The Fairytale Tarot

The Fairy Tale Tarot

Author: Lisa Hunt
Artist: Lisa Hunt
Llewellyn Worldwide
ISBN #978-0-7378-0866-9

This is a beautifully done deck/book set (complete with a black organdy bag to house the deck in). I think that the name of the companion book (“Once Upon A Time”) sets the tone for this deck – it has a soft, “happily ever after” quality to it that makes you want to start your own journey on this path immediately, if not sooner!

The book and deck come in a cigar-type box with a lift up lid, and a subdued pink/peach background color. The front of the box features The Fool (Little Red Riding Hood), while the back of the box informs us that our “happily ever after” awaits us! The deck is described as transporting us to a faraway land of enchantment – a magical world where wondrous fantasies abound and anything is possible.

A word about Lisa before we get into the cards. If her name sounds familiar, it is because she has been associated with some of the greatest decks out there – the “Shapeshifter Tarot”, the “Celtic Dragon Tarot”, the “Fantastical Creatures Tarot”, the “Animals Divine Tarot”, and the meditation book “Celestial Goddesses”. She holds an MA in
Interdisciplinary Studies, with an emphasis on Jungian Psychology/Art & Drawing.

This is a 78 card deck, following the traditional Rider-Waite style. The Major Arcana carry the traditional titles, with the following exceptions: The Fool becomes Innocence, The High Priestess becomes the Sorceress, The Empress becomes the Fairy Godmother, The Emperor becomes the Wise Old Man, The Hierophant becomes The Mentor, Strength becomes Courage, The Wheel of Fortune becomes The Wheel, The Hanged Man becomes Entrapment, Death becomes Transformation, The Devil becomes Temptation, The Tower becomes Deception, Judgment becomes Redemption and The World becomes Happily Ever After. Strength is VIII, Justice is XI.

The suits are Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles. The Court Cards are Prince, Princess, Queen and King.

The companion book is 299 pages, and provides the reader with a wonderful entry into the magical world fairy tales and Tarot. On the cover there is a beautiful rendition of the card of The Lovers – gentle and inviting. In her preface Lisa talks about her early childhood, spent enamored of fairy tales. In high school, her artwork included creatures hidden in gnarly trees and roots (see Innocence -The Fool – Little Red Riding Hood – for an example of this). She also talks about wanting to include a mix of well known fairy tales and fairy tales from obscure oral traditions, and to be sure that the tales came from different places around the world, to show that fairy tales are an integral part of our world heritage.

In her introduction, Lisa notes that fairy tales allow us to confront who we are, and what we are capable of. The themes, motifs, archetypes and symbols help us to understand the universal nature of the experiences that we ourselves are going through. I loved the following excerpt, and want to quote it here: “In essence, we can learn to visualize our deepest desires. But in order to move beyond our tendencies to dismiss the “impossible”, we have to be willing to recognize the fantastic as a viable messenger of the soul.”

Each card is presented (along with a black and white scan) by title, story, culture, and keywords, followed by an explanation of the fairy tale and a discussion of the symbols and meaning. From the book:

“0 – Innocence
Traditional – The Fool
Story – Little Red Riding Hood
Culture – French
Keywords: Inexperience, Innocence, Spontaneity

The story part of the presentation includes a conversation between Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. Under Symbols and Meaning, Lisa discusses Little Red Riding Hood as representing the unrealized self, her red cape symbolizing potential vitality. The wolf is her animal nature, initiating the awakening of the ego. The forest of trees represents ancient wisdom, and the faces are aspects of our collective unconscious. The ferns are there to distract the traveler from the task at hand. Her braids embody innocence and restrictive thinking. The brown leaves on the trail represent the eternal cycle of life.

In summation Lisa says:

When we first travel down the path of life, we tend to be naïve and perhaps unaware of the dark forces that may lurk in the shadows. At this stage, you are wandering into the unknown, relying more on impulse than decisive action. Your adventurous spirit will help you cross into thresholds of new possibilities, but be aware of tricksters that may cross your path along the way.”

At the end of the book is a chapter entitled “Card Reflections”, which discusses ways to read the card. There is “Telling The Story – The One-Card Reflection”, “The Motif of Three Spread” (three positions of three cards each); and a seven card “Keys to the Kingdom” spread. There is also quite an extensive bibliography.

The cards themselves are approximately 2 ¾ by 4 ½”, of good quality cardstock. The backs are cream colored, with an old fashioned key in the middle, with the imagery of a vine going from top to bottom, with two leaves in the middle. The backs are reversible.

The card faces show the imagery going all the way to the edge, which is something that really appeals to me. It makes the cards a lot easier, for me, at least, to enter. The artwork was done in watercolor, in shades of brown, green and blue, with touches of white, red and lavender.

The Major Arcana show the card number and title at the bottom, in black lettering against a white scroll-like background. The Pips (numbered cards) show the card number and suit, while the Court Cards show the card title and suit, both against the same white, scroll-like background at the bottom of the card.

This is a gentle deck, with the imagery very fantasy/magical. It is also the type of artwork where each time you look at it, you see something new. I probably have 78 favorite cards in this deck! I loved Innocence (The Fool – Little Red Riding Hood), with her red cloak and basket. The wolf appears to be almost innocent, as do the faces in the trees. Hint: who does Little Red Riding Hood remind you of? Artist self-portrait?

The Magician (The Thunder Dragon) shows a very interesting looking gold box being opened by a young boy. Luminous light pours from inside the box. The Mentor (The Hierophant – Puss in Boots) shows a dashing Puss in to die for boots, and an adorable feather in his fetching blue hat.

The Chariot (The Enchanted Horse) shows a young couple astride a white horse, whose tail is braided into three parts, flying high in the sky over a kingdom. Look closely into the background, and see the dragon in the clouds!

The Wheel (The Wheel of Fortune – Twelve Dancing Princesses) shows a curved line of princesses, dancing around an Illuminated castle (with the moon in the background). Boats appear in the water in front of the castle.

The Star (The Star Maiden) is an incredibly magical card, showing the Star Maiden in the center of a tree, connecting the spirit world with the earthly plane. A spiral circulates from her chest, showing her desire to be freed from ego-limited thinking. Leaves are falling from the tree branches, and a full moon is behind her.

The Queen of Cups (Sealskin) is quite an interesting card, with the Queen (the seal wife) appearing to be part of the ocean wave dashing up against the shore. In the companion book, we see that she sits between the rocks on the shore (her conscious reality) and the water (the dreamy, flowing world of her desires). In the background we see a house that represents the Queen’s family responsibilities, while in the foreground we see the seals that call her back into the waters of her subconscious, the waters of her dream world.

In the Four of Swords (The White Doe) we see a female figure sitting up in the middle of a bed, with a doe peeking out from behind her shoulder. At the end of the bed are four swords, blades pointing outward. On the left hand side of the picture we see a window opening onto the forest. There are four golden circles above the window frame, and a picture hanging over the head of the bed.

I found this deck to be easy to work with – a deck that I would offer to any of my clients, no matter their age or cultural background.

On the “Fairytale Tarot” site – – Lisa has included some wonderful links to research sites for fairy tales. She has also included, under Extras, desktop images and a screensaver. (Yes – Puss-n-Boots is now my desktop background image!) There is also a gallery of the card images from this deck, as well as a link to her artist journal (blog) –

This is a great deck for personal work, for collectors, for those looking for a deck to use with children, for those interested in myth and fairy tales, and for those interested in fantasy/magical art and story.

© August 2009

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