The Spiritsong Tarot by Paulina Cassidy is, at its essence, a spirit animal divination deck. The energies of each card in the standard 78 tarot deck is expressed by a selected animal spirit. I love the play on that term, too–spiritus animalis, the concept of weightless entities within us that operate our mind, that explain the currents of thought; the Keynesian economic theory of emotional and instinctual proclivities driving our decision-making behavior; and of course, that of animal spirit guides and the shamanic medicines each have to offer us if we invoke their powers.
In crafting the deck, each card is intended to be a portal to a higher world, one connected to a particular animal spirit or animal mentor that is then called upon through the divination to offer you divine guidance. In other words, each tarot card represents a particular Shamanic medicine.
Spiritsong Tarot is a great novice deck, as it has keywords at the bottom and I found the renaming of the suits easy and intuitive to follow. By the way, bonus points for the panda bear on the Ace of Crystals. How can I say anything negative about this deck after that? Now my only critique is there wasn’t a red panda (one of my favorite animals, evar).
The deck is published by U.S. Games and you’ve got the standard fare here–beautiful perfect-bound guidebook, nice sturdy keepsake box, and overall, U.S. Games has been doing really well with their packaging and production design. I haven’t had many if any complaints about their production value, which sadly isn’t the same thing I have to say about some of the other major deck publishers out there. This deck is beautifully done. Also loving the reversible card backs with the lotus imagery.
I found myself agreeing with all of the animal spirit correspondences that Cassidy selected. The Majors here are beautifully done. There’s some remaining, such as Shaman for the Hierophant, Love in lieu of the Lovers, etc.
I don’t know a whole lot about animals, so one of the things working with this deck inspired in me was to get all National Geographic and do some further independent study on these animals featured in the Spiritsong Tarot to see how they each fit with the artist’s conception of the cards. So Spiritsong had me going down a rabbit hole (excuse the pun) of learning.
Cassidy’s art style, although wholly set in modernity, retains a renaissance feel to it. There’s a medieval bestiary vibe to this deck. The artist here seems to prefer working with hard pencils alongside watercolor, which is how you get this unique effect that is so distinctively “Paulina Cassidy.”
Now we get to the Minors. Along with renaming some of the Majors, here Cassidy has also renamed the suits for consistently with her deck theme. The suit of Acorns corresponds with the suit of Wands. I appreciate that, and I dig it. Acorns symbolize growth, strength, and potential, very thematic of the Wands. The animals from the suit of Acorns bring you shamanic medicines to motivate, inspire, and foster growth or expansion. So when you are pulling mostly cards from the Acorns suit, you know Spirit is telling you it’s time for you to grow up. (Well, I bet Spirit says it nicer than I do. But you know what I mean.)
The point of view of this tarot deck isn’t to emulate classic playing card traditions with the numbered symbolism on each pip, i.e., three acorns literally pictured on the Three of Acorns, etc. Rather, there’s a certain energy and sectionalism of consciousness emanating from, say, the Three of Wands or Three of Acorns that’s best captured here by the headshot of a giraffe. The Four of Acorns is the walrus.
The suit of Shells corresponds with the suit of Cups. Here, the shamanic medicine that the spirit animals from the suit of Shells bring help balance the emotional plane, bring harmony, peace, fertility, and can further connect you to water spirits or water deities.
The suit of Feathers corresponds with the classic suit of Swords. Feathers symbolize power and celestial knowledge. The shamanic medicines offered here relate to bringing you intelligence, ideas, and social influence. On a completely random tangent, I think Paulina Cassidy was an illustrator during the Italian Renaissance in a previous life. Okay back to regularly scheduled programming.
Separating out your copy of Spiritsong by suit and then intentionally working with certain suits only to absorb the shamanic medicines from that suit and element would probably be a worthy personal spiritual exercise. Spiritsong is so perfectly outfitted to be a deck for card-of-the-day or card-of-the-week draws. Pull a card from this deck at the start of your week and then keep that card with you tucked into your wallet, handbag, or day planner as a talisman.
Now we get to the suit of Crystals in the deck, which corresponds with Pentacles or Coins. The suit and the class of animals represented by the Crystals help with manifestation, clarity, and abundance. They bring medicines to help with your livelihood and material concerns. If you operate a spiritual entrepreneurial business and looking to advance the profitability of that business, working with the suit of Crystals would help you program the optimal energies for business and commercial success.
