The Mothers of Arles is a French festival that runs from May 24 through May 28. This unique festival celebrating the triple goddess is still alive and well in France, celebrated mostly by gypsies. The “Three Maries of the Sea” recall the ancient goddess of life, death, and beauty. The gypsies gather from all over Europe and carry on their annual celebrations of the triple goddess. Three women dressed up as Mare, Tavobe, and Mary impersonate the goddesses, reaching the shore in boats.
In modern times, Sarah and Salome are the companions of Mary in this trinity. Fancy processions, gypsy weddings, trading of all sorts, fortune-telling, the leaping of cows (a survival from the ancient practice of bull leaping), dancing gypsy style, and candles give these days and nights their wild beauty.
Twist the stem of an apple. On each rotation call out a letter of the alphabet. Begin with A. The letter you call out as the stem comes off will be the initial of your true love. If you do not trust your luck, you can purposely pull the stem on a particular letter (this is called using your will). Once you have pulled the stem from the apple, hold it between your teeth and make a wish to be with that particular person. If you have pulled a random letter (not someone you have in mind), –say, S– then ask the Goddess to bring this S to you.
The second part of the spell can only be performed if you have a particular person in mind. According to a Gypsy myth, the apple represents the heart. If you cut the apple in half horizontally, you will reveal the pentacle–the sacred symbol of the goddess and the human form. The Gypsy lovers would share these two apple halves , symbolically giving each other their hearts.
Offer half of the stem-plucked apple to the one you desire. If it is accepted, his/her heart will be open to your magic. However, a kiss must occur within thirteen hours after eating the apple. If you initiate the kiss, you have a good shot at winning your beloved’s affections. If the other person initiates the kiss, you have already won his/her heart. If the kiss is mutual, the bond will last.
The following short prayer to the Virgin, which I have frequently heard amongst the Gypsies of Hungary and Transylvania, will serve as a specimen of their language.
Gula Devla, da me saschipo. Swuntuna Devla, da me bacht t’aldaschis cari me jav; te ferin man, Devla, sila ta niapaschiata, chungale manuschendar, ke me jav ande drom ca hin man traba; ferin man, Devia; ma mek man Devla, ke manga man tre Devies-key.
Sweet Goddess, give me health. Holy Goddess, give me luck and grace wherever I go; and help me, Goddess, powerful and immaculate, from ugly men, that I may go in the road to the place I purpose: help me, Goddess; forsake me not, Goddess, for I pray for God’s sake.
From: The Zincali by George Barrow