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Summary: A complex deck that can lead to intense readings by intermediate and advanced readers, it is also appropriate for those following Kisma’s Faery Wicca tradition. The Irish names will take dedication to master, but the usefulness of extra cards makes this a worthwhile endeavor. Those who are willing to explore it will find much to benefit readers and clients alike.
Some people collect cards for their artistic value, some use them for magick, some for spiritual development, and some for divination. The Faery Wicca Tarot is unique in that it looks like the "standard" deck and feels like one, but has so many differences—including the meanings of many cards—that this deck is definitely not a standard Tarot. It’s sort of like biting into a piece of fruit that looks like a peach and smells like a peach only to discover that it has the texture and taste of a banana.
Studying this book is really the key to the deck. After a brief introduction you follow the Element cards, the number cards of the minor arcana. Each description is part of a story followed by a brief poem. Rather than telling you, "This card means X, Y, or Z," the story and poem tend to provide concepts and feelings about each card, resulting in an almost initiatory experience. This is followed by some spreads to use with just these cards. Then come the Helper cards—the court cards of the minor arcana—followed by more spreads. Next comes the Ancient Ones, the major arcana, and more spreads. Finally, the four Gift of Faery cards are described along with more spreads.
As you learn more and more about the cards, the spreads become more unique and complex. With complexity comes precision and accuracy. In short, this is a deck for those who are willing to study and practice. The results will be very worthwhile and rewarding.
This also follows the concepts presented in Ms. Stepanich’s tradition of Faery Wicca. If you are one of the many people involved in that system, this deck is ideal for more in depth work.
Just as the interpretation of the cards seems to move from traditional to unique, the artistic style of artist Renée Christine Yates is a conundrum. The Ace of Aer seems to be almost primitive in style (primitive in an artistic sense, as in the style of Grandma Moses) while other cards have explosions of depth and realism. For example, look at the fish on the Four of Uisce or shield on the Ridire of Domhan.
A totally unique aspect to this deck consists of the four extra cards known as the "Gift of Faery" cards. They are the Apple Branch, Crane Bag, Hazel Wand and Holy Stone. Although not directly related to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, their purpose seems similar to a part of the way they used their Tarot. At the beginning of the system, after determining your question, you would cut the deck into four piles and turn them to look at the bottom cards of the piles. Loosely, the piles can be seen as associated with the meanings of the four elements. The reader looks through the piles for the significator. The element of the pile the significator is in gives a general direction for the reading. By randomly pulling one of the Gift of Faery cards you will get an indication of the level of perception you are operating in. The book describes other ways to use these cards, too.
The book concludes with a pronunciation guide to all of the Irish words on the cards and in the book. Together, the book and cards make a valuable tool for Tarot readers.
The eighty-three cards of the Faery Wicca Tarot and the 181-page booklet in this set have two tasks. First, they present a vision of the Tarot with extra cards unique to this deck. This complete system is a wondrous tool for inner transformation, designed to help you make wiser decisions and have a richer journey on your spiritual path.
In order to accomplish this, you will need to know the divinatory meanings of the cards and how to use them in spreads. The booklet explains the meaning of each card and shows how they are used in fifteen different layouts. Examples allow you to see exactly how to use the cards for a variety of purposes.
The second task is to share the magnificent vision of the Faery Wicca, based upon ancient Irish myth and legend. It brings the ancient gods and goddesses to life to guide, comfort, and imbue you with spirituality and power. The symbolism on these cards brings forth that vision in a way that can inspire you to a greater understanding of the Faery Wicca path and a deeper understanding of yourself.
Whether you want Kisma K. Stepanich's Faery Wicca Tarot for its introduction to the Faery Wicca tradition or its usefulness as a divinatory tool, you should get it today.
