Who are the Gypsies?

In the real-world sense, the word “Gypsy” is actually a quite condescending and racially sensitive word for the Romani people who came from Northern India to Europe and Mid-West Asia a thousand years ago. They migrated to many other countries including the U.S. and Brazil.

When you go to the wikipedia page, on the right is a long list of countries with large Romani populations. Finland, Mexico, and Macedonia are also among them.

The word “Gypsy” comes from, you guessed it, “Egyptian” and some Romani people were actually Egyptians.

Rheinland, Sinti und Roma mit Wohnwagen auf Landstraße
Typically when people think “Gypsy”, they probably imagine something along the lines of this photo taken in Germany.
Photo: By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J0525-0500-003 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5364333

An interesting thing about the Romani people is that they didn’t keep a written or even oral history so, their history and how they came to be wherever they are is based on their language roots and stories and poems written by non-Romani people and, genetics.

Today when we hear the word “Gypsy”, we probably think about fortunetellers and maybe even a form of Shamanism. But, apparently Gypsies most often adopted the religion of the country they are in. So there were Muslim Gypsies and Hindu Gypsies and Christian Gypsies and others.

Now we come to the short story series, The Puppeteer Series.


Who are the Gypsies?

The Puppeteer Series takes a more stereotypical view of Gypsies while adding a new sub-group. This is by no means trying to discriminate against Romani people or Travelers or Irish Travelers (I have done my research). I am just inspired by the culture.

Anyway, the following text is fictional history.

“They called themselves Poleib Gräda (grah-da). “Poleib” meant “women”. “Gräda” was a combination of “grä” which meant “spiritual” and “adla” which meant “control”. So, “gräadla” was literally “spiritual control”. A century later it became “Gräda” and took on the meaning of “Spirit Tamer”.

It was commonly believed that in the world there were spirits all around running wild and living in various places—forests, oceans, mountains, and so on—just like any wild creature. Grädas would learn how to control these spirits mentally; using their minds, and physically; by ritual or by performing spiritual dances.

Only toward the 18th century did they begin to take on the name “gypsy” often written as “Gypsy” referring to their type of people who practiced spiritual taming. But soon their rituals and spiritual dances were denounced and called “voodoo” or “witchcraft”. Some Gypsies were hunted down as witches, burned on upside down crosses indicating what some saw as a twisted belief system.” (The Puppeteer Series)

 

What are “spirits” for the Gypsies?

The Gypsies saw spirits in anything and everything and didn’t really keep to one ritualistic song for summoning one spirit basically because they didn’t think it was necessary to worry about that. They summoned spirits to ask them to do tasks for them such as bringing rain or mending the forest after a drought or providing a solution to a sickness.

They also summoned angry spirits to tame and later use against someone. Sometimes people from villages will come seek vengeance against another and the Gypsies will help them through summoning spirits and even giving animal sacrifice.

The term “voodooism” was largely a discriminatory word describing these practices.


Opposing Clan

The opposing clan of Gypsies call themselves Morques. When saying “Morques” the “r” is almost silent but its still there. They only oppose each other because they have different ways of seeing the spirit world.

While the Gypsies see spirits as mainly those that need to be tamed, the Morques see spirits as those that you learn to understand through meditation and singing certain songs. In a sense, the Gypsies are a bit more forceful and the Morques are more calm.

After a long battle against a common enemy, Gypsies and Morques merged together for survival and collectively called themselves Gypsies.


Gypsies Today

Some Gypsies who are now often referred to as “witches” still live life traditionally in forests. They do not believe in electricity and are still believed to perform animal sacrifice for rituals. Some people who believe their magic is real, will pay them some money for rituals. Gypsies will use that money to buy food, clothes, and tools for rituals.

 

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