It is said that by throwing a small handful of salt on the family cooking fire every Monday morning, you will keep the family together and help heal any rifts.
Another belief is that to roll a wagon wheel in a great circle around the outside of the vardo once a month at the New Moon will ensure family togetherness. It should be rolled clockwise.
One Gypsy woman in Norfolk assured me that the only sure way to keep the family together is to take a small clipping from every member’s hair. These are then all placed together in a large leaf, which is rolled up and tied around with one of the mother’s hairs. The package is then buried at the foot of an oak tree. The type of leaf in which the hair is wrapped was not specified, but it probably should be oak.
Togetherness can similarly be ensured by taking nail clippings from all family members and burying them at the foot of a tree – in this case a hawthorn or elm.
Romani families, or tribes, though wandering the country most of the year, would occasionally stop at a particularly favorite campground for two or three months at a time. Frequently this campground was a favorite of other branches of the tribe, and sometimes there was a grand reunion that took place when the different groups came together there.
Many Gypsies, especially the older ones, looked forward to these reunions, to again meeting with old friends and to sharing their stories, their adventures, their tales of sorrow and joy.
Here is a spell that was sometimes worked to bring about such a gathering, particularly if it had been a hard winter and support, comfort, and advice was needed. This magick is worked by the mother of the family when cooking a meal (usually hedgehog or rabbit stew) during the waxing of the Moon.
All potatoes to be used should be cut lengthwise, rather than crosswise, and thrown into the family cookpot along with a pinch each of allspice, thyme, and mace. Onion can be used but not garlic. Carrots, turnips and similar root crops should be plentifully included. Stir the cookpot only clockwise, and when moving around it, move only clockwise. The stirring spoon must be a wooden one, and the cookpot must be iron.
On the fire over which the cookpot hangs, throw handfuls of cedar chips; and at some time during the cooking, sprinkle onto the fire three spoonfuls of salt.
Any time the pot is stirred, it must be stirred in batches of three, for example: three, six, or nine clockwise stirs at a time. During these stirrings the mother will say:
Stir the pot and bring us round;
Rom are to the atching-tan bound.
Merry we’ll meet and merry we’ll part
And merry will be the company found.
Source: Gypsy Love Magick
This little spell can be done for two lovers, for all family members, or for any two or more individuals. Many Gypsies use it when, for example, there is a rift between mother and daughter or an argument between husband and wife.
Cut a lock of hair from the head of each person concerned. This should be cut during the waxing phase of the Moon (growing from new to full). Put the two locks of hair together and tie them with a red silken thread. The thread should be wound around the hair at least seven times before it is tied. Wrap the tied hair in a small square of white silk and then bury it at a crossroads (it doesn’t have to be buried right in the center of the crossed roads; alongside the cross is fine).
Prepare a pot of tea (size depending upon the size of the family, as you will see) made from valerian root herb (Valeriana officinalis).
The cut and sifted form of the herb is most useful, since it can be easily strained through a regular tea strainer. Dried herbs can be used, but fresh herbs are better. Use about an ounce of herb to a pint of water. The herb should be broken up in a pestle and mortar to release the active principles. Since valerian is one of the deeper essences, you may need to simmer the tea for about an hour, after which time about half the water will have evaporated. Incidentally, do not use an aluminum vessel. Use glass (Pyres), earthenware, enamel, or stainless steel.
When ready, pour into a teapot and top up with hot water. Then with everyone sitting in a circle, the mother should pour a cup of tea for each family member; but make sure that at least half the tea is left in the pot (this is where the size of the pot comes in). All drink their tea. Then take what remains in the teapot and sprinkle a little of the tea in every corner of every room in the house; in the corners of the rooms and alcoves, and in the corners of all the larger closets (such as clothes closets and pantries).
When this has been done, all the family members should stand in the kitchen with hands joined, and the mother, or eldest female, should say:
Peace be unto this house
And peace be with all who dwell herein.
Let harmony be forever here,
And let love abound.
Manfri Frederick Wood, a founding member of the Gypsy Council, and for many years its president, said that he had never met a Gypsy who had a hobby. The reason was that life itself is a hobby to the Rom. They believe in living life to its fullest, and in trying to take an intelligent interest in every job they do, they find there is no need to do anything just to “kill time.” As Wood says:
A Gaujo will go out for a walk or a drive merely for the sake of walking or driving – but a Gypsy won’t; he must have some reason for doing so; he is studying the lay of the land or the movements of the gamekeeper, or the habits of the game in the locality; or he is advertising the fact that he is in the area, where he is known and has a reputation for doing this, that, or the other job…
Even when he does appear to be at play – for instance singing and dancing, gambling, or doing a chop – it is with a view to something extra in the pocket.
