“Fortune Telling is a Curse on Your Children”: Conver Sion, Fort Une Telling, and Beliefs in Magic Among Roma Women in Estonia

Open access

Abstract

Missionary work by Pentecostal Finnish Roma (Kaale)1 started among the Roma in Estonia during the 1980s. These mission activities, carried out by both Finns and local Roma, intensified over the next two decades and continue today. The article looks into a specific case of how converted (Pentecostal and Baptist) and non-converted (Russian Orthodox, Lutheran, Catholic) Roma women in Estonia conceptualise the practice of fortune telling. For this purpose, the role of fortune telling as a traditional Roma skill and occupation is discussed as a part of the conceptualisation, together with the possible efficacy of fortune telling and its relation to beliefs in magic that also shape the women’s attitudes towards it. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, the article argues that although fortune telling is considered satanic by born-again believers and is therefore abandoned, its condemnation is not straightforward in less controlled narration situations, thus posing an extra challenge for Roma women in the conversion process.

Åberg, Kai. 2014. The Gospel Songs of the Finnish Kaale: Religious Music and Identity in Finland. – Romani Pentecostalism: Gypsies and Charismatic Christianity, edited by David Thurfjell and Adrian Marsh. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 143–162.

Altnurme, Lea. 2005. Kristlusest oma usuni. Uurimus muutustest eestlaste religioossuses 20. sajandi II poolel. Dissertationes theologiae Universitatis Tartuensis 9. Tartu: Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus.

Anepaio, Terje 1996. Laat see ilmarahva pulm. Tartu linna ja maakonna laadad 1920–1940. Tartu: Atlex.

Ariste, Paul. 1940a. Laiuse mustlased. Die Laiuse-Zigeuner. Tartu Ülikooli Toimetused. Acta Universitatis Tartuensis/Dorpatensis B 50.

Ariste, Paul 1940b. Natuke Eesti mustlaste usuelust. – Usuteaduslik Ajakiri 1/2: 8–14.

Austin, John. 1962. How to Do Things with Words. London: Cambridge University Press.

Austin-Broos, Diane. 2003. The Anthropology of Conversion: An Introduction. – The Anthropology of Religious Conversion, edited by Andrew Buckser and Stephen D. Glazier. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1–12.

Barany, Zoltan. 2002. The East European Gypsies: Regime Change, Marginality and Ethnopolitics. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Bartash, Volha. 2015. The Sedentarisation of Roma in the Soviet Union after 1956: A Case Study from the Former Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic. – Romani Studies 25 (1): 23–51.

Bialecki, Jon; Naomi Haynes and Joel Robbins. 2008. The Anthropology of Christianity. – Religion Compass 2 (6): 1139–1158.

Bible. www.biblegateway.com (accessed April 1, 2019).

Carrizo-Reimann, Agustina. 2011. The Forgotten Children of Abraham: Iglesia Evangelica Misionera Biblica Rom of Buenos Aires. – Romani Studies 21 (2): 161–176.

Census 2011 = Rahva- ja eluruumideloendus 2011. – Eesti statistika. http://www.stat.ee/ee (accessed April 1, 2019).

Coleman, Simon. 2004. The Globalisation of Charismatic Christianity: Spreading the Gospel of Prosperity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Crowe, David M. 2007 [1996]. A History of the Gypsies of Eastern Europe and Russia. 2nd edn. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ferrari, Florencia. 2015. Deceit and Efficacy: Fortune Telling among the Calon Gypsies in São Paulo, Brazil. – Gypsy Economy: Romani Livelihoods and Notions of Worth in the 21st Century, edited by Micol Brazzabeni, Manuela Ivone Cunha and Martin Fotta. New York, NY; Oxford: Berghahn Books, 163–180.

Garda-Rozenberga, Ieva and Māra Zirnīte. 2014. Elulood Läti etniliste kultuuride uurimises: liivlaste ja mustlaste lood. – Mäetagused 56: 103–126. http://www.folklore.ee/tagused/nr56/garda_zirnite.pdf (accessed April 1, 2019).

