Paulina Cassidy in the Artist’s Spotlight

Paulina Cassidy’s artwork is very popular among collectors. She is known for her ink and watercolor paintings of faeries and whimsical nature sprites. Working from a sketch that evolves into a pen and ink drawing, Paulina then adds soft pastel watercolors to her pieces. Her artwork is collected around the world. Paulina Cassidy is also a mass-market published Tarot and oracle artist with two tarot decks and two oracle decks to her credit. They are:

  • The Paulina Tarot (US Games Systems, Inc. 2008)
  • The Joie de Vive Tarot (US Games Systems, Inc. 2011)
  • The Faerie Guidance Oracle (Llewellyn 2012)
  • Witchlings (US Games Systems, Inc. 2014)

In this blog post I review all four of her decks and sit down for an interview with the artist herself. My questions are in bold below and Paulina’s responses are in italics. My review commentary appears in regular type.

 

Were you formally trained as an artist or self-taught? How long have you been an artist? 

I started drawing from the age of 3; quietly sitting at the kitchen table with paper and pen; happily lost in my own little world. At 14, I started creating cartoons for local newspapers, but altered my direction at around 17 when my style developed into something completely different than cartooning. I worked mainly with pen and ink for a number of years after that, as well as having created regular illustrations for magazines. In 1998, I delved full time into this when I launched my website, Restless Moon Gallery.  It’s an interesting process in discovering one’s artistic voice as we experiment and grow, whether one is self-taught or formally trained.

What sparked your interest in Tarot and how long have you been interested in it? 

A number of years ago, a collector requested that I consider making a tarot deck. I thought the task to be too challenging at first, but I proceeded, regardless. I began working on my first deck in 2006/2007, and two years later, the Paulina Tarot was born.

The Paulina Tarot (2009)~ 

paulina-tarot-compositeUS Games Systems, Inc. published Paulina Cassidy’s first work, The Paulina Tarot, in 2008. Housed in a simple tarot box with 44-page LWB (little white book), the entire set measures 3 x 5 x 1 ¼” and retails for $21.95.   The Paulina Tarot is a traditional 78-card tarot deck. Major arcana titles are traditional. Suits are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. Court cards are the traditional Page, Knight, Queen, and King. The cards have a thin white border, card titles appear in black within the white border below each image, and the backs are fully reversible. The LWB, written by Paulina Cassidy, includes a brief description of each card’s imagery, and several keywords for both upright and reversed interpretations. Only one card spread is included, the traditional Celtic Cross.

The cards measure the same as the box and are very easy to shuffle. They have a semi-gloss finish that allows them to glide smoothly together without sticking together. The images, unlike some of her other work, is rendered in full color with the backgrounds completely painted in watercolor. The color scheme varies and is in general keeping with the theme of each card. Backgrounds range from lovely bright pastels to somber grays that gives the deck a balanced color scheme.

The imagery of The Paulina Tarot is highly intricate. The characteristic swirls, tiny flowers, stripes, dots, and other design elements of Paulina Cassidy’s work adorn each card. As an artist myself, I appreciate all the work that went into creating each image. In order to fully appreciate The Paulina Tarot I highly recommend that you avail yourself of the use of a magnifying glass. This is one of those decks that would have benefited from being printed in a larger size.

Within a spread the cards depict lively faerie and fantasy characters within a whimsical landscape. Natural elements, such as trees, flowers, and celestial bodies are anthropomorphized, which adds a great deal of whimsy to the images. Overall, The Paulina Tarot is highly detailed making it a feast for the eyes.

 

Your artwork is very intricate. Has this always been your style or did it evolve in recent years?

I’ve been creating intricate pieces for years, mainly using pen and ink. It’s always been a meditational process for me. As well, it’s an evolution filled with self-discovery. My wish is to evolve with each piece I create, always.

On average, how long does it take for you to create a card image? 

It varies, and I sometimes re-do a card image until I’m happy with it. I seem to have no definite answer to this, as I tend not to keep track of time when creating. I sort of become lost in another world, another zone . . . somewhere out of time. 

