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Magical Romani

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"Pick a card, any card..."

One common stereotype attributed to Romani is their relationship to the supernatural, especially witchcraft and fortune-telling. This stereotype can be used to exoticize them as easily as it can be used to demonize them. It's usually attributed to women, but it's not unheard of in men.

This character often is a Hot Gypsy Woman if they're a Hot Witch, while fortune tellers are more likely to be mysterious old women.

May be a Discredited Trope, as it tends to stem from less-than-flattering ethnic stereotypes. There's some Values Dissonance to this trope as in some regions (such as the Americas), more specifically in regions without a large Romani population or history with Romani, they're often not viewed as an ethnicity and thusly this stereotype isn't usually deemed as offensive as other ethnic stereotypes.

Related to Fortune Teller and sub-trope to Ethnic Magician. Supertrope to Gypsy Curse (which they may cast). Compare to Magical Negro, Magical Asian, Magical Jew, and Magical Native American for other ethnic minorities associated with magic and/or wisdom. Sister trope to Roguish Romani. See Wandering Culture.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Secret Garden: Part of the racism Camila faces is frequently accusations of being a "witch". In reality she's a doctor who knows how to cultivate herbs into medicine.
  • Paris No Isabelle: Romani women such as Irma are portrayed as having Healing Hands, at least according to Andréa's account.
    '''Andréa: "She taught me how ground and soil smelled like..."
    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • In DC Comics Bombshells, Zatanna (the heroes' primary magic user) is of Jewish/Romani descent.
    • Cindy Reynolds of the Justice League of America has illusion-casting powers and is of Romani descent. She invokes this with her superhero name, Gypsy.
    • Madame Xanadu is a 'good witch' who'd help people out with their supernatural difficulties. Seen as first as a Fortune Teller, later is revealed she was Nimue and the sister of Morgana Le Fay, being an important character for all DC's magical universe.
    • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Zenna Persik is a "gypsy" woman whose family was almost entirely wiped out by the Nazis and who uses her magic to track and kill Nazis who escaped justice. She also uses it to attack superheroes for no apparent reason.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Doctor Doom, arch-nemesis of the Fantastic Four, is the son of a folk healer father and a Romani witch mother. Upon perusing his slain mother's heirlooms, young Victor von Doom discovered his heritage, and fervently studied the arcane arts to the point where Doom has the esteem of Doctor Strange.
    • Lilia Calderu is known as the "Witch-Queen of the Gypsies", the keeper of the Book of Cagliostro. She's one of the allies of Doctor Strange and half-niece of Baron Mordo, as well one of the most powerful witches in Europe.
    • New Mutants: Tarot of the Hellions is said to have Romani heritage and has the powers of being able to foresee the events of her own future or the futures of other people, due to a combination of her mutant powers and the use of her tarot cards, and materializing and animating tangible images of the 2-D avatars/images on her tarot cards.
    • Nightcrawler's adoptive mother and sister, Margali and Jimaine Szardos, are powerful Romani sorceresses as well. Margali was even briefly Sorcerer Supreme.
    • Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, one of Marvel's preeminent magic users, is a Romani woman raised in the fictional Wundagore Mountain alongside her twin brothernote . It turns out that her significant magical power is in part due to an elder god in the mountain imparting some of his power onto her. Volume 2 later explains that the "Scarlet Witch" title and powers are passed down through Wanda's family, so there is a definite undercurrent of magic in the tribe's history.
  • My Little Pony: Gypsy is a unicorn who loves tambourine playing. She has a gift for magic and fortune-telling.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Fortunes of Flossie: Superstitious Flossie visits a "gypsy" camp to have her fortune told, and is warned by the fortune teller that her jewelry is under a curse that can only be dispelled by moonlight. The "magical gypsies" are actually Roguish Romani using their reputation for supernatural powers to dupe Flossie into setting her jewelry outside in the middle of the night — all the better to steal it.

