The Characters in "Ten Blocks on the Camino Real"
The Gypsy: It’s 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 have been 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 believe that within their own there are certain ones who posses great power through the ability to perform magic with their special range of knowledge. 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 use anything complex or expensive.
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. 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.
Tea Leaves: The questioner begins by drinking Chinese tea from a round white cup. He or she will drink the tea until only a spoonful is left in the cup. With their left hand, the tea is swirled around counter clockwise three times 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. In reality, the crystal ball is rarely used as it takes much preparation before and during the reading. However, utilizing the crystal ball is an art that can be mastered with dedication and patience. For gazing, a crystal ball, a black cloth (to put the ball upon) a comfortable chair and a table are needed. The trick here is to “gaze” into the ball and not stare. Meditate for as long as need be 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 use an ordinary deck of playing cards, which were derived from the tarot. 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 suits. Tarot cards are used to gain insight into a person’s actions and how they relate to the past, present and future circumstances.
Among the Gypsies, the magical arts are almost always practiced by women.
Adapted from: The Mysterious & Magical Gypsy/Roma by Allie Theiss (paper for Middle Eastern Class - 2009
Read more at: http://www.gypsyadvice.com/gypsy_lore.htm