What inspires you and your art? 

Anything that supplies my soul with a sense of mystery and magic. It’s a collective and intermingling gathering of energies found, for example, in music, books, nature, art, animals, people. 

 

The Joie de Vivre Tarot (2011) ~

paulina-cassidy-joie-vivre-compositeBuilding upon her love of animals, nature, and people, Paulina Cassidy followed up her Paulina Tarot with the Joie de Vivre Tarot, published by US Games Systems, Inc. in 2011.

Housed in a tuck box with the LWB written by Paulina Cassidy, the Joie De Vivre Tarot is yet another delight. The LWB has 59 pages with two blank pages for notes. Card interpretations consist of several keywords, a brief description of the imagery, the general meaning, and a brief reversed interpretation. The LWB concludes with a 5-card spread entitled, “Spreading the Joy.”

The major arcana cards are traditionally titled and the court cards are also the traditional Page – Knight – Queen – King. The suits are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Coins (Pentacles in The Paulina Tarot).

The Joie De Vivre Tarot is a deck that vibrates with a childlike joy, the beings depicted in this deck are “sentient souls of love who will help you tap into intuition and connect to divine source,” (LBW, p. 1). The characters themselves are emphasized with less anthropomorphic aspects than what appears in the Paulina Tarot. The majority of color lies within the brighter range of pastels and backgrounds tend to be less developed than in the Paulina Tarot so there is a bit more negative space giving the eye a place to rest while also emphasizing the main character depicted on each card.

 

You have a knack for portraying nature spirits. Can you sense their presence? If so, what does it feel like? 

I often do sense their presence. It’s a particular uplifting shift in the atmosphere. I cannot see them with the naked eye, but I sense their personalities. They bring with them a certain purity, playfulness, and wisdom. Quite influential, and they love to be portrayed.

 

The Faerie Guidance Oracle (2012) ~

In 2012 Paulina Cassidy’s The Faerie Guidance Oracle was published by Llewellyn Books. Representing a slight departure from the whimsical creatures she had created for her Paulina Tarot and Joie De Vivre Tarot, The Faerie Guidance Oracle is her first oracle deck. The deck consists of a total of 40 cards and a 262-page guidebook, once again written by Paulina Cassidy herself. The deck is housed in a flip-lidded box of very thin cardboard. The book and deck lie nested within the box side by side.

Each card depicts a different faery with titles such as, Enlightenment, Determination, Faith, Compassion, Dreams, Intuition, Change, Energy, and Spirit. Titles are placed at the top center of the card within the border. Each card also has a brief 2-line synopsis of the card’s overall meaning at the base of the image within a light tan border that surrounds the image. Rendered in Paulina Cassidy’s distinctive style, the color scheme runs from dark blues and grays to sunny yellows and everything in between. The color scheme is nicely balanced. The images have a lovely ethereal look to them.

paulina-cassidy-faerie-guidance-oracle

The guidebook is quite impressive. It begins with a brief introduction as well as “how to use this deck” section. There are two card spreads: the Facet du Jour, which is a card of the day; and, the Crisis Spread, for which the cards are chosen consciously instead of by chance and the number of cards in the spread can vary. The bulk of the guidebook consists of the card interpretations. There is a full-size black and white image of the card on the facing page. Paulina Cassidy then devotes 2 – 3 pages for each card’s meaning that then concludes with a “reflection” that relates symbols within the card’s image to the meaning of the card.

 

What advice do you have for aspiring deck creators? 

 Patience and consistency. These are two of my keywords for card deck productivity. The task can be daunting and will feel at times as though it’ll take forever. It happens to me with each deck that I create. Remember my aforementioned keywords during the long haul. Eventually, a finished deck will manifest, and it will have been worth every bit of effort.

 

Witchlings (2014) ~

Paulina Cassidy’s most recent publication is Witchlings, published by US Games Systems, Inc. in 2014. Witchlings is a card and book set that comes housed in a lidded box. The guidebook contains 201 pages with 3 pages for notes. There are 40 cards.

