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I thought it was the best of all villanelles! Hah, I never thought I could also be the most conceited poet here in If anyone remembers me posting 'A Gypsy Poet-Artist's Villanelle' a few months back, well I posted it in a Filipino poetry site only recently and look what feedbacks I got. I would say, most of them quite sage annotations. Even interesting and entertaining had been their argument amongst themselves. I was probably by then on a long bus travel going to Nueva Ecija so I couldn't possibly jump in to join the thread of discussion my poem had created in the other site.

Well, the only thing that I disagreed with the comments about is the casting of pentacles, from what I learned from books and a few practice, one can cast pentacles (like one would cast rainbows ). It seemed they thought I do not know anything about 'Pentacles'. So there even had been some explanations about the object. To be honest, I felt so embarrassed to be corrected with such a simple word.

I also am aware that the term 'gypsy' is more accurately used to refer to a group of Nomadic people in Europe But here at lit, as part of having fun, Huni, MzJen1 (I hope she's here to read this) and I use to call each other 'Gypsy'. Idomis (a fellow Filipino) is also one claiming to be a gypsy but I know not in the sense that purists define 'gypsy'.

However, the intelligence of my commentators humbled me. I admire them and was grateful to them for taking the time to read and comment on my poem. Somehow, it made me think my villanelle still has its flaws.

As for my poem, here it is for your easy reference:

A Gypsy Poet-Artist's Villanelle

We're a little lower than the angels,
Finding answers we gaze at the heavens,
Seek oracles, cast spells and pentacles.

Our souls dwell in sidewalks, houses, castles,
Yearning for comfort we join covens;
We're a little lower than the angels.

In some stormy nights we light our candles,
And kneel before idols in God's absence,
Seek oracles, cast spells and pentacles.

Create beauty with pastels and easels,
Expression is our sacred penitence;
We're a little lower than the angels.

And men revere us for our villanelles,
Our music, our dance, even our nonsense;
We seek oracles, cast spells, pentacles...

Must our hearts abhor the sound of hell's bells?
Should we seek salvation with great patience?
We're a little lower than the angels,
We seek oracles, cast spells, pentacles...

Okay, now here are the comments that my villanelle was able to generate, I deliberately did not include the names/usernames of the commentators because it was anyway in another site:

*Hi Peter, regarding your poem, I suggest you research a bit on paganism if you're going to write about gypsies and their religion. For instance, I don't think one can cast pentacles. Also, the practices mentioned here seem to be a mishmash of legitimate paganism and the false myths, and will enforce untrue stereotypes and just offend the real gypsies and pagan practitioners. Hope this helps :)

*Yeah, gypsies don't cast pentacles. Pentacle is a sign of the Wiccans. I believe they are not even used by gypsies at all, only witches or Wiccans. Neither do gypsies form covens. Coven circles are solely for witches or Wiccans, gypsies limit their occultism to fortune-telling whereas Wiccans they even have candle-magic, invoking spirits and demons, casting of spells, mixing formula from herbs, animal parts, and objects. I should know because I used to be a Wicca. hehe..

Some notes:

1. A pentacle is a shape: a five-pointed "star" shape usually (but not always) enclosed by a circle. A more appropriate verb to go with it is draw.

2. Coven is more often a collective used for witches and, um, Wicca practitioners. (Apologies. I'm skeptical of modern Wicca practice, in general.)

3. Please don't confuse gypsies with paganism. Gypsies were (are?) a group of nomadic people in Europe. Paganism is a very old system of worship, traditionally associated by Christian to "non-believers."

Nice villanelle, though and really like the line, "We're a little lower than the angels." It has many shades of meanings.

*Pentacles: more accurate to be described as an inverted pentacle (for the dark arts) because it represents a two-horned devil.

Wiccans are "pagans" accordingly because they focus on the aspects of nature that affects human lives.

"We're a little lower than the angels" These made me think deeper too: lower than angels? Hmm. Is this a Biblical idea? If then this could be Jeezas (Jesus)? hehe.. The dogma of immortality is still in question.

That's true. The magical rituals of wiccans are more elaborate compared to those of the gypsies. Although gypsies also do some spell-casting and potion mixing and similar stuff. They're very common things, especially during the middle ages. Heck, even Christians do it, then.

