Though I may not be free from any preconceptions or illusions, I would try to describe in which ways Tarot activity in Russia is different from the foreign one (judging by forums and books).
Here are things which are typical for Tarot in Russia:
1. Practice. From my web and forum experience, I have the impression that there are less “scholars” and collectors in Russia. Tarot decks are often bought to be used. This may be my personal opinion though because it is difficult to obtain the statistics. But to see a person using a deck he/she does not know at all is quite a common thing in Russia.
2. Wider ethic field. Many questions by querents and Tarot readers are about third parties, but nobody seems to be sorry about it. This is the worst part of the Russian mentality – to be interested in other people’s lives more than in their own, and to interfere in them actively. People who do not possess it (like me and my friends) do not feel comfortable among other people being constantly bombarded by questions about their private lives. They do not find it difficult to be ethical as well as those with a deep interest in psychology. But nevertheless, 90% querents are asking about the third parties or other people, and the Russian tarot readers have to address these questions.
3. Black magic. As weird as it may seem, but many people in Russia are interested in magic they can apply to their everyday life. And very often this magic is not of a “kind” type. Cemetery rituals, spells, enchantment of “low” and “village” types are common for the Russian esoteric crowd. “Black” decks are also extremely popular, and Tarot readers often check if their magic went right or wrong, using the cards. The same as with ethics, Russian people do not feel obliged to anybody except themselves, they feel free to do right and wrong. Not everyone shares this view though. A lot of people got disappoined in magic, nevertheless “magic lovers” are a large crowd in the Russian esoteric society.
4. Not official status. Most Tarot lovers in Russia do not tend to obtain official papers confirming their skills, or have their craft officially turned into business. Still they may exchange spreads, or give readings for small donations or material things. Schools are more often official because they need wide advertisement.
5. Clairvoyance. If the Tarot reader has this ability and can predict simple things like when the querent gets married or how many children he/she has, this is more valuable than positive advice and symbolic predictions. Querents value precision, but they tend to believe some pseudo-esoterics who predict all the querent wishes, without any remorse. They are not responsible because they just mean to rip off and get away.
6. Trust in TV shows. This is a common feature for all not very educated people. But in Russia, the TV is corrupted as well as the authorities. People who get known as “psychics” and “clairvoyants” earn huge amounts for just one reading therefore they try to get into shows. Some of them do not say anything particular, useful or true to their querents. But the querents are under the illusion that after the visit to the famous psychic, their life would improve. It would not of course, they need to create everything themselves.
7. “Pirate” decks. This kind of thing is quite popular in Russia, because laws are not strictly observed. In general, small portions of decks are printed this way. Part of people do that for themselves, the other part earns money this way. Official sellers and shops protest, some people do not care, others use such decks if the original is rare, too expensive or difficult to buy.
As for me, I am a mix of European, or rather “world” mentality due to my non-Russian roots and extreme introversion, with the Russian background, because it is not possible to live somewhere and not get used to the rules and surroundings. Therefore, according to my observations, such things are quite common for Tarot in Russia. Not all of them are things to be proud about; but less limitations sometimes open larger chances.
I could not cover everything in this post therefore I called it “Part 1” to be able to continue whenever I feel like it.
p.s. Sorry for waiting 3 months before I could post it; i was a very busy time!