Folklore

Animals and Their Omens

Cats and Dogs:

If a black cat should cross your path, expect good luck. If a dog howls for no reason, expect a death.

Crows:

Crows are shrouded in mystery, considered to be exceptionally wise and intelligent, some gypsies say that crows live to be 300 years old.  To see one crow means sorrow, and two together means joy. A crow standing in the road signifies a happy journey, while a dead crow in the road, would cause a gypsy to turn back.

Foxes:

If a fox crosses your path, an opportunity will be given to you, if he stops and looks at you your ambitions will be fulfilled.

Horses:

A white horse was once the symbol of the Celtic goddess Epona, and thus should be greeted with respect or you may draw misfortune to yourself. But you can tell the horse your hopes and wishes and they will come true.

Magpies:

Also a member of the crow family are a sign of good luck if two are seen together. One on its own foretells a theft.

Robins and Wrens:

These are both lucky creatures, they bring good news if they fly into your home, but a dead robin or wren near your door is a bad omen. Owls To hear an owl in day time is a bad omen, like wise to hunt or kill an owl.

Rooks:

To have a property with a rookery on it, is seen as very fruitful, but if the rooks should leave then that is taken as a bad omen. In Ireland, when one was buying a property that was blessed with a rookery the deal was considered null and void if the rooks deserted the rookery within one year.

Stoats and Weasels:

To them playing together foretells happiness in the family, but if they are fighting, means squabbles and disputes in the family.

From: Vermont Deadline

Romany Weather Lore

  • A mackerel sky predicts a fine day in the morrow, as long as the clouds are high and fine.
  • A greenish tinge in the sky mean’s rain is on the way.
  • Rain before seven, fine by eleven.
  • If the sun shines through the cloud’s and has a halo, then fine weather is expected, a halo around the moon means rain within three days.
  • If the crescent moon appears to have her horns facing upwards, she is holding her water, the weather will be fine.
  • A small high cold silver moon means frost.
  • Major changes in the weather normally occur at the moons quarter.
  • If stars are small and seem to blink, there will be wind the next day.
  • If stars are large and blink there will be wind and rain.
  • A thunderstorm at night, will freshen the air for twelve hours.
  • Lightening at night without thunder, the next day will be humid.
  • A low mist in the morning, ensures a fine day.
  • Mist high on the hills brings rain.
  • If the smoke from a fire draws high and straight into the sky fine weather it will be.
  • If smoke clings to the ground, rain is on the way.
  • When fire burns bright and steady in spring or autumn expect a frost.

 

Some Gypsy Superstitions

  • It is wise to pitch a tent near a holly tree because it will give you divine protection (holy tree).
  • To see a mule shaking itself, is a sign of good luck.
  • A moth hovering around a candle flame, means a letter in the morning.
  • To see a white horse in the morning, means good luck all day.
  • If a coal or wood fire makes any kind of noise, it means a quarrel in the offing.
  • To spit on ones hand after seeing a wagtail (a small bird with a long tail), means that money is on its way.
  • If the right hand itches…money will be paid out.
  • If the left hand itches….money will be received.
  • A tickling nose is a sign of getting drunk.
  • An itching of the right eye means sadness.
  • An itching of the left eye is a sign of happiness to come.
  • Frog’s spawn thrown over the left shoulder for good luck.
  • To see a shooting star is a sign of death
  • A baby keeps its luck in the grimy lines of its hands.
  • A baby born at full moon will be lucky.
  • A baby born at midnight before the Sabbath, it will be under a curse.
  • If one of the bearers at a funeral stumbles during the procession, there will be another death.
  • Newly sprouted grass or of lightening means there will be a funeral.
  • It is lucky to meet with a woman carrying a jug full of water, but unlucky if it be empty.
  • It is unlucky to wash anything on Saturday, or to spin on Thursday.
  • There is always a treasure to be found where the first swallow is seen.
  • On Wednesday and Friday no one should use needle or scissors, bake bread, or sow flax.
  • No bargain should ever be concluded on a Friday.

Source: Vermont Deadline

For Peace At Someone’s Death

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For Gypsies there is far more concern for the living than for the dead. Yet the Rom believe there must always be a family vigil prior to the death of a family member. After the death there will be the funeral, which must be followed by a proper period of mourning.

English Gypsies believe that the owl is a harbinger of death. If they hear an owl hooting away in the distance, then it means someone close to them will die. If the owl is close by, with its cries loud and clear, then the person who will die is distant.

When an elderly member of the tribe is ill, and certain that he or she is going to die, work is sent out to all family members whereverthey happen to be scattered. They will immediatly return home, no matter from how far, for this is the one event that takes precedence over all others. The family members gather around the dying person’s bed, or outside around the tent or vardo.

There is always someone seated at the bedside until the death. It is a time for much socializing, with very little emotion shown regarding the dying man or woman.

Once dead, the person is caught between the world of the living and the world of the dead. He or she will stay there until buried. In order to ease the stay there, and to prepare them for the transition to the world of the dead, there is a simple ritual that is sometimes performed by the shuvani(often without the knowledge of any of the other members of the tribe).

