Gitanos and their heritage: Flamenco and Tarot



The Gitanos, the Spanish gypsies, are responsible for an important part of the legacy of Spanish music, the Flamenco, full of passion, mystery and total life encompassing. Duende!

Both the Gitanos and their art form, the Flamenco, are surrounded with mystery. Where do the Gitano's come from? Why does their art affect us like that? What exactly is duende? The Flamenco, but also the Tarot are good examples of what creates a mix of cultural influences and oral traditions.


The Gitanos are a strong and proud people, driven by a sense of freedom. Because they were forbidden to act and to join Gildes, they were forced to opt for professions such as musician, singer, dancer, but also as readers of the Tarot card.










Upon entering Spain, the Gitano's declared that they were from Egypt. Recent genetic research shows that around the year 500 they arrived from Egypt / Ethiopia on the Iberian peninsula. This is in contrast to other gypsy groups, such as the Roma, who from Eastern Europe, among others, reached France and the Netherlands and were called 'bohemians'.

The Gitanos passed on their history through song, dance, music and stories. As traveling people they enriched their own culture, influenced by the various cultures that they met on their way.

After their arrival on the Iberian peninsula, they maintained good relationships with the local population as a valued population group. The later kings had nothing against their presence. King Alfons V of Aragón (1396-1458), for example, gave Juan of Lower Egypt a free guidance stating that he "may travel with his numerous entourage through (our) territories". It also stated that they weren't beggars, but Egyptian nobles with property, including horses, gold and silver.

Later, inspired by religious influences and fear, the tendency arose to condemn and ban their traditions, palm reading, dancing and their predictive gifts through the Tarot game.

Their traditional values, however, despite this resistance, remained the same and honourable: the importance of the family bond, the clan and their sense of honour. In cities like Granada (Sacromonte) and Seville (Triana), the Gitanos lived in their own neighborhoods, next to the 'payos', as the civilian population was called.


The Flamenco, inspired by various cultures, is known and loved all over the world. Unesco placed Flamenco on the World Heritage list. As a traveling people, the Gitanos have always passed on their legend, for example through their music. Until the middle of the 20th century, many inhabitants of Andalusia were still illiterate. As an artistic expression Flamenco unites vocals ("cante"), dance ("baile") and music ("toque"). The technique is complex and has a link with mathematical knowledge and philosophy. In ancient times the Flamenco was danced to transmit stories, express emotions, and to express the connection within the group. Besides being an absolute art form, Flamenco is a discipline to express the soul and can be used to organize our emotional nature. In 2010, Unesco Flamenco was named one of the Masterpieces in which oral traditions and wisdoms are transferred. Flamenco is seen as a priceless art form because it leads us to the origin of humanity.

In a scientific research on Flamenco, on the basis of two mathematicians, computer scientists and a concert pianist, a link is revealed between the Flamenco rhythms and mathematical knowledge and philosophy. (El Comp as Flamenco: A Phylogenetic Analysis, published in: Proceedings of BRIDGES: Mathematical Connections in Art, Music and Science, Southwestern College) Kansas. In the specific research paper, the researchers studied the different flamenco styles and their origin as biologists determine the descent of different animal species.

Duende is an untranslatable and mystical Andalusian concept, it is about the special moment during the Flamenco performance, in which 'everything falls into place' and there is a very tangible connection between the performers and the audience. Such a duende can occur at any time; perhaps the term 'goose bump moment' is the closest.

Flamenco can be admired in many places. In so-called tablaos, flamenco dancers show their passion evening by night. But on the plazas in the cities spectators are also treated to flamenco every day. It is an art form fully integrated in society, which has also penetrated the major international theaters. A famous artist like Paco Peña is known for his beautiful Misa Flamenca.


According to oral traditions, the Tarot originated from ancient Atlantis. Together with the hexagrams of the ITjing the Tarot would have been one whole. All cosmic laws would therefore be contained in their symbolism. After the disintegration of Atlantis, the ITjing ended up in the East (China) and the Tarot in Nubia (Egypt), the area that used to belong to Ethiopia. According to the same cosmic laws these 'oracles' will ever come together again.



The large Arcana has a clear connection with the former Nubia / Ethiopia. Thus the word "Tarot" would mean "Royal Road" and come from the Egyptian "Tar" (way) and "Rosh" (king). There would be a "secret doctrine" underneath that is older than any other religion and would stem from the source of humanity.



"Tarot" would be another word for Toth, the Egyptian God of knowledge, wisdom, medicine, magic and writing. Toth, also known as Hermes Trismegistus, is the author of the oldest books of wisdom: The Hermetic writings, also known as Universal Laws.

Moses would have taken the Tarot cards from Egypt during the migration of the people of Israel to Palestine. Jewish sages concealed their kabbalistic wisdoms in the symbolism of the Tarot.


The word Tarot has a close relationship with the word Torah, the Hebrew word for "law." After the destruction of the library in Alexandria, a number of sages gathered in the Moroccan Fez to re-record the lost wisdom, this time within the symbolism and magic of the Tarot game. All this was done in the form of images to bridge the gap between different religions.


After studying these traditions, a common thread emerges: From Ethiopia at the time, the Tarot came with the people who travelled to the Iberian peninsula around 500 and were called the Gitano's. All wisdom, insights and knowledge from all possible religions and philosophies seem to be captured in the 22 maps of the Great Arcana.


The Gitanos have introduced the Tarot cards into Europe with their knowledge of magic and wisdom - handed down from generation to generation and influenced by different wisdom traditions.


It is a "public secret" that even large statesmen, world leaders and captains of industry are advised by well-known Tarot readers and astrologers.


'To be a gypsy is the most elementary, deepest, aristocratic of my country, in its own way the most representative and that which preserves the fire, the blood and the language of universal Andalusian truth.' (Federico García Lorca, 1898-1936)