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    Mythological World of Bosnia and Herzegovina

    According to scientific definition, mythology is a science that studies stories of fantastic content whose heroes are various gods and goddesses, warriors, demons,etc. Seen through the eyes of modern psychology, mythology is a bond that binds the man of today with the past, shapes his identity and even his childhood. No matter the geographic location, culture or period every mythological story whether from a large civilization or a small one is based on a classic Pantheon or more commonly on a dualistic division of fantastical beings and spirits, where humans are in the centre. Today, mythology is present in large numbers of various publications, TV documentaries, art and history itself. Not even movie directors could resist its call and mythology is a constant theme of many films. Analyzing the legends and stories of a country one can discern a lot about the thinking and behaviour patterns of a given people. Mainly in most of the mythological stories we find a classic fear in humans of disease, death and evil, constant need of upholding the cult of the hero and warrior, love towards his country, family, individual, etc. Besides this, mythological characters represent intractable human imagination, ability to weather the hard times as best as one can, or creation of an authentic identity for a people or a country.

    Mythology of Bosnia and Herzegovina abounds with various external influences because of its geographical position but also its turbulent history which shaped the Bosnian spirit and imagination. In Bosnia both the East and West always manifested which is clearly evident through mythology where we come across interesting elements of  both eastern and western beliefs. With the above mentioned in mind, the mythology of Bosnia and Herzegovina can be best understood if it is divided into three groups of influence which were the keys to its creation:

      The old Slavic beliefs (Europe) Bosnian beliefs (Bogumil) Oriental beliefs (Iran, Turkey)

    Slavic pagan beliefs were preserved in legends about demons of diseases and generally in negative creatures like vampires (Lampir), Mora (Nightmare), Witch (Sihirbaza), Plague, Cholera, etc. Remnants of the old Bosnian beliefs of the Bogumil also remained especially in the beliefs about Did Adža, Black bull, mysterious bird Plačo, etc. The vast number of Oriental beliefs that were brought to Bosnia by the Ottomans originate directly from Iran. By that we mean first and foremost on the belief about angels (Melek), Faeries (Periler), visiting burial grounds (Dobri), etc.



    Bik Garonja (Black Bull)

    Old Bosniaks believed that the Earth rests on the back of a giant black bull. When the bull moves his earthen an earthquake takes place somewhere in the world, and on the day when the bull shudders the whole world will come to an end (Judgement day). The tumult that is heard during the earthquake is believed to be the bulls bellow.


    In the past it was believed that stuhe or zduhači were male witches. They possessed magical powers and they were clairvoyant. They usually helped people by performing various miracles and protecting some place from ill weather. They usually moved at night. Amongst the people there are a lot of tales about fights between stuha when there was a fight between the good ones and the bad ones. The most famous zduhači in Bosnia and Herzegovina were Mato Glušac and Suljo Aganović from Foča.

    Faeries or Vile

    Faeries are young beautiful women with long golden hair. They have supernatural beauty and a soothing voice. They live inside forests and around lakes, they fly around trees and they like to dance in circles on the green grass. During that occasion they usually sing one of their many songs whose words worn people about some danger (Ne zovi oca imenom, Ne udaraj konja povodcem, Ne tari nogu od nogu, Ne čini sebi sihira). There’s a belief amongst the people that a child who feeds a fairy with his milk will become a great hero, this is best illustrated by the legend of Mujo Hrnjica. If people hurt the fairy in any way, it will immediately take revenge by making the human psychologically disturbed. Fairies were afraid of mothers, especially in the past. According to a Turkish folklore which found its place amongst the Bosnian people, in the past humans stole the first child of a fairy and ever since then the fairies seek revenge by stealing human children or by exchanging a human child for its own. For this reason Bosnian women would place a metal object, most often a spoon, near baby’s feet inside the crib, when they had to leave the house or when they had to do some chores. In Bosnia and Herzegovina the most famous fairies are Bosanska vila, Gorska vila, and the queen fairy Zlatna. It was believed that Zlatna was the mistress of the forest and the water. Legend has it that every night, Zlatna, accompanied by other fairies, went to the river to take a bath and after that they would dance and sing throughout the night on a nearby hillside. Bosnians believe that only those of pure spirit and a clear heart can see fairies in their sleep.


    Besides female fairies it is believed that there are male fairies amongst these mythological creatures. The most famous male fairy is Ušušur. According to a legend from Doboj, Ušušur fell in love with a girl, who married another man. Desperate and furious, Ušušur used his magical powers to drown the girl in a river. Comprehending the gravity of his actions, he threw himself in the river after the girl but he couldn’t drown himself because he was immortal. Because of this incident he decided to punish himself and he chained himself to the bottom of the river, which became his home. Ušušur is described by the people as green man, ragged and covered in moss.