A small fire is lit – quite separate from any cooking fire – as soon as possible after the last breath. The fire should be laid carefully so that it can be started with one light and so that it will burn for a sufficient time without having to have more fuel added. Onto the fire are thrown thyme, sage, and rosemary, in that order. The dead person’s name is chanted repeatedly as the shuvani walks backwards (widdershins, or counterclockwise) seven times around the fire, which is then left to burn itself out.

From Gypsy Love Magick
Art by Ann Falcone

Old Lore About Teeth

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Gypsy lore surrounding teeth is as follows:

  • A child’s first tooth must, when it falls out, should be thrown into a hollow tree.
  • Those which come out in the seventh year are carefully kept, and whenever the child suffers from toothache, one is thrown into a stream.
  • The tooth of a wolf hung to the neck of an infant was believed to be an efficient amulet against disease;
  • A child’s tooth caught before it falls to the ground and set in a bracelet was considered to be beneficial to women.

From: Gypsy Sorcery and Fortune Telling

Paying The Doctor

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Before the introduction of the National Health Service in England, it was sometimes considered unlucky to pay a doctor’s bill in full. To do so implied a dangerous confidence in restored and continuing health that could only bring misfortune, and would probably result in his services being needed again very soon. Some patients, therefore, made it a rule to hold back a token sum, perhaps a shilling, from the total amount due.

On the other hand, gypsies always paid their bills punctually and in full, because they believed that unpaid for medicine would not work.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Superstitions

Vampire Pumpkins

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Eat pumpkins quickly, lest they turn into vampires. People aren’t the only beings who can become vampiric. According to Balkan Romani folk traditions, hard-shelled, seedy fruits and vegetables can become vampires too. Although melons and squashes can also be vampiric, pumpkins – maybe because of halloween associations – have garnered the most attention.

The potential vampire is activated when a pumpkin is kept longer than ten days or not consumed before Christmas. Leaving it out all night exposed to a full moon may activate transformation, too. Not every pumpkin is guaranteed to turn into a vampire just as not every corpse is expected to rise. Vampire pumpkins betray themselves by making growling noises or developing red, vaguely blood-like splotches on their shells.

In general, there’s no need to worry about vampire pumpkins very much. As they don’t possess teeth, they can’t cause sudden, immediate harm. They are, however, unhealthy to keep around as they gradually absorb psychic energy from those around them. If a person is debilitated with low energy and a weak aura, such pumpkins can eventually cause damage, although it is a slow process. Vampire pumpkins also attract malevolent spirits.

Plunge vampiric pumpkins (or other suspect produce) into boiling water to kill them. Then break them into pieces and discard. (The traditional weapon for breaking them is a branch or handmade broom, which is then also discarded.)

From: Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells

Another Old Gypsy Trick

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Cauring is an old gypsy trick – here’s how it works:

The Gypsy has some queer, old-fashioned gold piece; this she takes to some goldsmith’s shop, at the window of which she has observed a basin full of old gold coins, and shows it to the goldsmith, asking him if he will purchase it. He looks at it attentively, and sees that it is of very pure gold; whereupon he says that he has no particular objection to buy it; but that as it is very old it is not of much value, and that he has several like it.

“Have you indeed, Master?” says the Gypsy; “then pray show them to me, and I will buy them; for, to tell you the truth, I would rather buy than sell pieces like this, for I have a great respect for them, and know their value: give me back my coin, and I will compare any you have with it.”

The goldsmith gives her back her coin, takes his basin of gold from the window, and places it on the counter. The Gypsy puts down her head, and pries into the basin. “Ah, I see nothing here like my coin,” says she. “Now, Master, to oblige me, take out a handful of the coins and lay them on the counter; I am a poor, honest woman, Master, and do not wish to put my hand into your basin. Oh! if I could find one coin like my own, I would give much money for it; barributer than it is worth.”

The goldsmith, to oblige the poor, simple, foreign creature (for such he believes her to be), and, with a considerable hope of profit, takes a handful of coins from the basin and puts them upon the counter.

“I fear there is none here like mine, Master,” says the Gypsy, moving the coins rapidly with the tips of her fingers. “No, no, there is not one here like mine – kek yeck, kek yeck – not one, not one. Stay, stay! What’s this, what’s this? So se cavo, so se cavo? Oh, here is one like mine; or if not quite like, like enough to suit me. Now, Master, what will you take for this coin?”

The goldsmith looks at it, and names a price considerably above the value; whereupon she says: “Now, Master, I will deal fairly with you: you have not asked me the full value of the coin by three three-groats, three-groats, three-groats; by trin tringurushis, tringurushis, tringurushis. So here’s the money you asked, Master, and three three-groats, three shillings, besides. God bless you, Master! You would have cheated yourself, but the poor woman would not let you; for though she is poor she is honest”: and thus she takes her leave, leaving the goldsmith very well satisfied with his customer – with little reason, however, for out of about twenty coins which he laid on the counter she had filched at least three, which her brown nimble fingers, though they seemingly scarcely touched the gold, contrived to convey up her sleeves.

This kind of pilfering is called by the English Gypsies cauring, and by the Spanish ustilar pastesas, or stealing with the fingers. The word caur seems to be connected with the English cower, and the Hebrew kãra, a word of frequent occurrence in the historical part of the Old Testament, and signifying to bend, stoop down, incurvare.

From: Romano Lavo-Lil

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