This beautiful gold-rimmed deck looks as if it was discovered in a moss-covered fairy chest. The artwork is intoxicating; even for non-Tarot readers, as is evidenced by my wife's wanting to frame some of the cards. The deck is definitely G-rated with no nudity; however, there are some of the most sensual and seductive looking creatures I have ever encountered on cards. The whole fascination with fairies is more than sufficiently satisfied with the depiction of rich landscapes, magical costumes and four very fanciful fairy tales told in the Minor Arcana cards.
The Major Arcana cards are rich with symbolism. Some is very evident; however, some is so fairy-specific, that it takes some time with the accompanying book to understand all the elements you see in a given card. For example, the Emperor wears shoes. Not being fairy-literate, I did not know that was unusual. It appears that Ms. Ravenscroft's choice to shoe her Emperor indicates his bowing to social conventions. He literally stands between the world of the fae and the world of the humans.
Even without knowing all of the fairy lore, I still was fascinated by the detail of the artwork and the plethora of symbols incorporated into each card. This detail had me spending long periods of inspection with each card. Working with the Major Arcana for meditation was a deeply rewarding experience.
As I mentioned before, there is an intense sensuality in the Major Arcana. The Devil is one of the hottest Devils I have ever seen. Draped in a low cut bodice and flowing purple dress accented with black wings, stick-like antlers and small delicate horns on her shoulders (remnants of her dragon ancestry), she is the ultimate Goth princess. Every Major card in this deck exudes the essence of the card. The Sun is all energy; the Empress blossoms with fertility; the Moon bathes in mystery and shadow.
The Minor Arcana offers a challenge. Each suit tells a story or a fairy tale. As a result, the standard meanings of the Rider-Waite will not match up exactly; however, from a learning standpoint, the way the Minor cards were created was brilliant. Once we have heard a fairly tale as a child, we tend to remember every detail of it for the rest of our years. That is exactly how these cards work. Take the Wands, for example. The Wands tell a story of two fairy friends off to seek their fortune. Once you have read through the story once and looked at the cards once, you should have it.
This brief bit of unlearning takes very little time and I found I could read with the cards very accurately within an hour of picking them up. It may be a little unnerving for those of you tied to a specific deck, but it is worth the effort.
Even if you decide not to read with these cards, they make a beautiful addition to any collection. The Mystic Faerie Tarot set (ISBN 978-0-7387-0921-5) comes with the deck, a 312-page book and a beautiful gold organdy bag. This would make a great gift for Tarot collectors, readers or even fairy enthusiasts.