The Victorian Fairy Tarot is a dreamy reflection of the victorian society where nature, in a time of intense industrialisation, can play a major role again. And how can we not feel a resonance with our time? This deck invites us to (re-)discover the language of flowers, the meanings and messages of the ever-changing seasons and to reconnect with our instincts, deepest feelings and ancient knowledges.
With the coming of Summer and all the flowers in bloom I thought it was the perfect time to dive into the world of a wonderful Tarot deck that I find incredibly powerful and deep: The Victorian Fairy Tarot.
In this post I’ll go through the look and feel but also the best uses I find for this deck. In two follow up posts I’ll show you some spreads that work really well with the fairies!
Look & Feel
The deck has an overall soft look and feel with many colours but mostly pastels and “quiet” tones, which makes it very relaxing and peaceful. It is definitely less “hard” than the Marseille deck, also in the shapes and general vibe.
Flowers and their symbolism, the fairies’ natural environment and the seasons play a major role in both the major and minor arcana.
Each fairy has its own flower which has a specific meaning. Note that the only human present in the deck is the Fool, all other characters are fairies with their own personalities, social roles and moods. Of course the Fool, just like us, is invited in this first card to enter and visit the world of the Victorian fairies. There are also a lot of animals who play secondary but important roles in the deck.
The Minor Arcana
The minor arcana is very different from classic decks but follows the structure of the Rider Waite. The coins, cups, sticks and swords are replaced with 4 seasonal courts.
The Spring Court (Wands) is of course the happiest of all. Most of the cards convey messages of new things starting, exciting times ahead, action, rebirth, hope, awakening and more. There is a lot happening in the world of our fairies when the ice starts melting: Spring is when fairies start working, cleaning, planting and prepare all the summer blossoms. It is also a time of artistic and creative inspiration.
The Summer Court (Cups) is a quieter one. The cards bring messages of joy, pleasure, love, fulness and plenitude…with some exceptions. For example: The Five of Summer is a card of warning and disappointment. The Four of Summer is a card of boredom, selfishness and inaction. This is a very subtle court.
The Autumn Court (Coins/Pentacles) speaks of very deep and important life principles. It’s the time of harvest, of results. It’s also a time of hard work as the cold winter needs to be prepared properly if our fairies wish to survive the icy winds and the snow. The cards in this court represent hard work, skills, patience, maturity. Personally, this is my favorite court of all.
The Winter Court (Swords) is the hardest and most challenging of all 4 courts. Winter is of course a terrible time for our fairies. Many of these cards speak of conflict, fear, danger and need. They are great for warnings or understanding the details of a complicated or conflictual situation.
I find this deck really great for guidance, life coaching and portrait. You can investigate your consultant’s emotional state very clearly with the fairies’ symbolism and sensibility. I particularly like the Dance of Happiness spread, which is recommended in the Companion book of the deck. This spread is basically a happiness check where you’ll see how happy you are, who are the people supporting you in your quest for happiness, who and what is working against you, what are the steps to take to achieve your happiness & more. I will post a sister blog post with a full walk through this spread.
The Victorian Fairy Tarot vs. The Marseille Tarot
The Victorian fairy deck is generally joyful and sweet. Of course, some of the cards include elements of conflict, sadness or fear but the main impression you get when browsing the cards is one of sweet old time charm. Where the Marseille cards are very sharp and somewhat “cold” the Victorian Fairy cards feel rounder. The deck also respects most of the important symbols of the Tarot with a few exceptions but thanks to these notes of fantasy it also brings different perspectives.
Now let’s compare some cards!
1. Card 0: The Fool
In the case of the Fool, both decks stick to a pretty similar symbolism but I find the Fairy version to be more hopeful and bright. The Marseille deck Fool stands for new beginnings, sparkles but also wanderings (sometimes dark ones). The most positive aspect of the Fool is that he often encourages us to believe and take leaps of Faith.
