Spiritsong Tarot is a deck that seeks to unify two spiritual traditions. Designed and created by Canadian artist Pauline Cassidy its primary function is to explore the Shamanic world – one in which animals are seen as having an important function as inner plane guides.
In fact, all of the animals featured in Spiritsong Tarot are said to have been based upon Shamanic and Native American symbolism.
The second function of the deck is as a tool by which the user is able to connect to their Higher Self through symbol and allegory.
1) The Manual
The Spiritsong Tarot features a small, 108-page guidebook. This includes a basic breakdown of the deck and an explanation of the meaning of its suit elements before featuring a full description of each card along with its meaning, message, keyword and reversed interpretation.
At the end of the booklet the author includes advice on how to consecrate the cards along with a small number of basic tarot spreads.
2) The Deck
The Spiritsong Tarot structure is based upon traditional framework of 22 Major Arcana, 40 Minor Arcana. and 16 Court Cards. The cards are a little larger than usual being 3in.(7.5cm) by 5in. (12.7cm).
The deck does include subtle, but nevertheless quite significant, adaptations. For example, the traditional suit of Wands has been designated Acorns, Feathers are used instead of Swords, Cups are now Shells, and Crystals are used instead of Pentacles or Disks.
More significantly though, some of the cards of the Major Arcana have been retitled as follows;
- 0 – THE FOOL to THE TRAVELLER
- 5 – THE HIEROPHANT to SHAMAN
- 6 – THE LOVERS to LOVE
- 7 – DEATH to TRANSFORMATION
- 8 – DEVIL to THE SHADOW
- 20 – JUDGMENT to AWAKENING
Traditional Court nomenclature of Page, Knight, Queen and King remains the same in this deck.
The Spiritsong Tarot is a concerted attempt to unify traditional tarot principles along with the popular ‘animal wisdom’ type of cards that have become increasingly popular over recent years. The result, to my mind, is a mixed bag of ideas that results in a tarot deck of little practical application in any type of traditional psycho-spiritual context.
In this regard the images on the deck, as attractive as they appear, are overly simplistic and rely upon a universal understanding of what an animal represents. As we know, in Shamanism an animal guide can take on a myriad of different forms and contexts depending upon a situation. Trying to shoehorn them into a traditional tarot philosophy simply does not work and these short-comings are blaringly evident in this deck.
However, that said the deck does have a number of strong characteristics and useful applications outside of the tarot eco-system. Those users who enjoy using animal symbolism as a way of interfacing with the Shamanic Worlds will appreciate the subtlety of the card imagery as points of focus in meditation, dream, and visualisation work.
Another somewhat problematic issue with this deck – one that lends them to being somewhat less than practical in standard tarot work, is the size of the cards themselves. I have large hands and even so I found shuffling them a challenged due to the need to stretch my fingers quite so far just to hold the deck safely. This is not a deck for more petite hands for in addition to their size its overall bulkiness – a natural result of using good quality card stock I am afraid, will also create problems for the less dextrous user.
Like so many so-called ‘tarot decks’ one has the feeling that this is a collection of artistic ideas that have been forced into a traditional tarot structure rather than having been born from it. This has resulted in a deck that will not be of great value in a professional environment.
That being said, as an introduction to the value of working with power animals in a Shamanic context this deck has the potential – with a little adaptation in the way it is used by a reader, to be a useful spiritual tool. As a product the deck has been well-produced, the booklet contains some quality interpretations and the adaptations made to the card titles work well.
It is not a tarot deck that I would personally use due to its inherent short-comings as I outlined earlier but for those who love the natural world, are attracted to Shamanism, and are looking for a practical meditation tool Spiritsong Tarot is certainly a deck worth checking out.