The Happy Tarot is a whimsical, fun and light-hearted deck that invites the reader to see the positive side of life. The 78 cards by Serena Ficca are set in a cutesy world with sweets, ice cream and candy canes at every turn.
The Happy Tarot certainly lives up to it’s name - it is a warm hearted and optimistic deck situated in a whimsical candy-land. However, the Happy Tarot is far from fatuous; it has a strong foundation in the Rider Waite Smith standard and all cards have scenes that are instantly recognisable from their classic forebear.
The world of the Happy Tarot is gently humorous with with great attention paid to charming details. The countryside in which the inhabitants reside is a mouthwatering confection of children's sweets and favourite desserts. Mountains are topped with sweet sauces and giant cherries, a confetti of sprinkles, candy, lollipops, and ice creams and frozen treats lie on the ground; fairy floss trees and flowers made from boiled sweets sprout in gardens and rural scenes. Towers including those in The Moon, Death, and the Falling Tower appear to be giant chocolate bars, houses and castles are inevitably constructed from gingerbread.
The suits themselves are denoted by sugary goodies: Cups are ice cream sundaes, Pentacles are cookies and macaroons, Wands are depicted by popsicle sticks, lollipops, chocolate curls, and marshmallows on sticks; and Swords are shown as children's wooden toy swords. The inhabitants of Happy Tarot world are a cheery lot, although an occasional sad face creeps in to the appropriate cards. They are of that curious species – children or childlike people, at least in appearance, yet engaged in adult activities.
The Happy Tarot is a 78 card deck. The 22 card Major Arcana the standard RWS ordering; the cards have no titles, only Roman numerals. The 56 card Minor Arcana are Cups, Pentacles,Wands, and Swords; and the court cards are King, Queen, Knight, and Page. The suits are indicated by symbols at the top of the cards, and the Courts are indicated by symbols at the bottom of the cards. The deck measures 66 x 120 mm which is a standard size for Lo Scarabeo tarots.
The card stock is excellent. They have a low sheen gloss, are very smooth and flexible. These cards fit nicely in the hands and shuffle very well. The print quality is of a very high standard, there are no bleeds or blurring. The images are crisp and clean. The palette is vibrant candy colours – fairy floss pink, minty greens, soft lavenders, caramel and chocolate browns, buttery yellows, apricots, and grape shades.
While the Major Arcana embraces the full rainbow of colours, the suit of Cups is dominated by greens, Pentacles are predominantly shades of golden tan and apricot, Wands are dominated by sugary candy pinks, and Swords are primarily muted mauves and greys the colour of stormy skies. The artist, Serena Ficca’s style is reminiscent of children's picture books, innocent, sweet, charming, guileless and really cute.
Each card has a narrow sandy coloured border around each picture.There is a fine white lacy frill at the top and bottom of each image, and the numbers and symbols on each card are in an innocuous tan. The design on the back, clouds,trees,stars, candy, a big eyed moon or perhaps a peppermint, is fully reversible. The packaging is a lightweight cardboard box with scenes from the deck on all sides. It protects the cards well enough, but will not withstand heavy handling or rough treatment.
The Little White Book is 63 pages, with instructions in five languages – English, Italian, Spanish, French, and German. There is an introduction to the concept of the happy tarot and information on how to use the cards. A standard 3-card spread is included, but with fairly vague instruction as to how to use it to its best advantage. The instructions in general err on the side of optimism and hopefulness. The divinatory meanings are fairly standard but are quite positive and inclined to look for the best possible outcome. Each definition comes with a summary piece of advice which always begins with “You can find happiness by…”, some quite sanguine yet genuinely warm guidance.
The Happy Tarot initially appears to be a little twee and childish but it is far from that. With its strong Rider Waite Smith foundations this is a totally functional deck with a powerfully optimistic outlook. It will work as well for an experienced reader as a novice – and if you are looking for a deck that eschews negativity in favour of a consistently positive outlook – this is it! It is a deck that will work well for both the young and the young at heart. And if you are looking for a child friendly tarot, then the Happy Tarot is undoubtably one of the very best.
