Wild Hearts & Gypsy Magik
I so enjoyed stumbling upon this link and wanted to share with all you seekers of the Old Ways. I extracted this accounts of the old Romani magical practices and Gypsy Lore from GypsyAdvice.com
Gypsy/Rom Fortune Telling (Dukkerin')
Its difficult to think of a Gypsy and not see the image of a crystal ball or
tarot cards. Since their push into Persia, Gypsies/Roma has been
simultaneously linked with fortunetelling. From the Eastern, holistic
and magical context to their Indian origins, Gypsies or Romas, are
prized for their remarkable psychic abilities and the gift to attract
good fortune or destroy a life with a curse. All are born with such
gifts, but what makes their powers so innate is their relationship with
nature. Their bond with the spirits of the outdoors allows their gifts
to evolve naturally.
Gypsies/Roma believes that within their own there are certain ones who posses great power through
the ability to perform magic with their special range of knowledge. Such
people known in the Gaje, or white mans world, are usually called
witches, warlocks or wizards but within the Roma/Gypsy society they are
known as chovihanis.
Among the chovihani there are four favorites for fortune telling (or
dukkerin`): palm reading, tea leaves, the crystal, and cards. These
methods are of a practical nature and do not take anything complex or
expensive to utilize.
Surprisingly, the Roma/Gypsy usually does not consult a chovihani or anyone else for past, present or
future knowledge. Nor are the chovihanis held in high esteem because of
their gifts; rather it is the money brought in by their gifts that
gives them a place of honor within the society.
Palm Reading: Palmistry is the most common divination method. It requires no special
equipment or props of any kind, can be practiced discreetly, and has
traditionally been the first method taught to children by their mothers.
Palmistry is combination of both chiromancy and chirology, or a belief
that is based on the idea that certain parts of the body have an
The hands can be considered a simple chart of our lives. The left hand reveals the life we are born
with while the right hand is what we make of that life. In a reading,
the chovihani uses the lines, mounts, divisions, and type of hand to
tell of a persons past, present, and future.
Tea Leaves: Reading the tea leaves has always been a popular divination method,
especially in the 1930s and 1940s when Gypsy Tea Rooms sprung up
quite frequently, sometimes featuring less than authentic Gypsies.
The questioner begins by drinking Chinese tea or any large-leafed variety with a round cup, white
or very pale, with a handle. He or she will drink the tea until only a
spoonful or less is left in the cup. With their left hand, the tea is
swirled around anticlockwise, three times in the cup and then turned
upside down to drain. The cup is then turned right-side up and passed to
the chovihani to read the leaves.
Crystal Ball: The image of a Gypsy, huddled over a crystal ball, is a familiar one,
made popular by the movies and TV. In reality, the crystal ball is
rarely used as it takes much preparation before and during the reading.
It is difficult to be on all day to read the crystal ball. Normally if
on call for the day, the chovihani will gaze at the ball but use their
own intuition for the reading.
However, utilizing the crystal ball is an art that can be mastered with dedication and
patience. For gazing, gather a crystal ball (or any reflective surface -
bowl of water, mirror, metal, etc.), a black cloth (to put the ball
upon) a comfortable chair and a table. The trick here is to gaze into
the ball and not stare. Meditate for as long as need to quiet your
mind, gaze into the ball and interpret the symbolic images that appear.
Tarot Cards: The earliest known tarot deck came from India with the Gypsies
introducing them to the world. Many chovihanis are happy to use playing
cards in place of tarot cards. Since playing cards are derived from
tarot cards, it really makes no difference which one is used in the art
A deck of tarot cards consists of seventy-eight richly decorated cards marked with a number of
antiquated symbols. The cards are divided into two groups: The Major
Arcana, consisting of twenty-two ceremonial pictures of symbolic
persons; and the Minor Arcana, fifty-eight cards that represent the four
The methods to interpret the cards are various and plentiful, with many books and web sites devoted
to this topic alone. No matter how complicated or simple the method of
interpretation, tarot cards are used to gain insight into a persons
actions and how they relate to the past, present and future
Among the Gypsies, the magical arts are almost always practiced by women. Evidence of the
chovihani (female) in gypsy society far outweighs the chovihano (male).
The Gaje impression of a fortuneteller is also that of a woman and not
a man. This view is no doubt based on the emotional, psychological and
spiritual makeup of women. However, in the Gypsy society more specific
and tangible reasons can be found based on the sexual and social
categorization of their culture.
Although the quest to place the factorial origin of the Roma/Gypsies in India is far from over, they
will always have the image placed on them as the original free
spirits of the world. The Roma/Gypsy has lived a nomadic existence for
thousands of years and has lived in harmony with nature longer than
most because, this author feels, of their Eastern origins. With a
kinship to mind, body and soul that most can only dream of, the
Roma/Gypsy have much to teach the Western world, if people would only
Source: The Mysterious & Magical Gypsy/Roma by Allie Theiss (paper for
Middle Eastern Class - 2009)