The Ostara Tarot (first published in 2017 by Red Feather of Schiffer Publications) is a collaborative project founded by Molly Applejohn and named after the pagan vernal equinox which marks the midpoint of spring, a time for rebirth, new growth and fresh starts…
Picky About Packaging
The Ostara Tarot arrives packaged in a medium-sized magnetic-close cardboard box which when opened features a red ribbon either side of the box to keep the lid upright. A guidebook is included which is placed on top of two separate piles of cards that are held in place by a flimsy cardboard bracket.
Whilst the box is very pretty in terms of artwork, I must admit that I’m not entirely keen upon the use of cardboard separators or templates, nor do I like having to separate tarot decks into two or more piles as I feel that a tarot deck should be kept as one.
I would always suggest that tarot storage should enable readers to store decks neatly in a single pile, thus I tend to transfer many of my decks from their original storage boxes into custom-made pouches, perhaps publishers may wish to consider including pouches within larger tarot sets in the future…
The Ostara Tarot features a 110-page guidebook which includes a short preface, a double-page spread for each of the major arcana cards, a single page guide upon each of the minor arcana cards, and four final pages offering further information upon the artists.
This isn’t the most detailed guidebook, though it does offer readers keywords and a short explanation for each of the cards both in an upright and reversed position.
Molly Applejohn, Eden Cooke, Krista Gibbard, and Julia Iredale are four illustrators who live in Vancouver and studied at Emily Carr University, They met whilst at art school and discovered a shared love for the occult which led to them combining and collaborating their skills to create The Ostara Tarot.
Each of the artists created artwork for cards within the major arcana, they then each designed and took charge of a particular suit – Molly created the artwork for the suit of coins, whereas Julia produced work for the suit of wands, Eden designed the suit of cups and Krista created the suit of swords alongside the stunning artwork featured on the card backs, the packaging and the guidebook.
Although The Ostara Tarot is a collaborative deck featuring four artists’ unique techniques and styles, the cards follow a symbolistic, contemporary, feminine theme featuring wilderness, woodland, and naturalistic scenes that tie together perfectly. The deck feels complete and unless I’d been told or read about the separate artists involved within creating this deck – I’m not sure that I would have known any different – it is most certainly an example of successful teamwork!
The Ostara Tarot consists of seventy-eight, high-quality, medium-thickness, glossy print, silver-gilded standard-sized tarot cards featuring borderless images with internal white titling, white framing and stunning sage green, symmetrical, skull and rose-themed backing which is ideal for upright and reversed readings.
Upon opening the Ostara Tarot deck I found that many of the cards were stuck together due to the silver-gilding and in my attempt to separate the cards, I sadly damaged two of the cards. However, I later found that if the cards are gently bent then they slide apart with ease – if only I had realised this before trying to peel apart the cards in order to separate them.
The Major Arcana
Looking closely at the cards within the major arcana, each of the four artists’ styles, techniques, and work can each be individually identified. However, the artists who worked upon this deck stick so strongly to nature as a theme, that the deck is unified and the cards within The Ostara Tarot tie beautifully together.
I particularly like The Fool who appears as a witch with untied shoelaces, riding her broomstick alongside the birds towards the sunlight without a care in the World. I’m also quite fond of the Chariot which features a hooded male holding a set of reins and two opposing rook chess pieces suggesting a journey through the game of life…
The Minor Arcana
Though beautiful in design, the minor arcana is slightly difficult to tell suits apart as though each card is printed and ordered using roman numerals, the imagery within the cards isn’t entirely traditional in terms of featuring wands, cups, swords or coins.
The wands, designed by Julia Iredale feature autumnal, leafy twigs and branches throughout many of the cards within the suit. However, other cards feature animals and creatures and are more difficult to associate with wands, added to this, there is no specific colour-scheme throughout the deck which can make reading slightly tricky.
Designed and created by Eden Cooke, the suit of cups features obscure mask-clad figures, animals, and creatures alongside cups within a range of dreamy imagery.
Created by Krista Gibbard, the artist, and designer that produced the imagery for both the packaging and the guidebook, the suit of swords feels somehow more authentic to The Ostara Tarot. Swords are clearly depicted within each of the images throughout this suit, making the swords easier to understand and therefore easier to read…
Designed by Molly Applejohn, the founder of The Ostara Tarot, the suit of coins features more animal-based imagery, though much-like the suit of swords, coins are clearly depicted in each of the images making this suit also quite easy to understand and to interpret.
Reading With The Ostara Tarot
Given that the guidebook is quite succinct and the cards not necessarily traditional in terms of design, I would suggest that The Ostara Tarot is perhaps suited to more advanced tarot readers.
As many of the cards within The Ostara Tarot include animals, I would suggest that this deck would be suited to readers who are interested in the idea of animal-spirit-guides or like myself, enjoy nature-based imagery. This is certainly a collectible deck which I’m sure many readers would hold dear.
Having used The Ostara Tarot to carry out a number of readings over the past fortnight, I have fallen rather head over heels for this wonderfully whimsical tarot deck. Though I first found it a little tricky to identify particular suits when carrying out readings, over time I have come to learn and to love The Ostara Tarot.
Pricing & Purchasing Information
Whilst I would suggest that The Ostara Tarot is more suited to advanced and experienced tarot readers, this is a stunning tarot deck ideal for tarot readers looking to work with animal-spirit-guides or those who simply enjoy naturalistic, eccentric and arty tarot decks, is is certainly far more of a collectible deck than one for traditional tarot reading.
For further information upon The Ostara Tarot or alternative Red Feather/ Schiffer products visit www.schifferbooks.com
Disclosure: I was sent the above product for the purpose of this post however all opinions are my own.