I Love This Russian Book and Card Set,
This review is from: Russian Gypsy Fortune Telling (Hardcover)
I have wanted to buy these cards for over a year but as the price was a little higher than the normal Tarot deck, I kept avoiding buying them. When I was a child I had a set of Russian gypsy cards that came free with a spiritual magazine. Having had a deck I received for free, I didn't want to spend a lot on these cards. However I decided to get the set because I have totally forgotten their meanings and, because of nostalgic reasons, I wanted to start using these cards again.
I was very pleased with this beautiful and heavy (about 700 g) kit. It had a super pretty 180 page thick book that was of a very high quality and had a set of 25 gypsy cards. The book itself is hardcover and it tells about the gypsies in Russia, about the fortune telling tradition in Russia and some other things. The author Svetlana Alexandrovna Touchkoff is Russian who practiced gypsy cards since childhood where it was a tradition in her family. Her grandmother has learned this method from a Russian gypsy woman called Milka. At first they used the deck of cards that were hand painted. Later the author moved to Canada and published this book as a response to the many requests to teach this method of card divination and also because this deck of cards would be easier bought than hand painted to every person who showed interest in fortune telling.
The book is a treasure. It shares the secrets of reading this so rare and authentic Russian solitaire or "pasyans". In Russia, many readers think that divination methods should not be taught so thinking of how hard it is to find any information on how to read these cards, I feel this book is very precious. The 25 cards are like jigsaw puzzle that are always laid out in a 5 x 5 grid and then the cards are rotated in their positions to match pictures with the other cards. Each picture or symbol has 4 meanings depending on its position. Upright and right positions are positive and upside down and left positions are negative (position = the direction of where the symbol is facing).
Each one of 50 symbols are described in 50 paragraphs. Each paragraph provides the black and white picture, number and name of the symbol, timing (short, immediate, middle to life etc), symbol type (life, love, money...), general description and 4 meanings. The meanings are described in detail and with examples, making it very easy to understand and experience. At the end of the book the author provides 8 sample readings that show us how to journal the readings, how to write them down and interpret.
There are 25 cards in a thin black box that make 50 pictures when in a 5 x 5 grid. The cards are pretty large and I have to use the floor or bed to lay them out. My round table is too small for them. The cards are not heavily laminated thick and sturdy US Games type of stock. Their stock could be compared to the magazine cover stock. I can understand why some reviewers call it "flimsy". Yes, they are to the thinner side but they are still amazingly beautiful. My Russian cards that I had in my childhood were also of the same "magazine stock", so I am pretty glad they are so authentic. I would like to note though, the stock is of good quality and it's a pleasure to touch and use it. If you like US Games laminated stock, you might need to laminate the cards yourself because they simply aren't as thick. The art itself is a beautiful Russian lacquer style called "Palekh". The color range is to the darkish side, if you look but overall reminds me of the fairy tale book illustrations. It is very cozy, very traditional and "folk" and very beautiful.
I would really recommend this book for those interested in various forms of divination. I think this is a very unique and rare kit that teaches a very popular in Russia - gypsy card divination (solitaire). It does not only provide an exotic kit with cards and a guidebook but it teaches the method of reading a Russian solitaire. Cards are not the most important part of this project, I feel. Nor does it only provide a dry set of meanings. It teaches about how to do the reading, how to use it to help you in your life, how could it be fun to read with friends and family, what do the different directions of the images mean (this was new to me) and how not to do the reading on Sundays (the day to go to church). I appreciate this kit a lot because it's a part of a distinctive Russian folklore.