by Caysie Gilbark, UCSD, Anthropology 10/09
Lynda Yracébûrû is a Gypsy healer focusing in the modality of Vas Pesh. Although she has not always had knowledge of her Romani past, she now treats many people with many different diseases and disorders using Romani healing methods. After her own personal struggles, she discovered her own inner power and how she was to use it to help people. In an attempt to understand the healer myself, I obtained an interview with her to gain knowledge of her past, present and future.
As I parked my car in the woody farm area of Escondido, California, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The area that Lynda’s farm is located in is its own different world from the busy city environment around it. It is quiet aside from the sounds of a breeze going through trees and a few people talking to the llamas in a pen to the right of my car. The earthy, farm surroundings made me nervous about interviewing Lynda at her home because I was out of my element. I managed to start my walk up to the front door. As I was making my way to ring the bell, I came across Lynda in the driveway where she told me she was going to take the trash out and would be return shortly. I waited and reviewed my notes until she returned. As she walked up to me, I extended my hand to shake hers and introduced myself. I was instantly flooded with a feeling of being at ease when she said to me that she was “a hug person” and asked my permission to give me a hug. After a firm and kind hug, we made our way up to the front of the house and she took me into a room in which the walls were all windows. Looking around you can see that the house is the home to a couple at one with nature. There are Native American artwork pieces and photographs all over the walls. Even though the house was filled with boxes for an impending move to New Mexico, it was obvious that it was not just a house –it was a home and I was very luckily accepted into it. Sitting down at her table, I looked at Lynda and realized she was not what I had envisioned when I read the word “Gypsy” on her website. In my opinion, there is a preconceived notion in our culture that Gypsies, or Romani people, are very eclectic and strange looking people who do nothing but travel from place to place doing art. They are almost seen as an outcast in society. What I was looking at, however, was a warm looking woman who looked like she could have been my next door neighbor. It seems that the word Gypsy has actually come to represent something that it does not necessarily mean. According to Smith (1997, 244), “The Romani Nation is, therefore, a political, cultural and social symbol (rather than a geographical construct) through which the world is divided into two spheres, the Gypsy and the non-Gypsy.” To me, this means that the Gypsy is anyone who comes from this background or takes part in the culture’s behaviors of being nomadic or leading a life that, to us, is considered unconventional. Being Gypsy – Rom – is more than just moving from place to place. It is a culture and a lifestyle that has evolved over time to include people who, just like Lynda, are mostly sedentary