Fantastical Creatures Tarot
by Lisa Hunt and D.J. Conway
Published by U.S. Games
I took my time in getting to know this deck, although I was drawn to it immediately. As its title suggests, this is a deck of fantastical creatures. They come from around the world and throughout time, invoked from myth and folktale. Each has a lesson, or reason for being in this deck, and each in its own way will guide or inspire. What the title of the deck does not indicate, is just how immersive
these cards can be. This is not simply a "theme" deck - there is a complete world - or other-world - here, accessible to us, as inquiring travelers.
The Fantastical Creatures Tarot
offers a connection to the energies of the many mythical beings found within it, and provides suggestions on "tapping into" these sources for their assistance in our lives. This very magickal element of the deck is important - it shows us something that is spiritually alive, so when we read with these cards we may (by our choice, and depending on our beliefs) be doing far more than understanding symbols, interpreting meanings, or engaging our intuition; we might be communicating with certain ancient powers.
Both the artist, Lisa Hunt, and the author, D.J. Conway, have done a terrific job in portraying these fantastical creatures. Hunt's artwork is detailed and accomplished, as well as warm, joyful, ethereal, and transformative. The images express an obvious love she has for her "subjects," and that feeling is rather infectious. The images are full of symbols - some standard for the tarot, some unique to this deck, which Conway comments on thoroughly in the little white booklet. Conway's treatment of the deck is instructional and insightful. She introduces us to each fantastical creature, offering a bit of its history and significance, describes the symbols on each card, and suggests divinatory meanings for when the cards turn up in readings. She also suggests magickal uses for each card, which might entail meditation on a card, or use in a spell or ritual. The little white booklet is quite comprehensive - much information is provided in its small pages. It is enjoyable simply to read
about the great variety of mythical creatures in the deck.
All of the cards stand out, but I do have a few favorites. starting with the Fool! The creature representing the Fool is an Amphisbaena, a legendary serpent with a head at each end, feathered wings, and chicken feet. Conway states that the Amphisbaena ". aptly portrays the Fool, who, when faced with choices, often can't make up his mind, or decides without enough information." The Pegasus is a surprising but appropriate choice for the Emperor, due to the "high respect and power" he received as messenger of the Greek deities. Likewise, the Arabian Ruhk - a huge bird, makes a convincing High Priest. I personally like the way Conway characterizes this card,
"The Ruhk represents the High Priest, the teacher of the universal laws. If you abide by these spiritual laws, you are not likely to put yourself on a foolhardy path that could lead you astray from your goals. ."
The card of Strength is simply very pretty, and features one of my childhood favorites, a turtle, swimming ahead of a large golden dragon.
The turtle represents "health and longevity," and the dragon indicates that calling upon its qualities of "patience and persistence, a human who faces opposition can hold steady and win."
The fully illustrated cards of the Minor Arcana exhibit equal creativity and insight, and uniqueness in imagery as well as interpretation. All of the cards come together to form a beautiful whole, and readings conducted with the deck feel touched with the spirit of these wondrous creatures. I have not done any magickal work with the cards, but expect they would be a seamless component, as used according to Conway's suggestions, or to an individual's inspiration. Included with the deck are two "quick reference guide" cards, and a very attractive, useful layout sheet that demonstrates five layouts and offers tips on conducting readings. There are a few minor contradictions between the booklet and cards, that are very easy to disregard, and it might be worth noting that a few of the magickal suggestions do include spells that directly influence others.
This is a truly lovely set that offers a spiritual presence as well as aesthetic beauty. It is highly accessible, with the versatility to go beyond everyday readings. I would strongly recommend the Fantastical Creatures Tarot
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Card artwork by Lisa Hunt
All writing and photography © N Levine - Illumination Tarot, unless otherwise noted. 1999-2021