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.