Simple, childlike art can be profound. Serena Ficca's Happy Tarot exemplifies this. The Happy Tarot is adorable. You want to pinch the cheeks of its smiling faces. Landscapes are sun-shot and scattered with candy landmarks. In the Fool card, a lad steps, not off a cliff, but off a cupcake. Cartoon characters, mostly eyes and smiles (only a few of the characters have noses), rejoice, mope, and struggle. The Happy Tarot became one of my favorite decks right out of the box. It delighted me in its use of color, its appealing characters, and its insistence on exploring even the darkest Tarot cards to discover what in them holds a unique key to happiness.
The Happy Tarot's images would tickle a child, or lower the defenses of an adult querent edgy about Tarot's spooky reputation. Seeing childlike characters in grown-up clothes taking on the challenges each card presents, using candy as symbols for life's rewards and setbacks, might loosen up the questioner and help him or her to gain perspective on the game of life.
Ficca combines earthier tones with brights and pastels in a sophisticated way. An example is the High Priestess. The rich, deep maroon of the pomegranates pop out from their sunset yellow and orange background. Solomon's pillars are somber purple-gray and taupe-ivory, but their subdued quality provides the perfect backdrop for the card's brighter accents: the pomegranates, the Priestess' blue robe, and her pink throne.
Ficca's use of light is never better than on the Hermit. The Hermit stands alone on a deep forest-green hilltop sprinkled with jimmies and topped with a maraschino cherry. Fruit-flavored clouds float through the night sky overhead. Stars twinkle, brightening tiny pinpricks of darkness. The Hermit is a child in an old man's costume beard. He holds a staff and a lantern. The lantern illuminates his face and his beard, but nothing else. Ficca's use of light here, in this whimsical little illustration, is masterful. It's a cute picture, a funny picture, and also, as much as any other Tarot card in any other deck, a picture that prompts reflection and interior searching. The Moon is another card that shows masterful handling of color. Its blues, olives and ghostly, aurora-borealis-green-white moon combine for a striking image.
In discussing something dubbed the Happy Tarot, I must turn to the Death card. It is beautiful, aesthetically perfect within the deck's system of colors, characters, and composition. The image is traditional: death on a pale horse inexorably approaches its victims, including children and a mitered bishop. These diverse victims are symbolic of universal powerlessness in the face of Death: neither innocence nor position allows escape to any mortal. No one is smiling in this card, but the card does emphasize, through color intensity and placement, the rosy, if distant dawn. Further, this Death is riding a rocking horse. Close inspection reveals that his skull face is merely a mask worn by a child. These touches suggest that Death is part of the game earthbound creatures must play to achieve transcendence. I admire the courage Ficca displayed in creating an image of death, in childlike symbols and references, that doesn't flinch from one of the hardest cards in the Tarot deck, but does not depart from her theme: "You can find happiness by accepting endings as inevitable," the Happy Tarot's little white book assures readers. In fact, all the card explanation begin with, "You can find happiness by…" followed by the gift Ficca discovers in each particular card.
The minor arcana are as well done as the majors. The coins are predominantly olive green, representing earth and money, the cups are predominantly light blue and placed near bodies of water, the wands are predominantly red, pink, and purple, the colors of fire, and the swords are predominantly pale blues and greys, representing air.
There are many lovely touches: the wizened face of the old woman in a babushka in the five of coins, the overwhelmed kid throwing a teary tantrum in the five of cups, and the spring-loaded seahorse being ridden by the knight of cups.
Given that the swords in this deck are wooden and have cross-shaped grips, the three of swords inevitably will call to mind to Christian viewers iconic depictions of Jesus' crucifixion on a hill between two thieves. The four of swords is one of the best versions of that card that I have seen. The ceiling is made of those thin slats of wood one finds in buildings that are hundreds of years old. Light – symbolic of knowledge and inspiration – filters through the stained glass window and falls on the warrior in repose who has laid down his swords, and is, perhaps, seeking guidance from his ancestral heroes, depicted in the stained glass.
The cards in the Happy Tarot follow the Rider-Waite-Smith pattern quite closely. The Fool and Death both have red feathers in their hats. The woman in the nine of coins holds a bird on her wrist, one far too flamboyantly colorful to be a falcon, but perfect for this candy-themed deck. The two of wands character appears to be holding a globe – or a large gumball. The staff in his hand skewers three marshmallows.
