjured these things out of nothing? Or has he conjured them through time? Or is it simply an image he has conjured? I’m not sure I like the change: conjuring suggests imploring, and not actually creating, as the Magician does. Still, the image works!
As for the Court cards, these all have plenty of symbolism to support readings, though it isn’t always traditional or obvious to the “element” as opposed to the season. For instance, the Herald (Page – the only renamed Court) of Summer looks far from watery, in yellow and orange, and the Knight of Summer flies with a couple of birds at his side. On the other hand, the Queen of Winter (Swords) has an icy throne, with snow on the top and the branch that coils around the right side. While there is no sword here, the connection to the element of air can be made through the frigid air that accompanies winter, and the idea of harshness, or clarity, perhaps. The Queen’s clothes echo the colours of winter, full of greys, pale blues and white. She wears a crown and holds a wand, both of which have snowflake emblems, and she has delicate, purple wings peeking out from behind her. There are also snowdrops down the front edges of the throne’s arms – a nice touch bringing a bit of life into the picture. Altogether, a picture of cool clarity and decisiveness. And despite her grey hair and icy colours, there is a kindness to her expression that I, as an astrological Queen of Winter, appreciate 🙂
The Minors are equally attractive and full of useful symbolism. While the Aces are quite simple, they are elegant, too. The Ace of Summer (Cups) shows a lotus blossom in a pond, with several leaves scattered about. There is still a wink to the Victorian Fairies of the deck’s title, in a little picnic hamper on the lotus leaf closest to the card’s edge. With a bottle of champagne and two flutes, it also hints at the romance to come in later cards of the suit…
The Three of Winter (Swords), gives an interestingly different perspective on this card of thoughts that cause us pain. Here, it is other people’s words that play a role, as we see hurtful gossip being exchanged at a theatre show. It is a rather busy scene, which is true of many of the Minors and does make them a bit harder to read, especially in larger spreads. Getting to know the deck better will, of course, help with this. Still, it’s a shame the author didn’t put in three fans, rather than just the two, as a wink to tradition and the number of the card.
In fact, that busy-ness of many of the cards is about the only complaint I have of this deck. Other than that, it is charming, cozy and quaint, yet with a depth to it that makes it a pleasure to read. There are some novel takes on the content of the cards, which stay true to the ideas behind the RWS images, while moving in quite different directions. In that way, it is quite easy to read straight out of the box, yet also offers different possibilities and thoughts.