by Nathalie Hertz
As I write this, there's a slight dusting of snow on the ground, the trees are bare, and the air is gray and chill. The sense of nature is strong - a connection felt within, a provocative stillness, silent but exciting. The Faerie Tarot
arrived at my home at around the same time winter seemed to (I know, November seems a bit early for winter, but that's Vermont). This strong presence of nature was the first thing that struck me about the Faerie Tarot
. I love this feeling. Whether a season announces itself, as summer does, by sharing its splendor, or as winter does, by slipping in quietly, it stirs something inside and exhilarates. In the Faerie Tarot
I immediately recognized these announcements, not just in the visual portrayal of the seasons, but in the mood, the spirit, and energy of the artwork.
This is a tarot of fairies, of course, and they abound in the cards. They bring magic to the landscapes Hertz says were inspired by the French countryside. What I love about Hertz' fairies, is they tend to be rather darkly cute. They dance and frolic, or sit idly, and many make music. They embrace, expressing a love for each other as well as a love for a great variety of animals. They enjoy their natural surroundings, perfectly present in meadow, sea, or wood. But they also reflect deeper personalities - contemplative, inspired, elated; sometimes brooding or direct or even sneaky. Overall, these fairies are aware, and they seem to know something we don't. It makes them wonderfully believable, and brings an intriguing credibility to the cards.
The symbolism on the cards is extremely imaginative. In some cases it is very thought-provoking, and in others it is simply a lot of fun - or both! We can begin with the Fool. this small imp is shown among branches and rich purple fruit, accompanied by a garden dormouse. The darker colors of this card indicate, to me, a sense of something unknown - an unknown, or unseen path, as well as the reminder that intuition leads the Fool. His small animal companion reflects his "heart of a child." The card of Death is striking. The wings of this half-fairy, half-death figure are skeletal. Feathers from her wings lift away toward the sky, indicating "release from the past." The card very effectively depicts transformation, rebirth, and new life. A large red mushroom is the fairies' Tower. It is shown collapsing under the weight of rain, sending a few resident imps to the ground. The divinatory meaning of this card includes ". warning, unexpected events, radical changes, painful but necessary overthrow." but I particularly like what Hertz says in the card's description: "The card warns us that nothing can last forever. There is no use locking ourselves up in rigid ideas since change is inevitable and essential for our evolution."
Each of the suits is represented with a specific season, chosen for its unique joys or challenges. Swords, symbolized by Air, is represented with winter, "for its cold and harsh nature;" Wands, symbolized by Fire, is represented with autumn, for the season's "richness of colors" and "great activity." Spring, with its gentleness and sense of "new beginnings" is associated with Cups and Water; and summer is portrayed in the suit of Pentacles, symbolized by Earth, for its "abundance and brilliance." The characters of the court cards are well attuned to their seasons, and to their suits. They are expressive, and direct a clear message to the viewer. The Page of Cups is a small fairy who sits atop a hill, strumming his lute with joyful innocence. Of this Page, Hertz says, ". he offers his music to both fauna and flora as a sign of respect. He pays homage to his peaceful and serene surroundings by softly singing its praises." The divinatory meaning indicates someone who is "timid, quiet and studious," or a "youthful love." The Queen of Swords is a beautiful figure with snow white hair and icy wings. Of her, Hertz says, "With her sword she sweeps away the doubts, fears and confusion. The ermine on her arm embodies her femininity, royalty, and intelligence. It reinforces the idea that she is the queen of winter; the season which can be both harsh and soft."
All of the cards have colorful, playful borders that either expand upon the central illustration, or include elements from it. There is a creative use of architectural columns, towers, stairways, flowers, leaves, bugs, butterflies, birds, pinecones, snowflakes, swords, wands, cups, and pentacles! The illustrations are all lush and delightful. Every card in the Faerie Tarot
is a pleasure.
The little white booklet contains fresh insights from Hertz, while adhering mostly to standard interpretation. There are a few simple spreads provided, as well as some brief guidelines for reading with the cards.
I have greatly enjoyed conducting personal readings of my own with the Faerie Tarot
. The cards create a lively display, with an articulate message. This is a deck that I will keep close at hand, and I recommend it with genuine enthusiasm.
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Card artwork by Nathalie Hertz
Illumination Tarot has been publishing articles, reviews, tarot spreads, and personal reflections for tarot enthusiasts and followers of alternative spirituality online since 1999.
All writing and photography © N Levine - Illumination Tarot, unless otherwise noted. 1999-2021