The cards are 2.5 inches by 4.75 inches and they shuffle easily. The color coding of the minor arcana aids in getting a quick, bird's eye view of a reading. The minor arcana cards feature their symbol at the top of the card: wooden swords, candy canes (for wands), covered vessels emblazoned with a heart for cups, and pentacles in the center of a coin. The knights have hobby horse heads at the bottom of their cards; the kings and queens have crowns, and the pages have their symbol which looks like a magic wand. The card backs are fully reversible. They depict deep mauve clouds floating near an eyed moon. Lollipops, candy canes, strawberries and an owl float amidst the clouds.
This deck, for me, was a very impulsive purchase. I saw pictures from it here on the Aeclectic Tarot website and I went straight to Amazon and bought it immediately. Now, for people who know me, making an impulsive purchase isn't anything out of the ordinary. I don't resist little indulgent impulses very often unless I really need to.
The Happy Tarot is published by Lo Scarabeo and illustrated by Serena Ficca. Her art style is adorable, cupcakes and hearts and flowers. So you might think that this deck would be entirely too fluffy and sunny and just plain sugar coated to actually work with. But you'd be wrong.
Granted, in a deck where The Fool is literally stepping off a cupcake, this isnt going to be the deck for everyone. Its over the top sunny candy filled colorful cards could put off some readers who like a more serious aesthetic in their cards. But if you enjoy sugar stars and a whole of of adorable animals and people, this could be your deck.
Whenever I get a new deck I like to use a Deck Interview Spread to get to know my new deck and see how I might work with it. In my interview with the Happy Tarot I learned that it would help me to unblock blocked emotions and see my way through issues that I didn't think I was ready to deal with. Because how could you not be willing to listen to adorable sugar laden cards of cotton candy and cupcakes?
The deck is based around the Rider-Waite-Smith deck imagery which makes this a great deck for someone just starting out reading tarot. It features, as others have said, dudes doing stuff which makes it more accessible for interpretation. Some of the features of the deck that I really enjoy is the attention to detail in the cards, sure the Three of Cups shows three people celebrating, but there are also happy bunnies running around, music notes in the air and a rainbow in the clouds. There's a lot to look at and lots to help you divine the meaning of the cards.
Here are some of my favorite cards:
Strength shows a cute little girl singing to a lion after shes removed the thorn from his paw. She has the traditional infinity symbol over her head and the mountains in the background so shes easily recognizable. What I love about this rendition is how relieved and grateful the lion looks. His pain is gone.
I also love the use of light in these cards, in Strength you can see the rays of light coming from the upper left. When youre working with these cards in spreads you can often see a progression of light through other cards which gives an extra way of interpreting the cards. If the light from the Emperor's card shines down into the Four of Swords how does that change the way you read the card? It's a wonderful way of getting a clearer picture of their meaning.
The next card that I love is The Hermit. The Hermit is a favorite of mine. As an introvert sometimes there is nothing more important to me than my alone time. The Hermit understands me.
This card is visually beautiful, much more subdued than the Strength card here we see a night sky filled with flowing stars and a lantern casting a soft glow over the Hermit as he moves through the candy landscape. Ficca's beautiful use of color and shading make this card really draw you in. Your eyes flows immediately to the glowing lantern and makes me want to lean closer to hear the Hermits wisdom.
In a green robe instead of the RWS grey the Hermit feels more approachable and kindly in this deck. This fits very well with the gentle vibe this deck has. It doesn't shy away from giving you the messages you need to hear, but it's also not going to slap you in the face with them.
The last card I want to share is The Empress. She is the ideal of the soft nurturing figure of a beautiful mother in nature. She could even be pregnant in the picture where she rests on her simple throne surrounded by animals. As a symbol of fertility and natural abundance she has a very appropriate family of bunnies at her feet. A cat sits near and a bird has landed on her scepter. The familiar crown of stars rests on her head. Instead of the dark forest behind her that you see in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, this is a verdant grassy meadow, a waterfall cascades behind her and a golden field of wheat grows to the right. If you look closely you can see a pomegranate at the base of her throne. This card also has those distinctive rays of light shining down on her.
Reading tarot spreads with this deck is a joy for me. Im really glad to have it in my collection of working decks. It might not look like a deck for serious work at first glance, but after working with a great deal, I've gotten some excellent insights and advice from these cute cards.
I would recommend this deck for: anyone who likes
cute or kawaii things, someone who is new to tarot,
someone who is a little intimated by tarot, or younger
readers (there is some cartoon nudity, but nothing I would
call objectionable). Don't let the cuteness deceive
you. This deck is charming and effective.