Lemurian City of Ladies

A Lemurian City Built in Memory of Christine de Pizan

Archive for the ‘Gypsy Caravan’ Category

The Work of Gypsy Women

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Gypsy women traditionally used what nature provided for many of their crafts. They made creels and baskets woven of reeds, brooms from twigs and branches, and pegs carved from wood. They sold or traded them for food and other items, like old clothes. The men and children joined in the making of these things, for the more you could make the more you could sell.

Old clothes, collected on a cart or traded for pegs, were a rich source of handiwork for the women. Cut up into strips, they made rugs; patched together they made blankets; or they could be cut down and the best parts used to make clothing for the children.

They also made toys for their children, stuffed dolls and animals, spinning tops made of wood and string, hobby horses, skipping ropes and other simple items. Gypsy children, being self sufficient, also made their own toys out whatever they found lying around – a bicycle wheel and a stick made a fine hoop.

Gathered together round the campfire, the women would weave, stitch or carve, and chat each other about family matters mostly. The gypsy society was a very close one, and anything outside the tribe concerned them but little.

The day always began with starting the fire, often from the still warm ashes of the previous night. Gypsy women were adept at starting fires even with damp wood, although latr on they would use Primus kerosene stoves, and gas stovs in the caravans. But the communal fire remained an important feature of gypsy life.

Gypsy women kept their small home very tidy, and would air blankets and rugs by hanging them over bushes and branches. A line would be strung up from caravan o tree, or between the caravans, for washing. In the old days this was done with a rub and rubbing board. Today you will find most caravans have at least a single tub washing machine.

Such activities were always directed by the weather, of course. On a fine day, you would see the line hung with washing that dried quickly – but in damp wet weather, the gypsies made do with what they had to wear.

In tribal life, the weather directs much of what you do – being snowed in meant huddling up in the caravan with a wood stove, Primus or home made blankets for warmth, and then crafts came in handy to while away the hours. Everything was utilized – even empty tin cans were cut and rolled into fantastic flowers.

Seasonal work, such as fruit picking, was a good source of income, and was pleasant enough work in the late summer and autumn months. `Dookerin’ or fortune telling was another way in which the women made money, reading cards or palms for those who believed in such things. The uncanny accuracy of their predictions was more of a testament to their sharp eyed observation of the world around them than any sixth sense.

The lives of gypsy women are not idle – their hands are always busy with work, with skills handed down from generation to generation. Their crafts are still to be found on sale at Europe’s numerous Romany fairs.

Written by Gail Kavanagh

June 16, 2008 at 12:09 am

The Road to Cyberia, unknown date, but sometime in autumn

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I rose from the water and dressed slowly. I wondered what to do next. I am alone, in the woods, without food. But not without wits. And with a manifestation of the goddess in the guise of an enchanted doll. Which, I suppose, is really a symbol of my own strength and cleverness.

I started walking, choosing to follow the sun.

At the end of the day I came to a crossroads. There, the White Knight of Baba Yaga, waited, his horse pawing the ground impatiently, snorting and huffing. The knight remained seated calmly. I could feel his gaze from behind his visor. My face grew warm with a blush.

At the crossroads was also my little wagon, pulled by Jenny. I met her deep eyes, she nodded her head, “Yes, you may choose” said her gesture.

My eyes lingered on the romantic hero on his horse. Part of me thrilled to go with the White Knight. I could feel myself being pulled up behind him in the saddle, clasping my arms around his armor, listening to his heart beat through the metal, reverberating with the pounding hooves. Where would he take me? What adventure would that choice bring? Would my dreams come true?

I laughed gently inside myself. I had chosen the knight before, as a young woman, a young bride, believing love would bring me my hearts desire. In a way, it had. But I am older now, and my heart’s desire, my dreams are no longer tied to love, to marriage, or family. I do not know what they are; I only know what they are not.

Confident I waked to my Jenny. I stroked her long forehead, and nuzzled into her neck. I clambered up on the seats and flicked the reins. Behind me I heard the thunder of hooves, fading quickly in the direction of the sun, my road went south.

