As a kid, my favourite outfit in the dress-up trunk was a "Gypsy" skirt - swirling tiers, colourful, dramatic. There's something so appealing about that vagabond way of life with its campfires and sobbing violins, painted caravans, freedom.
Rumer Godden's novel, The Diddakoi, tells of the travails of a young half-Romani, half-Irish girl named Kizzy, and the taunts and injustices she encounters when forced to go to the village school.
The boat-dwelling travellers who arrive in the movie Chocolat, are abhorred and feared by most of the townspeople. (But let's be realistic here. Who would turn away Johnny Depp?)
The days of horse-drawn wagons (or vardos) are all but gone, and life on the road for the Romani is vastly different than it was.
And yet the allure remains.
I bought Raymond Buckland's deck, the Romani Tarot, with art by Lissanne Lake, years ago and never really bonded with it. But this week I found myself drawn to that dark red box, and pulled it off the shelf. The stories in the companion book about the Rom way of life are interesting, and I'd like to get more comfortable with it as a reading deck. So it's my current card-of-the-day deck, and I'd like to present it to you here. I think you'll find that it stood up very well to my devil's-advocate questions!
1. How can a deck featuring the Gypsy way of life from the 1940's speak to me, a city-dweller in 2014?
O, the Fool, steps out to answer this one.
(The Majors in this deck are numbered but unnamed.)
I don't mean to be impertinent, but you must be a very foolish reader indeed if you think that no knowledge can be gleaned from another era, a different lifestyle, beliefs other than your own.
Take this leap of faith and join me in the wisdom of the Romani. Our way of life is ages-old and colourful. We live on and with the earth.
Point taken. Thank you, and I welcome the opportunity, young Rom.
2. Gypsies don't always have a great reputation. Am I being snobbish?
3 of Chivs (Knives), turns up.
Hearts are hearts the world over. Knives cut, no matter the race or creed. So yes, you are being snobbish.
Are you usually this critical?
I think my questions were influenced by the attitudes of others that I've been reading about or seeing in movies. I was reacting to common prejudices.
The mind can sometimes be a confusing and contradictory place.
I think the fresh winds of our deck can help blow away confusion.
3. What's your best feature?
2 of Bolers (Wheels) is here to weigh the possibilities.
A balance between the dark side of human nature, and the light.
Seeing two sides to a story.
Keeping things simple.
Attending to the task at hand.
Thanks for your patience! I look forward to working with you, and learning more about your unique way of life at the same time.