The farthest I ever went to occult is Cartomancy (I still read tarot cards), but I never really delved into it that much. Cartomancy is actually one of the easiest forms of divination because you have to deal with just a (relatively) few pieces of cards. But sometimes, it could be so freakily accurate.

Actually, I think that neither gypsies nor pagans believe in the devil. Some of their beliefs may include horned creatures, but they're not devils. So if you throw in the inverted pentacle and dark arts, it will muddle the poem even more.

Pentacles are used in black magic... hehe... promise... before I used to invoke Astaroth, Azaziel, Lilith et al. Not to mention the devils of Necronomicon.
I guess I'm reading it too much, but when I read "We're a little lower than the angels," I thought about the way gypsies were traditionally outcast by most Europeans. So in effect, they're seen as "lower" than even the commoners.

It could also apply to being human, although Madeleine L'engle would disagree: angels are a different order of being, different but not superior to humans. (I'm paraphrasing A Wind in the Door.)

As for the pentacles, it could be inverted or not. The tarot has a suit that is represented by either coins, disks, or pentacles. Most of the time, the pentacles there are upright. It just depends if you wish to put meaning on the shape's orientation.

I can't claim authority on the subject, but I think that although Wiccans are pagans, they cannot claim that paganism is equal to Wicca. Paganism, in my understanding, is a broad collective of beliefs that base their worship on nature.

Here's an online reference-thingy on the subject:

It's the Christian church that equated paganism with devil-worship. Many pagan religions believed in demons and evil creatures, but they're not The Devil, in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic sense.

Most of the demons you said are from Mesopotamian and Babylonian mythology that were incorporated as more esoteric sects of Hebrews and Jews. (Hebrews and Jews, are they supposed to be one and the same?). They were, in fact, part of ancient organized religion, which is different from paganism. Paganism never became a very organized system of belief.

My mistake. Some paganistic belief did in fact become organized, like the Greeks and Roman. If one could still consider them pagans. (My belief is that they're pagan only because the Jews and Christian thought they were pagan.)

Yeah... I know they came from Babylonian and Sumerian texts... and if you want to go further, read Sechariah Zitchin's books... he's calling them aliens from outer space!! mwahaha!!

hehe.. Aren't these really for a Halloween discussion?

But it's also true that those who practice Black Magic (not those who are charlatan ah) invoke those demons... even the genie from Aladdin's lamp is a demon (genie means 'evil spirit' in Arabic). I almost got in to a group which practices the dark arts but to my horror I threw away all my paraphernalia, hehe.. I realized there were a lot of things that are horrible.. For example the use of human and animal blood in casting spells!

To hell with the term 'organized'... any religion to me is organized if more than two people adhere to it. Paganism is belief in nature. Those who worship fire, the sky etc... Because they have no explanation for how some phenomena happen that they attributed these to a god or goddess.

If you read Anne Rice's Memnoch: The Devil it was mentioned there that Memnoch fell in love with the abilities of human beings for acquiring material bodies, orgasmic pleasures and sex are of course included there. Memnoch was even pissed of by God because he was ignored by the 'Divine Being' who was busy listening to his choir of angels.

A little lower than angels? What defines this expression? Angels have lots of abilities that people don't have. Despite that, the only thing that the humans can make angels envy about are their gift of being mortal (the same way that Greek gods envy humans in the mythology).

Pentacles can be inverted too... but more specifically only in Black Magic to signify the horned god... It is maybe Babylonian too that is the origin of pentacle, or it be more accurate to say "pentagram". It can also be seen in Jewish Kabbalah. Even the five sides of the pentacle have meaning in numerology for Jews, they were so much fond of that (12, 7, 6...)

There's a Wicca school in US. If anyone wants to join I can tell the address, bwahaha! Halloween is anyway a Wicca Festival (one of the most powerful!!) that's why witches these days swarm in the malls, so watch out!

Please read about this a little more. The God in Wicca (which uses the Pentacle as a holy symbol) is a horned God but not an evil one. Some Wicca sects did go overboard with some practices and started dabbling in the "Dark Arts" and made curses and poisonous potions, and other things that inflict pain on others.

