Deck Review, Reviews

Oracle Deck Review: Wild Wisdom of the Faery

Deck: Wild Wisdom of the Faery Oracle
Publisher: Blue Angel
Writer: Lucy Cavendish
Artist: Selina Fenech
Overall Rating: 5/10

image (c) Blue Angel. Cards shown are: Lift the Darkness, Acorn’s Invitation, Star Dust, and Into the Woods

Cardstock: They’re pretty flexible and smooth, but the cards are nearly too large for me to shuffle. They measure about 5.5″ tall and 3.75″ wide (or 14cm x 9.5 cm). Still, I manage to get them mixed up well with a combination of shuffling methods. The deck box is a two part hard case, which so far is holding up well.

Artwork: The artwork appears to be mostly traditional media, but the artist’s website says that she often begins with watercolor or acrylic, and then adds a little more in digital form afterwards. If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m generally a sucker for watercolors. A lot of the art is pretty “twee”, almost all the fairies have wings, and while there’s a range of sizes (from tiny to human-sized), there’s not much by way of diversity of body shape or skin tone (mostly femme, white, thin, and wearing filmy clothing). The cards also have the name and keywords written over the image, despite the rather large border, and the contrast isn’t great on a few of them.

Book: The booklet pretty large, about 170 pages, though the beginning is a bunch of New Age Fairy Nonsense that sees Them as mainly benevolent (if tricksy) nature angels, and says that all the stories of bad luck and negative encounters are a product of Church propaganda. For example, they define the Unseelie Court by saying: “not so fond of humans, as they feel we have been very harmful. Most of the Unseelie’s [sic] have ‘given up’ on us. ‘Tis up to us to prove them wrong.” Yeah okay, I guess maybe kelpies eat people because they… littered? Sure, okay, let’s just ignore several centuries of living belief and practice. [/sarcasm]
The booklet does include a few interesting spreads, though I still can’t advise invoking the Fair Folk or asking them for divinatory advice on your life situations, the way it recommends.
The descriptions of the cards themselves have a few paragraphs of description and then a few paragraphs each of divinatory meanings and reversed meanings, which is always helpful. The cards all have their number on the top border, so you can flip through the book to find them, but they aren’t in alphabetical order.

Likes: I like the general art style, though I wish it depicted a more diverse cast. I also do actually really like the amount of information the booklet gives for each card, because as I’m learning a new deck I really like to figure out what the writer and artist were both thinking, so I can better understand their symbolism, and build that into my intuitive readings. I do also like it when there are a couple of keywords on the card when it’s an oracle deck, because with those there’s no set of meanings like there is with tarot, lenormand, or runes.

Dislikes: Basically the entire introductory section in the the book. And the lack of diversity. And the borders, and how the keywords aren’t well contrasted. The size of the cards.

Overall Recommendation

TL;DR: if this one goes missing or gets water damaged, I probably won’t buy a new one. A lot of my clients seem to like the artwork, but I never use this one for my own personal readings unless I can’t use something better. I bought it a while back because it was pretty, but this one really is a bit too twee for my tastes. The Faery Forest Oracle by Lucy Cavendish again, but with artwork by Maxine Gadd, is a bit less twee, and I find that they work okay together, for better rounded answers. The Wild Wisdom of the Faery Oracle sugarcoats like a candy store, so if you’re looking for a very gentle deck with a sunny disposition and cute artwork, it’ll probably serve you well, but I think a fair few of my readers will be put off by the twee.

Deck Review, Reviews

Tarot Deck Review: The Everyday Tarot

Deck: The Everyday Tarot
Publisher: Running Press
Writer: Brigit Esselmont of Biddy Tarot
Artist: Eleanor Grosch
Overall Rating: 7/10

image (c) Running Press. Cards shown are: Five of Swords, Death, and King of Wands

Cardstock: The cards are smaller than normal tarot cards, closer to poker card sized, and it can be a little awkward to shuffle all 78 of them. The cardstock is of good quality, though, not too slick and not too rough, and the printing is very vibrant. I find the borders not too distracting, and the gilded edges are a nice touch.

Artwork: The artwork is tricolor (white, gold, and purple) and combines flat white, luminous gold, and a watercolor textured purple. The images are done mainly with the human figures in silhouette, and a sort of minimalistic theme overall, but they’re recognizable to those familiar with the Rider-Waite-Smith system, and have enough intricacies to be beautiful, rather than boring.

Book: The booklet is about the same size as the cards and 87 pages long. It has a short paragraph for each upright and reversed meaning for each card, which is a pretty good amount of information, but does not contain a list of keywords. Somewhat unusually, there isn’t any more information on the majors than there is on the pips.

Likes: It’s pretty straightforward, like a minimalist version of the RWS, and therefore an easy deck to read for anyone used to that system. I really do like the artwork, though I wasn’t sure about it at first. It grew on me.

Dislikes: I was somewhat surprised that the deck didn’t contain the two lists of keywords that are listed on the Biddy Tarot website! And the cards are somewhat awkward to shuffle, as I mentioned above. I also don’t really like the box. It’s a magnetic clasp wrap like the cover of a book, with no top or bottom, but there’s a clear plastic case for the cards that’s rather flimsy, and to get the booklet to stay in, it has to be inserted in a slot in the cover. I’ll be moving this one to a knit bag, probably.