There is an element of fantasy or magical realism to Cassidy’s work as well. Her detailing is also impeccable. Just zoom in to look at her work up close. Can you imagine yourself sitting there with a fine-tipped pen rendering all of those little dots? Yeah. Exactly. Props to Cassidy.
I’m not one of those folks with a cluttered refrigerator door. There is one and only one thing hung on my refrigerator, and that’s a postcard size work of pressed paper art gifted to me by my cousin, featuring a lotus much like the one above, with the words, “No mud, no lotus.” So of course I connect immediately to the imagery here that Cassidy has rendered for the Spiritsong card backs.
Cassidy is also the creator of the Paulina Tarot and Joie de Vivre Tarot, both of which enjoy high acclaim among modern tarotists. Spiritsong joins that portfolio to form a powerhouse trinity of exquisite, poetic, both earthly and other-worldly decks outfitted for contemplation, meditation, and personal reflection. If I really need to sit with myself and parse through feelings, extract my core motivations, or even when I look outward for an animal spirit guide to invoke and empower me through rough patches of life, then the Spiritsong Tarot is the deck to reach for.
There is a delicacy to Cassidy’s art style that easily facilitates a lucid dream state and in that lucid dream state, one might better navigate the landscape of our mind. Spiritsong brings a sophisticated ethereal quality to the art of tarot reading that also functions as calling cards for invoking animal spirits for spiritual guidance. Beautifully done.
FTC Disclosure: In accordance with Title 16 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Part 255, “Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” I received Spiritsong Tarot from U.S. Games for prospective review. Everything I’ve said here is sincere and accurately reflects my opinion of the deck.
9 thoughts on “Spiritsong Tarot by Paulina Cassidy”
A lovely dreamy deck! There are a lot of spirit animal based decks on the market, but none of them resonates well with the concept. Paulina Cassidy’s SpiritSong deck is definitely a contender along with the Messenger Oracle Deck by Ravynne Phelan, who has also redesigned the traditional tarot in her Dreams of Gaia Deck as well.
I’ve been interested in this deck ever since it launched. I’m not well-acquainted with any shamanic traditions, but I agree that this seems like a good novice deck to work with. Love how the beautiful artwork just draws you in… Thanks for the honest review, as always!
I didn’t know about this deck, so thanks for the review! I love her art style and I love the Paulina Tarot. I have a couple of divination decks she did but they get little use, although they are charming–there is something about the Paulina that to me offers a unique dreamy ambiguous charm that I have not found in her other work yet, whereas the divination decks seem geared for a younger crowd or mindset and strike me as more jejeune than the Paulina. This deck above seems to perhaps hold that possibly-mature ambiguity, so I will check this out, and some day may get to the Joie de Vivre as well–I am glad she is still producing lovely decks.
Benebell, I love that you enjoyed this deck so much. It came to me early in December, and I have to say personally I have found it to be VERY powerful. The messages that are given are so comforting, and allows for those who are looking for solace to find it here in these cards. Unlike other decks that sometimes can have a very ominous feeling about them, this deck is different. The colors that are used along with the intricate style of art really speaks to both myself and is always a great conversation when doing a reading. Folks are really connecting with the animal spirits that are displayed here. i do like the way the interpretations are given in the guidance, and I can see for those who are new to the Tarot how the keyword clues would be beneficial in the curve of learning.
I too find it to be a brilliant deck if you are looking for a gentle foray into the world of Tarot. Unlike other decks, it allows an individual to have time to reflect on not only the different suits, as they are slightly changed from the original RWS they still resonate in a way that feels very organic. I am looking forward to an even deeper connection with these cards, and for those whom I have done readings for, they really enjoy the connection.
Thank you for sharing your insights in such a deepening and articulate way, you have such a finesse in what you share and convey your information with such cogency, that If I didn’t already own it, I would run out to find it now.
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Makes me want to get this deck!
This deck was an impulse buy (one could say it “chose me”) and I’m so glad I found it. I find that her interpretations of the cards in this deck with the themes she attaches to them tend to be overwhelmingly positive and personal-growth oriented (she really “reframes” cards like the 3 and 10 of Swords…) so I’m having great success using it for that purpose.
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