Tarot cards, palm or crystal ball readings, spells and curses are associated by many with the Roma community, holding beliefs and stereotypes about their connection with the occultism. Even if many of Romani rituals and traditions can be considered draped in mysticism, they have rich but misinterpreted history behind.


„Roma seeks magic in all that is colossal in nature, in the clouds in the sky, in the depths of the forests”, says the author Ioan Pop Curșeu, in his book “Magic and Witchcraft in Romanian Culture”. Since nomadic times, the Roma have created a special communion with nature and have acquired a special mysticism. This is how the Gypsy magic began to develop.

By the end of the 14th century, nomadic Roma from Asia spread throughout Europe, carrying with them various magical rituals. In England, for a long time, they were hidden under the name of Christianity. It is well known that primitive peoples are poor in knoledge and rich in fantasy. This made it easy for them to imagine supernatural power.

Over time, the Roma community received a mysterious reputation for this behaviour, living by their own laws, and by different principles of life from the populations they came into contact with, hardly allowing themselves to be Christianised and speaking an unknown language. Their image has been associated with nomadic tribes of witches and horse thieves.

The Roma hide the secrets of their religion from foreign populations, passing them on only to the younger generation. Among those interested in the occult, love spells, conspiracies and future telling are very popular. Some are skeptical and consider the Roma to be good psychologists and hypnotists and their predictions to be mere coincidences, built on intuition, their spirit of observation and tricks that belong exclusively to this ethnic minority.

The Roma do tarot cards, palms and crystal ball readings. Gypsy spells and curses were as bizarre as they were feared.

They strongly believed in talismans, amulets and carried them in their pockets. They believed that the talisman took over the characteristics of the wearer and protected him from evil spirits, trouble and brought good luck. The Roma use herbs to cure illnesses and to perform certain spells.

In other ethnic groups, birds and animals have prophetic powers. Swallows are good luck bringers and the skull of a horse is said to keep evil ghosts away from the home.

In the Hungarian Roma community, if a horse is stolen, the owner buries the harness and builds a fire over it. He puts a curse on the thief, that if he does not return the horse, he will fall ill with a terrible disease.

Besides fortune-telling, the Roma also had occupations such as blacksmithing, metalwork in general and animal training. Blacksmithing was suspected to have satanic origins because of the burning process, a process that would be inspired by the flames of hell.

In Gypsy culture, women, being in a position of social inferiority, were thought to come more often into contact with evil forces.

In the 15th century, the first witch to be hanged was a Roma woman. This is another historical fact that undermines the image of Roma culture. In the 1600s, a woman suspected of having ties to the evil had her hands and feet tied down and was thrown into the water. If she floated, she was believed to be a witch. And then taken out of the water and burned on the stake.

In the Middle Ages, Gypsies were often cast out on charges of witchcraft. This led to the perception that this race was incapable of any social integration. Many of these discoveries contributed to stereotypes of the Roma having links to the world of occult forces. Stereotypes that are still held today.

In small communities in Romania, fortune-telling is still practised. In the village of Brateiu, Sibiu county, lives the last authentic fortune-teller, who inherited this gift from her mother.

She has never practised divination for the roma community because of superstitious reasons. It is said that fortune-telling among the Roma brings bad luck. This ethnic minority believes that the future has to remain an enigma, because they live in the moment and it is for these legends surrounding Gypsy magic that make the Roma tradition unique.

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