    Eastern Animation 

    Fan Works 
  • In Anastasia/Quasimodo – We Hit a Wall, Lady Tremaine falsely accuses her husband's mistress Esmeralda of putting a Gypsy Curse on her children. This leads to Esmeralda being executed. Lady Tremaine's kids run away due to the shame and shock.
  • Child of the Storm has Wanda Maximoff as Romani on her mother's side, and she's an extremely powerful sorceress - and mutant, as it happens. Not only that, but while she inherited her mutant powers from her German-Jewish father, she inherited the magic from her mother's Romani clan, with it being noted that they've provided some senior White Council practitioners in the past. However, being raised by Doctor Strange from the age of 13 means that she has practically no overt cultural signs, much less the associated magical stereotypes - Harry doesn't even realise that English isn't her native language until she points it out in the sequel, as she speaks it flawlessly (the same way, she notes, that he speaks Russian - though there were different reasons for that).
  • The Harry Potter fic A Different Future has Harry being adopted by a family of wizarding Gypsies when the Dursleys try to abandon him on the steps of a church. They give him an potion to make him look more like one of the family and the name Alex, pretending that he is the twin brother of their daughter Beth. The author has clearly done some research on the Romani and shows them in a good light, and it's mentioned that Harry's adoptive grandparents survived The Holocaust.
  • Pinkie Pie in Friendship is Witchcraft is Romani, though she initially denies it. She has magical abilities, which wouldn't be unusual in the setting if she wasn't an earth pony instead of a unicorn.
  • The description of Silent Dreamer by TheNight130 describes the Roma Esmeralda as either a witch or a demon.
  • Naturally comes up in Sixes and Sevens whenever it delves into the history of Victor von Doom and Latveria.
    • Abraham van Helsing meets Victoria Vladimirescu and Djordji Zindelo Hungaros when he arrives at Zefiro village, the former of whom is being tutored in sorcery by the latter.
    • During Headfirst Slide into Latveria on a Bad Bet, it's implied that Djordji tried to become a fully-fledged sorcerer but was cast out of Kamar-Taj because he was Romani. Though he tried to pass that knowledge on to Victoria's descendants, a bigotry-motivated tragedy prompted him to stop. Generations later, Cythnia von Doom tried to pick it up but was never as skilled as Djordji was until she makes a deal with Cthon for more power - and that doesn't help her much in the long run either.

    Film — Animation 
  • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Romani are associated with fortune-telling. Esmeralda uses some mundane magic tricks as a part of her acts, such as using puffs of smoke to disappear. After she turns away Frollo's advances, he accuses her of seducing him with actual witchcraft and tries to have her burned.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Subverted in Countess Dracula, where the titular countess lures a fortune teller into her chambers. She does a Tarot reading for Elizabeth, not once guessing that she's about to become her next victim.
  • The Little Mermaid (2018) has Thora the fortune teller, who's also telekinetic and capable of stopping time. While her being Romani is never stated, she's dressed in the traditional aesthetic.
  • In the Clip Show finale of The New Adventures of Tarzan, Tarzan hosts a "gypsy party" at Greystoke Mansion, and a "gypsy fortune teller" delivers the recap by showing highlights in her crystal ball. It's Ula Vale, in costume.
  • Son of Dracula: Played straight by Queen Zimba, a mystic who lives on the Dark Oaks grounds. She tries to warn Katherine that her plans will lead to evil consequences. The Count hears this, leading to Queen Zimba becoming the film's first victim.
  • The Wolf Man (1941) - a tribe of Romani are there to give convenient exposition that what's happening to Larry is that he's turning into a werewolf. The tribe's matriarch, Maleva, also displays the power to temporarily turn a werewolf back into its human form.

