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Raymond Buckland

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The Romani Tarot
by Raymond Buckland

Interview conducted by Melanie Harris

MH: I hear that the Buckland-Romani Tarot will soon be back on the market.  Can you tell me a bit about the inspiration behind this deck?

Ray Buckland: Inspiration for the deck was my background as a half-blood Romani (Gypsy).  My grandfather was a "Gypsy King," which sounds grand but is actually just the leader of a tribe.  The Rom word is Kralis and "king" is a very rough translation.  There are many such "kings" since all tribes (extended families) have a leader.  The deck is a presentation of the many and various aspects of Gypsy life.  I grew up at a time when the Rom were still traveling the roads, though soon after the Second World War they became restricted in their movements by government rules and regulations.  In the deck I've tried to preserve the "romance" of the Rom.  Many recent books have concentrated on the hardships and impoverishment of the people but I've tried to capture some of the color and life that was always there.  It seemed to me an ideal vehicle for the tarot.

MH: So, are you excited about the reprint of your deck?

RB: Yes, I'm very excited, and delighted, to have the deck once again available.

MH: What is your favorite card in this deck?

RB: My favorite card has to be The Magician, but they are all wonderful.  Lissanne Lake did a wonderful job with them.

MH: Will the reprint deck be different from the original?

RB: No, the deck is the same as the original, it's just the book that has a new introduction.

MH: Do you have any other Tarot projects in the works?

RB: I might mention that I'm in the process of producing another tarot deck, with the wonderful artist Ray Wrublewski.  We hope to have the deck and the book done by the end of 2008.  It's a witchcraft and magic themed deck.

MH: When and how did you first get involved with the Tarot, anyway?

RB: I was first taught the tarot about 45 years ago and found it both fascinating and extremely accurate.  These days I seldom give readings, but when I do, I find that accuracy is still there.

MH: What would you say is the most commonly misunderstood aspect of the Tarot?

RB: That it is a look at a fixed future.  What it is, is a look at the forces at work around the individual and how they are likely to affect his or her future.  Nothing revealed in the tarot (or any method of divination) is "set in stone."  If you don't like what you see, it can be changed.  I very much believe that we create our own realities.

MH: I know what you mean.  Our focus determines our experience.  Like, I've noticed that the majority of people who get Tarot readings seem to be focused on romance, wanting advice regarding their love life.  Do you think this is really what they want to know, or is it something deeper?

RB: Well, what can be deeper than love?  Actually yes, I do think it's a desire for deeper knowledge.  The outward interest may be focused on the person's love life (or prospects, perhaps) but it's a wish to know where that love, that desire, will lead; what will it do to the person's life?  If the perceived path of love is followed, where will it lead in the future?  So the love interest is merely a focal point.

MH: Can you share some tips on how a person can use the Tarot to shed light on matters of love and relationships while keeping in mind the underlying issues?

RB: I feel that the Reader should keep his or her focus on the client and not get drawn away into the "love interest," the object of the love.  It might be fascinating to elaborate on that person who is the love interest, but the focus should stay on the person seeking the knowledge, how any possible relationship will affect them.

MH: What makes a good Tarot reader great?

RB: Tapping in to what comes from "spirit" (for want of a better phrase) rather than simply repeating interpretations learned from books.  Go out on a limb and say what you feel/sense/intuit rather than what someone else has said the particular card means.  We are all individuals so no one card means the same thing for any two people.

MH: How is your autobiography coming along?

RB: Slowly!  I got off to a great start because it was fun bringing back the past.  In typical Virgo fashion, I still have all my diaries going back to 1949.  But now I've worked up to the 1990's, and events are recent enough that they don't hold my interest as much as the old stuff.  So I let myself get sidetracked!  I'm always working on a number of books so I've been spending more time on some novels (I much prefer writing fiction).  But I really must get back to the autobiography.

MH: Wow, you're busy!  On perhaps a more relaxed note, I know that you live on a small farm, and I must ask, what kinds of animals do you have?

RB: We have three ponies (two are shetlands) and four sheep.  All are pets and all are terribly spoiled.

MH: What do you like best and least about farm life?

RB: I think I like just about everything about living on the farm, or at least on this particular one.  We are way out in the middle of nowhere (on a dirt road) so it's the ideal place to work.  The only problem I have is that I love cars --and have a couple of low sports cars--and these dirt roads are not good for such vehicles with their low ground clearance.  I have to drive very slowly till I get out to the hardtop!

MH: Then, I guess it's pedal to the metal, huh?  Well, Mr. Buckland, if I ever see you speeding along in one of your sports cars, I'm moving way over, out of both respect and fear!  'Make way for Ray!'  So, other than driving fast, what are some of your hopes and plans for the future?

RB: To keep writing and to keep my health so that I can do that.  At 73 I've tried to cut back but it doesn't seem to work --I get caught up in too many things!  But I wouldn't change that.  

Melanie Harris grew up learning non-denominational magic from her mother.  She is the assistant editor of Tarot Reflections, and she's written for many publications including the Llewellyn Journal, Pentacle Magazine, and Circle Magazine.  She offers a free monthly email newsletter, "Tarot Magic News," dedicated to exploring the secrets of Tarot magic.  To subscribe, send a note to Melanie at