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The term "joie de vivre" is one of the many French expressions that doesn't have an exact translation in English. The expression has, if you will, a certain je nais se quoi. The literal translation is "joy of life," or "joy of living," but inherent in the expression is a child-like whimsy and sense of wonder that the English translation just doesn't capture. It is a fitting title for Paulina Cassidy's new tarot deck, Joie de Vivre Tarot.
It is hard to believe that Cassidy has had time to produce a second deck. It feels like just yesterday I was interviewing her about the (at the time) forthcoming Paulina Tarot. When I had the pleasure of speaking with Cassidy, it was clear to me the creatures that appear on her canvas do so of their own volition. The artist is merely making visible the entities that already exist.
In Paulina Tarot, those creatures had walk-on roles in a fairly traditional deck. In Joie de Vivre Tarot, Cassidy's unique creatures are the stars of the show.
In the LWB (little white book), written by Cassidy, the creature on each card has a name, and a bit of a backstory. They have names such as Jaunt, Prezto and Blossom. I hope she writes some detailed stories about them; they are fascinating.
The images of Joie de Vivre Tarot are unmistakably the work of Paulina Cassidy. They are fanciful, otherworldly, and, at times, macabre. It seems to me that in her first deck, Cassidy was trying to hold back just a little, maybe trying to be a wee bit tarot-proper. In this deck, she has given us a full view of the landscapes inside her head.
In trying to describe these images, I can only say this. Imagine that the characters of Tim Burton, Lewis Carroll, Edward Gorey and Dr. Seuss all met up at a party and dropped acid together. No, that's not quite right. Acid is too strong, electric and chemical to produce the fine detail, old-fashioned whimsy and muted colors of this deck. Maybe they ate some mushrooms instead. On their collective hallucinogenic trip, they decided to create a tarot deck. The result of such an adventure might look very much like Joie de Vivre Tarot. Don't get me wrong, that's not a bad thing at all.
The cardbacks and card interpretations do honor reversals. The cards are standard sized, and rendered and packaged in classic U.S. Games style. The four suits are Swords, Wands, Cups and Coins. There do not seem to be specific elemental references in the card images. Strength is card Eight, and Justice is Eleven.
Many of the characters have sweet faces with big eyes and pointed chins. There is a very Victorian feel to the deck. There are clever elements to the images, such as the clock in the hair of Lady Temperance. While the images on the cards are certainly non-traditional, they make sense, and are delightfully imaginative.
I have a theory about this deck. I think it will be very effect for intuitive/psychic tarot reading. The reason is this. Joie de Vivre Tarot is arguably the most imaginative deck ever. It communicates emotion, and sparks imaginative thought. Imagination is seated in the third eye, or brow chakra. This chakra governs the eyesight with which we view the cards, as well as our psychic vision. By stimulating the imagination and the eyesight, these cards will stimulate our psychic ability as well.
Joie de Vivre Tarot will be a great deck for anyone who finds it appealing, from beginners to professionals. I probably won't use it myself - I find the legs of many of the creatures absolutely creepy. Some legs are spindly and spiderlike. Some creatures seem human except for the one, tail-like leg emerging from their bulbous bodies. These details, and some others, make me feel as if I were present at the imaginary party with the Lorax, the Mad Hatter, Sally the Ragdoll and the Doubtful Guest. I ate the mushrooms, too, but I had a bad trip.