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Thursday, December 15, 2011

REVIEW: Joie de Vivre Tarot


Joie de Vivre Tarot
by Paulina Cassidy
Published by U.S. Games System
ISBN-10: 1572816627
ISBN-13: 978-1572816626


"Tarot artist Paulina Cassidy has filled the 78 cards of the Major and Minor Arcana with charming new characters that bring their inspirational messages of joy to everyone. Those who take a journey through this wondrous realm will rediscover their own child-like spirit."


Paulina Cassidy is the creator of several decks, including the Paulina Tarot (U.S. Games Systems Inc.), the Joie de Vivre Tarot, and two new decks for 2012: The Witchlings deck of spells (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.) and The Faerie Guidance Deck (Llewellyn Worldwide).

The name of this deck -- Joie de Vivre -- means "joy of life" in French, although I am told that the English translation doesn't really convey the irrepressible spirit inherent in the expression. As the Introduction to the LWB for this deck puts it: "The Joie de Vivre tarot deck is designed to access the child-like energy in each one of us to help stimulate, enhance, and inspire joy in our own lives."

As a Sagittarius, I'm all for "child-like energy." According to the attributes developed by the Order of the Golden Dawn, my Sun-sign card is Temperance, and Paulina Cassidy does not disappoint with her depiction of Lady Temperance. I love that one side of her hair is fiery red and the other watery blue, and that she has the Sun on one side of her belly and the Moon on the other. She has four arms and is thus able to hold a tragedy mask in one hand and a comedy mask in another. In her third hand, she holds a beaker into which she pours liquid from the test tube in her fourth hand.

The deck has the standard 78 Tarot cards, with the Major Arcana, Court cards (Page, Knight, Queen, King), and pips (Wands, Swords, Cups, and Coins).

The artist has given each of the cards in this deck -- Majors, Minors, and Courts -- a name. For example, The Fool is called Jaunt; the Four of Cups is Melancholique; and the Queen of Swords is Queen Tenacious.

The 59-page Little White Book that comes with the Joie de Vivre deck provides Keywords for each card, a description/story about the character on each card, interpretation/advice offered by each card, and Reversed divinatory meanings.

For example, in the entry for The Wheel (Wheel of Fortune), we have:

Keywords: Change, revolution, cycles, movement, fortune

Then we have a paragraph that begins: "Juggling the moon cycles, Orbit embodies the spirit of constant change, infinitely setting a new tempo in life's heartbeat as he shifts forward from season to season..."

Next is a paragraph of interpretation that begins: "Your actions have a direct correlation to what happens in the future. Seek and recognize the cycles of life, for every turning point effects a personal transformation in circumstance and perspective..."

Finally, we have "Reversed: Missing opportunities. Resisting change. A bad run of luck."

A 6-card spread called "Spreading the Joy" appears at the end of the LWB. Unlike most spreads, this one has a "card zero" (the Fool's position). I'm looking forward to doing this reading with the Joie de Vivre deck and sharing it here on Tarot Notes.

The last page of the LWB is a brief bio of Paulina Cassidy.


The 2.75 x 4.75 cards are printed on quality card stock with a slick, glossy finish. They are packaged with the LWB in a snug-fitting cardboard box.

A white border frames the images on the card fronts. The titles are at the bottom of each card, printed in an attractive, easy-to-read script font.

The reversible backs of the cards are shades of yellow and gold with vines that curl and twist in all directions.

I have heard some Tarot readers complain about the slick surface of these cards, which apparently makes them difficult to riffle shuffle. I don't ever use that type of shuffle with my cards. I found it very easy to do a push-pull shuffle with them. It was also easy to lay them out on a table and mix them up.


Born and raised in Ontario, Canada, Paulina Cassidy began illustrating editorial cartoons for local newspapers at age 14. At 18 she began illustrating for various magazines. I would describe her illustrations in the Joie de Vivre Tarot as fanciful, beguiling, quirky, and whimsical. I want Cassidy to illustrate Alice in Wonderland! Her style is perfect for a book like that.

Generally speaking, the colors are soft and muted. Although there are exceptions, blues and greens are emphasized in the Cups cards; the Wands feature gold; Coins cards have a lot of brown and green in them; and the Swords cards have quite a lot of blue and lavender. Cassidy has included the perfect amount of detail in these cards, just enough to contemplate.


I confess I am utterly charmed by this deck. Every one of these cards makes me smile and tilt my head to one side like a curious cat. Some of them have a deliciously sinister undertone that only makes them more compelling to me. The characters are unique in appearance, yet clearly connected to traditional Tarot card meanings through their names and the symbolism incorporated into each card. However, if you prefer a stricter adherence to the Rider-Waite-Smith imagery, you may not appreciate what Cassidy has done with this deck.

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, I hereby disclose that this product was provided by the publisher for free. Other than the occasional review copy, I receive no monetary or in-kind compensation for my reviews.  The substance of my reviews is not influenced by whether I do or do not receive a review copy.


  1. must say, this deck isn't really the thing i'd think to be interested in, and i really had no interest at all in the Paulina but...the more reviews I see of this, the more I am...tempted. The art really does have a charming quality to it. And nice backs.

    It's make a great candidate for my trimming obsession too, haha.
    But yeah, cool review :]

  2. Thank you, ScribblingBonkers! Isn't it funny how that happens sometimes? For the longest time, I was not attracted to Tarot of the Cat People. Even though I like cat-themed decks, that one just seemed "weird" to me -- and not in a good way. But one day, I was looking at the cards on line and fell in love with them. It's now one of my fave decks.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  3. You know, I saw these on Cassidy's website, when I was looking at her art for sale- after I purchased her "Paulina" tarot deck. Although they are obviously her illustrative style at first glance, they are different in feeling. Not usually drawn to such floopy-stylized cards, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I adore using the "Paulina" deck. They have given me great readings every time! Check them out if you have not already. Even though they're still slightly sweet-looking, they have a deeper current running throughout...

    1. Hi Violet! You make me want to take another look at the Paulina deck. I'm normally not attracted to this style of art either, but with the Joie de Vivre, I was first drawn to the way some of the cards are named and when I stopped to look closely at the illustrations, I was hooked.


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~ Zanna