  • In Franz Xaver von Schönwerth's collection of 19th century Bavarian folklore, "Gypsies" ("Zigeuner") are, as a rule, skilled in magic. This may be explained by them being in league with the Devil or them being in possession of certain ancient magic books. Their considerable magical abilities are manifested in many areas:
    • Gypsies have many magic skills that help them to trick people. They can make themselves invisible and pacify watchdogs. They pay with magic money which later dissolves into thin air, or which magically returns to them (possibly taking some of your own money with it). Most magically, they can "conjure chickens out of their scoop".
    • Gypsies have supernatural ways of knowing things, even the future. Once they enter a house, they know everything which is in the house. Gypsy women especially can see the future. A farmer who has begun a big building project is told by a Gypsy that he won't finish what he started; the man dies before the building is completed.
    • Gypsies are especially good at magically banishing and controlling fire. A recurring tale is that a Gypsy band lodging in a barn makes a fire so big the flames touch the hay on the hayloft or the rafters of the roof, and yet nothing ever catches fire. Another is that Gypsies can clean old barns or buildings from cobwebs by simply burning the webs with a candle or torch; whenever the building itself is about to catch fire, they command the fire to stop by calling "hoy, hoy!" As a demonstration of their skill, they can set fire to a single stem of straw of a whole bundle of straw; the stem burns completely, but the bundle does not catch fire. They can also hold fire to a sheaf of ripe corn so that the stems burn but the grain falls out unburnt.
    • Though Gypsy are feared for their power to curse, they also have the power to bless and will frequently cast spells that protect people who have treated them well from fire, disease, or animal pests. A certain farmer was promised by a Gypsy that his farm would never be damaged by fire for twenty generations. On another farm there are no sparrows, because Gypsies banished them as a thank-you to the farmer. Buildings where Gypsies have lodged often become permanently immune to fire; when a certain village burnt to the ground, the only building left standing was a barn where Gypsies had lodged. Another house that had been immunized against fire by Gypsies suffered no damage when the neighbouring house burnt down, even though the houses were directly connected to each other. Gypsies may also gift magical artifact. One man received a magical rifle; whenever the man shot at a tree or a bush, he would hit a bird or a hare.
    • Gypsies are also good at banishing and exorcising ghosts. A legend concerns a house haunted by a ghost so much that nobody dares to stay in it alone. A Gypsy woman offers to get rid of the ghost and stays in the house alone. The ghost appears and leads her to a pot full of money hidden in the kitchen stove. The ghost never comes back and the Gypsy keeps the money as her reward.

