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Deck review: Joie de Vivre Tarot

December 11, 2011

Joie de Vivre coverRecently US Games, Inc. sent me three recently released Tarot decks for me to consider reviewing. Of the three, the one that caught my attention (in a positive way) was the Joie de Vivre Tarot deck by Paulina Cassidy. As I have with several decks in the past, I decided to do a “friend test” with this deck, so I met my friend Amy for lunch and together, we examined it and did a couple of quick readings with it, which, by the way, were quite good.

This deck is very whimsical and fantastical, with creatures that look like something out of the imagination of Dr. Seuss, Tim Burton, or Maurice Sendak. (In fact, Amy said that it reminded her of a children’s book she got as a present when she was five years old.) See, for example, the Strength card and the Ace of Wands, which call to mind Where the Wild Things Are. The Queen of Swords, on the other hand, looks like something imagined by Tim Burton, but with a nod to the Thoth deck’s QofS, who holds a severed head in one hand. (Note the skulls hanging from her belt.)

JdV Strength, Ace of Wands, Queen of Swords

Now, I want to be clear about something here. I don’t mean this comparison to children’s books as an insult in any way. The cards in this deck may evoke Seuss, Burton, or Sendak, but they are not derivative at all. Paulina Cassidy’s art is uniquely her own, and when I say that it reminds me of illustrations from children’s books, the complement is that this deck has an innocent charm and appeal.

The art is also quite rich in detail, and that complexity contributes to its usefulness as a deck for intuitive readings. The cards can easily lead you beyond the set meanings you may have learned for them in that if your eye is drawn to some particular card detail, you can use whatever impression it brings to mind to enrich the reading. Also, the figures in the cards have wonderfully expressive faces, which is something else that pulls you in and engages you in the energy of the cards.

Amy and I also liked how the cards evoke feelings of fun, whimsy, playfulness, optimism, and peacefulness. There is a subtextual message in the cards that things will be okay, but this is not to say that the cards give us a patronizing pat on the head. They don’t shy away from the darkness; they express it in compassionate terms and they reassure us that even though there is darkness in life, there is hope too, and ultimately the Universe will support us.

JdV Three of SwordsOne card in particular exemplifies this: the Three of Swords. Amy likes its depiction of self-nurturing in the midst of sorrow, and she said that it was “one of the most inspired versions of the Three of Swords I’ve ever seen.”

This deck is also notable for the absence of nudity in it, which makes it a very kid-friendly deck, but without being saccharine or too cute for adult usage.

I also want to point out that the LWB (Little White Book) for this deck was written by Ms. Cassidy herself. While I find most LWBs useless, those that are written by the deck creator have a chance of being relatively decent (well, as good as the brief format allows, that is), and such is the case with this one. It does provide additional understanding for the deck. As an example, the Death card shows a skeletal figure riding a bat through a tunnel toward a light. In looking at it, I could almost hear someone saying, “Go toward the light!” I don’t recall seeing this imagery in a Death card before, but of course, it’s quite appropriate. In support of this understanding, consider the following excerpt from the LWB’s description of this card:
JdV Death

With hope for the future and a heart beating fast, Metamorphosis is embarking on a voyage from the known into the unknown. On her bat companion named Destiny, they soar through an inter-dimensional tunnel and toward the star of rebirth. … Death is not an ending, but rather a gateway into infinity. … What can be seen as destructive is, in truth, the opportunity for transitioning toward something much greater.

Finally, I’ll leave you with the following quote, also from the LWB, which sums up Amy’s and my impression of this deck:

French for ‘joy of living’, the Joie de Vivre is designed to access the childlike energy in each one of us to help stimulate, enhance, and inspire joy in our own lives. A truly fantastical people, the living beings in the Joie de Vivre realm that are sampled in this deck are all sentient souls of love who want nothing but the best for those who take a journey through their world.

You can read more about this deck on the creator’s website.

  1. Joan Flynn permalink

    Thank you, James. Sounds like a fun deck to work with. regarding the Quen of Swords, she brought to my mind, the Hindu Goddess, Kali. Joan

  2. mimers66 permalink

    Great review James and Amy! I agree with the flavor of this deck and found it very nice to work with. It is a deck that is gentle and by that I mean even the darker and scary cards are not too harsh. I like this about this deck.

    Looking forward to more reviews!

  3. nyfrancis permalink

    I’m one of those who pro’bly wouldn’t’ve been attracted, at first glance, to Paulina Cassidy’s art-style for a Tarot deck. Your review revealed elements in the “Joie de Vivre” that I’ve been looking for in a Tarot deck — for a friend, as well as for myself — for some time, now. Thing was, I didn’t *know* I was seeking that until I read your post. lol 😉

    I appreciate your time in creating this review. Thank you!
    Blessed be.

    ~ Nanette

  4. I am just delighted that you and your friend Amy got so much out of this special Tarot deck. You really captured the essence of Joie de Vivre. Thanks so much for sharing with your readers!

  5. I really love this little deck. It’s the same size as other decks, but it feels smaller to me. More petite. More compact. The artwork is intriguing as well. Great review, James.

  6. Sharon permalink

    I love this deck James! Great review! Regards to Amy.

    • Amy permalink

      Regards to you, too, Sharon! I hope you’re doing well. : )

  7. Amy permalink

    Wonderful review, James! Thanks for letting me be a part of the “friend testing”! Paulina Cassidy has created such an inspiring deck. The images and messages have really stayed with me.

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