Monday 25 January 2010

Review: The Faeries' Oracle by Brian Froud

Faerie oracles must be like buses. You wait ages for one, then two come along at once. At least, that was the case for me, getting The Faerie Callie, which I reviewed last week, closely followed by The Faeries Oracle designed by Brian Froud with text by tarot teacher Jessica Macbeth.

Actually, that isn’t quite true. Although The Faerie Callie has only just been published, The Faerie’s Oracle has been out for a while – I’ve just never had a copy before. I’m delighted I do now as it has become my deck of choice.

The two systems are quite different. The Faerie Callie is inspired by nature – specifically trees – and works best if you go out into woodland to collect fallen twigs on which to inscribe your personal divination set of symbols, asking permission of the faeries of nature before you do so.

The Faeries’ Oracle springs from the artistic vision of Brian Froud who, with Jim Henson, designed the amazing creatures in the fantasy movies Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. Brian’s books of illustrations include Faeries, Brian Froud's Goblins! and The Goblins of Labyrinth.

This oracle, featuring Brian’s amazing artwork, is a set of cards inspired by faeries and intended to open a connection with them.

The faeries are, as anyone familiar with Brian’s work might expect, wonderfully drawn, highly detailed and hugely varied. Some are beautiful figures with gossamer wings; some are grotesque goblinesque creatures. There are ethereal beings of light and fire; wizened old men moulded from earth; things half humanoid, half animal; dreamlike creations and those that hint of nightmares.

Each seems to have its own character. If you stare at any one for more than a moment, it almost seems to come alive, to whisper secrets to you. Hidden depths seem to open up and offer those glimpses of meaning that any fortune teller needs if they are to read the cards. Even the backs of the cards (pictured right) are fascinating, with faces that are the right way up whichever way you look at them.

This set, like most divination decks you can buy, comes with a book explaining what the cards represent. With regular tarot decks I normally pretty much ignore the official book and mostly rely on my own knowledge. With more unusual decks I tend to skim through the book, but after that only use it to look up unfamiliar cards.

Jessica's book that accompanies The Faeries’ Oracle is different. For a start, it says it is different. It teaches an intuitive way of reading cards, focusing on discovering one’s own individual interpretations for them rather than memorising the official ones.

Jessica says: “Don’t read someone else’s definitions of the cards until you already have some idea of what they mean to you.”

Fantastic advice; which I followed.

As instructed by the book, I spread the cards all out over the table and took time to study them, dividing them into groups as I felt like. I picked my own personal favourites – and those I liked least of all – and thought hard about why. I turned them over and practiced picking cards that seemed to call to me before seeing what they were - with some wonderful results. And I thought, what great advice as a way to get to know any deck of cards – though particularly so with one that promises communication with the faeries.

Out of my quite large collection of divination decks, I know this is one that will get used far more than most.

The Faeries Oracle is published by Simon & Schuster.

The Faeries Oracle
Brian Froud's Goblins!
The Goblins of Labyrinth
Dark Crystal/Labyrinth [DVD] [1982]


Anonymous said...

Spot on! This article is of very good advice. The Faiery Realm is easy for Sensing and Feeling types not to stray into trouble, but watch out Thinkers and Skeptics. Read Fairy lore with a respectful attitude and take the instruction literally so as not to offend or get oneself into nasty consequence over time. If this be your realm, you will come to know, even you big tough guys and girls, esp. you.

Ozzy said...

Very true