Artist: Lissanne Lake
Author: Raymond Buckland
Book and Cards Set
Publication date: January 2001
View Sample Cards
Price & More Info: Click Here
The Buckland Romani Tarot deck is a gorgeous deck. Artist Lissanne Lake did a truly inspired job of bringing Buckland's visions of English Gypsy life around the time of the Second World War to life. The borderless cards allow plenty of room for the art. If you collect tarot decks for their art, you'll probably want to just skip the rest of the review and go buy the deck. While some cards are more detailed than others (particularly with respect to faces), the overall artistic quality of this deck is high. The scan of sample cards I made does not do this deck justice.
Although the symbols are drawn from English Gypsy life, this is a fairly traditional deck which makes it easy for the average tarot reader to use. The suits are renamed Bolers (Wheels), Koros (Cups), Kosh (Staves), and Chiv (Knives) and the major arcana are numbered but not named. While these minor changes only take a few minutes to get used to, they enhance the Romani feel of the deck. The deck can be used with the traditional "Rider-Waite" interpretations, however, Buckland provides expanded descriptions/interpretations for each card in the 239 page trade paperback book that comes with the set.
I have often criticized Buckland books for talking down to the reader. I'm happy to say that I did not really notice any of that in the Romani Tarot book. In the book, Buckland gives long description of each card filled with interesting tidbits about Gypsy life (his father was a full-blooded English Gypsy). To accompany the traditional meanings, he usually asks questions about the card. For example, for the Two of Koshes he asks questions like: "Is the Rom waiting for someone? If so, is that person late in arriving? Or is the Rom seeing off someone who has been there with him?" Buckland's intent seems to be to get the reader to focus on the card image and the multiple things it could be saying instead of on the traditional "book meanings." The book also includes advice on giving readings and some spreads to use.
The Buckland Romani Tarot deck is one of the better new decks I've seen recently. Of course, I'm a bit biased because it looks like one of the few decks that I will be able to read with regularly. If you are in the market for a new -- or first -- Tarot deck, I strongly suggest taking a look at this one. The Romani Tarot beautiful to look at, different enough to spark your senses as you read with it, yet traditional enough to be easy to use.
Reviewed by Randall