  • Professor Leo Chin from Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Alexandria is half-Romani on his mother's side, though he rejects that side of his heritage. His knowledge of magic comes from his childhood experiences in Romania. His Romani heritage also puts him at conflict with the titular cats as he was raised with the superstition that cats are evil.
  • Endless Night: Mrs. Lee, the creepy Romani woman who makes psychic predictions of death and despair if Michael and Ellie remain at Gipsy's Acre. Partially subverted with The Reveal that Michael was paying her to scare Ellie, but her initial prediction that Michael would be wise to leave the area forever was correct.
  • In The Gospel of Evil, a Gypsy seer foresaw Marie's future... at the cost of her own.
  • Holes: Madame Zeroni has the look and accent of a Romani, and she curses the Yelnats family with bad luck after Elya Yelnats fails to uphold his end of a bargain with her. Stanley breaks the curse by unknowingly fulfilling the same bargain with Zeroni's descendant Hector, aka "Zero".
  • Jane Eyre: A Romani fortune teller visits the estate at one point, and Jane has her fortune told. The fortune teller winds up being Rochester in disguise.
  • Kushiel's Legacy: The fantasy Alternate History setting's version of the Roma are the Tsingani people, some of whom have the gift of dromonde, which lets them speak prophecy and see into the past. There is some In-Universe lore behind it: According to legend, the Tsingani were cursed to wander the earth for refusing hospitality to an Angel Unaware, and Mother Earth granted the dromonde so that they could "see truer" next time.
  • In the science fiction Liaden Universe, the Bedel are a group of space travelers who are characterized as Gypsies In Space. They have a number of mystical-seeming abilities due to Magic from Technology. Also, one of the ways they make money is by doing fortune-telling for non-Bedel, but that's explicitly said to be a confidence trick; some of their elders do have a limited ability to see the future, but they wouldn't waste it on outsiders.
  • The Voyani of The Sun Sword series. They have distinctive magic of their own, which includes Seer abilities.
  • In the shared-universe Thieves' World, the ethnic group called the S'danzo are based on Gypsies. Many S'danzo women manifest genuine fortunetelling powers. It's implied in the novel Shadowspawn that these powers are divinely given, and those S'danzo who have the powers feel compelled to use them.
  • In Stephen King's Thinner the main character has the titular curse placed on him by a Romani woman's tribe after he escapes justice for running over and killing her. How many of them are magical is a bit unclear, whether only Lemke himself can cast magic, whether all the gypsies can, or it might be the Lemke bloodline—in the film, his granddaughter Gina is somehow able to hear a conversation between Billy and his partner staring out the window at his law firm from across the town square.
  • Villains by Necessity: The old Gypsy woman whom Kaylana consults with works as a fortune teller and uses a crystal ball to see the party's futures (admittedly vaguely).
  • A Widow in Waiting: The Warbirds are a caravan of Romani who all have magical powers (they recruited from the other clans to give those with powers a place to belong). They also play up the "mystical Romani" stereotype when dealing with outsiders as camouflage.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Subverted with Jenny Calendar of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She is of Romani descent; her Anglicized surname stands in for Kalderash, the Romani group she is from, but prefers technology and modern means over the old magic ways. It was her clan's magic that cursed Angel to have a soul, so when Angel manages to break the curse by having a moment of true happiness with Buffy, Jenny tries to find a solution. She tries to translate the old curse using technology so it can be used again, but Angelus finds out what she's doing and brutally snaps her neck.
  • The 10th Kingdom of course features a fortune teller and magic-using Romani tribe. Despite it being a fairy tale universe, their magic is shown to be dark and mysterious. They imprison magical talking birds to help in their spells so, when Virginia frees them, they punish her with a Gypsy Curse to get hair that never stops growing.
  • Charmed (1998) has an episode "The Eyes Have It" in which a Romani tribe is being hunted down by an enemy they defeated years ago. They're portrayed as having similar powers to the witches - of course with an emphasis on clairvoyancy. The ones with powers are referred to as Shuvanis - which is indeed a term for a wise woman in Romani culture.
  • Gets a somewhat unfortunate mention in the second episode of Constantine, where John says in passing, "There's nothing darker than Gypsy magic." Keep in mind this man regularly deals with Hell.
  • Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: Hetty investigates one who works as a medium. The woman turns out to be blackmailing her clients, although it's suggested she does have some real psychic powers.
  • The Romani characters on Peaky Blinders are generally considered (in-universe, at least) to have some degree of second sight. In the first season, for example, when the Lee family put a curse on a horse Tommy bought from them, he doesn't think twice before shooting it.
  • Highlander: Duncan flashes back to a fling he had with a young Romani woman. She gets angry with him and storms out for no apparent reason, though he soon get an explanation... she accidentally read his palm, which revealed that he would love many women, but marry none. Believing he was stringing her along when he did fully intend to marry her, her family forces Duncan to leave. Remembering this, Duncan asks Tessa, his current lover, to marry him. She doesn't survive the episode.
  • Janus. Deconstructed in a court case where a Romani woman is being prosecuted for fraud, and her magic powers are just a con game she runs on superstitious victims.
  • A Romani woman claims to have put a curse on Inspector Brackenreid in the Murdoch Mysteries episode "The Black Hand", although since this is the same conversation where she sarcastically calls herself "Queen of the Gypsies", she's probably just playing up to the stereotype.
  • Riverdale: Downplayed. Cheryl Blossom's grandmother Rose is revealed to be of Romani descent, and at point does a traditional ritual over Polly, who is pregnant with Jason's Blossom's child, with which she predicts Polly will give birth to twins. Alice Cooper denounces it as occultism, but everyone else treats it as just a tradition. She does turn out to be right, however, twins are quite common in the Blossom line.
  • In Rjost, Anna is quarter-Roma. Not only she knows her way around a Tarot deck, but also isn't really ever led astray by it.

