fw218.jpg (12805 bytes)Fairy Wicca Tarot by Diane Wilkes

Let me divulge my prejudices at the outset. The only Tarot deck in my collection that I have ever given away without personal agony is the saccharine-sweet Tarot of the Moon Garden. I hold no love for the cutesy, and the mere title, "Faery Wicca Tarot," evokes a whimsy that I instinctively find repellent. But a review deck is a free deck, so I tried to approach the Faery Wicca Tarot with an open (not to mention acquisitive) mind.

Ms. Stepanich’s deck, published by Llewellyn, has a 416 page accompanying book entitled, appropriately enough, Faery Wicca Tarot. This tome should not be confused with two other massive volumes, titled Faery Wicca (Books One and Two respectively). Faery Wicca is a topic about which Ms. Stepanich clearly enjoys waxing effusively. I am sure it is her abiding love for the subject that prompts her to allude to her two Faery Wicca books ad nauseum, ad infinitum in Faery Wicca Tarot, and allude to mysteries only found in--yes, you’re getting it now--Faery Wicca. So, if you really want to digest all the intricacies of Faery Wicca in general, and the Faery Wicca Tarot deck in particular, you need to read over 1,000 pages on the subject by Ms. Stepanich.

In order to justify such a time-consuming pursuit, a deck would have to promise a great deal. While the deck is structured in traditional Tarot form (Major and a four-suited Minor Arcana), the suits are Domhain (earth), Aer (air), Tine (fire), and Uisce (water). The Court consists of "Helper" cards: Ainnir (Maiden), Ridire (Knight), Ard Ri (High King), and Banrion (High Queen). I can’t speak for you, but these words do not roll trippingly off my tongue. How do you pronounce "Uisce," for example. The Majors are also renamed (though, happily, easier to pronounce), and most are similar to traditional decks in spirit: The Seeker for the Fool, The Mother Goddess for the Empress, the Guide for the Hierophant, etc. There is one additional Major Arcana card, "The Tree of Life," which is numbered 00. There are also four "Gift of Faery" cards which are rather homey and homely. I prefer my "Faery" gifts ethereal and intricate.

Ms. Stepanich has written a storyline for each of the Minors, and the card meanings frequently don’t follow the Rider-Waite-Smith model. Each card is a step in a kind of initiation, with Kisma-as-protagonist managing to plow forward despite her fears and setbacks occurring from without and within. I read every step in each story, but they all kind of blur together, possibly because of the writing style, which is breathlessly overwrought. Stepanich doesn’t shun italics, capitalizing words to show emphasis, or even using her very own poetry to accentuate the transcendent.

In an effort to avoid the accusation of prejudice, I opened the book at random to offer an example of the card descriptions. I found this passage on the Seven of Domhain (Pentacles/Earth) on Page 121:

"What is it the earth teaches us? CYCLES...life cycles...give and receive. Don’t take, take, take, or you are in jeopardy of staying locked in the cave of the Underworld of Regret.

The way is barred---
think twice, three times,
as many times as is needed before continuing forward
to heed the messages being given you
from the OtherWorld.
Warnings of danger echo around you."

This passage is stylistically consistent with the other descriptions of the Minor Arcana. The FLORID and HISTRIONIC writing takes away...yes, subtracts... from the MAJESTY of TAROT!!!! 

No doubt you see my point.

As I write these words--in fact, during this entire review, I have been reminded of Dorothy Parker’s scathing critique of Aimee Semple Macpherson’s In the Service of the King, and I know my snide comments are ineluctably derived from my early immersion in Parker’s writing and adoption of her critical vision. I also know it is what kept me firmly on the outskirts of Camp New Age for many years. It has been an obstacle in my spiritual growth--I have had to learn to strangle the voice of the cynical jester whenever a teacher began a visualization exercise or ritual. No wonder I practice my faith mostly in the privacy of my home.

But, I haven’t told you the most interesting thing about my work with the Faery Wicca deck. Because the art hits me as somewhat cartoonish and unevocative, it has been a perfect oracle for me, because I don’t second guess and overanalyze the meaning of the cards. I go to the husk immediately.

My readings tend to be very psychologically and spiritually oriented, with predictive information more of a bonus than primarily sought. Not with this deck. One example: I was at the incredibly crowded driver’s license center, hours away from taking the test I had already flunked twice. I hadn’t studied for it this time (unlike the previous two exercises in frustration), and only took a number because I was in the area anyway and it didn’t cost money to try again. Still, if time is money, this wasn’t a freebie, so I pulled a card to ask the Clash’s profound question, "Should I stay or should I go?"

I received Old Witch Moon Hill, number 18, which loosely corresponds to the traditional Moon card. However, the image is of a woman with great hair drawing down the Moon, and though the first words in Stepanich’s text are, "The dark night of the soul is upon you," which I found less than encouraging, the woman looks as empowered as all get-out. In control. I read it to mean that I should trust my instincts when I took the test, go with my gut, and I would triumph. For me, passing this test was at least as challenging as drawing down the Moon, so triumph isn’t too strong a word.

You, clever reader, have guessed the obvious: I passed.

So far, as an oracle, it is three for three. And I like Stepanich’s positive slant on this much maligned card.

While I don’t like the art of the Faery Wicca deck, I do like the jewel-toned colors--they are beautifully rich. Although the deck may not speak my language of choice, it does gives me accessible and precise answers. To be perfectly honest, just now I am in the throes of rootlessness, and exploring my heritage. There isn’t an Irish bone in my body...so this might add to my lack of personal connection with this deck.

That said, I think this deck would be good for someone who is attracted to Irish culture--Stepanich interweaves Celtic mythology into her storylines and imagery--and for those who are interested in Faery-with-an-e.

Addendum: This set has been republished in a mini-kit format.  The book size has been considerably reduced.  

If you would like to purchase this deck in its republished, mini-kit format, click here.


See more cards from the Faery Wicca Tarot Deck

Faery Wicca Tarot
ISBN: 1-56718-693-3
Publisher: Llewellyn

Images Copyright 1998 Llewellyn

This page is Copyright 1999 by Michele Jackson