Faery Forest: An Oracle of the Wild Green World, by Lucy Cavendish, illustrated by Maxine Gadd
Blue Angel Publishing, 9780738750286, 45 cards, 136 pp., 2016
The Faery Forest Oracle is truly one-of-a-kind. Over the past 30 years I have had the pleasure of experimenting with many tarot and oracle decks, and this one really stands out among the hundreds that are out there.
The artist of these delightful cards, Maxine Gadd, has won a number of prestigious awards for her artwork, including the John Lunghi Award for the best piece of artwork in the final exhibition for graduating students. In illustrating this oracle deck, the prominent fantasy artist has applied her outstanding talents to the creation of otherworldly beings that enchant and inspire.
The author of the accompanying book, Lucy Cavendish, is a natural born witch who incorporates magick into her everyday life. She embraces a belief system that recognizes each of us as an integral part of nature, and the respect and inspiration that goes along with that knowledge. She has drawn on her own deep understanding of nature and its interconnectedness in our lives to create an ever-changing story of the Faery Forest; a story that can be used as an oracle to deepen our understanding of ourselves and the ancient aspects of the world we live in. According to Cavendish, the oracle was inspired by her Imramma (an old Irish world for “wonder voyage”) from 2005 to 2015 when she visited many remnants of faery forests, once home to the scared groves of the Saxons, Celts and Vikings. She has condensed the inspirational ideas that came to her in these locations into this oracle.
The oracle comes with a deck of 45 cards and a guidebook. The reader is invited to access the cards by first embarking upon the path to the Faery Forest “where the great trees speak to us.”1 Indeed, the gateway into the otherworldly realm of the fae is through a door in one of the forest’s most ancient trees. This tree is depicted on the back of each of the oracle cards. Painted in beautiful, vibrant colours, the tree’s roots connect to the underworld, while its branches stretch up into the heavens. Amid its burgeoning boughs grow nuts, berries and leaves. This ancient arbour provides sustenance and a home to creatures of every world. To enter within, you must place both hands upon the rough bark and knock gently as you tell the tree who you are. You may enter once the door swings open, following the spiraling pathway into the heart of the forest, where you will meet the witches, faeries, volvas, wise ones, deities, elves, seers, and wizards that live there. Here are just a couple examples of the fascinating inhabitants of the Faery Forest:
She Who Laughs is card number 30, and depicts a winged faery with dark hair and piercing blue eyes. The card represents humour and perspective. She Who Laughs brings with her the healing power of laughter and a release from stagnation. She encourages release through merriment.
In the eighth card, Elven Touch, a white-winged faery is dressed in a silver gown and stands in a twilight mist surrounded by fireflies. This card represents regenerating energy and recovery from illness or pain.
The cards are slightly larger than an average tarot deck, but can easily be shuffled in an upright position. They are printed on glossy stock and their illustrations are stunning in their beauty and clarity. Each unique otherworld being has character traits specific to him- or herself. When incorporated into a reading, these help you focus upon aspects of your own nature or life. The accompanying book provides a detailed explanation of each character and the message they carry. Cavendish also provides some hints for working with this oracle. There are guidelines for a basic past, present, future spread, the traditional Celtic Cross spread, an in-depth Cycle of the Moon spread, and the unique Faery Forest Tree spread. I particularly like the Cycle of the Moon spread, as it gives guidance for the coming weeks in relation to the phases of the moon.
There are a number of advantages to The Faery Forest Oracle. Firstly, you can read it for yourself, or for family and friends, working towards greater self-knowledge. Cavendish recommends using the “five I’s” to maintain the flow, purity and integrity of your readings.2 These are intuition, intelligence, integrity, imagination and insight. These skills allow you to explore the imagery and symbolism of the cards by tapping into your own sharpened senses to create a connection between yourself, the cards, and the person you are reading for. Even if this is the first oracle deck you have handled, you will not have difficulty connecting with it; the astounding artwork immediately draws you into the Faery Forest, and once there, you will be in no hurry to leave.
As Cavendish suggests, a great way to begin familiarizing yourself with this deck is to draw a card each day. This way you can develop an ever-deepening connection with the cards and their beings. Cavendish also gives advice on how to deal with cards which you may initially find confusing or feel resistance towards. Finally she explains how to clear your cards’ energy if someone else has been handling them.
The Faery Forest Oracle is a great deck for beginners and experienced card readers. It makes a pleasant change from the traditional tarot, and would make a great gift for anyone looking to deepen their self-awareness, or those who love faery artwork.