The Fool by Julia Iredale

After the The Wild Unknown, one of my oldest and most used decks is the Ostara Tarot. If memory serves, this was my second or third deck that I ever purchased for myself, and I still use and love it, years later.

Some brief information about this deck: It was created in 2017 by four Canadian artists: Molly Applejohn, Eden Cooke, Krista Gibbard, and Julia Iredale. The fact that it is a collaboration shouldn’t deter you. In fact, I love that the deck has an illustrative range that is still cohesive to the other illustrations and the deck as a whole.

Speaking of the deck, the name of the deck implies that the journey of the tarot reader with this deck at the helm will promote a rebirth, an awakening, and a potency to create and conceive. This desk was also started and completed around the time of Ostara, showing the importance of cyclic energy, however unintentional or secondary.  

Breaking down this deck to help you see if this is a deck you would like to have in your own collection, I will start by speaking to the Majors, then the Minors, then the Court Cards, and end with some final details: card size, box, etc. I will also give some final thoughts, including if it’s a good deck for beginners, the value of the guidebook, and artistic style.

The Majors

The Creation line, or the first line of seven cards (I will be doing a blog post on the names of the three Major Arcana lines) shows the unique style of each artist, but also shows a cohesion and flow between the styles. We see the Majors embodying archetypes, symbols, or deities from different pantheons and world views. The Empress shows an Earth Mother archetype, and this is one of my favorite depictions from ALL my decks. The Emperor shows the Aries Ram as a master of formidable strength and fortitude. The Hierophant shows a plant growing from the head, indicating a deeper understanding of the way the world functions, while the Magician shows a labyrinth of All-Seeing eyes – an indication that conjuring your own magick is to descend into the deep network of connections and understandings. The High Priestess depicts Persephone, and the Chariot indicates that choice and force of will is behind the movement of life (the two chess knights speak to this ability to see actions and reactions before they happen).

The Destruction line is next, and I think this line shows the most cohesion. Most of the images are soft-lined with a color pallet of yellows, oranges, blues, and white. Strength is probably my favorite image from this line (illustrated by Eden Cooke). The image shows a girl who is battle-worn with her loss of an eye, and her heavy armor. Her dragon comfortably puffs smoke while she holds her exposed and radiating heart for all to see. Is it just me, or does this image bring a memory of Dragonheart to mind (Hello the nineties…)?! If you look closely at her shoulders, you see two cities on the armor pads, one with a sun above and one with a moon. This level of detail is one of the things that I love most about this deck- there are tons of little details and nuances that strongly elevate the image.

We again see some key world themes: the Hermit emerging from the cave, the three Fates as the Wheel of Fortune, Ma’at as Justice. The Hanged Man shows an image with lots of pagan themes. Temperance shows a woman with a book and prey and predator animals come out on either side….again the details are beautiful.

Side note- in this deck Strength is #11 and Justice is #8. I naturally work with Strength as #8 and went into autopilot when setting the cards out for the image. I have a whole podcast episode into why I believe that Strength is #8, which you can listen to by clicking here.

The Evolution line ends the Major Arcana, and we end the Majors in this deck with some absolutely beautiful images. Fun fact- I bought this whole deck because I saw an image of one card, and that card was the Devil. That image alone made me decide that I needed this deck. The Tower is much like other depictions but the doves flying from the wreckage is a nice touch (The details…..). The Moon is a beautiful card that shows the fluid, shadowy, dreamlike, and cerebral nature to the card. The Sun as a warrior, Judgement as a Valkyrie show the connections to myth, story, and archetype. These connections deepen the meaning, allowing you to use these connections in your interpretations and connections past the tarot. 

The Cups

The Cups by Eden Cooke

Starting alphabetically with the Minors, we have the Cups. This suit was illustrated by Eden Cooke, and you clearly see her proclivities toward story, coincidence, and overlooked magick (from her website). I think it may be my favorite, even including her Court Card depictions which we will get to in a moment. What I love about her artistic rendering with these images is how different some of the stories are from standard images.

