AT LAST, CARDS FOR GIRLS

By Trina Robbins

I've never paid much attention to collectable cards. Collecting and trading them seemed like something boys did, and the dark images on most of the cards I'd seen didn't attract me. But L. A. Leis' Fortune Teller Collectibles are a different story; would you believe cards for those of us with X chromosomes? From the three teenage girls on the back of each lavishly illustrated package, whose questions show they're both romantic and smart ("Does he like me?" "Will I get an 'A'?"), to the lovely sorceress on the front, to the background color, which might be considered lavender, but looks a lot like hot pink to me, the packaging proudly and unashamedly sings out "Girl!"

Leis, who created the cards and did most of the art, received her art training in Philadelphia and worked in one of that city's largest design firms. She'd taken time off from work to raise a family when she saw her niece playing with a handmade folding game the kids called "Cootie Catchers", and received an epiphany. "I wanted to take it to a place where (girls) could play it forever," she says, and she did. The cootie catchers became Folding Oracles - 36 different cards - and a big part of the game's fun is folding the Oracle, then finding the advice hidden beneath each panel. I asked it if I would write a good article about the cards, and it told me, "Absolutely! Make a good impression." and, "Outlook is fantastic. You are very gifted. Use your talent, don't take it for granted."

Sometimes the Oracle advises asking the Legend cards. These are my favorites. Most of the Legend cards feature mythic women like Rhiannon, Cleopatra, Guinevere, even Lady Godiva, but there are some male characters too. I found Gwydion, Sigurd, and Merlin in my collection. All the women are beautiful, but none of them are busty thong-wearing babes, and all the guys are cute and hunky. They have long hair and gentle smiles, rather than the confusion of muscles and snarls that are to be found on boy cards. There's even a unicorn card!

The Legend Cards work like a simplified tarot. Beneath the pictures on the front of each card is a fortune for past, present and future. My fortune for the past on Guinevere's card read, "You hurt someone who loves you by making a bad decision." Oh nooo, I thought, that shoplifting binge when I was twelve - it broke my mom's heart and it's returned to haunt me! But my future fortune on the Blodeuwedd card gave some good advice: "Rethink your plan. There is a better way to achieve your goals." So, like, forget about splurging on that mini from Betsey's; my book proposal has as good a chance of acceptance if I dress from Goodwill. The thread weaving all this together is the ageless Syrena, high priestess of the Mystic Temple of the Flaming Sun, and protagonist of Fortune Teller cards. Syrena's own card tells us that the lovely sorceress was "born to a gypsy maid who dies at her birth," and raised by the sage Mystophites, who by the way, is also a hunk. He passed on his wisdom and power to her and together they founded the Mystic temple. The reverse of each card features Syrena's adventures with the character whose picture is on the front. The stories are positive and non violent, although there is the occasional death. Warnid, the handsomely tragic centaur, represents sacrifice. He dies saving the land from an evil magician, but his card advises us not to try this at home: "You may be pushing yourself too hard. Relax, let things happen."

Fortune Teller Collectibles isn't a monopoly-type game with a goal of getting the most or the best cards, and it's non-competitive, because girls like working together. An affordable $2.99 buys one beautifully illustrated package containing three legend cards and an oracle card. You're ready to go with only one set, but if three girls play the cards together, and if they buy just one pack each, then, as the Sheherazade card says, the game "opens up endless possibilities. Go for it!"



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