May 8, 2010

Lisa Hunt, creator of The Fairy Tale Tarot

My most recent release, the critically acclaimed The Fairy Tale Tarot, was a project that honors my lifelong love affair with fairy tales. I still remember the day I received my first fairy tale collection, The Giant All-Color Book of Fairy Tales—a pivotal moment for a wide-eyed four year old and a book that would set me upon an artistic journey filled with the fantastical. The almost 40-year-old volume still sits proudly in my studio—a book that has been carried with me through all of life's transitions and still has relevance in all that I do.

I spent years researching hundreds of stories before deciding on the 78 that would eventually comprise The Fairy Tale Tarot. I included both the familiar as well as some more obscure stories, and was mindful to glean tales from around the world that reflected the universal nature of these timeless tales. The motifs, symbols, and themes were often uncannily similar leaving me to feel that these stories are born from somewhere deep inside us. To me--these stories are part of our human heritage and their omnipresence is a testament to their powerful influence in our lives.

The project took me five years from start to finish. And every single minute was filled with joyful challenge. I lived and breathed them and felt their transformative powers carry over into my daily life. I can pick out a card and tell you what I was doing and thinking during its progress. I still recall that big sigh of simultaneous relief and wistfulness that I felt upon its completion; and I still think and dream about it.

Three of Cups: Little Ida’s Flowers

For the three of Cups card, I chose Little Ida’s Flowers. The card meaning suggests celebration, inspiration and the manifestation of dreams. I wanted the image to be lively, colorful and inviting as Little Ida stands amidst the floral pageantry. But I also wanted to evoke a sense of mystery. Is it real or just a dream? That makes me ask, "What does it matter?" Our dreams are real in the sense that they are part of our psyches. Maybe Ida is dreaming, but to her, the flowers are dancing in real time as they enjoy their remaining hours of life. Poignant messages revealed in this brief tale about the joy of living and the power of our dreams.

Six of Pentacles: Kahukura and the Fairy Fisherman

The first thing that caught my eye about the relatively unknown Maorian tale was the title. I loved the sound of “fairy fisherman” and wanted to know more about these elusive sounding beings. In summation: Kahukura is on a journey when he spots scores of fish by the shore. Thinking it the supreme fishing skills of the fairy folk, he hunkers down in the trees in hopes of catching a glimpse of their mysterious activities. As the moon rises, he stirs from a nap and spies industrious fairies chanting as they haul copious amounts of fish onto the shore. He surreptitiously climbs down from his perch and joins the fairy fisherman in their tasks. But as dawn breaks, the fairy fishermen flee, inadvertently leaving a fishing net behind. Kahukura procures the net and shows others how to fish like the fairies, thus helping his people to flourish.

Fairies are compelling because they provide a link to the mysteries of the natural world. In much of my art, I embrace the concept of animism and the infusion of spirit in all that I paint. Fantastical beings such as fairies often assist humans along their journey and make their benevolent appearance in many fairy tales.

Six of Swords: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

The dwarves carrying Snow White’s glass coffin approach labyrinthine steps populated by anthropomorphized rock faces. These wise souls of past lives are both soothing and disquieting, reflections of all the experiences along the way. This card is a reminder to take things one step at a time without worrying too much about what lies ahead. Snow White’s body lying in repose is (in psychological terms) gestating as the dwarves carry her to ever-higher tiers of consciousness.

I think fairy tales provide a wonderful means for becoming more self-aware. They have the capacity to inspire us as we continue along our journeys.

Visit Lisa Hunt's sites for more information about her art:

All images © Lisa Hunt

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