The Three and Six of Cups immediately come to mind. The Three of Cups usually shows a more merry gathering. This one shows three women soaking in water with frogs and lily pads. This image is intimate, supportive, and highly feminine- an initiation of sorts into the related vulnerability of connection. The Six of Cups shows some youthful people in a state of conjuring forth a great whale- indicating that when working with this card that we are working to bring deep emotions to the surface, however impossible it may seem. These takes on the tarot are much more in alignment with my readings, and give a more intimate and honest approach.

BTW all the minors in this deck show animal families across the suits. The Frog in the Three of Cups is no coincidence. There are Frogs across all the threes. When creating the deck, the artists chose to create that cohesion mentioned before by following animals or their similar families across the Minors, giving readers space to use nature as an inspiration for unique and intuitive interpretations. I am HERE for that level of unity from four amazing artists!

The Pentacles (Coins)

The Coins by Molly Applejohn

Next we have the Pentacles, named Coins in this deck. Illustrated by Molly Applejohn, this suit leans into a softness with the images that I really enjoy. The use of blended lines and colors, while still leaning into some striking colors and choices, makes this suit feel like it is in movement, a perfect feel for the suit of the physical world. My personal favorite in this whole selection of cards is the Ace. How can I not just fall in love with that little mouse offering it’s little coin out into the beautiful world?! 

Like Eden Cooke’s artistic style, the suit of Coins takes some interesting turns in some cards in the form of artistic imagery reflecting the interpretation of the cards. The 7 of Pentacles normally speaks to reflecting on where you have and done, and how to align from that space of the past to get to where you are going in your manifestations. Here, the 7 of Coins shows a family of raccoons that have slowly amassed all the shiny treasures, trinkets, and things that will stay come winter. I really like this depiction of this card. It shows that slow amassing through actions leads to physical spaces that reflect internal truths. The Raccoons love the shiny things, and they will have them for internal comfort. 

More than anything, this suit shows the beautiful nature of the moment, the present, the circumstance. The man creating his alchemical works in the 2 of Coins is surrounded by birds. The owl in the 8 of Coins is intimately connected to the work. The 4 of Coins shows a grizzled rabbit, either suggesting a greed-ridden person weighted down, or one who has had to fight for every scrap of treasures they have. This suit allows readers to read the story and form their own interpretations, which I really like. 

The Swords

The Swords by Krista Gibbard

Moving on to the Swords suit by Krista Gibbard, these images are much more realistic, detailed, and straight to the point, which is a perfect pairing for a suit like the Swords. Please excuse the ring light glare on my table, but I wanted to make sure that these images were illuminated so you could see the cards. I think what I love about this suit and Gibbard’s artistic rendering is that you can make immediate interpretations from the cards.

The 8 of Swords with the hawk surrounded by these tiny swords shows that the hawk is not trapped. The perception is lacking and shrouded in darkness. That is what keeps the hawk from seeing that her ability to fly away is unaffected. The Ace (oh the Ace’s in this deck) shows a tiny mouse on top of a huge sword that has killed someone in the past- a clear invitation that past endeavors should not prevent you from seeing the heights you can rise to and claim.

These images, perhaps more than the other suits, allow for immediate intuitive interpretations to be made because her images are crystal clear, detailed, and full of symbolism. Her methodical artistry is also given to designing the back of the card image, which we will see at the end of this post. 

The Wands

The Wands by Julia Iredale

The Wands is the last suit in the Minor Arcana, and I have to say that this suit by Julia Iredale presents some profound imagery, but also some potential challenges for a newbie reader.  The first thing to notice is that most of this suit is in the exact same color palette, with some variations given to the Nine and the Five. There are also uses for light beams, circles, and shape cutouts. I obviously cannot speak as to precisely why she made these artistic choices, but my interpretation of this layered approach to the images speaks to the liveliness of the wands, and how fire is fluid and moves in and out, constantly changing. 

