View Full Version : Review: Russian Gypsy Fortune Telling Cards by...

March 28th, 2007, 03:18 PM
Svetlana Alexandrovna Touchkoff

ISBN: 0062508768
Published by Harper Collins (1992)

From the moment I first laid my eyes upon these cards while browsing Aeclectic.net, I knew they would find a home in my collection. These cards are quite unique. Though not a Tarot deck, Iíd hesitate to exactly call them an oracle. They are like nothing else Iíve seen.

Each square card is divided into quarters, forming triangular spaces which have portions of an illustration. The cards are bright and the symbols seem simple at first. Like many systems of divination, these cards are a blend of Christian, cultural and universal symbols. The four leafed clover makes an appearance, as does an angel.

Unlike other systems, this set is designed so that every card is laid out in five rows of five. The reader and querent then examine the cards to see if any of the adjacent cards create complete pictures. One turns cards without moving them from the place they were given in the rows until all the possible matches are noted. Each complete picture is read as part of the reading.

As the only possibility of completing a picture means orienting the pictures in any of four directions, each symbol has four readings. The first reading is the most positive understanding of the card, and is upright. Facing right is slightly less positive and left is slightly negative. Reversed symbols are read as the strongest negative of the symbol.

The result is a dynamic and unique style. Unlike other systems, it is almost imperative that one familiarize with the book which accompanies the deck. Thankfully, this is a treat.

The book is a lovely hardback with illustrations which echo the designs of the cards. Ms. Touchkoff has written first about the origin of the cards and their symbols, which is a fascinating retelling of her family history and cultural origins. From there she builds on the system itself, explaining the traditions of reading with them. For example, she recommends against reading the cards on Sundayís because of the traditions of Russia suggesting that fortune telling should not be undertaken on Godís day.

Each symbol is then discussed in detail. An illustration of the card is on each section, along with the typical period of influence which that symbol tends to produce. If the symbol is usually associated with a sense of immediacy, one can expect to see it manifest in a few days. This varies up to a life long time frame. The symbol is then given a key word, such as House being the symbol for the household or business. Only then does one begin to see the interpretations of the symbol in its various positions. Meaning is shown with an arrow indicating position and a short sentence describing the basic meaning. Each entry is then explained in further detail, which a general meaning preceding the detailed positionís meanings.

Several sample readings complete the book, and coupled with the explanations of how to read the cards at the beginning of the book, I was personally able to give readings very quickly.

Overall, the system is extremely fun, especially if you like puzzles. Iím quite impressed with both the art and the delineation of meanings. For those who have a love of unique and well thought out systems of divination, I highly recommend this one. What a lovely contribution to the practice! I think that with some practice, this is a system which could be used and appreciated by beginners and experts alike.


June 2nd, 2007, 08:15 PM
I have to say that this is one of my favorite decks! I like to do a reading, write it down, then a few weeks laer look back and am amazed at hwo accurate it has been!

June 2nd, 2007, 09:07 PM
Oh, looks pretty :)

June 2nd, 2007, 11:46 PM
I would love to own this deck... I had a friend who had it and I loved getting readings from her.


July 26th, 2007, 12:52 AM
Over time, now that I've had a good amount of time to play with it: I don't use it that much.
It's been a very hit and miss deck for me, with some readings so off kilter that I immediately knew the reading just wasn't working out right.

I'm still keeping it, and when I feel moved, I use it, but it's not my favorite. Innovative, interesting, fun. But not really for me.

I'm sure that it's a dream for others.

July 26th, 2007, 01:07 AM
Wow... I had never seen these before and I'm very intrigued by them. They just found their way onto my wish list ;)

August 2nd, 2007, 12:15 PM
I've seen this deck before, and I was very intrigued by it. But it was a bit on the expensive side for my budget at the time so I didn't get it.

I'm a collector, but I'm moving soon, so am really trying to resist the urge to buy anything new until I do move so that I have less to pack and haul with me. I might just pick this deck up after I'm settled.