Gmelch, Sharon Bohn. 1986. Groups That Don’t Want in: Gypsies and Other Artisan, Trader, and Entertainer Minorities. – Annual Review of Anthropology 15: 307–330.

Harding, Susan F. 1987. Convicted by the Holy Spirit: The Rhetoric of Fundamental Baptist Conversion. – American Ethnologist 14 (1): 167–181.

Hiiemäe, Reet. 2016. Folkloor kui mentaalse enesekaitse vahend: usundilise pärimuse pragmaatikast. Dissertationes Folkloristicae Universitatis Tartuensis 25. Tartu: Tartu Ülikooli kirjastus.

IBS 2013 = Taustainfo: ülevaade romade olukorrast Eestis. 2013. – Institute of Baltic Studies /Balti Uuringute Instituut. https://www.ibs.ee/wp-content/uploads/IBS-romade-teemaleht.pdf (access ed April 1, 2019).

Kenrick, Donald. 2007. Historical Dictionary of the Gypsies (Romanies). 2nd edn. Lanham, MD; Toronto; Plymouth: The Scarecrow Press.

Kwiek, Gregor Dufunia. 2014. The Synchronisation of Traditions in Lovari, Kelderash and Kalo Pentecostalism. – Romani Pentecostalism: Gypsies and Charismatic Christianity, edited by David Thurfjell and Adrian Marsh. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 175–192.

Laurent, Régis. 2014. On the Genesis of Gypsy Pentecostalism in Brittany. – Romani Pentecostalism: Gypsies and Charismatic Christianity, edited by David Thurfjell and Adrian Marsh. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 31– 40.

Leland, Charles Godfrey. 2008 [1891]. Gypsy Sorcery and Fortune Telling: Incantations, Specimens of Medical Magic, Anecdotes, Tales. London: Forgotten Books.

Lutt, Roman; Lembit Vaba and Jüri Viikberg. 1999. Mustlased. – Eesti rahvaste raamat: rahvusvähemused, -rühmad ja -killud, edited by Jüri Viikberg. Tallinn: Eesti Entsüklopeediakirjastus, 334–339.

Marushiakova, Elena and Vesselin Popov. 2003. Ethnic Identities and Economic Strategies of the Gypsies in the Countries of the Former USSR. – Nomaden und Sesshafte – Fragen, Methoden, Ergebnisse 1. Orientwissenschaftliche Hefte 9; Mitteilungen des SFB “Differenz und Integration” 4/1, edited by Thomas Herzog and Wolfgang Holzwarth. Halle: Orientwissenschaftliches Zentrum, 289–310.

Marushiakova Elena and Vesselin Popov. 2014. The Gypsy Religious Revival Movement: “New Churches” in the Territories of the Former Soviet Union. – Romani Pentecostalism: Gypsies and Charismatic Christianity, edited by David Thurfjell and Adrian Marsh. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 41– 56.

Marushiakova, Elena and Vesselin Popov. 2016. Gypsies in Central Asia and the Caucasus. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Matras, Yaron. 2010. Romani Migrations in the Post‐Communist Era: Their Historical and Political Significance. – Cambridge Review of International Affairs 13 (2): 32–50.

Mauss, Marcel. 2002 [1925]. The Gift: The Form and Reasons for Exchange in Archaic Societies. London; New York, NY: Routledge.

Meyer, Birgit. 1992. ‘If You Are a Devil, You Are a Witch and, If You Are a Witch, You Are a Devil.’ The Integration of ‘Pagan’ Ideas into the Conceptual Universe of Ewe Christians in Southeastern Ghana. – Journal of Religion in Africa 22 (2): 98–132.

Meyer, Birgit. 1998. “Make a Complete Break with the Past.” Memory and Post-Colonial Modernity in Ghanaian Pentecostalist Discourse. – Journal of Religion in Africa 28 (3): 316–349.

Mission of a Rom = Mustlase missioon. 2010. Documentary film directed by Vahur Laiapea. Estonia: Ikoon.