Overall Recommendation

I think in a different carrying case this would make a very good travel deck. I think it would make a good first deck for new readers, if combined with the resources on the Biddy Tarot website. It occupies a niche in my collection somewhere around “neutral-pretty”, and may make a good in-person reading deck, though because of the pandemic I really haven’t been doing that lately. I’m glad I own it, but this is not one of the ones I’d buy again immediately if I misplaced it.

Deck Review, Reviews

Oracle Deck Review: The Vintage Wisdom Oracle

Deck: The Vintage Wisdom Oracle
Publisher: US Games Systems, Inc
Writer & Artist: Victoria Mosely
Overall Rating: 8/10

image (c) US Games Systems. Cards shown are Release and Ancestors

Cardstock: They’re maybe a little thicker than I would like, considering the size of the cards. They measure 5.5″ tall and 3.75″ wide (or 14cm x 9.5 cm). My hands can’t riffle shuffle them very easily, but I manage with a combination of shuffling methods. The deck box is a two part hard case, which holds up well.

Artwork: The artwork is mixed media, using old photographs and paintings as the base, onto which the artist has added embellishments, both physical and digital. I really enjoy the dreamlike quality of it, and some of the base images are recognizable to me. (At least one of the cards is a Waterhouse painting.) If the art doesn’t speak to you, though, that would probably knock a whole point off my review.

Book: The booklet pretty large, 75+ pages, with 5-8 paragraphs describing each card and its meaning. The cards are all in alphabetical order which is a really nice feature, and makes it easier to look up a card. It also includes five example spreads at the end, and instructions for laying the cards.

Likes: I really like the artwork. It matches the card titles pretty well, and also most of card titles are pretty straightforward: Abundance, Adventure, Ancestors, Awakening, etc. This deck lends itself well to intuitive reading.

Dislikes: I would have liked the cards a touch smaller for easier shuffling. Also, some of the cards have more Christian symbolism than I prefer, despite the deck in general being very new age neutral.

Overall Recommendation

This is my go-to deck for messages from Ancestors, partly because it’s so easy to read intuitively. But as with some of the others I’ve reviewed, one’s enjoyment of the art will make or break this deck. If you don’t like the art style, if it doesn’t speak to you, it will lose most of its magic.

Deck Review

Tarot Deck Review: Lord of the Rings

Deck: The Lord of the Rings Tarot Deck & Card Game

Publisher: US Games Systems, Inc.

Developer: Terry Donaldson

Artist: Peter Pracownik

Overall Rating: 7/10

IMGP2447

Cardstock:  Easy enough to shuffle.  Seems to stand up okay to heavy use – I have a couple of cards that are separating a little and most of the cards have nicked borders, but I’ve been using this deck for years, so that’s understandable.

Artwork:  Back allows for reversals.  Black borders.  Card names on stonework border to the left.  Short phrase or sentence on wood plank beneath the image (For example, the Fool depicts Gollum seated with a fish by a pool of water, with a waterfall in the background, and the sentence beneath him says “Gollum, by a pool of water, considers the many possibilities open to him”).  Most artwork depicts scenes or figures from the Lord of the Rings, sometimes with pips superimposed.  Artwork is detailed, like miniaturized paintings.  Facial expressions are somewhat ambiguous, owing to the small size relative to the card.  The two borders take up a lot of room.  Some of the artwork is a little strangely proportioned, and Eowyn is oddly sexualized in a moment where she ought to be wearing battle armor.  Some of the artwork, especially when it relates to Sauron or the One Ring, is more stylized and less of a “scene”, which interrupts the continuity of the artwork a little.

LWB: Pretty helpful.  Gives a decent amount of information on both Majors and Minors.  Some information on reversals for Majors (but not Minors).  Meanings pretty consistent with traditional themes.  Gives one spread example: Celtic Cross.  Does not give much information on how to read tarot.  Half the book is the weird card game you can also play.  There is apparently also a companion book which does the work of bridging the little phrases on the cards with the meanings in the LWB, but I’ve only ever seen one, and that was in a second-hand shop (I bought it, of course!).

Likes: I’m a huge LOTR nerd, so I loved the theme.  I don’t know if this is exactly how I would have done it if I were going to make a fan-art LOTR tarot deck, but I’m pretty happy with it.  The fandom angle did help me get a better understanding of the meanings for the most part.  I also really like the detail in the artwork, though I could see why those who dislike borders or have vision impairments would find it difficult.  I’m ambivalent on the sentences at the bottom – I liked the idea when I bought this deck (it was my first one) but they don’t line up quite as well as I would like and sometimes they’re more unhelpful than helpful.

Dislikes: I wish the facial expressions were readable.  I also kind of wish the deck included characters from the Hobbit and the Silmarillion, because the cards are all just the Fellowshippers over and over again, really.  Too much border, not enough art.  The awkwardness of the card game, which means there are little extra graphics on the cards.  Not much information on tarot in general.  I’m not crazy about the artwork style, even though I appreciate the detail – I would prefer more continuity and more realistic proportions in the figures.

 

Overall Recommendation: This would be a good deck for anyone who doesn’t mind borders and likes LOTR.  Probably not a good idea for a beginner deck, though it worked out okay for me.  The theme and art would probably make it a good choice for in-person readings somewhere like a fantasy fair, and it holds up well to repeated use.  At $15 on Amazon it’s pretty inexpensive, and might make a good deck for someone on a budget.  In general I like it (it’s one of my go-to’s in my admittedly small collection) but it’s certainly not for everyone.

 

Readings with this deck are available in my Etsy Shop.