Friday, February 1, 2008

Bury Me Standing, Post 1

"Gypsies everywhere went to unusual extremes to prevent death. Not just the death of loved ones, but of any known ones. It went beyond compassion into the more exigent realm of the superstitious. The more diligent would try to scare death away, perhaps literally by screaming at it, or by raising their skirts and flashing at it. They may try to trick death by changing the name of a sick person to that of someone they hated - a known thief, or a policeman - with the idea that no one, not even death, could want to inhabit that soul. Others would try to fob the bad luck off onto some other creature. In Britain in the 1940s, Brian Vesey-FitzGerald recorded how Gypsies suffering from pulmonary disease attempted a symbolic transference by breathing three times into the mouth of a live fish, and then throwing it back into the stream from which it had been fetched. The hope was that, confused, death would go for the fish."

- Isabel Fonseca, Bury Me Standing, p.248

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