Author: Anna Franklin
Artist: Paul Mason
Book and Cards Set
Publication date: August 2002
View Sample Cards
Price & More Info: Click Here
The Fairy Ring is a Tarot-like divination deck which features beautiful illustrations of the fairy folk from the British Islands. The illustrations are the star of this deck. Paul Mason has combined photographs with original illustrations via computer imaging in a truly seamless way. The people the various fay are based on truly look like they are in the pictures. The effect is very well done and quite striking. If you collect decks based on artwork, you can probably skip the rest of the review and just go buy the deck. Art wise, The Fairy Ring is first class.
If you are looking for a standard Tarot deck, however, be aware that The Fairy Ring is not a Tarot deck. Each of the four suits (called "courts" in this deck) is named for one of the seasons and is indicated by the border surrounding the central picture on each card. Like a normal deck of playing cards, there are thirteen cards in each suit: ten numbered cards and three court cards (Knave, Queen/Lady and King). Each card depicts a particular type of fay creature or, in some cases, are particular fay. For example, the two in the Spring Court is a leprechaun while the eight in the Winter Court is a bogeyman.
Unlike a Tarot, The Fairy Ring does not have a major arcana. Instead it has eight "fairy festival" cards: Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Midsummer, Lughnasa, Herfest, Samhain, and Yule. Four extra cards describe four of the divination layouts for the deck. The authors appear as characters in the deck. Anna Frankin is the Green Lady and the Lake Maiden while Paul Mason is King Finvarra. The cards themselves are the usual Llewellyn size, slightly larger than the average Tarot card.
The set comes with a 260 page book, Guide to the Fairy Ring. This book provides a brief introduction to the world of the Fay, nine card layouts for use in divination, a sample reading, and a very brief guide to using the cards for meditation. The majority of the book, of course, is devoted to descriptions of the cards. Each card has a large black and white picture, a description of the card and of the fay being depicted thereon, divinatory meanings (both upright and reversed).
Many of the cards include a section on "working with" the type of fay creature depicted. In my opinion, working with faeries requires more skill and knowledge than this book provides. To the book's credit, however, the "Working with" entry for those fay that are known in legend to be hostile or unfriendly is simply two words: "Not Recommended." The methods given under the "Working with" heading vary quite a bit: from general info about what the creature likes to full pathworking suggestions.
I like The Fairy Ring for its art. As I mentioned at the start of this review, it is a feast for the eyes. As a divination tool, it was not my personal cup of tea. While the pictures on the cards were wonderful, they lack the detailed symbolism that I really like in a deck I'm going to use for divination. It was not nearly as hard for me to read with as a Tarot deck with nothing but pips in the minor arcana, however. If you collect decks for their art, this deck is probably one you'll want in your collection. If you want a deck to read with and don't mind that it is not a Tarot deck, it's worth a look. Unlike many non-Tarot divination decks, the book provides more than enough information to learn to use the deck in divination.
A final note: the sample card scans do not do this deck justice. You really need to see the cards full size to appreciate the art.
Reviewed by Randall