I am not mad at these images, but I do think that they may be a little chaotic (which may be intentional) for someone learning on this deck. However, I think some of the images are quite stunning. The Two of Wands shows a young girl with a cage over her head. She is surrounded by birds, and you can FEEL the intentional meaning of this card of seeking freedom, and finding your path. It’s a stunning image for sure. 

I feel like Iredale’s artistry shows an underbelly to the interpretations, forcing you to really look at, observe, and take in the card to find where you sit within it. Again, this is great stuff for learning to read intuitively. 

The Court Cards

I chose to put the courts all together by suit, so that when you look at the rows of ranks, you see the different artistry from the four different artists. However, if you look at the vertical column, you see the four court ranks that each artist created in relation to their  suit from above. 

I have to be honest and say that some of the images in these cards I love, and others I feel are lacking. The Queens are all gorgeous in my opinion, and the Queens were the one set of cards that did not follow the animal, or animal family. The Pages have foxes, the Knights have bears, and the Kings of stags, or antlered creatures. The Pages do not disappoint either. In fact, the only cards in this image that I feel are lacking are the Kings, with the exception of the King of Cups, which is one of my favorites depictions of this card.  The King of Swords is fine too, but the King of Wands and Pentacles I dislike. The King of Pentacles just looks creepy and weird, and I feel that the King of Wands could have a lot more imagery for such a card. However, it is pretty rare where you will get a deck that doesn’t have a single card that sticks out like a sore thumb to you. 

Some Deck Notes and Final Thoughts

The Box, Guidebook, and Card Back

For the cost of this deck, which retails on various sites through Google for about $25.00 (which is so reasonable for a deck), you are getting your money’s worth. The cards come in a hard cardboard box with two sections and a paper divider. The box has nice details and pictures, with the High Priestess gracing the front cover.

The guidebook is a color book (which is always better), and the pages are a glossy finish. Each card has some good keywords, notes on what the image includes (like the Valkyrie as Judgment), and the reversal meanings as well. The card back by Krista Gibbard shows a beautiful balance of life and death. Again, her attention to detail is really special. The cards can also be read reversed because of the card image on the back. Much of my own interpretations stray from the guidebook, but it is a good starting point in reading many of the cards.

The cards measure 2.75′ by about 4.75′. Mine are a little less than 4.75, reading at 4.69′. Weird fact that I bought a second deck to replace some images that got a little damaged (more on that), and the cards in the newer deck are bigger than my original. The cards are a glossy finish, which makes for easy shuffling, but also makes it hard to photograph (sorry…..). The cards are thin and small enough that I don’t struggle to shuffle or use this deck the way I do with other, bigger cards. 

My biggest issue with this deck is the silver foil on the sides of all the cards. This IS a nice touch and elevates the deck as a whole, but this is where my issue is: getting these cards unstuck from each other because of the foil actually caused me to rip slightly into two of the cards, which really made me mad. I have seen other reviews on this deck mention this, and some even saying it took them forever to get all the cards unstuck. I don’t mind the foil, and again it is nice, but if it is going to make me damage my cards getting them unstuck, I would rather not have it at all. 

Now, is this deck good for beginners? Absolutely. It is probably one of the best decks for beginners in my collections that takes some of the well-known symbolism of the Rider- Waite, but takes into a modern, Pagan, and inclusive approach. I believe that you could even learn to read on this deck, and no, you DO NOT have to learn on the Rider-Waite. You don’t even need to have that deck in your collection. 

At the end of the day, this is a beautiful deck that leans into the feminine, the Pagan, and the modern imagery, while also encouraging you to use your own intuition to read the cards, and awaken to the connection you have with this deck. I really love this deck, and still read on it YEARS later. You can find this deck on a variety of sites and stores, just use Google. If you do buy this deck, take time to learn about it, and get to know it.  

Would you be interested in a post of how to get to know your deck, and set some beautiful intentions in working with it? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading my wild darling. XOXO

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