Keywords: new beginnings, adventure, open-mindedness, innocence and exploration
2. Card VI. The Fairy Bride & The Lover
These two cards are totally different from each other. The Fairy Bride represents pure love, happy relationships (incl. weddings, engagement, harmony…) and soul mates while the traditional Lovers card is more about hesitation and choices to be made in matters of love or else.
This element of hesitation is totally absent from the Fairy Bride card and if this same card would come out in a reading with each deck, its meaning could be completely different. Now, if you are used to other decks you will know the different meanings of the original cards and this will of course affect your interpretation, therefore the Fairy Bride could still represent choices to be made.*
Keywords: True Love, Soul Mates, Harmony, Choices
3. Card XI Fortitude & Strength (La Force)
Fortitude is one of my favorite cards in the Victorian Fairy deck. Both approaches convey the same message but the Fairy version went for a completely different feel.
A huge majority of the Tarot decks will represent strength with a lion or some dangerous animal. Here, the artist chose bees. Well compared to a fairy a bee is indeed a pretty big animal and can be very dangerous if you think that fairies are usually about 15cm tall (approx. 8 inches).
But even among the bees, the fairy on this card is nothing but peaceful and radiates calm confidence. The confidence that only comes with true life experience, with battles won and lost, with skills learned and fears overcome.
Keywords: Confidence, Inner Peace, Courage, Wisdom, Talent
Note: Justice and Force don’t always have the same number in all decks. It can be either 8 or 11. It’s the case here. I won’t go into this right now but this will make for an interesting talk in a separate post 🙂
4. Card IX: The Hermit
First things first: how gorgeous is this card? I really love the Hermit in all decks because it’s such a deep card but the fairy studying in its tree, sharing his light with the world and of course accompanied by the wisest of all birds is just perfect.
Both cards carry the same messages and meanings. The only main difference is that the Marseille Hermit is still hiding his light and riches under his ragged coat where the fairy Hermit hangs his light outside his home and welcomes other fairies to come and seek advice in his study. Both Hermits symbolize a quest for knowledge, a time of introversion and pursue of deeper understanding of the world.
Keywords: Knowledge, Introspection, Isolation, Reflection, Analyze, Stepping Back
5. Card XIII: Death
If you read Tarot for friends or customers, you probably know that people’s reaction to this card is often…interesting. Many of my consultants fear it very much. But I usually welcome it. Of course, if the cards surrounding it are creating a bad environment, then something can be feared and we usually don’t want to see the Devil or the Tower nearby. But Death is above all the card of new beginnings.
New beginnings imply letting go and letting go is never easy but I find this card hopeful 90% of the time. In the case of the Fairy deck, it’s a different story.
The scene is really one of death and goodbye. A friend of the fairies has been killed by men and they gathered to pay their last respects. Some of them holding a feather they will keep in remembrance. I see it as a time of sorrow, a necessity to let go of something that has ended and will not come back. But of course even in these sad circumstances: when something ends, something else always begins. Since the bird has been killed by men, we could also see the threat of the outside world in this card or a warning against dangerous enemies.
Keywords: Letting go, New Beginnings, Rebirth, Transformation
6. Card XVII: The Stars & The Star
To be totally honest, I have mixed feelings about the Fairy version of the Star. It is gorgeous but… the Fairy Star is passive. In the original version the Star is pouring hot clean water into a pond of old, dirty water. It is both purification and renewal process.
The Star is actively improving a situation by doing this. Above her, one star is also clearly shining brighter than the rest and this is no small detail for interpretation. The fairy version of the Star is in a much more passive role. But both cards share a true positive energy, they shine a light of hope and good fortune over a spread. They also deliver the same message: there is light in the darkness, a cosmic protection is in action, good fortune is here.
Keywords: Hope, Faith, Cosmic Protection, Guidance, Destiny, Spirituality, Connection of All Things
The Victorian Fairy Tarot is a gorgeous and powerful deck that belongs to any good Tarot collection. It is wonderful for seasonal spreads, portraits and guidance readings.
*(See more about the meanings of a card on my Tarot newbie’s guide)
Are you using this deck? Tell me what you think and how you use it by leaving a comment below!