The Heart of the Faerie Oracle by Brian and Wendy Froud with Robert Gould © Harry N. Abrams
Status: Currently reading with it
Best for: Everyday questions, as this deck loves attention but relationship and spirit-relation questions are favored.
Favorite decks: The Rox, The Fixer, The Dreaming
Acquired from: A gift from a follower on tumblr back in 2012.
A gift from a follower who has since left the community. This is one of my favorite decks and certainly one of the easiest to work with. This deck can be snarky, a bit dark, and have more depth and meaning than you might assume right off the bat.
While this deck was designed for relationships (not just romantic but in general) and for introspection but there’s very little that this deck won’t do for me. This deck can be mischievous, blatantly and sometimes painfully obvious, and have hidden depths that can be easily missed by other readers. If you love faeries, this is the deck to chose, no matter what your question is.
It should be noted that this is an oracle deck, not a tarot and does not follow the tarot meanings in any way. Each card has its own meaning that as been written by the deck’s creators Brian and Wendy Froud. That being said, as with all divination tools, it’s up to the reader to divine the proper answer from the cards.
The book’s published by Abrams publishing so I’m assuming the deck is published there as well or outsourced accordingly. The printing quality is very good although the card stock is a bit on the thin side. Not paper thin but slightly thinner than your average tarot card or playing card.
The card stock still retains a sheen, even after years of abuse, although the sheen isn’t shiny but rather matte. This means that light doesn’t reflect off the cards but you will get a glare on the cards. It’s the same kind of coating playing cards use I believe. Due to the sheen, you’ll be able to tell under close inspection there’s scratches on the card but unless it’s a deep gouge, the card image itself probably won’t be damaged.
The cards are somewhat larger than average tarot cards, making the cards occasionally difficult to shuffle for those with small hands. The rounded edges are slightly more round than a normal tarot card I’d say, more along the lines of a playing card.
For some reason, this deck doesn’t really shuffle super well. Because of the size, I can bend the cards to shuffle the riffle-style but they tend to clump together in chunks, even after years. I’m assuming this is due to the size and card stock coating. I remember it having been difficult to shuffle when I first got the deck. Fanning powder wouldn’t go amiss here or just shuffling often to keep the cards moving smoothly.
The cards hold up well over time. I’ve used this deck on an almost weekly basis for years and only the edges where I shuffle are a little worn. It even holds up well in travel which is good because it’s gone across the country and around town in a handbag dozens of times.
The deck came in a large, flimsy cardboard box, not unlike a cracker box. I abhors tiny items in large boxes for seemingly no good reason, largely because with smart packaging design, it would save so much shipping cost and waste. In this case, the box size was largely created due to the companion book size.
I tend to keep the boxes because I have the space but I don’t store it with the book or deck. It’s stuck under a shelf actually. Instead, the book sits on a bookshelf with other divination books and the cards in a bag I crocheted for it.
This deck does come with a lengthy, hard-covered companion book (as does Brian Froud’s other oracle deck, the Faerie Oracle). There’s a ballpark of 137 pages (including the “notes” section). The book is broken up into sections such as “Queens”, “Queens’ Consorts”, “Archetypes”, “Tricksters”, and “The Journey” among others. Each card has it’s own page or two, with a red-toned image of the card in question and since easy card is numbered, it’s easy to look up the card’s meaning in the book. The cards are give a few key meanings (usually three) and a paragraph or two of some more in-depth things to look for. Since the deck is geared towards relationships and personal introspection, the questions or musings will pertain mostly to that. If you’ve read Froud’s work before, you’ll recognize how the faeries are described, not as images on a page but living people that are speaking to you through the artwork.
Little drawings from Froud are scattered throughout the book making it a pleasure for even just Froud fans to flip through. Additionally, there’s a few pages in the back for notes (as well as ample space in the pages’ margins). There’s also a little introduction in the beginning as well as a oracle how-to and interview session in the back with Frouds about the deck. There’s also a few scattered mystical quotes throughout. One spread is described in the back of the book but it’s entirely words so visual-oriented people might be displeased.
Overall, the book’s pretty handy and almost necessary at first but you’ll find yourself using it less and less over the years. I tend to only glance at it when my brain blanks out or I know there’s a keyword that I want for a specific reading and can’t remember it.
Art-wise, it’s Froud so expect some uniquely Froud designs. The large borders around the cards sort of disappear after a while because the colors of the borders at least go with the theme of the deck. It would be pretty hard to cut down the borders on this deck due to the typography and images.
The deck backs are colorful and remind me a bit of Sailor Moon. They’re very pretty and go along with the general theme of the deck. They’re also consistent mirrors so you can’t immediately tell if something’s reversed unless the card’s damaged in some way.
The art’s consistent in the sense it all has the same theme and it’s all very Froud. However, some cards are super fantasy-vibrant and others are dulled or almost folk-like. There’s a few cards that come off as sketches such as Oh No! and Of Two Minds This is all very on purpose however rather than feeling unfinished.