Around the bend, waiting for me, was Lucia and a handsome man holding her hand, Michael, the grandson of Lavengro, Chieftain of the Gypsies.

Jenny halted, turned her head to watch me leap from the driver’s bench and fly to Lucia. She gave a soft bray, a donkey laugh.

I held Lucia tightly, cried, laughed, and kissed her head and cheeks and hands. Dear friend, dearest friend, sister, daughter, Light and guide. Such joy! Nothing down the road not taken could surpass this.

Michael I knew little of, meeting him briefly during my stay at his Grandfather’s camp. Clearly he is beloved to Lucia, and therefore, beloved by me. Together we climbed aboard my wagon and continued south.

I did not note where we were going. I was too excited to ask or even to care! At evening we camped by a spring. I gathered sticks with Lucia and helped her prepare bannock for our dinner. We cooked them on the rocks by the fire and ate them with windfall apples and pears we gathered along the way.

The evening was crisp. It was delight to be wrapped in a shawl, toes toasted by the fire, a cup of tea warming my hands. Michael played his guitar. The music of his strumming, the crickets, and the night birds created a symphony of peace. Soon Lucia and I were helping each other stumble sleepily to the wagon. We curled under the blankets and slept deeply.

Lucia and I made more bannock and tea to break fast. Michael was fishing, so we curried Jenny, braiding her mane with ribbons and bells. When Michael returned we fried the fish, broke camp, and were on our way again.

Lucia and I spun wool while Michael drove. He sang as he guided our Jenny. Before too long I was singing along, at least the choruses. Such passed fair weathered autumn days.

Other days were windy and cold. Those days we walked alongside the wagon huddled in our cloaks to stay warm. On raining days we rigged a tarp off the side of the wagon nearest the little porcelain stove. Here our Jenny stood in relative comfort, her ribbons and bells bedraggled. But better than her contemporaries on the moors, as Michael pointed out.

The wildest days we spent inside, cramped and cozy, the little wagon home. I cherished these rainy days as much as the fair. It was then I caught up in this journal on all the happenings of the past months. I am grateful to Mnemosyne for helping me remember everything with such clarity.

Time passes so quickly to the rhythm and melody of gypsy travel. By noon, ten days from the crossroads, we arrived at the gates of a great city.

“Welcome to Cyberia, the City of
Ladies,” sang Michael.

“I have never heard of this place,” I responded, more than a little in awe of the beautiful and formidable gates.

“Not surprising. Very few know of it. Fewer still can find it. And fewer still stay.”

Comfortable enough to tease I asked Michael if he had stayed in the City of
Ladies.

“Of course! Men are welcome here, if they are gentlemen. Women are not welcome if they are not ladies.”

“What makes a lady? What makes a gentleman?”

Michael flashed a grin. “That is the question. What is the answer?”

 

Wendy Bird

Written by wendybird

January 28, 2007 at 8:33 pm

Posted in Gypsy Caravan

Happy BIrthday, Vi

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gypsyfair-dance.jpg

Gypsies dance because:

In spite of its worries,
In spite of its fears,
In spite of its sorrows,
In spite of its tears,
In spite of its heartaches,
In spite of its woes –
Life is just beautiful,
So dance on your toes.

The image is from the touring New Zealand Gypsy Fair website.

Written by Gail Kavanagh

November 29, 2006 at 12:12 am

Posted in Gypsy Caravan

Come and dance!

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dancer.jpg

Welcome, travellers, to the Gypsy Camp!

Lavengro, the Gypsy Chief (who looks a bit like Johnny Depp) and his merry band of gypsies from all over the world are putting on a big party in your honour. There will be dancing around the campfire, singing, good food and drink, but most of all, you tales, songs and art. We at the Gypsy Camp love to share your creativity, so gather round the campfire, grab a baked potato from the ashes (careful, they’re hot!) and a glass of cider from the barrel and share your songs and stories with us.
The Gypsies have also purloined a pair of barn doors (as is their wont) and laid them on the ground for a dance floor, so kick up those heels! Lavengro will want to dance with all the ladies but he particularly adores Heather and Le Enbchanteur, so you may have to get in line.