Most Wicca groups, however believe in "do no harm" and the "return in threefold" which means that anything you wish or do onto others, will come back to you threefold. So, according to this belief, if you wish someone to bump his head, you're going to get your head bumped three times or thrice as hard. Or if you send someone a gift, you will receive three gifts.

Yeah.. I did mention the Dark Arts and I do want to asterisk that it is the diametrical opposite of Wicca (which is "white magic" in its sense).. There are groups of people even hundreds of years ago who practices the Dark Arts and, of course, they were not Wiccans. One group, as I have mentioned, used the Necronomicon as their "book of shadows"... Babylonian and Sumerian gods are invoked in that book. I did not say that they are demons as we see them in the eyes of Catholicism. The Jews are less "freaked-out" on this aspect...

Saying so, I agree with you that Wiccans believe in the threefold rule, as you have mentioned... but saying that "...send(ing) someone a gift, you will receive three gifts." orchestrates how the threefold rule goes is an exaggeration... its not literal (so mote it be...)

The Jews have the Star of David and Star of Solomon and the Sumerians had the pentacle... as far as Jewish mysticism, you can flip thru pages of the Talmud and the Kabbalah... I bought a Kabbalist book years ago from National Bookstore... you will get to see the links between ancient astrology and mythology, alchemy, and secret societies like the Freemasonry, Knights Templar, etc.. There is more to the drummed up publicity of Da Vinci Code that you need to know...

I also agree that the Jewish mystics did not monopolize the belief in numerology. It started from the Sumerians/Babylonians and can find its traces in any culture. Saying so, I believe that Rev. Joseph Galdon, SJ will not monopolize this kind of discussion. I know that some Jesuits are open to the 'theology of liberation' (whether they adhere to Marxist scientific socialism or just Christian socialism) and several of them studied world religions and cultures.

Happy Samhain!!

Hehe. I knew it was just a matter of time before people would start bringing this up :) Happy Samhain, guys! Snaps to Peter for the excellent timing of the posting of his poem.

Author's Note:
Even though this one is posted as a blog, I still would like to here feedbacks from members. I purposely add this note here so the people whom I will be inviting to this site will read my response to their comments.

crystal face I kiss
tongue tastes like sweet cold rain
I fall into pond

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The following comments are for "Where Are The Gypsies?!"
by peterpaulino

Oh! Here comes another gypsy! Thank you for reading this Demeter. And what do you think about casting pentacles when you are roaming (meaning, when not really in your designated altar)? :)

( Posted by: peterpaulino [Member] On: November 3, 2004 )

Oh! Thanks, I got that plain and clear... :)

( Posted by: peterpaulino [Member] On: November 4, 2004 )

Your poem followed the true nature of what wiccan, paganism and gypsy practice is all about, their criticisms of your knowledge are somewhat 'christian' in flavour.

I agree with Demeter, it flowed freely and your use of imagery and expression are very good, I very much enjoyed reading it.

Perhaps you should ask some of these people come over here and talk to someone who is Half Irish and use to be a wiccan (well you never stop but hey). There is an overlap between all spiritual and nature based beliefs that transend the kind of theological banter that they used to analyse this piece. Gypsies and Wiccans have had a long association that is recognised on both sides, it is still in an attempt through their own beliefs to try and keep the balance between good and evil in the world but oth have their own practices which work together very well. They often learnt from each other.

Your very talented Peter and your level of understanding goes beyond academics, you have understood the meaning of these things and not just the facts.

Alex :-)

( Posted by: londongrey [Member] On: November 4, 2004 )

Thank you
For reading. I would like to say that this villanelle is nominated to compete for the Gold award for the month of October in the other site: PinoyPoets. Members of the said site will be voting as to which among the top 25 nominees should receive Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards. I am quite touched that being a newbie in that Filipino site they welcomed me by choosing my piece. Guess I will be glad to share with them more of my works, but of course, Lit.Org will always be my favorite English poetry site.

( Posted by: peterpaulino [Member] On: November 5, 2004 )

My family is orignially from Romania. I am 2nd generation. Family gatherings are always fun when the gypsies get together. I think the poem was beautiful. I'm sure my family would not take offense at all. Though I am Jewish, my family is a cross blend where many are pagan. I am not sure how exactly that happend. Great poem. ;-)

( Posted by: DrBlack [Member] On: November 28, 2004 )

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