Religious Notions of Gypsies

Religious Notions of Gypsies  (1888) 

Religious Notions of Gypsies.—The gypsies' religion, says the author of "The Transylvanian Tziganes[1]," in "Blackwood's Magazine," is of the vaguest description. They generally agree as to the existence of a God, but it is a God whom they can fear without loving. "God can not be good," they argue, "else he would not make us die." The devil they also believe in to a certain extent; but only as a weak, silly fellow, incapable of doing much harm. A gypsy, questioned as to whether he believed in the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body, scoffed at the idea. "How could I be so foolish as to believe this?" he asked, with unconscious philosophy. "We have been quite wretched enough, and wicked enough, in this world already. Why should we begin again in another?" Sometimes their confused notions of Christianity take the shape of believing in a God, and in his Son, the young God; but while many are of the opinion that the old God is dead, and that his Son now reigns in his place, others declare that the old God is not really dead, but has merely abdicated in favor of the young God. Though rarely believing in the immortality of the soul, the Tzigane usually holds with the doctrine of transmigration, and often supposes the spirit of some particular gypsy to have passed into a bat or a bird; further believing that, when that animal is killed, the spirit passes back to another new-born gypsy. The gypsies resident in villages and hamlets often nominally adopt the religion of the proprietor of the soil, principally, it seems, in order to secure the privilege of being buried at his expense.

  1. Note of proofreader: Blackwood's Magazine, May 1887