In the past in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 19th and half of the 20th century among the Bosniaks numerous strange cases of mysterious births were mentioned where pregnant women would give birth to strange creatures called by the people “Snijet” (Mola hydalidora). In the medical terminology we are talking about an abnormal product of conception in which the offspring doesn’t develop, instead it only proliferates the placenta’s embryonic tissue into a timorous formation which is called Mole by the medical profession. The belly of the pregnant woman would grow, imitating a normal pregnancy. Because the Mole is today regarded as a tumor it is natural that such a state is considered life threatening for the pregnant woman. Probably because of this most of Snijet were born during the first three months of the pregnancy.

Most ethological documents agree that the Snijet would leave the pregnant woman during the first three to four months of pregnancy, although some documents that are found in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina claim that the Snijet could be born after nine months of pregnancy. As soon as the pregnancy would prolong itself or get complicated in any way, the midwife would suspect a Snijet, because in such situations the woman would bleed much more than usual and it would take longer for her to recuperate. Even though it was considered a good deed to give birth to Snijet, it was usually killed with a broom and buried where horse manure was stored. According to the beliefs, a woman who would give birth to three Snijet’s would immediately, after her death, go into heaven.
Midwife’s described the Snijet as a living being that needed to be killed as soon as possible. It had red hue and it was horrible. In the past, under the guise of Snijet a lot of criminal activities (infanticide) were committed, when a woman would want to get rid of her child that she got out of wed lock.

In certain ethnological documents Snijet was often connected to dragons. Namely, in Bosnia and Herzegovina it was believed that dragons could make love to a woman that was sleeping and as a result of that children that were born had dragon origins. Besides women, the dragons impregnated cows. In both cases the dragon child would fly off as soon as it was born in fear of human retribution. However, it would return every night while the woman was sleeping, to feed itself with the milk of its mother. Such women would claim that their breasts were empty in the morning which further sparked the belief that there was a mysterious birth. According to written testimony of such women, they claim that their pregnancy was normal and had all the accompanying symbols of a pregnancy, until after nine months the woman would wake up one morning with an empty belly and her child missing. Such a case would automatically be considered a Snijet or worse a dragon birth and such a case would immediately become a taboo and people avoided talking about it. People thought this appropriate because they didn’t want to incur the wrath of the dragons by talking about that event.

Bosnian people describe dragons as winged snakes that fly in the sky usually on days when rain fell during a sunny day. Among the Bosnian people the memory of dragons was relieved through one of its fiercest combatants for freedom and independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, captain Husein Gradaščević called Bosnian Dragon. Evidence that such beliefs are not only connected to the glorious past is the National soccer team which is nicknamed Dragons, because the dragon is a symbol of power, strength and freedom.


When a husband was aggressive and when he would abuse his wife, she would take a fist full of dust from a grave and while her husband was sleeping she would throw the dust on him. Besides this, women used to mix their menstrual blood with coffee. Even though the male’s extra marital affairs were tolerated to a degree because of the traditional upbringing, Bosnian females didn’t shy away from using magic to ward off their husbands from their lovers. Most wives were seeking help from local witches (Sihirbaza), which would heat a sowing needle in a secret ritual and then they would bend it in a way that the tip of the needle would go into the needle’s eye while pronouncing magical words. The bent needle was then carried home by the wife, and a favorable moment for its use was anticipated. When an unfaithful husband would leave to meet his lover, the wife would throw the needle after him which would then activate the spell. According to the statements of some women, who wish to stay anonymous, the magic worked and the husband would return home quickly often ill tempered. Besides this, the cheated wife should wash her bra and underpants and dry them on a nacre bush (Ruta graveoles) a few days in a row. It is believed that in this way the husband will lose his passion for the lover and he will return to his wife.

The spell with the needle aims at making the man impotent and to weaken his sexual power when he reaches his lover. To annul this negative effect the husband would often seek the help at a local witch or Imam. Some witches request the following from the impotent man: some water from three various springs, four leafed clover, nine different flowers from a meadow and a stickyweed (Galium aparine). All of the above mentioned ingredients are thrown into the water and the following words are uttered : “Ćuhum be quite Lehum fly…..” and the verse El-Fatiha is uttered three times. After that the impotent male washes his face with that water and drinks some of it. And then on a starry night he washes first his left hand and right foot and then the right hand and left foot. It is interesting to note that the man creates a five-pointed star: head, left arm, right leg, right arm and left leg. The five-pointed star in Bosnian health rituals plays a major role since it is considered to be a symbol of health and protection therefore we find it in almost all descriptions of ritual washings of the sick.


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