Written by Gail Kavanagh

November 14, 2006 at 12:41 pm

Posted in Gypsy Caravan

Gypsy Camp

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dancer.jpg

Welcome, travellers, to the Gypsy Camp!

Lavengro, the Gypsy Chief (who looks a bit like Johnny Depp) and his merry band of gypsies from all over the world are putting on a big party in your honour. There will be dancing around the campfire, singing, good food and drink, but most of all, you tales, songs and art. We at the Gypsy Camp love to share your creativity, so gather round the campfire, grab a baked potato from the ashes (careful, they’re hot!) and a glass of cider from the barrel and share your songs and stories with us.
The Gypsies have also purloined a pair of barn doors (as is their wont) and laid them on the ground for a dance floor, so kick up those heels! Lavengro will want to dance with all the ladies but he particularly adores Heather and Le Enbchanteur, so you may have to get in line.

Written by Gail Kavanagh

November 14, 2006 at 12:41 pm

Posted in Gypsy Caravan

Digging Deep

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Soul Food’s Alluvial Mine, with its allusions to digging, is certainly a creative trigger for me. Ever since I read an account of Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb when I was a young girl, I have been a dedicated armchair archeologist.

Most recently I have travelled to ancient Peru with Hugh Thomson’s book Cochineal Red, and to the fabled city of Tell el Amarna with the witty and delightful Mary Chubb. What I love about these writer is that they do more than uncover the past – they uncover the hearts and souls of ancient people, and in many ways, they are not so different from us.

Let me share a couple of their stories with you.

Hugh Thomson attended an Andean ceremony, a gruelling high altitude walk, yet the Peruvians being a celebratory, joyful people, they even managed to create moments of delight during this ordeal with singing, music and dancing. The tales of camps and fires and boiling chocolate Mate to ward off the cold are very familiar to anyone who has been a traveler. These things are shared through the ages and across the world by all who cannot resist the magic of the campfire, the outdoor gathering.

But what particularly charmed me was the Game of the Little Houses. It seems native Peruvians know all about positive visualisation. Halfway up a mountain they make miniature houses and believe firmly that what they create there will be manifested in their lives. They literally build their dream, live their dreams, marry their dream spouse, exchange dream money – even buy dream passports and diplomas. All in the certainty that the dream will manifest.

Mary Chubb was assistant to the secretary of a London archeological society when she wangled herself a trip to Egypt in 1930 as an on site secretary to the expedition. Her witty observations of life on the dig at Tell el Amarna, and her companions, make delightful reading.

The leader of the expedition, the charismatic John Pendleton, remarked one day that the team needed to find a treasure worth 200 pounds to be able to come back the following season. There seemed little hope of that, although many beautiful things were found.

But not long after, the team uncovered an earthenware pot filled with gold and silver bars, stolen and hidden while Akenaten and Nefertiti were still alive, and for some reason, never uncovered again until that moment.

The finds were always looked over by the Cairo Museum first, and what they didn’t want, the expedition was allowed to keep and take back to Britain.

The Museum director was very dismissive of the gold and silver bars. “I do not want all the gold and silver,” he sniffed. “We will retain one half…you may keep the other.”

The Bank of England paid 200 hundred pound for the treasure, ensuring the expedition’s return to Tell el Amarna.

Let us never lose the courage to dream, to seek the dream, to make the dream manifest.

Gail Kavanagh

Written by Gail Kavanagh

November 11, 2006 at 11:53 pm

Posted in Gypsy Caravan

Beautiful Gypsy Purse

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Here’s a gorgeous piece of art by Lilla Le Vine at Art-e-zine. She shows you how to make a Gypsy Purse and there are some lovely Gypsy maiden images you can download as well.

Gail

Written by Gail Kavanagh

October 5, 2006 at 9:55 am

Posted in Gypsy Caravan