“Fairy tales provide the ideal format for self-exploration. The themes, motifs, archetypes, and symbols bring us to a place of shared experience, where our own individual struggles can be easily assimilated into those of the characters from the story. They help to free the mind by offering us an atmosphere of wonder.” – From Once Upon a Time…, the companion book to the Fairy Tale Tarot
My very first Tarot deck was based on fairytales (Inner Child Cards). I mistakenly thought that the familiar, magical stories would gently lead me through the mysteries of Tarot, making my studies easier and more enjoyable than perhaps a traditional learning curve through the cards.
How wrong I was!
It turns out that fairytale themed Tarot decks (there are four known to me), are among the most challenging. Perhaps this is because of the archetypal layers that may reside in just one fairytale; when viewed through a psychological or Jungian lens, the enchanting stories of our youth gain complexity and profundity.
Lisa Hunt’s Fairy Tale Tarot, her fifth deck and second deck/book creation, is no exception. While I was understandably drawn in by Lisa’s hallmark ethereal watercolor images, reading some of the cards presented a bit of a challenge at first, especially when the images seemed at odds with conventional renderings (for example, the dancing girl from the Wood Fairy story, representing The Hermit).
However, like the other decks before it, I took this initial resistance as an invitation to expand my current cache of card associations. My patience and diligence were eventually richly rewarded, for the cards from the Fairy Tale Tarot revealed themselves to me in unexpected ways. When laying them out in a line and reading them as a story, the cards showed me connections between motifs (such as recurring moon symbols) that would have remained hidden had I put this deck through my usual paces.
You’ll find familiar stories in Lisa Hunt’s Fairy Tale Tarot—Cinderella, Three Billy Goats Gruff, Rapunzel, Jack in the Beanstalk, Hansel and Gretel, Ugly Duckling, Sleeping Beauty, Goldilocks, Snow White and so on—but there are also lesser-known gems from around the world like Urashima and the Turtle, the Three Animal Kings, the Golden-Headed Fish, Little One Inch, the Thunder Dragon, etc.
I love that the card imagery has no distracting borders, with the card title printed on an unobtrusive ornate scroll at the bottom. The cards measure approximately 4 ¾ x 2 ¾ inches with a simple yet elegant reversible key and vine filigree symbol on the backings.
In the 299-page companion book to the Fairy Tale Tarot, Once Upon a Time…, Lisa offers engaging retellings of 78 fairy tales, as well as symbols, meanings and keywords. Each card is reproduced in grayscale at the beginning of each chapter, which is great in case you don’t happen to have the deck with you. Whimsical line drawings of Puss in Boots are peppered throughout the pages (the one on the Contents page is especially adorable), which provides additional charm to the companion book.
As with the current Llewellyn Publications Tarot box sets, the Fairy Tale Tarot also comes with a black organdy bag and a plain white cardboard box for storage.
I have found Lisa Hunt’s Fairy Tale Tarot incredibly insightful for personal readings (in fact, two separate times it helped me quite specifically with health issues!), as well as for spiritual contemplation. Those who adore fairy tales, as I do, will no doubt fall in love with this gorgeous deck, lovingly rendered by an artist/author who obviously seeks to impart wonder and delight to the world through her work.