The Starchild Tarot is a self-published deck by the Canadian-based Danielle Noel, with the first printing released in 2014. The artwork for the deck is photography and digital collage with some illustration in a light, muted color palette. It’s surreal, symbolist, and yet blends those artistlc styles with portrait photography.
The deck is pastel in hues, dominating mostly in light blue, pinks, and purples. The style of the art and how Noel has pieced this deck together conveys the sense that each card is a gateway to an other-worldly dimension. Use of this deck for meditation or pathworking would be ideal.
The cards are a beautiful matte finish (love!!), thick, sturdy, larger in size that typical tarot decks, i.e., 3.375″ x 5.0″, and have white borders that I think work very well for the deck. I really love the font that Noel used for the card titles!
The deck is inspired by the New Age concept of star people, or star seeds. Brad Steiger, a paranormal author, introduced the idea of star people, humans who have extraterrestrial genes in them (maybe? I might be butchering this idea, in which case my apologies) and are an alien race born into human bodies to serve humanity through a higher spiritual purpose. Under Steiger’s concept, star seeds are more psychic or intuitive than ordinary humans. That’s as much as I’ve read on the topic and I don’t even know if it’s accurate. But it’s an interesting spiritual theory and I began my thoughts on the Starchild Tarot within the star people/star seed context.
The card backs are not reversible exactly, but you can hardly tell, and so reading with reversals would work just fine. The design here seems to be a synthesis of mandalas and sacred geometry, and is evocative of constellations, stars, and crystal magic. Really beautiful and thoughtfully designed card backs here. It works very well with the aesthetic point of view of this deck.
The Fool card, or its equivalent, Starseed, goes unnumbered like in traditional tarot decks pre-dating the RWS. This isn’t my favorite Fool card ever, but within the context of the Starchild Tarot deck, it’s beautiful and works very well at defining the deck’s point of view. There’s also a Magician vibe to this card, which actually works with the concept of starseeds. Starseeds are purportedly advanced human beings, those who are more developed intuitively than the rest. In a typical tarot deck, Key 0: The Fool is the child, the carte blanche, with the implication that the fool’s knapsack contains the tools of Key 1: The Magician. Here, the Starchild Fool card, Starseed, is a more advanced Fool, more like the Magician already, than typical tarot Fools. So it works that the Starseed card here would call to mind The Magician already.
I apologize for how grainy my photos came out for this review. I took the snapshots late at night around midnight this time around, whereas normally (in the other deck reviews I do) I’m taking the card pics on a bright sunlit weekend morning. You can see higher-resolution, close-up images of the cards on Noel’s page here. Absolutely stunning photo-collage art.
The imagery on the deck is incredibly expressive of our era’s more globalized society and is inclusive in terms of its depictions of people. You’ll see it in the Starseed card, in The Lovers above, and throughout. I love The Chariot card in this deck: a galloping horse with a full moon above. I love the subtle fish eye lens perspective.
The structure of the Starchild deck follows pre-RWS traditions, with Key 8 being Justice (instead of Strength) and Key 11 being Strength. Some of the Majors have been renamed, such as The Hermit to Serenity, The Hanged Man to Perspective, and Death to Transformation. That is a beautiful, soft, and quite gentle Death card, with the beautiful pink hues and illuminated tunnel at the end. Love the moon symbolism here as well.
Despite the revisions, I don’t find this deck to be too light or sugarcoated. The messages that card readings with the Starchild Tarot convey are still very real, very grounded, and some of the darker aspects of the card do and will come out. You’ll see in the reading I do with this deck at the end of this review. So I wouldn’t call this tarot deck sugarcoated, not at all, but it’s also not an esoteric deck. And while it may not be what I call an esoteric deck, the Starchild Tarot is unequivocally magical.
Key 15: The Devil has been renamed to Oppression, and doesn’t show bondage or temptation. It seems to show blindness, ignorance. The Tower card is another gentle depiction, soft, lovely, and removing the otherwise visceral reaction we often get when we look upon the classic Tower card. Key 20: Judgement has been renamed to Awakening, and I rather like Noels’ version of Key 20!
Although we do have illustrated pips, there remains an abstract style to it more in line with the Marseille than the RWS. In the RWS, the illustrated pips are very “storybook.” Here, I really get the sense that each card is a gateway. Throughout the Minors, you’ll see pagan themes applied to the traditional card meanings. In the Eight of Wands pictured above, for instance, the imagery conveys the sense of collective energy raising, accumulated power (the illuminated full moon, or is that a sun), which is an essence that is definitely embedded into the Eight of Wands, but goes beyond standard RWS card meanings. I dig it.