The cards have a narrow pastel border that vary in shade from card to card: purple, yellow, orange, green, pink, and other shades. Each card is graced with the whimsical image of a “witchling” who is an expert spellcaster of a particular type of spell. A little purple owl named Orion accompanies each witchling. Orion is “the universal Familiar of the Witchlings, acts as protector, mentor, assistant and friend” (p. 6). Orion is a benevolent energy whose spirit also assists all who use these cards.

paulina-cassidy-witchlings

Paulina Cassidy designed Witchlings is no ordinary oracle deck. It can also be used in spell work. The deck can be used as an oracle deck and an oracular message is included for every card, but where this deck truly excels is in its use as a magical tool. There are 2 – 4 simple and short spells included for every card. The spells are performed with inexpensive materials that are easily available in the typical home’s spice cabinet. The spells are very short and simple to perform. You do not have to be a practitioner of magic to use this deck to its full capability.

Paulina Cassidy also wrote the guidebook. For each card the guidebook includes a 4-line poem, the oracular meaning, 2 – 4 spells, and for many of the cards inspirational creative suggestions and meditations are also included for the majority of the cards.

Overall, the work of Paulina Cassidy presents tarot and oracle readers alike with four delightful decks from which to choose. Her characters seem to come alive in the spreads and I love to see the interactions of the characters as they look at one another in a card spread. Delightfully dreamy, Paulina Cassidy’s body of work appeals to many around the world who are avid collectors of her art.

If you would like to be a featured artist on my blog, please email me at isisraanpu@gmail.com.

Blessings!

~ Nefer Khepri, PhD., R. M-T.

Tarot & Lenormand Readings, Spells, & Visionary Art

The Egyptian Lenormand: signed & activated copies

Email: IsisRaAnpu@gmail.com

Twitter: @NeferKhepri

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Full DisclosureThe decks reviewed here were a combination of those sent to me by the publisher and my own purchase.

 

 

 

The Pagan Ways Tarot: Deck Review

Pagan Ways TarotThe Pagan Ways Tarot, created by Anna Franklin, is obviously a pagan-themed Tarot deck. If it strikes you as being somewhat familiar you may own a copy of The Sacred Circle Tarot (Llewellyn Publications), which she also created in collaboration with Paul Mason. The deck comes housed in a sturdy box nestled into two sections separated by a cardboard insert. The 6 x 9” guidebook rests on top of the desk in a hinged box with magnetic lid closure. This is a very nice feature of Schiffer decks that keeps the overall box measuring 6 X 9” and the magnetic lid allows for the box to be stored in a bookshelf on its end. The lid will not fall open.

The cards are covered in a shiny glossy laminate. They shuffle easily, but may be a bit difficult to shuffle for those of us with smaller hands. The card image is inset within a black border with the card title for the major arcana cards located in the lower border and number in the upper board. The minor arcana numeric and court card designations are located within the top border while the card titles are located within the bottom border. Titles of the minor arcana cards in numerous cases correspond to the Thoth titles. Court cards are designated Princess, Knight, Queen and King. The Princess and Queen cards correspond to the pagan sabbats or stations of the Wheel of the Year. Knights represent the action taken by their suit’s particular element while Kings represent the element itself.

Images for the Pagan Ways Tarot are created via photographic collage and computer manipulation in a very realistic manner that gives one the impression that you are looking through a window at a very real living scene. Anna Franklin states in her introduction to the 190-page paperback guidebook that she depicts gods and goddesses on every card. She chose to depict them in everyday clothing rather than in the garb of their time period and culture in order to create a cohesive look for the deck. A card such as the 3 of Swords does not depict a god, but Anna Franklin includes a brief dialogue between The Fool and the deity represented by this card. In the case of the 3 of Swords no deity is depicted, but the focus is on the stormy background and the deity speaking to The Fool is the Egyptian god, Set, who is the god of chaos, storms, and the desert.

