“It is possible to re-learn the ancient art of communication with fantastic creatures. When approached in the proper ways, these powers can help us. By tapping into these astral sources, we can use the ancient images in divination to gain a clearer picture of what is causing life problems and what we can do about it.” – From the Little White Book
From the Lady of the Lake to the Kraken, Griffin to Jenny Greenteeth, the Fantastical Creatures Tarot brims with a dizzying array of gods, goddesses, mythological creatures and the stuff of legends.
Featuring the luminous artwork of Lisa Hunt, each card of the Major and Minor Arcana is dedicated to a specific being (or group of creatures). You’ll find dragons, a unicorn, faeries, a werewolf, a vampire, selkies, valkyries, gnomes, brownies, firedrakes and lion-dogs. Pegasus makes an appearance, as does a centaur, faun, minotaur, mermaids, harpies, The Djinn, firebird and The Sphinx.
Titania, the “mistress of glamour and matriarch of magick” finds representation in the Fantastical Creatures Tarot, as does Oberon, Gilgamesh, Kali Ma, Tiamat, Yemaya, Lilith, Quetzalcoatl, Circe and the triple-goddess Morrigan.
The cards retain traditional titles rather than the creature depicted, although Trump XV is cleverly re-named “Chains” in this deck. Minor suits are Wands, Cups, Pentacles and Swords and although Wands are associated with Air and Swords with Fire in this deck, the association isn’t obvious by illustration alone.
As always, Ms. Hunt’s stunning art shimmers with light and color, enlivening the fanciful world of creatures that are sometimes awe-inspiring and other times frightening, yet remain a ready menagerie of aid for those bold and trusting enough to call upon their energies for magick or insight.
The glossy cards measure approximately 4 ¾ x 2 ½ inches and have a simple circular filigreed motif centered on an ecru background, making the backings fully reversible.
Unfortunately, this lovely deck isn’t accompanied by a full-length book—only a 71-page Little White Book by D.J. Conway. Several times, the LWB description doesn’t seem to jive with card image. For example, the creatures in the 2 of Pentacles are described as Fey who are “human-sized, wingless members of the Fairy Kingdom”. However, the Fey in the card clearly have wings.
Although the brief mythology of each card is adequate, some of the interpretations seem a bit repetitive, as well as the descriptive elements of some of the images.
In addition, some of the choices of fantastical creatures seem ill suited to their particular cards and meanings. For example, the 3 of Pentacles represents mischievous hobgoblins that “like nothing better than to spoil luck, create nightmares, hide things and frighten people”. Yet, the divinatory meaning given is “opportunities will soon come from you to learn new skills”.
Two quick reference cards come with the Fantastical Creatures Tarot, providing keywords for both Arcanas. A large, two-sided illustrated fold-out with five spreads is also included in this kit. However, the keywords for the suits don’t seem right on the fold-out. For example, the Air/Mental realm is said to be made up of “thoughts, ideas, communications, emotions, relationships and love.” The first three, yes—but the last three? That’s the realm of Cups/Water/Emotions. If you love Lisa Hunt’s artwork, particularly the Animals Divine Tarot, you’ll want to get your hands on this lovely deck. Those inspired by mythology and otherworldly creatures will also likely enjoy the Fantastical Creatures Tarot. (I also think fans of Paul Mason, particularly the Fairy Ring, would also like this deck—especially since Jenny Greenteeth and others found therein).
However, this isn’t a good deck for beginners, especially with some of the confusing and contradictory elements found in the LWB and fold-out.
Below are 13 images from this deck:
Illustrations from the Fantastical Creatures Tarot deck reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902 USA. Copyright © 2007 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. Further reproduction prohibited.
Content copyright © by Janet Boyer. All rights reserved. This review was written by Janet Boyer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission.