The Fairy Ring
"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."
An Oracle of the Fairy Folk
by Anna Franklin, illustrated by Paul Mason
Anna Franklin, author of "The Fairy Ring," has been researching fairies for years, and has collected over 6,000 names from around the globe. She is certain there are many more. There is a much greater variety of fairies than may be generally believed. Fairies are not limited to being diminutive in size, nor are they always delicate with fragile, gossamer wings. Some may be helpful to humans, while others are quite mischievous, and sometimes even dangerous. Through the skillful artwork and writing in this set, we get to know these fairies and their individual complexities, and can use their unique wisdom to help us find answers in our day-to-day lives.
The set contains sixty cards that have been beautifully executed with photographs and computer techniques. No, these aren't photos of fairies . but the figures in the images have been enhanced, and the overall effect is quite magical. The "fairies" blend in with their surroundings, emphasizing their closeness with nature and their tendency to remain unseen by most of us. Fairy mounds, standing stones, and castles are frequent in the pictures, as is beautiful natural scenery. Vegetation is shown in abundance, again emphasizing nature, and significant animals, such as the fox, often appear with the fairies. There are animal fairies too, which I didn't know but should have guessed.
There are four suits in this set, named for the four seasons: Spring Court, Summer Court, Autumn Court, and Winter Court. Each suit, or season, highlights fairies that are most likely to appear then, and include nine cards plus four court cards. All of the cards have a dark green background, but the suits are set apart by beautiful borders, corresponding to their seasons. The Spring cards are bordered by bright green vegetation, leaves and ferns; the Summer cards by colorful daisies and clovers; the Autumn cards by red, gold, and yellow foliage; and the Winter cards by holly, berries, evergreen, and pine cones. The four court cards in each suit are Lady, Knave, Queen, and King. They are similar to tarot court cards, in that they can represent other people.
There are an additional eight cards, named for the eight pagan holidays that are associated with fairies; Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Midsummer, Lughnasa, Herfest, Samhain, and Yule. These cards signify important events or phases, and might indicate time frame in some readings.
Franklin's sharing of fairy lore is warm and intelligent. Through her affectionate words, we are invited into the fairy hill, so to speak, to meet each fairy in its own realm, and become enchanted. We learn new and interesting things about some familiar characters ... mermaids, banshees, leprechauns, and Jack Frost, and discover many more fairies for the first time. Tales about fairies that have been passed down for centuries are retold with respect and insight, and enough personal experience is shared to convince those of us who have never seen a fairy, to believe that perhaps we could. Readings using these cards give surprisingly meaningful guidance. The fairies' messages are, like themselves, deeper and more knowing than we might expect. Franklin provides a number of good spreads for using the cards, and encourages using traditional tarot spreads with them as well. Meditation on the cards is also explained, and every card is well described, with a section on in-depth work or ritual. The book can be enjoyed alone as a reference on fairies, and one might learn a bit about Celtic myth as well. Much research has been done for this set, which is apparent through the many footnotes and full bibliography, and in the variety of the card images.
There is a special beauty to this set that takes us someplace we may have never been. Those who love fairies will surely enjoy it, and those who don't yet know them might benefit from this lovely introduction.
Card artwork by Paul Mason
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