The gypsies, or Romanies, have long been known for their esoteric spirituality, even if it's only Gypsy Rose Lee reading tarot cards at seaside fairs. Patrick Jasper Lee trained himself from childhood to be a Chovihano, a Gypsy shaman or healer. This fascinating book is an account of how he followed that path, what he has learnt and how it is relevant to all of us today. The title comes from the gypsy belief that we cannot own the Earth or what it produces; we can only borrow it. According to Lee, "the words 'own' and 'possession' [have] no equivalent in the Romani Gypsy language".
Shamanism involves journeys to the Other world, journeys of imagination and visualisation. The book contains many examples of these, which read like traditional fairy stories--which is significant because gypsies are fond of storytelling, and have always had a close link with nature, especially woodland and all that is associated with it. Lee writes unselfconsciously of his conversations with trees and his meetings with fairies--the Biti Foki or Small Folk.
This is a very personal story; Lee tells of his great-grandfather Jack Lee, also a Chovihano, who brought a curse on the family by moving into a house; and of his Puri Dai (old mother) or grandmother, who was a formidable force in his clan, and who taught him much of what he knows about the deeper side of gypsy beliefs. Now, as the old family ties have broken down, he believes he may be the only Chovihano left in Britain, possibly even in Western Europe. As he shares his story with gaujo, non-gypsies, we can only be saddened at the fading of this unique culture. --David V Barrett
From the Back Cover
Romani Gypsy shamanism has been practised in Britain and Europe for hundreds of years but the lives of the Gypsies remain a mystery. They have always been treated with a mixture of fear and fascination, either heavily persecuted (which has stopped them from speaking openly about the sacred elements of their culture) or over-romanticised, with images of wild nomads, decorative wagons and psychic fortune-tellers.
In fact Gypsies are the living practitioners of Britain's own shamanic tradition, the inheritors of a deeply enriching and healing craft which combines power, passion, light-heartedness and strong elements of magic and sorcery, much of it the very stuff of our childhood fairy tales. This craft is always practised in accordance with our ancient natural laws and the Earth's natural cycles.
This book reveals the inner Romani shamanic path through the experiences and knowledge of one of the few remaining 'chovihanos' (Gypsy shamen) still practising in Britain. Drawing on his personal experiences and the story of his lineage, Patrick Lee explores the history and culture of his people and their knowledge of the ancient arts of healing and prophesy. He includes chapters on their origins and customs as well as looking at their portions, spells, charms and curses in an open and accessible way. The fact that Gypsies have never before written about their own culture makes this a unique and fascinating work.