Anna Franklin depicts The Fool’s journey as occurring through the entire tarot deck. His journey is not strictly limited to the major arcana, which is the case for the majority of decks. As a result, The Fool is the main character of the Pagan Ways Tarot and he dialogues with the god or goddess depicted on every single card. The dialogue develops The Fool’s character as he learns the lesson of every card.

The Fool introduces the Pagan Ways Tarot, but at that point the organization of the guidebook departs from tradition. Instead of seeing The Magician as the next card we see the Ace of Swords. The Fool then travels through the cards of the Swords (the element of Air and Intent) suit, followed by Wands (the element of Fire and Will), Cups (the element of Water and Love), and the Pentacles (the element of Earth and Manifestation). Once the dialogue between The Fool and the gods and goddesses of the minor arcana concludes then we meet the archetypical cards of the major arcana.

The major arcana of the Pagan Ways Tarot  represents The Fool’s journey along the path of initiation. Card titles are a mix of traditional and pagan with such titles as The Lady and Lord for the Empress and Emperor, respectively. Additional changes include: The Elder for the Hierophant, Wyrd for the Wheel of Fortune, the Underworld for the Devil, Rebirth for Judgment, and Universe for the World. As with the minor arcana, The Fool engages in conversation with the character depicted on each card of the major arcana. The dialogue lends a vitality to the guidebook you do not often see and it makes for an enjoyable read.

The guidebook for the Pagan Ways Tarot is printed on high quality paper and what I like the most about it is that the cards are depicted in actual size and also in full color. This is not common among guidebooks, but Schiffer has done this with a few earlier decks. This feature makes the guidebook a wonderful study aid. You can take it with you to study easily enough and leave the actual cards at home.

The guidebook for the Pagan Ways Tarot concludes with three appendices. The first is a glossary of symbols depicted on the cards and a brief interpretation of each. This is very useful when a particular symbol catches your eye as you’re doing a reading. The second appendix is entitled “Using the Cards for Divination” and includes four spreads: the Zodiac Spread, a 7-card Planetary Spread, the 21-card Romany Spread, and the traditional 10-card Celtic Cross. Card positions are explained, but the guidebook does not contain any sample readings. The final appendix entitled “Using the Cards for Meditation and Spiritual Development” includes suggestions for meditating upon a single card, connecting with the Elements, and focusing on the Wheel of the Year.

The Pagan Ways Tarot is a well thought-out deck that will appeal to pagans and non-pagans alike. The imagery is vibrant, imaginative, and a pleasure for the eyes. I highly recommend it.

Blessings!

~ Nefer Khepri, PhD., R. M-T.

Tarot & Lenormand Readings, Spells, & Visionary Art

The Egyptian Lenormand: signed & activated copies

Email: IsisRaAnpu@gmail.com

Full Disclosure: I received a copy to consider for review by the publisher. I only review decks that I find useful to myself & that I feel my followers will also enjoy.

How to Choose a Tarot Deck.

If you do not currently own a Tarot deck, here’s my advice on how to purchase one. The main criteria is that the imagery of the deck appeals to you. You will be viewing that deck fairly often so you’re going to want to get a deck you find to be pleasing to your eye. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and these days there are hundreds of decks to choose from, so where do you start?

If you’re relatively new to Tarot I would recommend that you begin with a deck for which all the pips are fully illustrated with scenes. The pips are the minor arcana – the four suits (Wands, Cups, Swords & Pentacles) and their cards, Ace – King. Some decks only represent the pips numerically. For instance, the 2 of Cups will be just that, a picture of 2 cups. The 6 of Pentacles will be simply a picture of six pentacles, and so on. When the pips are fully illustrated the cards are depicted scenically.

The 3 of Cups from "The Illuminated Starlight Tarot," by Carol Herzer.
The 3 of Cups from “The Illuminated Starlight Tarot,” by Carol Herzer.

