The Fantastical Creatures Tarot
Author: D.J. Conway
Artist: Lisa Hunt
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
”The Fantastical Creatures Tarot” was a Top Ten Deck for its year of publication (2007) – for good reason! This is a magickal deck – a portal into other worlds. The basis for this deck is the theme of mythical/fantasy beings, and the myth and lore surrounding them. From the “Fantastical Creatures Tarot” site:
“ Mythical beings have been around as long as there have been humans inhabiting the Earth. Stories of their magical and spiritual powers have existed for thousands of years. The images of some of these fabulous entities were placed in temples, sacred places, and, in miniature, on home altars, where they were expected to act as protectors, guides and spiritual counselors. ~ D.J. Conway”
In the introduction to the LWB (Little White Book) it is noted that images of these mythical beings were placed in temples, sacred places, and on home alters in order to seek guidance, protection, and spiritual counsel. They are referred to as a kind of “middleman of the astral realms”. It is also noted that mankind has fallen away from connecting with these entities, and that now is a good time to reconnect with them.
The deck follows the traditional 78 card structure. The Major Arcana titles remain the same, with the following exceptions: Hierophant/High Priest, and Chains/Devil. Strength is VIII, Justice is XI. The suits are Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles. The Court cards are entitled Page, Knight, Queen and King. Note: In this deck, Swords are associated with Fire, while Wands are associated with Air.
The LWB is text only (no scans), providing information on the mythological background and magical powers for each creature, as well as the divinatory meaning and magickal purpose. From the book:
“IX The Hermit (Old Lady of the Elder)
Described as an elderly, wrinkled woman, the Old Lady of the Elder is usually seen during a full moon as she hobbles about, balancing herself with a staff made from a gnarled elder branch. She is considered to be very wise in healing and magick. The Old Lady of the Elder is a solitary creature, using the silent, reflective time to spiritually strengthen herself. She quietly shares her knowledge with those open to her gentle teachings.
Divinatory Meaning: This card suggests that the inquirer needs a time of peace and quiet to contemplate decisions. Don’t make hasty choices, but ask advice of a knowledgeable person you trust. If poor health is involved, the Hermit points to a period of much needed rest and recuperation.
Magickal Use: The Hermit card can be used in a spell to add patience when searching for the knowledge to make a correct decision. It is also good to include in healing spells.”
There is a discussion at the end of the book on how to best use the deck. Some of the suggestions are to choose a card symbolizes the energy that you need to manifest a desire, and to place it in your sacred working space when doing magick. You can choose a card and meditate on its personal meaning (its meaning for you), or you can choose to draw a card a day as a symbol for that day. The cards can also be used for divinatory purposes.
This is a 78 card deck, with two additional cards – Quick Reference Guides to the Major and Minor Arcana.
The card box opens from the top, with an image of Strength on the front panel, and an image of the Star on the back panel. The cards are of good quality card stock, 2 ¾” by 4 ¾”. The backs are cream colored, with a central circular motif, leaving the backs reversible. The face of the cards has a ¼” cream border, surrounding an inner border that resembles intertwined twigs. For the Major Arcana, the card number is at the top, in Roman numerals, and the card title across the bottom. The Pips (numbered cards) show the number (in text) and the suit across the bottom of the card. The Court cards show the card title and suit across the bottom of the card.
The artwork is done in a gentle, very detailed fantasy style, using watercolors. There is a mystical, other-worldly feeling to this deck that just draws you in! I was incredibly excited to get this deck –it was a from me/to me Christmas present, and came wrapped so beautifully that I left it unopened on my credenza until Christmas morning (we open our gifts on Christmas Eve – but I wanted to make opening this one special, and it was!).
Lisa’s art is so good, on so many levels – it is hard to know where to begin! One of my favorite things are the winged creatures (and human figures) – the High Priestess as a winged serpent, the Emperor as a winged horse, the winged lion on the Sun, the winged Centaurs on the Chariot, the winged female figure in the Star, the winged figure on the Four of Wands, the winged Queen of Wands, the winged Knight of Wands, the winged Nine of Wands, the winged Page of Pentacles, and the winged High Priest.
Other noteworthy cards are the Eight of Wands (showing Odin’s great horse running full out), the Ace of Swords (showing Thor’s goats), the King of Pentacles (showing the Lord of the Greenworld), The Empress (Morigan), the Queen of Pentacles (Danu), the Magician (Winged Cat – with front paws firmly on his wand!), the Page of Swords (Werewolf), and Strength (Oriental Dragon).
The detail in this deck is very well done – each time you study a card you see something new and different! I feel that this deck would appeal to those with a basic understanding of Tarot who wanted to work with a fantasy theme, those who are attracted to fantasy themes/artwork, or those who wanted a gentle alternative/comparative deck. This is a wonderful deck for ritual, meditation or journeying.
© January 2010 Bonnie Cehovet