    Dragons or Zmajevi

    In the past Bosniaks believed in dragons, they described them as giant snakes with wings that were able to live both in the sky and on the land. It can be concluded from the folklore that dragons were males, there was no mention of a female dragon, and the dragons fulfilled their desire for offspring with human woman and animals, especially cows. According to folklore if a dragon was attracted to a woman, he would come to her room at night or wait for her somewhere outside, on a meadow, and he would use his magical powers to put her in atrance like state. After the intercourse the dragon would fly away and the woman wouldn’t have any recollection of the incident. Fatima K. from Bosanski Novi claimed that she gave birth to a dragon in 1974: “I gave birthinside the house, sometime after midnight,after half an hour of painful labour, out came a child in a white placenta and after a few moments it disappeared?!”. She claimed that she never saw the child again and therefore she concluded that she didn’t give birth to a “Snijet” but to a dragon. Another confirmation to this claim is that her breasts were full of milk in the evening, but when she woke up in the morning they were all drained. This occurred on a daily basis for a couple of months. Being afraid she told this to her neighbour, an old lady, who in turn told her that it was the dragon-child that came each night to feed himself with her breast milk. After some time the night visits ceased.



    Jinn or Džin

    Demonic creatures that have an aberrant form, which were created out of a flame. The Bosnian people describe the Jinn as small creatures with one eye and a tail. Each Jinn is limping. Even though they can take various human or animal forms they prefer to appear to humans in a form of a dark man (dark silhouette) whose face can never be seen. They also like to show themselves in a form of a black dog, a cat or a snake. It is believed that the Jinn are faithful servants but also masters of witches and wizards. When the Jinn want to seduce and subject someone to them, they dance a fiery circle and call out the name of the one they want. This usually happens when that person is sleeping. Jinn can dance a circle during the day but at that time in a whirlwind, that is why people avoid whirlwinds to this day. It is believed that as soon as the human utters: “In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful” and blows towards the whirlwind, that the whirlwind will disappear. A special group of Jinn by the name Al-Karisi attack women who have recently given birth, and babies in the first 40 days after the birth.

    Šejtani or Sheitan

    They are demonic creatures that are similar to the Jinn. They are less powerful than the Jinn, because when a Šejtan enters a human, the human starts enjoying vices, impurity, lies or theft; but when a Jinn enters a human being, then the person suffers mental illnesses. Šejtan are easily frightened and they run away from humans as soon as the following words are uttered: “In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful”. A Bosnian legend claims that that the Šejtan was present when the first man, Adam, was created. Namely, when God created the human body. He left it lifeless for three years. Each day the Šejtan would come and observe the human body and he would batter his fingers on the body. When he would reach the human’s head, he would batter it to and say: “This head won’t be empty”. At the passing of the third year God gave life to the human and it rose to life. God warned the human immediately about the Šejtan and told him not to speak to the first creature that approaches him and not to tell him his name. In the beginning Adem resisted the Šejtan’s advances, but after some time he gave in to the Šejtan’s blandishment and questions and he started a conversation with the Šejtan. The cunning Šejtan jumped on his left shoulder and exclaimed that he will remain there forever since they are now friends. As soon as God saw what had happened he sent an angel to land on to Adem’s right shoulder to stop the Šejtan from influencing the human to do evil all the time. In Bosnia against the Šejtan there is a saying: “Šejtanu nalet te bilo!”.

    Angels or Meleci

    It is believed among the people that there are two angels, one of them is blind and the other one is deaf, which are sent by God to stir up the clouds and the storm to places where God wishes to punish the people because of some sin. If the blind one hears the prayer from the mosque he will immediately redirect the clouds and save that place from the storms. It is further believed that the Šejtan wants to hinder him in his intent and that a fierce fight between them arises. According to the legends when the angel swings his sword towards the Šejtan a lightning flashes in the sky. When a baby is smiling it is believed that it has seen an angel. The angels are considered to be the protectors of babies because of the baby’s purity and impeccability. It is believed that babies are actually angels until the moment when they learn to speak because then they can utter the bad words along with the good ones and so they lose their gracious ability.