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications
Creator: Kisma K. Stepanich
Artist: Renée Christine Yates
Name of accompanying booklet: Faery Wicca Tarot
Number of pages of book/booklet: 180
Author of book/booklet: Kisma K. Stepanich
Brief biography of author: Kisma K. Stepanich was born July 4, 1958, in Southern California. She has been actively involved in the Goddess community since the early 1980s. Kisma founded Women Spirit Rising of Costa Mesa, a woman’s organization that provides ongoing New and Full Moon ceremonies, monthly Goddess mythology circles, seasonal celebrations and women's spirituality workshops. Of Irish and Romanian descent, Kisma Proudly claims her European heritage. Having studied and undergone initiation in the Celtic and Faery traditions, she turned her focus to the native traditions of America and has studied and undergone initiation with several Shamans of Native American traditions. Kisma works toward integrating all indigenous traditions and worldwide Goddess cultures into one unified Earth tradition which she calls the Gaia Tradition.
Available in a boxed kit?: Instead of the normal little booklet, this deck comes in with a book that has the same length and width as the deck. The deck itself is in a box, and there is a slipcase that holds both the book and the boxed deck. This is very clever as it doesn’t take up a lot of room but still includes far more information than is usually found in those tiny "little white booklets" that accompany most Tarot decks.
Magical Uses: Contacting spirits, developing intuition
Reading Uses: Determining directions for the future, general advice
Ethnic Focus: Celtic
Artistic Style: Basic colored illustration
Theme: Celtic Faery Wicca
Does it follow Rider-Waite-Smith Standard?: Somewhat, but with a Faery Wicca twist.
Does it have extra cards?: Yes
What are they?: The major arcana cards are renamed as "The Ancient Ones" cards. More on this below. There is one extra card here, numbered 00. It is named "The Tree of Life (Crann Na Beatha).
Does it have alternate names for major arcana cards?: Yes
What are they?:
Number Traditional Faery Wicca
00 [None] The Tree of Life
0 Fool The Seeker
1 Magician The Druid
2 High Priestess High Priestess
3 Empress The Mother Goddess
4 Emperor The Father God
5 Hierophant The Guide
6 Lovers The Beloved
7 Chariot The Chariot
8 Strength Poetical Justice
9 Hermit The Holy Man
10 Wheel of Fortune The Sun Wheel
11 Justice Strength of Will
12 Hanged Man The Hangman
13 Death The Banshee Crone
14 Temperance The Holy Waters
15 The Devil The Old One
16 Tower The Round Tower
17 The Star The Star
18 The Moon Old Witch Moon Hill
19 The Sun The Sun Child
20 Judgement The Judgement
21 World The Weaver Goddess Each card also has the name in Irish.
Does it have alternate names for minor arcana suits?: Yes. The suits are named, in Irish, after the traditional magical elements. Domhan(Earth) replaced Pentacles. Tine (Fire) replaces wands. Aer (Air) replaces swords. Uisce (Water) replaces cups.
The number cards of the minor arcana are called the "Element" cards, while the court cards are called "Helper" cards. When you originally get the deck, instead of a suit running from the numbers through the court of the suit, you get all forty of the Element cards followed by the sixteen Helper cards. Each of the Helper cards represents an actual figure from Celtic mythology. Although the Element and Helper cards have symbolism, it is sparse compared to many other decks. Still, they give enough information to properly interpret the cards according to the information in the book.
The Major Arcana can be used in traditional fashion, but there are some dramatic differences. The most obvious one is the change of the cards numbered eight and eleven. The Faery Wicca Tarot uses the ancient format. These two cards were changed by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a practice continued by one of that Order’s members, A.E. Waite. It is this version that is the modern standard, but a little history doesn’t make this too jarring.
Some of the symbolism on the others is more unusual. Card 7, The Chariot, has only one horse rather than two. Card 8, Poetical Justice, seems vicious, with a young pregnant woman being driven away. Card 12 shifts the focus from the traditional Hanged Man to the person who does the hanging, The Hangman. The author does this to move away from the concept of sacrifice represented by the card—"sacrifice implies martyrdom or victimhood" the author writes. The author gives the divinatory meaning of this card as "change," and this concept can easily be incorporated into readings.
Why was deck created?: According to the author, while sitting in a stone circle in Ireland, the vision of Dana came to her and inspired her with the design for this deck.