When I first discovered the Victorian Romantic Tarot, I couldn’t afford it, and by the time I had the money for it, it was out of print and selling for $1000 on Amazon. So ever since then, I’ve been waiting for an English reprint.
Now I hold that deck in my hands, and it is wonderful.
Rather than do an exhaustive comparison between the cards in this deck vs. the cards in the previous incarnations (difficult to do because I don’t have all of them, and other reviews have done this already). I’d rather just make some more general comments about this version. I bought the standard edition deck (the mini is sold out) which comes with an extra Lovers card “Swept off Her Feet” which is (IMO) much more passionate and spur-of-the-moment than the more subdued “Dante and Beatrice” card. The latter definitely seems like a more “mature” relationship, almost tragic, in a way. The cards themselves are marginally bigger than the Bohemian Gothic 2nd edition (but not by much) and the cards feel much more flimsy than either the BoGo or the Victorian Flower Oracle, and lightly laminated. I would say this is definitely a deck to handle with care. The cards also have gilded edges (in gold). I think the overall effect is that the cards feel more like a book in deck form (the way the Book of Shadows Tarot was supposed to be a BoS in deck form).
If I could only say one thing about this deck, it’s that it has character. The extremely bored-looking man on the Four of Cups has earned the nickname “The Most Bored Man in the Universe” because he just looks so bored with life, perfectly expressing the ennui of the Four of Cups. The Hanged Man (or woman, in this case) is either an acrobat or an actress who is performing for a huge crowd by walking upside down on a plank. The knights are interesting because (as the LWB says) they’re all shown in relation to women. A woman is kissing the Knight of Pentacles’ hand, perhaps in gratitude for rescuing her (he looks kind of bored), the Knight of Wands is staring straight into the eyes of a woman while his horse either grazes or tries to eat her feet. He kind of looks like “You, hands off my horse!” and she’s like “I have fruit.” I want to be the Knight of Cups, because he’s surrounded by naked women (looking either incredibly bored or spaced out) and the Knight of Swords has decided to skip all this kissy face nonsense and is in the middle of abducting (or rescuing) a woman, his card in particular is much more dynamic than the other knights. The Page of Wands looks like such a little performer, and I do not want to mess with the guard depicted on the Nine of Wands. There’s such a range of human emotions depicted in this deck. My feeling is that this would be a great deck to read intuitively, but the cards are close enough to RWS meanings (although they do deviate from RWS imagery) if you’re more of a traditionalist. There’s also a bit of nudity in this deck, though it’s very tasteful and artistic. If you aren’t the type of person who would cover up the boobies on Lady Justice, then you should be fine with this deck.
How does it read? Normally I don’t do readings with a deck until I do a deck interview spread, but I was opening the deck at the table and mom was like “READ MY FORTUNE” so I was like “Fine, pick a card….”
She picked the Five of Pentacles . This is normally a card of poverty, illness, and general misfortune, but looking at it reminded me that I had an appointment with the eye doctor on the agenda today, because I somehow mistook the woman’s head covering for a nurse’s cap (hence why I need to see the eye doctor, apparently). I’m not sick or anything, but my mother always comes with me on these appointments. I could have easily interpreted it as “my appointment today is going to suck” but the combination of elements on the card made me think more of the appointment itself than what was going to happen at the appointment (it went well, btw, although they did put drops in my eyes, I hate drops).
Unfortunately, the VR companion book hasn’t come yet, hence why I didn’t really go into great detail with any of the cards. If it’s anything like the Victorian Flower Oracle’s companion, though, it will be amazing. The LWB does have a few spreads in it (a three card spread, a spread geared towards romance and other relationships, and a more general six card spread) in addition to general meanings for every card.
Overall, this deck is amazing. If you have a thing for Victoriana, or just amazing artwork, if you want a deck with a lot of character that is still faithful to tradition, or if you bought and loved any of Magic Realist Press’s past decks (and you don’t already have this deck, for some reason), head on over to Baba Studio’s store and pick this up, right now, before they all sell out.
If you want to see lots of pictures of this deck (including card comparisons) check out this post by Le Fanu.