The Phantasma Tarot is an exquisite sequel to the Spiritsong Tarot by Paulina Fae Cassidy. Mythical creatures are your spirit guides through a world of phantasmic daydreams. The deck took four years to complete, and is the artist’s fourth tarot deck creation.
Fae’s art convinces you that these fantastical, magical worlds exist. The lines and coloring are ethereal, and if I had to peg them to one of the four elements– airy. While the deck follows the RWS, Fae also incorporates a lot of her own mythical symbolism. For instance, the dragon in the Strength card.
Working with the Phantasma Tarot is like reading a book of fairytales. Whimsical and charming, yet with just enough eeriness and mystery to keep you on your toes, the artwork also calls to mind Lisa Hunt’s FairyTale Tarot.
Here’s a close-up of the Justice card, one of my favorite cards in a tarot deck. Per the guidebook: “Seeing through illusions, the owl of justice exposes truth in its purest form. She weighs both sides of an issue equally.” The core message of Key XI: “With every action is a response. Be what you want to manifest.”
These exquisite paintings and the high level of detail remind me of the Shadowscapes Tarot. The guidebook included with the deck is fantastic, by the way. It’s great for beginners, with a comprehensive paragraph delving into the card’s meaning, the key message to take away from the card, keywords, the reversed message, and reversed keywords.
The Djinn in place of the tarot Devil card might be construed as a bit of a mischaracterization of djinn, but the reasoning offered in the guidebook is that Key XV in this deck– The Devil card– is associated with a trickster energy. Here, the tarot archetype of Key XV is presented as a “clever and mischievous teacher in disguise . . . Through such teachings, he unearths avant-garde realizations.”
There is an unexpected spookiness to this deck, which I really love. Like those beautiful, ornately painted porcelain dolls that are delicate and yet you’re convinced are haunted.
Fae’s paintings remind me of those Pre-Raphaelite paintings featuring fairies and mythical woodland creatures.
There are some noticeable William Blake and Edward Robert Hughes influences, albeit less color saturation.
Rather than go the common route of showing one prominent relic from the respective suit for the Aces, i.e., one Grail-like cup in the Ace of Cups, or a center-focused giant sword in the Ace of Swords, animal symbolism is used. Here in the Ace of Cups, it’s the peacock. Below you’ll see in the Ace of Swords it’s a unicorn.
Phantasma Tarot is premised on mythical creatures while Paulina’s earlier deck the Spiritsong Tarot focused on animal spirits, and where Spiritsong had no human figures, Phantasma does feel populated. Her distinct art style in both are immediately recognizable– the works feel almost as if they’ve faded from overexposure to the sun.
That is such a beautiful Six of Pentacles. The corresponding entry in the guidebook reads: “The trees communicate through a network of signals, and their collective spirits shine. Permeating with the power of universal love, their earth energy attracts and supports life all around them.” The message of this card: “You will grow from the experience of sharing your wisdom and gifts with others.”
Say you pulled the Ten of Cups in a reading and you’re a total tarot beginner. The first thing to do is to sit for a moment with the imagery. What does it evoke in you? Here, I see a kindred family of foxes. I feel contentment. Now look up the meaning in the guidebook:
“Happiness radiates from the foxes’ hearts. They’ve reaped the rewards for their past hard work, and they have everything they need. They’ve established solid connections with one another, and the security of home brings peace.”
The takeaway message from this card: “The uplifting energy you radiate will benefit those around you. Great things are being set in motion.”
I also love how this deck is intended to be read with reversals. So, for instance, if the Ten of Cups appears in reverse, the message here is about redirecting your energy and making sure you’re not neglecting your own needs. In other words, self-care is needed.
Phantasma Tarot is a tame, gentle, and rather tender divination deck. It’s suitable for children, for the sensitive, and for beginners who might still be feeling intimidated by the concept of tarot.
Cards are given a positive spin and inspire optimism. If you pull a card like the Five of Cups, for instance, the message is “Regardless of how bad things may seem, there’s always a silver lining.” Reversed, the Five of Cups means, “The clearing away of an old and difficult situation makes way for something better.”
Nine of Swords? “Evaluate what’s contributing to your anxiety, and remember that you have control over how you respond to situations.” Reversed: “Enduring a stressful situation will make you stronger.” Ten of Swords: “Do not allow present circumstances to sabotage your future happiness. There’s a solution to every problem.” Reversed Ten of Swords: “You’ll weather the storm, and you are reaching a turning point. The only way to go is up.”
In my mind I’ve always associated the word “phantasm” with more horror, gothic, haunting, and macabre vibes, so for me, funny enough, the deck name was something I had to work around.
So I am pleasantly surprised that Phantasma Tarot is a “hug” deck (a term coined by the greater tarot community at large). A hug deck is a tarot deck you reach for when you’re feeling really vulnerable and sensitive, and just need a hug from Spirit. That’s the Phantasma Tarot.
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 the deck and books set from the publisher for prospective review. Everything I’ve said here is sincere and accurately reflects my opinion of the deck.