Okely, Judith. 1996. Own or Other Culture. London: Routledge.

Pelkmans, Mathijs. 2015. Mediating Miracle Truth: Permanent Struggle and Fragile Conviction in Kyrgyzstan. – The Anthropology of Global Pentecostalism and Evangelicalism, edited by Simon Coleman and Rosalind I. J. Hackett. New York, NY: New York University Press, 177–195.

Podolinska, Tatiana. 2014. Questioning the Theory of Deprivation: Pentecostal Roma in Slovakia – Romani Pentecostalism: Gypsies and Charismatic Christianity, edited by David Thurfjell and Adrian Marsh. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 89–108.

Registry of Population 2018 = Rahvastikuregister. – Siseministeerium. https://www.siseministeerium.ee/et/eesmark-tegevused/rahvastikutoimingud/rahvastikuregister (accessed April 1, 2019).

Ries, Johannes. 2014. The Cultural Dynamics of Romani/Gypsy Ethnicity and Pentecostal Christianity. – Romani Pentecostalism: Gypsies and Charismatic Christianity, edited by David Thurfjell and Adrian Marsh. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 127–140.

Robbins, Joel. 2004. The Globalization of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity. – Annual Review of Anthropology 33: 117–143.

Robbins, Joel. 2010. Anthropology of Religion. – Studying Global Pentecostalism: Theories and Methods, edited by Allan Anderson, Andre F. Droogers, Michael Bergunder and Cornelis van der Laan. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 156–178.

Slavkova, Magdalena. 2007. Evangelical Gypsies in Bulgaria: Way of Life and Performance of Identity. – Romani Studies 17 (2): 205–246.

Strand, Elin. 2014. “One Scattered Race like Stars in the Sight of God”: The International Gypsy Evangelical Church. – Romani Pentecostalism: Gypsies and Charismatic Christianity, edited by David Thurfjell and Adrian Marsh. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 109–128.

Stromberg, Peter G. 1993. Language and Self-Transformation: A Study of the Christian Conversion Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sutherland, Anne. 1986. Gypsies – the Hidden Americans. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

Svidetel’stvo tsyganki = Свидетельство цыганки. 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qF4rihNt4V0 (accessed April 14, 2019).

Tambiah, Stanley Jeyaraja. 1985. Culture, Thought, and Social Action: An Anthropological Perspective. Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press.

Tauber, Élisabeth. 2018. Balanced or Negative Reciprocity. Thinking/Remembering, Seeing Dreams and Collecting Money among Sinti in North Italy. – Ethnologie française 4 (172): 623– 634.

Tenser, Anton and Kimmo Granqvist. 2015. Romanikielen pohjoismurteiden variaatio. – Idäntutkimus 3: 3–17.

Thurfjell, David. 2014. Testimonies of Change: Individual Pentecostalism Amongst the Kaale. – Romani Pentecostalism: Gypsies and Charismatic Christianity, edited by David Thurfjell and Adrian Marsh. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 163–174.

Tihovska, Ieva. 2017. Īsta Čigānu Mūzikā: Autentiskums un Etniskums Latvijas Čigānu (Romu) Mūzikā. Studia humanitarica. Rīga: Latvijas Universitātes Literaturas, Folkloras un Makslas Instituts.

Weyrauch, Walter O. and Maureen Ann Bell. 2001. Autonomous Lawmaking. – Gypsy Law: Romani Legal Traditions and Culture, edited by Walter O. Weyrauch. Berkley, CA: University of California Press, 11–87.

Weiss-Wendt, Anton. 2003. Extermination of the Gypsies in Estonia during World War II: Popular Images and Official Policies. – Holocaust and Genocide Studies 17 (1): 31–61.

Wigzell, Faith. 2011. The Orthodox Church and Commercial Fortune telling and Magic in Russia. – Religion, State and Society 39 (4): 420–442.

Journal Information

CiteScore 2018: 0.18

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.112

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 22 22 19
PDF Downloads 17 17 14