A good example of this is the 3 of Cups, here from The Rider Waite Smith (known as the RWS) deck. This one has been painted by artist Carol Herzer.  Here we have three woman holding their cups aloft as they celebrate something. The 3 of Cups represents having a reason to celebrate. It can also indicate having a good time with friends.  You see that idea depicted here through the symbols used for the card. This is what I mean by a fully illustrated pip card. For someone who is new to Tarot it is crucial your first few decks have fully illustrated pips. This will make the flow and narrative of your readings much easier to follow and comprehend.

There are many decks that contain fully illustrated pips. As a Tarot instructor, over the years I have recommended several decks to my students that are in various styles, but they have one thing in common. All the pips are illustrated.

Firstly, I would recommend any version of the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) Tarot. You can google the title and then click on “images” to view various styles of this deck.

My second suggestion is The Robin Wood Tarot.

The 3 of Wands, 4 of Swords & Knight of Cups from The Robin Wood Tarot.
The 3 of Wands, 4 of Swords & Knight of Cups from The Robin Wood Tarot.

Done in the RWS style, Robin Wood’s depiction of the pips, as well as the major arcana, is very straightforward and simple to understand. Many times while using this deck with clients they can glance down at the table and know immediately how the reading will turn out based upon the images on the cards, yet they know nothing of Tarot. I highly recommend The Robin Wood Tarot for beginners. Plus, it’s a lovely deck that has a pagan feel to it.

The 8 of Swords, 4 of Pentacles & 3 of Swords from The Hanson-Roberts Tarot.
The 8 of Swords, 4 of Pentacles & 3 of Swords from The Hanson-Roberts Tarot.

Another nice deck to start with, especially for those of you with smaller hands, is the Hanson-Roberts Tarot. These cards are playing-card size so they are easier to shuffle and larger readings will take up less room on your table. The artwork is done in colored pencil and is lovely and done in the RWS tradition.

If you like computer graphic art, I also recommend any Tarot deck by the artist

The 3 of Wands, 2 of Swords & 6 of Coins from The Tarot of Dreams by Ciro Marchetti.
The 3 of Wands, 2 of Swords & 6 of Coins from The Tarot of Dreams by Ciro Marchetti.

Ciro Marchetti. I own all his decks & must say he is among my all-time favorite Tarot artists. I especially like his Legacy of the Divine deck, as well as his Tarot of Dreams, which is my personal favorite.

Lisa Hunt is another Tarot artist I highly admire & find inspiring for my own artistic endeavors. She has a number of decks in print and you can search

The 2 of Cups, 4 of Pentacles & Page of Wands from The Celtic Dragon Tarot by Lisa Hunt.
The 2 of Cups, 4 of Pentacles & Page of Wands from The Celtic Dragon Tarot by Lisa Hunt.

her at Amazon to find a list there. My all-time favorite of hers is The Celtic Dragon Tarot, which I believe has just entered its 14th printing, if I’m not mistaken. This was the first non-RWS deck I purchased back in 1999 and I must say after using only the RWS for nearly 20 years, The Celtic Dragon Tarot introduced me to a whole new world of decks not strictly done in the RWS tradition. Lisa Hunt depicts each card with a dragon and lovely Celtic scenery all done in watercolor.

A good website to visit in order to see at least six images from every card deck is Aeclectic Tarot at http://www.aeclectic.net/. They also include deck reviews and here you can make an informed decision as to which deck to purchase.  Purchase links are also included.

My main tips for choosing a Tarot deck are:

  • The pips should be fully illustrated scenes if you’re a beginner.
  • The artwork should be pleasing to your eye.
  • There are many themes of decks available now so choose a theme that interests you.

It can be daunting to sift your way through the hundreds of Tarot decks available these days. Take your time and I’m sure you will end up with the deck that is perfect for you.

Wishing You Many Blessings,

Nefer Khepri, PhD., R. M-T.

Readings & Candle Work

Visionary Art

The Egyptian Lenormand now available for pre-order at Schiffer Books and Amazon.

The Turtle Lenormand now available for pre-order.

My forthcoming Aloha Spirit of Maui Oracle deck.