Color-wise, you get a pretty wide variance. Some cards like the Queen of the Night are dark while Oh No! and Of Two Minds have a greyscale sketch art. Elaborate backgrounds are everywhere here so there’s always some detail to look at in the cards. Some cards will strongly remind one of the Faerie Oracle such as The Faerie of Naughtiness or the Star Faerie in the sense that it’s more light and swirls than clear cut images. Expect a lot of dark purples, browns, blues, and black with splashes of lavender, white, gray, tan, and red.
The lettering is capital print in white and stands out nicely with the cards, making it easy to read. Usually you’re looking at the images. Sometimes the lettering can be difficult if there’s a super busy background in the card because the background can be distracting more than the lettering is difficult to read.
Nudity is pretty common in the deck and while genitals aren’t showcased, buttocks and breasts are fairly prominent. It reads entirely as art though and not pornography. It is something to be aware of when reading for others.
The content of the cards are very consistent as well. You know you’re looking at faeries. Some have more presence than others. Hope reads not as a subject where the faerie is key but the situation the faerie is in. In the Question or The Leaving, there’s a scene offered where in the Star Faerie, is a lot of glowy light in the vague shape of a faerie reminiscence of the Faerie Oracle. Generally speaking, there’s a main faerie on display with some amazingly busy and often muted backgrounds. Each card is very specifically and purposefully designed so it can be just as important to look at the background as it can be to look at the words or the main image.
With cards like “Lady of Joy”, “Queen of Bedlam”, and “Oh No!” you can easily use these cards in daily draws to remind yourself of what to keep in mind throughout the day. There’s a TON of hidden meaning though so you’re going to find some deeper, secondary meaning that might not be as positive or friendly as one might assume off the bat. The Shape Shifter, for example, as a few wings and two faeries. The whole flightiness, hard to pin down, and ever-shifting moodiness is obvious but the flip side is also obvious – seeing through it all with piercing eyes, capturing someone who is trying to run away. Look at what the faeries are holding or doing because there’s more insight there for you to find.
Generally speaking, when combined with the card titles, you can easily get to the card’s meaning but some are just curious. The first card “Queen of the Golden Bough” might give one pause when coming up with an immediate meaning. You might find yourself looking closer to the background or even diving for the book in a reading for the meaning. Some cards sort of end up with the same meaning with slight variances, depending on how you reading so you might want to keep that in mind when reading. How does The Lady of Joy differentiate from The Blessing or The Child? Or the Lady of Song and The Song?As archetypes, they’re similar enough so what makes them so different?
Most of the faeries have varying colored skin and some are larger women versus small slips of girls but by and large, they read mostly as white with a few exceptions. There are a TON of heterosexual and binary sort of thinking here. The Queens are all feminine presenting and the Queens’ Consorts are all masculine presenting. Since when are faeries so entirely binary or heterosexual? The less humanoid the faerie, the less binary (and more colorful) they get. Which leads me to thinking this: does this deck unintentionally present that the more solid and humanoid you are, the more binary or heterosexual you are? Or the more geared towards procreation? I find myself sometimes wishing for more in these terms in this deck.
And then, there’s some cards like the Hero that shows a long haired human in the main role. The image could be gender neutral but generally provokes a female-presenting image. The book in this case discusses how love can be a determinate factor in journeys. Yet cards like The Pan and The Boy are about adventures and are clearly masculine. This was probably intentional. It certainly brings up ideas like the movie the Labyrinth and books like Peter Pan.
Additionally, there’s the Lord of the Forest and the Lady of the Forest. I’m not overly thrilled with the humanization and binary gendering of these cards. I expected, honestly, a buck or some other sort of impressive beast-based faerie for the Lord and maybe some sort of water-based faerie or, even better, a large hunting predator-based faerie. These too would adhere to the gender binary, make no mistake, but at least they wouldn’t be extremely human looking. I don’t know. I don’t really have a solution for this specific problem but I do know they’re some of my least favorite cards in the deck.
This is certainly an oracle deck and reads very much like it but you can find correlation to tarot easily enough if you look for it (but so could everything if you look hard enough). It can be incredibly easy to learn but may throw you through a loop at times, especially if you miss some background image or side meaning that you wouldn’t normally jump right to. It can be read in a shallow manner at times, especially if you’re moving quickly and looking at the titles of the cards rather than the words. The duality of the cards in this sense is something that keeps me coming back to the deck but if you don’t connect immediately or aren’t a visual person, then the deck might not be a good choice for you.
This is one of my favorite decks so it’s on my “would definitely buy again” list. It does what it says on the tin. It’s an oracle deck about faeries and dives into the heart of matters and matters of the heart. It’s an excellent option for those looking for an oracle that can handle mystical questions but also divine about whether that cute barista is single or if today is the kind of day that you want to crawl back into bed. It’s not afraid of laying down some serious truth but can and will throw you a curve ball. It’s a keeper.