The same holds true jfor the whole family. Even the children seldom play, in the strict sense of the word. They work along with the rest of the family. They may do basket work, peg-making, artificial flower making, wood carving or metal work; they may work with animals, or do dyeing, hedging, ditching, or perhaps dukkering (fortunetelling).
The family works as a unit. Boys will help their fathers with the horses and, from a very early age, will learn how to make deals. Girls similarly learn domestic chores from their mothers and also how to tell fortunes and work simple magick. There is a special closeness in a Romani family not found anywhere else.
Yet as with any family, there are times when the closeness is threatened. There are times when magick is needed, and used, to reinforce family ties.
From: Gypsy Love Magick by Raymond Buckland
In the past it used to be that Gypsy child marriages were arranged. This is seldom the case today, though it does happen on rare occasions. Jean-Paul Clébert speaks of it in the book The Gypsies (1967).
“Among some Gypsy groups traces remain of the marriage of children before puberty: in general, between eight to fourteen years of age. Such unions are decided upon by the parents and, for a certainty, without the consent of the interested parties. The ceremony is limited to a simple formality, and the children remain with their own families until they have reached puberty. There is never any cohabitation.
At the moment of puberty (and when no unavoidable difficulties have arisen), a second ceremony seals the effective union. Yet the custom of precocious marriage is becoming increasingly rare, at least among western Gypsies.”
Clébert also speaks of there being three main forms of marriage:
- Abduction – by force or consent
- Mutual consent
The abduction and outright purchase forms are little seen today. More generally the parents of a teenage boy will decide which girl in the tribe is most eligible for him (though today the young couple’s feelings for one another are given definite consideration). They will then meet with the girl’s parents and, should they be favorable, come to an agreement regarding her dowry. From there the couple are regarded as engaged.
There is no engagement ring, as in gorgio society, but the girl is given a gold coin that she wears around her neck. This is usually an English sovereign (a Queen Victoria Jubilee sovereign is especially esteemed). The girl could be as young as thirteen, but sixteen is more usual. The boy could be anywhere from sixteen to eighteen.
At your most fertile time of the month, place one red rose in a vase on a table.
Light a red candle, which is symbolic of Mars, ruler of vigor and vitality. Next, light a green candle. This color is associated with Venus, love, and harmony. Place it to the right of the red candle. Place a yellow candle, to represent the sun, above the red and the green candles to form a triangle. The number three represents the male reproductive organ, and sexual force.
On a bay leaf – because bay is ruled by the sun – write the phrase “I wish to conceive a son.” Place it face up between the candles.
Now close your eyes and imagine a red rosebud in your womb. Visualize the rosebud unfolding and coming into bloom.
Open your eyes and visualize the candle light being channeled into your womb, then close your eyes and continue with the visualization for as long as you can.
Leave the candles to burn themselves out. Take the bay leaf, kiss it three times, and place it under your pillow, where it should stay throughout your fertile phase.
All that is required now is the cooperation of your partner.
From: The Good Spell Book
If the law has treated you unfairly, invoke this spell and justice will be done.
Take the Justice card from a Tarot deck. Now light a blue candle and place the Justice card on the right-hand side. Write your name and address on an unused piece of white or green paper and place it to the left of the candle. Romanies sometimes use their thumb-print instead of their name and address.
Light thirteen votive candles, to represent the thirteen lunar cycles of a year, and place them in a circle around the candle and card.
Say a prayer in which you ask for protection to be placed around you and your family.
Write your wish regarding the legal matter on a piece of paper. Sprinkle it with rose oil and burn it on the blue candle’s flame. Place the burning paper on a saucer until it turns to ash. Leave the candles to burn out and your wish will be fulfilled.
Found in: The Good Spell Book
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.
This is magick used when there has been a rift in the family, be it between two individuals or between two whole groups within the family. It can be recognized as basic sympathetic magick.
Take a long white candle and break it into as many parts as there are factions. However, be careful not to break the wick – only the wax.
On each section of the candle carve the name of the individual or the initials of the major figures in the dispute (for example: should it be one whole branch of the family against another, with perphas as many persons in each group, then just mark the initials of the leaders, such as the father, mother, or grandmother, etc).
Lay the broken candle on a sheet of clean parchment (paper will do). Light a pink (best), red (second best) or white (third choice) candle and hold it over the broken candle so that the melting wax drops down onto the breaks, sealing them.
The broken candle should be slowly turned, keeping it on the parchment, so that all sides of the breaks become joined by the falling wax. As you do this, say: “Heal! Heal! Heal!” repeating it as necessary until the white candle is whole again.
When the engraved candle is once again whole, stand it upright in a holder and light it. It should then be left to burn down completely.
From: Raymond Buckland