Fantastical Creatures

By Debra Madigan

Jenny Greenteeth scared me into buying this deck, and I am glad she did! The Fantastical Creatures Deck is one that pulls together in such a fresh, innovative, positive way, it both pleased and surprised me. I am a firm RW/UW reader, and I am generally leery of "dragony" decks. I first saw this deck on, and was intrigued enough to learn that the author was D. J. Conway (Celtic Dragon Tarot), with art by Lisa Hunt in her fantastic style. I went to U.S. Games (the manufacturer) to investigate more, and as a sign from the Goddess that I should have this deck, Lo and Behold, it was on sale for a very nice price!  I clicked "Buy" immediately. I can sum this terrific deck up in one word before going into depth about how informative and positive it is: WOW!
The cards themselves are a fairly firm stock, they fit well in the hand, and the back is a lovely beige with an oriental filigree circle that prevents the reader or querent from knowing reversals ahead of time---but this deck is to be read without reversals, according to the seventy-two page accompanying booklet.

Nice extras include a glossy layout sheet with innovative tarot spreads: Changes is a 5 card layout to help deal with change and transformation, and there's also a 5 card layout for present life challenges.  Two other very interesting ones are the Pyramid, which purports to show past, present, and future lives (or the past, present, and future in this life), and the Decision layout, consisting of 3 rows of three cards each, which show ultimately what could happen due to the actions we take on the cards (Isn't that what Tarot Reading is all about?).

There are a few "cheat sheet" cards that have quick two to three word summaries of the meanings of the cards.  These can come in handy before you become familiar with the deck.

Although I would classify this as a RW style deck, this one is much less ominous. The creators have no reversed meanings, and for each card there is a "magickal use," which involves some type of meditation, or possibly a spell related to the meaning of the card, intended to heal the pain of the querent.

There are 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana, including Jenny Greenteeth who slimed me into buying this deck. Jenny Greenteeth is a quite ugly swamp woman slithering along the Bayou swamp. She is oblivious to the three swords. This illustration just drew me in for several minutes.  The image just ooozes green Bayou slime and filth. What a fresh image for the Three of Swords! I later read in the accompanying booklet that Jenny Greenteeth lures her unsuspecting victims into her home, and they are never seen again. The card†meaning is quite traditional: omen of heartache, pain of separation of love, etc. 

I have so many favorite cards in this deck!  They are so well chosen, that some I had never heard of, and I learned quite a bit.  I will share a few of these innovative designs with you. Who could make a better Emperor than Pegasus? Or a better Empress than Celtic Morrigan (maiden, mother, and crone)?  A truly interesting take on the Hanged Man is Medusa, the Greek goddess being punished by having writhing snakes for hair, and possessing a gaze to put a man to stone. One of the loveliest Major Arcana is the Moon card, featuring a gentle unicorn and a friendly owl, illuminated from behind by a large witchy moon.

Examining the Lower Arcana was a delightful job, and it's difficult to choose only a few to highlight. Gratefully, this deck taught me about the tenga of the Shintu oriental religion (Five of Wands), and also about the female Valkyries (Seven of Wands). I particularly love the Griffin as the Nine of Wands, which neutralizes any negative cards in the layout and enhances any positive ones, as per the instructions in the booklet. This deck introduced me to the very intriguing kappa of Japan, a tricky water dweller that wears a tortoise shell and whose exposed body parts are covered with fish scales. If you can get him to knock the water off his head, you can get him to reveal healing and bone setting secrets, as he then loses his powers. Lastly, the suit of Cups marches out some of my favorite fantasy creatures. The Ace of Cups is represented by two lovely childlike fairies. The Two of Cups shows my longtime favorite, mer-people. Of course, I must mention the Nine of Cups, the Native American Mother Goddess, who is shown on a tortoise, symbolizing the Earth.

Finally, the Pentacles bring back the mischievous folk. The Two of Pentacles card features beautifully drawn Fey, graced with a Pentacle. The Three of Pentacles stars a hobgoblin painting five-pointed stars, with a long brush, just as an apprentice would. Adorable!

I say "Bravo!" to this deck, and I recommend it to RW fans who have been hungering for a little of the fantasy stuff.

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Tarot Reflections is published by the American Tarot Association - Copyright (C) 2008
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