I received the Ostara Tarot months after I pre-ordered it. The popularity of the deck was evident as the online retailer, Bookdepository, ran out of stock almost immediately and so quickly that even I who had ordered the deck two weeks before it was released did not manage to get the deck.
The Ostara Tarot was the brainchild of four artists who realised their common interest in the Tarot. The Majors were done by all four of them, and they took charge of one suit each in the deck. The deck is also made up of mainly animals, with a common animal running through (mostly) each number.
After a month or two of using the deck, here is my review.
My box was dinged but that was more to do with the delivery than the fault of the publishers. The box is sturdy, and comes with a magnetic closure. The top of the box has a little red ribbon sticking out, allowing the user to open the lid easily.
Matching red ribbons help to prevent the lid from over-opening. All these touches are great.
However, the box itself does not fit the cards well – when I keep my cards in the box, they are difficult to pull out as I am unable to store the deck in one stack. The deck has to always be separated into two, and also leaving very little space for my fingers to claw the cards out. I often have to end up turning the box over to get the cards out. I wish the box could have been shaped better to house the cards. A good example will be the Wild Unknown Deck , whose box is smaller for easier transport and also makes it easy to pull the cards out with the ribbon attached to the bottom.
The guidebook itself is coloured and has well written notes on each of the cards, providing both upright and reversed meanings. I read reversals, so these notes help.
It would have been nice to see specific spreads for the deck created by the deck creators or little morsels of information (like the Linestrider deck) but it is more of a great to have; I really like the guide book.
Art of the Deck
The art of the deck is beautiful, as most decks are, and despite being created by four artists with different art styles, the deck feels cohesive. I would have to admit that my favourite suit was the suit of Swords, drawn by Krista Gibbard and I also love the suit of Wands, drawn by Julia Iredale. I least like the suit of Pentacles but this is my own personal preference – I found the line work to be a little blurry for my liking.
I find the animals in the deck charming, especially since the animals across the numbers match. Some of these examples can be seen below, such as in the 3s, 5s, 7s and Pages.
However, this is not always the case. I understand that the artists decided to give each Queen their individual animals; however, at the same time, I noticed numbers with dissimilar animals.
It is a little jarring to remember that despite the whale in the 6 of Cups, whales are actually used in the 10 of Swords and the 10 of Wands. At the same time, the 10 of Cups and Pentacles both use octopi instead of whales. A snake is being used in the 6 of Swords, but snakes are also used for the number 5 in each of the suits. An owl depicting the 8 of Pentacles sticks out from the eagles in the other suits. I wish they stuck to their idea of keeping an animal per number, as these inconsistencies pop out at me when I do my readings.
However, there are cards that I honestly love in the deck. Here are some of my favourite cards.
I am clearly very partial to whales in the 10 of Wands and 10 of Swords – the 10 of Swords was actually the card that convinced me to get the entire deck. I also love the simplicity of the 4 of Swords and the strangeness of the 3 of Cups. Some people do not get the card but I completely do – it shows how nourishing people can be; the characters in the art are literally drinking in one another. I love the comfort shown in the 9 of Cups as well – can’t say no to large cuddly cats.
Although most of the cards are quite intuitive, there are some that I do not find easy to intuit. I also have certain nit-picky tendencies and some of my least favourite cards can be seen below.
Some of the cards rely too much on anthromorphizing the animals in the art, or went with a forced animal mask instead of depicting the animal itself in the situation. I also find that the suit of Pentacles tend to feel very static and scattered, such as 2 of Pentacles – the usual juggling of coins in an infinity sign is now replaced by an alchemist holding onto jars. The birds are also not moving but standing watch. I do not appreciate the eye-patch on Strength in an effort to make her look tough and the weird anatomy of the blind-folded people in the 10 of Cups. The lady in the 3 of Pentacles also just looks slightly agape – I have no idea what her expression is supposed to mean or where she is.
Although I am not partial to the above cards, I’m sure others would love them! I can tell that the anthromorphized animals are objectively cute (look at the bunny!), but it is not my thing. Some people may also appreciate the detail that went into the suit of Pentacles better than I do! :p I can be just a little nit-picky sometimes.
The card-stock is thicker than usual but it is not sturdy for some reason as some of my corners are slightly folded from my shuffling and I’m not a hardcore shuffler. The cards also came stuck together due to the foil used for the card edges and the stickiness made it difficult to shuffle.
Despite that, I appreciate the silver edge, which flash in the candlelight when I do my readings. I also found that the more I shuffle, the less sticky the cards tend to be and the easier it is. Some breaking in is needed!
The Ostara Tarot is definitely value for money. The art is gorgeous, the deck isn’t too expensive, and it comes with a sturdy box with a magnetic closure. It even comes gilded which is luxurious in my opinion. I would even say read these cards (if you are able to shuffle with them) for your friends as the art is often gentle and almost kind, compared to the sometimes harsh Wild Unknown or the always jarring Mary El Tarot.
I know I did say above some things that I do not like about the deck (e.g. inconsistency of the animals, the over-reliance on human figures, the card-stock), the overall art that I love outweighs all the little nit-picks. The deck is usable, friendly and comes with a full colour guidebook which provides reversed meanings. I even believe that this deck can serve as a good beginner’s deck due to the gentle images.
I recommend to get the Ostara Tarot.