The Ten of Wands here definitely seems to deviate from standard card meanings. There’s a strong sense of support and alliance here in the Starchild Ten of Wands. The burden is manageable here, whereas in, say, the RWS Ten of Wands, or even the TdM or Thoth Tens, you’ve got exhaustion, fatigue, and being overwhelmed without the certainty that you can manage that burden. This Starchild Ten of Wands is very power-affirmative.
I love the Ace of Cups here. It’s beautiful, and the Two of Cups with the rainbow connecting the two chalices brings joy to the seeker. The themes throughout the deck are nature-based, but not necessarily earth-based. It goes beyond earth to manifest a cosmic quality, a sense of connection to the greater universe at large, a higher consciousness. Through and through, each card in the Starchild Tarot deck in some way or another calls to mind “As above, so below,” which is inscribed right onto the deck box.
I would consider the Starchild Tarot a contemporary Marseille deck, even though the pips are illustrated. While illustrated, they’re still abstract and convey essences through abstract form rather than narratives through realist art. The cards remain very open to individual interpretation. For example, the RWS Ten of Swords can only be read so many limited (and similar) ways, if you ask me, but here in the Starchild Tarot, that Ten of Swords opens interpretation up to many different variants.
The suit of Pentacles/Coins has been renamed to the suit of Crystals. The Five of Crystals is one of my favorite cards in the deck. I just love its surrealist style. I thought it was cool how the RWS Ten of Pentacles has the ten pentacles forming the Kabbalistic Tree of Life and here the Starchild Ten of Crystals, its equivalent, references sacred geometry.
No major changes in the court titles: you’ve got the Page, Knight, Queen, and King. The art in the courts, like the rest of the deck, is abstract, open to interpretation, and rather than tell fixed narratives through symbolism, evoke feelings, express a particular essence, and how that essence is shaped into a tarot reading will be up to the individual practitioner’s intuition.
As I was going through the deck, I got the impression of a very Aquarius-Pisces aesthetic. The Starchild Tarot is very much a deck for the visionary tarot reader. I feel like those who are sun, moon, or rising sign Aquarius or Pisces would find the Starchild Tarot quite compatible. And I guess given my impression of the Aquarius-Pisces aesthetic, it also makes sense that I feel strong influences of both Uranus and Neptune in this deck. You need to be incredibly creative, think outside the box, as they say, and possess a fluid imagination to work competently with this deck. In many ways, I would contend that this is an advanced tarot deck, not a beginner’s deck, but because it comes with an awesome guidebook with so much content, it could work for beginner learners.
So how does the deck read? As if to prove that it is not a light, sugarcoated deck, I get Oppression in my first reading. I also get The Magician supporting the foundation of the spread. King of Cups, ah, for that Pisces-Neptune energy I was talking about earlier, and yet you also get a very strong “water bearer” vibe coming out of that particular King of Cups, calling to mind Aquarius. The Eight of Wands here promises a powerful reading deck. The Ace of Wands speaks to the deck’s creative-intuition.
I’m so very impressed by the companion guidebook. It’s packed with information, which is why this deck would be a great starter deck for a beginner. In the above photograph you get to see the remarkable detailing of each card. There are layers upon layers of details where a lattice of sacred geometry serves as a veil over the main image of the single wand and verdant hills.
The Magician card here is cheeky, I think. There’s a 1970s-interpretation-of-Sci-Fi feel to this card. You have specific iconography in the illustration that ground the card in tarot tradition, but transcends tradition to create a wholly new, creative, and contemporary Magician card. Speaking of that Aquarian-Uranus influence in the deck, I really believe something about the Starchild Tarot has touched upon the cultural pulse of our era. It’s very expressive of today’s spiritual movement.
The keywords in the guidebook for the King of Cups aptly describe the Starchild Tarot deck: emotional, psychic, wise, strong, sensitive.
The guidebook also includes meanings for card reversals plus much more. The Introduction states that the deck is intended as a meditative tool and for self-healing and there is an additional section in the guidebook on healing with the tarot. It teaches a simple 3-card spread, the Celtic Cross, and Noel’s own Starseed Spread.
I love the message inscribed inside the box: We are all stardust. It’s a quote that summarizes a modern understanding of science and spirituality, and attributed with Carl Sagan, an astrophysicist.
Sagan has also said, “The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by God one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying … it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.” The Starchild Tarot very much expresses that cosmological view.
The Starchild Tarot is presently resting on one of my living room coffee tables next to a crystal lotus paperweight. The deck is iconic of today’s New Age spiritual movement. If the Voyager Tarot by James Wanless speaks to you, or the Sirian Starseed Tarot by Patricia Cori, or gravitate toward soft, muted, pastel hues that express other worlds beyond our earth-centric physical reality, then undoubtedly the Starchild Tarot deck is for you. I love how the deck shifts my perspective and opens me up to be a more creative-intuitive reader, delving into my imagination, visions, and reading from a dream-like state over my more typical analytical state.