Gypsy Lee talks about his mystical life
Lee Petulengro probably knows more about you than you do yourself.
I meet Lee, Gypsy clairvoyant, psychic and medium, at his stall, Mystic, at Cardiff’s Central Market. It’s a tiny enclosed space, blocked off from the commercial activity outside by heavy red velvet curtains. Figurines of the saints are arranged on two small tables lit by candles, the only other light coming from a lamp on the small round table where he practises palmistry, tarot and astrology.
“I don’t allow the clients to talk, I do all the talking. I’m psychic, I don’t need to ask questions. I pick up on it all as soon as they come inside.”
“The majority of people come to me with a problem”, he says. “It can be various things, from love to money problems, health problems, family problems. A lot of people just come to contact the deceased.”
A rich heritage
Aged 33, he lives, with his wife and five children, in a tight-knit Roma community. “We keep to our cultures of death and life,” he says. “We only marry within our own culture as well. Some do marry out, but then they lose trust of the community, the respect of the community.” He comes from a line of gypsy fortune tellers. His great grandfather was Xavier Petulengro, “King of the Gypsies,” who came to Britain from Romania and frequently broadcast on BBC radio in the 1930s and 40s, and wrote a number of books on palmistry and astrology.
Lee began learning his craft from a young age. “We’re taught it from childhood. We encourage it,” he says. “We cook coffee in a pot, and read what’s left in the cup, you know. Very similar to what English people do with tea leaves,” he says.
Only so much can be learned, however. “Astrology is a science of the occult, palmistry is a science of the occult as well, so they’re all sciences which are taught,” Lee says. “But then you’ve got the intuition or sixth sense, the sense all related to the person.”
Does he see ghosts? “I might actually feel a spirit, I might hear a spirit, and see spiritual symbols,” he says. “We believe, as gypsies, that spirits communicate in a symbolic language. For example, if I’m talking to a client and for some reason I see a pink cloth on the table, the spirit is telling me they’ve lost a child, it’s a girl they’ve lost. They work in symbols, more than actually showing themselves to you.”
How do people react to the readings he gives, I ask him. “Most people go away upset, because they don’t like to face the truth and it’s emotional for them,” he says. It seems that for some people, consulting the spirit world can become an addiction. “A lot of people, even when they go away upset, when they didn’t like what they heard, they always return when they come right.”
A misunderstood craft
I ask Lee if he can tell his own future. “I do astrology for myself, of course. And I see all the parts that are going to affect me. Before I do anything I look at the chart, to see where the moon is,” he says, and goes on to relate how he accurately predicted the date of his father-in-law’s death.
There’s a misconception, Lee says, that what he does is witchcraft. He is in fact a practising Catholic, and he tells me that he distances himself from the dark arts.
“I know black magic does exist, and evil spirits. I believe very strongly. And I believe that people can put the evil eye on you as well, that’s why I have so much protection, you see,” he says, gesturing to the saints figurines next to him. “The curses are very powerful”, he says, crossing himself. “All round it goes on. You’ve got a lot of people into secret societies that wish harm on people.”
Rising above the fakery
Business, he says, is good. “I have a lot of Asian clients; they’re very much into astrology and numerology,” he says. Lee also writes for a number of magazines both here and abroad.
There are, Lee admits, a number of people in the business who try to exploit people’s beliefs. I mention the recent case of Sally Morgan, a psychic who, it was reported by several newspapers, was fed information about audience members during a live show.
“Unfortunately some mediums are fake, and they do work on body language and they ask questions and they fish around, you know,” he says, adding that he looks down on such people for the damage they do to his profession. “People are quick to judge and condemn,” he says.