  • In the song "Love Potion #9", the singer, who is "a flop with chicks", goes to a "gypsy" named Madame Ruth, who mixes him a vile potion over which she makes "a magic sign". When he drinks it, he starts "kissing everything in sight"—including the beat cop.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Ariel in WWE's version of ECW was introduced as a Romani fortune teller who was then bitten by Kevin Thorn to become a vampire.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Changeling: The Lost: "Grandma Mara" the elderly Fortune Teller and charm saleswoman deliberately dresses like a Roma stereotype when she sets up her tent. She's actually a True Fae who Exploits the stereotype to impress her marks, whom she manipulates with mind-reading and Fate magic.
  • Old World of Darkness:
    • In Vampire: The Masquerade, Clan Gangrel was said to be on fairly good terms with the Romani, who had some vaguely-alluded-to mystical powers. When they finally got a sourcebook expanding on them, it was unfortunately filled with incredibly racist stereotypes. Clan Ravnos is more or less "stereotypical pop culture Gypsy as vampire with illusion magic."
    • There was also a release called World of Darkness: Gypsies, a whole book on the Rom people and their long fight against the creatures of darkness, including their sensitivity to the spiritual and magic abilities. You could even make a "gypsy" character to play in game. It was one of the earliest World of Darkness releases and is very much considered an Old Shame.
  • Ravenloft: The Vistani are very much based on the portrayal of Romani in Gothic Horror novels (and the Universal and Hammer horror films they inspired). They're mysterious and alien to most citizens of The Land of Mists, and are able to traverse the famously-unnavigable realm with relative ease. Some of them are just ordinary nomadic folk making their way in the world. . . but some work for the various evil beings of the land, up to and including some Darklords. They're famed in-universe for the skill and accuracy of their Seersnote , they have a race-wide affinity for calling down curses, and all Vistani possess an ability called the "Evil Eye", which allows them to inflict a Charm Person effect (in two different levels of strength), supernatural fear, or potentially deadly paralysis with a look. The downside is that they must perpetually stay on the move or lose their powers, and they suffer bouts of insanity on the nights of the full moon. Recent releases of Ravenloft material have actively tried to distance the Vistani from some of the more offensive Romani stereotypes while showcasing more Vistani in an actively heroic role.
  • In Traveller, many of the "Gypsies" have psionic abilities, which would appear to be magic to those unfamiliar with psionics.
  • In Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, the Strigany are the nomadic descendants of the people of Strigos, an ancient human nation that was ruled by vampires. The fortune-telling Strigany mystics maintain the true history of their people, which happens to include some genuine necromantic lore.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed: Revelations somehow manages to both avert and exploit this trope at once. One of the sidequests involves a Romani woman who is having trouble with the guards because everyone thinks of her and her people as witches (which is not the case). Her solution? Take a expensive-looking chest and have Ezio poison everyone who goes after it to convince them that it's actually cursed. It works spectacularly.
  • Chains of Satinav: Subverted with Isida who claims to possess magical powers while actually using magnesium to create the illusion of fire boosting.
  • Romani magic features in two of the Last Half of Darkness games, and is very creepy, although also of aid to the player.
  • Zig-Zagged in Psychonauts. The Aquatos are a family of traveling Romani performers with a vocal contempt for psychics. Half of them are secretly psychic themselves, including the protagonist, Razputin. This does not make for a healthy family dynamic. Tensions only escalate when Razputin rejects the "Romani" part of his identity to embrace "Magical" half by running from his family circus to join the eponymous psychic spy organization.
    Frazie: We had to hightail it out into the woods because you're ashamed of being an Aquato!
    Razputin: I'll stop being ashamed of that, if you stop being ashamed of being psychic!
  • Rose from Street Fighter Alpha is an Italian Fortune Teller who was born from the good half of M. Bison's soul when he purged it from himself. She wields the "Soul Power", which is the good version of Bison's Psycho Power.
  • Ultima IV opens with you, the Featureless Protagonist, approaching a traveling fair and entering the fortuneteller's tent, where an "old gypsy" woman administers a Player Personality Quiz to you and then teleports you to the parallel world of Britannia (with your exact destination depending on the results of said quiz).
  • Wind Child Black has Alexia, who belongs to the Chergari tribe, has the ability to see the past and present in her dreams, has some skill as a thief and con artist, and can oddly enough use storm magic, something unusual for not only other Chergari, but for nearly anyone else in the world, save the Black Knight.
  • The protagonist of Vampire Legends: The Untold Story of Elizabeth Bathory is called a Finder for this reason.


    Web Original 
  • CatGhost: Elon and her mentor Malone traveled around Colonial America in a wagon, all the while practicing witch-craft. Elon's presence in Gideon, Beth, and Naarah's town brought fears of Romani activity along with it.

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):


Camila's intuition

[Italian dub]
Mary stumbles upon a Romani woman named Camila while wandering the wilderness. <br><br><br><br>Based on her horoscope and some other details, Camila accurately surmises that Mary is an orphan, and shows her how to find the Craven mansion again.

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