From the creator of the Crow Tarot, Urban Crow Oracle, Wise Dog Tarot, Grimalkin’s Curious Cat Tarot—and more, comes the latest beautiful creation from Seattle-based artist MJ Cullinane.
‘Journey through the magical land of Förhäxa. (Swedish for to enchant, cast a spell, and bedevil) This is a realm where dark and light collide, where the elements hold court, where we find ourselves connecting to a force outside our own.’
I discovered independent artist MJ Cullinane through Indiegogo a few years ago. I’d been searching for a crow themed deck at the time, and hers grabbed my attention. (I now have an addiction to backer sites like these when it comes to finding unique tarot decks.) MJ creates with a collage style, so her cards have great depth and imagery which I personally love when reading as it gets my intuition stirring.
Cullinane describes the Förhäxa Tarot as ‘An illustrated story of a land and its inhabitants. In Tarot, like any good fairytale, there are heroes, there are villains, harrowing journeys, and of course, magic!’
Card size 3.5” x 5” with a 330gsm card stock. Satin finish.
Box: Lidded box, no magnet, no thumb holes, thick cardboard.
Guidebook: Exterior colour, interior b&w.
Available at: https://crowtarotshop.com/
My immediate impression of the Förhäxa Tarot is its strong feminine theme. Flicking through the deck, there appeas to be no masculine figures—maybe with the exception of the devil figure in The Tower, but that’s debatable. One of the most noted male archetypes, The Emperor, has been replaced with the Council of Monarchs, while other archetypes typically represented as masculine in reflection of the Smith Rider Waite Tarot, such as The Hermit, The Chariot, and The Magician, are all feminine in this deck. Cullinane has also replaced each of the suit’s Kings with ‘Elder’, but Page, Knight, (also feminine) and Queen remain. When reading through the guidebook, MJ refers to the figures as either she or it.
Regardless of a reader’s gender, I think anyone looking to connect with their divine feminine would connect well with this deck. Some may not like the obvious absence of masculine energy, for me it’s not an issue. Also, I get definite Legolas from Lord of the Rings vibes off the Three of Air card, so I guess gender representation is in the eye of the beholder in this case!
The traditional suits of Cups, Swords, Pentacles, and Wands are represented by their elemental counterparts, so the suits in this deck are Water, Air, Earth, and Fire.
I don’t normally pay much attention to the guidebooks with decks, but this one is so enchanting, I will be reading it from cover to cover. It opens with a quick guide on preparing to use the deck, a how-to for using the deck as an oracle with yes/no/maybe single card draws, a simple four card spread, and a section on questions to ask when Major Arcana are drawn. The guidebook then jumps into each card and gives a delightful description that immediately had me itching to start reading for myself with the deck. There’s space at the very end of the guidebook for note-taking.
The cards themselves are a little large for my small hands, and with the satin finish they have quite a buttery feel which means messy shuffling for me. With larger decks, I usually trim off the borders to make them easier to handle, but the Förhäxa comes with no border, which I always prefer, so although the cards are big, they’re worth the fumbling! The back of the cards have a beautiful pattern, although there’s a tiny square on the top left of each which looks like a possible printing issue as opposed to an intended design. It won’t affect reversals for me, and to be honest, I did have to look pretty close to find it, so this is just nitpicking.
MJ has honed her collage skills to a whole new level with this deck. When compared to her earlier work with the Crow Tarot which has a more raw feel, with the Förhäxa it’s much more refined. I’m a huge fan of Gustav Klimt and there are echoes of his style within these cards which I adore.
Animal lovers will appreciate the abundance of furry, scaled, and winged creatures represented, with rabbits, bees, foxes, deer, crows, and dragons, to mention just a few. You’ll find plenty of flowers too, although the flora and fauna are not mentioned within the card descriptions for the most part, so their interpretations are left up to the reader which I personally like.
Overall, this is a dreamy, enchanting deck with the potential to really get intuition flowing. The art work is stunning, and for me, a single daily draw with one of these cards will bring a wealth of inspiration. I feel like this is a deck I’ll get personal with fairly quickly. I can already see how it demands deeper thinking, and I imagine it will serve well for shadow work. The strong elemental theme appeals to me a great deal, and I can already envisage myself using these cards during ritual when I’m seeking elemental support.
Features that caught my eye on the first sweep: Maleficent vibes off The Chariot, Death’s reflection mirrored in the water of The Moon, the gorgeous ladybirds in Ten of Earth, the equally gorgeous turquoise butterflies in the Eight of Water, the Council of Monarchs also appear in the Seven of Air, the Ten of Air is just sublime for such a spiky card, while the Court Cards have a beautiful ornate border.
To give you a taste of what this deck has to offer, here’s a random draw I made along with its corresponding entry in the guidebook.
Five of Earth
The exhausted fairy pushed down on the frozen, barren Earth that yielded barely a bean that season. Angry and scared of what might come of her, she cursed the land for its inability to provide sustenance. Her anger then turned inward as she thought of how much a failure the others would perceive her to be, and conjured in her mind all the criticism she would face by those far more successful. With each thought she created a wolf that paced the land that separated her from the others. The wolves fed on her insecurities and self-doubt. They preyed on her feelings of scarcity, growing stronger so much, that crossing them was near impossible. The fairy, weak, hungry and alone, created a barrier so frightening between herself and her community, that to return home, she would need to find the strength and courage to confront and slay each wolf.
This energy contained in the Five of Earth quickly leads to a downward spiral if left unchecked, one that will have you feeling like an outcast, or not accepted. It begins with a single setback, your focus shifts to what is going wrong, what is no longer blooming: before long the troubles mount, and finding a path out becomes more challenging. Recovery is not impossible; as with everything in life, this too shall pass, but the further down you are, the longer the journey up will be. Let the Five of Earth serve as a warning, as a signal that you may find yourself headed for a series of unfortunate events. Take note of how you handle setbacks. Do you devote all your energy to feelings of insecurity and isolate yourself from those who could help? Are you patient with yourself? Can you see a pattern form and, with it, an opportunity to grow from the experience?
For tarot lovers in Ireland, the overall cost of the deck came close to €60 which included the deck price of (US) $44, postage, and a customs fee of €4.50. MJ posts to Ireland, so there were no issues with shipping, although it took a month from the day I ordered until it landed in my impatient hands. Worth the wait, though.
You can find MJ Cullinane here. I recommend grabbing a cuppa and taking a look around her site, especially at her gorgeous canvas prints section! She also has an Etsy store. My understanding is that decks purchased through her site and Etsy store are printed by a small printer in the USA, and come without plastic wrapping, but decks purchased through Hay House and US Games are printed in China.
I don’t have a YouTube channel, and at this point (March 2022) it’s not something I’m considering just yet, so while I appreciate many of you prefer an unboxing video where you can see each individual card, you can find lots of them for this deck on YouTube. Either way, I hope you enjoyed my review!