    Soul or Duša

    According to belief a man should never be woken abruptly because his soul leaves his body while he sleeps and travels around the world without any limitations. There is a similar belief amongst the Bosniaks about witches, they can also travel in the same manner with their physical bodies while they are asleep. When a witch falls asleep her soul exits through her mouth and wanders off to do evil to other humans. Her body then becomes blue and cold, her mouth stretches and her lips blacken. Before dawn her soul returns in a form of a bumblebee and enters her mouth at which moment she awakes abruptly from this mystic state. It is believed that the souls of children haven’t yet completely merged with the body and that their souls wander the world almost every time they fall asleep. Because of this reason mothers who want to move their child while it is sleeping, call the child by its name, or she lightly pulls its nose, wanting to alarm the soul about what is happening at that moment. Immediately the soul returns to the body. Otherwise, if the soul isn’t warned, it is believed that the child can get ill or have serious psychological consequences. Today in Bosnia and Herzegovina it is believedthat a dying man’s soul can not leave his body until his family and his neighbours “ne halale” (forgive him for his sins).



    Mora (Nightmare)

    Bosniaks believe that a Mora is a discarded or cheated girl which uses this form to get back at her boyfriend. In her invisible form she comes every night around midnight and suffocates the young man by sitting on his chest. The young man feels a large pressure on his chest, he sweats and has nightmares. He awakes in the morning pale and feels powerless. It is believed that every girl can turn into a Mora if she surrenders her soul to Iblis.

    How does one catch a girl-Mora? From the mosque one must bring a green belt used for tying down a deceased to the stretcher during a funeral. The one who is attacked by a Mora must go to bed holding the green belt in his right hand. He mustn’t fall asleep but only keep his eyes closed. Around midnight the Mora will appear and sit on his chest. At that moment the man needs to put the belt on himself and the Mora will become visible to the human eye. Caught in a trap the Mora will be scared and she will start to beg the man not to reveal her secret in return she must swear not to be a Mora any longer. That way she will lose her invisibility power and she will become a normal girl once again.

    Witch (or Naletnica, Sihirbaza)

    According to a Bosnian belief, girls become witches if they wish to cause someone harm, for example, to get revenge on her neighbour, her neighbour’s cattle or children. Witches drink children’s blood and they take away the milk from cows. While a Mora stops being a Mora as soon as she gets married, the same thing does not apply to witches. They don’t lose their title after marriage because they stepped on the Qur’an and they gave their souls to Iblis. The witch can turn into a large butterfly and enter any house she wants especially the one that has small children in it. When you notice such a butterfly in your house, you must catch it and burn one of its wings on a candle uttering: “Come back tomorrow, I will give you salt” and then let the butterfly out of your house. It is believed that the first woman that comes to that house to ask for some salt is a witch. If she is then told that she visited this house during the night in a form of a butterfly and that she is a witch it is believed that she looses all her demonic powers.


    An evil spirit of diseases which attacks the patient and burdens his psyche with various nightmares and horrible appearances.


    An evil spirit that caused a lot of anxiety and fear in the patient’s soul, so that the patient thought that all the evil of the spiritual world has entered him.


    An evil spirit that would poison the patient’s blood until he would finally die exhausted.


    An evil spirit that would drink the patient’s blood all night until it would completely drain the patient of his power.


    An evil spirit of hatred and disputes, he took away love and unity from people, and he made them fight one another.


    Are evil spirits that appear to people only at night in various forms, mostly as cats, rabbits, goats, dogs. It is believed that whoever sees a Prikaza he will get seriously ill or die in a short time.




    It is believed that these are the ghosts of dead Muslim soldiers who usually appear in the form of mysterious lights at abandoned cemeteries, ruins of old houses or military fortresses and even sometimes forests. It is believed that these soldiers were buried in Christian cemeteries and now they are wondering in search of a Muslim cemetery.

    Meknjača or Plačo

    Is the name of a mysterious bird that has never been seen but has been heard usually during eve time or at night. Its call can be compared to a child crying. The folk believe that it is a soul of a deceased child that has turned into a bird and that it is only heard when someone is about to die. It is also called drekavac.


    The belief about this mythological creature was brought over to Bosnia by the Ottoman Empire. Karanđoloz as it is believed can be found at night on lonely intersections, when it surprises a traveller by jumping on his back and riding him like a horse. Besides being very heavy, Karanđoloz has an awful smell and reeks, and in that way deepens the traveller’s misery and suffering. If the Karanđoloz asks the traveller “Am I heavy?” the answer mustn’t be affirmative or this being of the night will become even heavier. The Karanđoloz won’t stop torturing the man until dawn; when the roosters call is heard in the morning the demonic being will disappear. People used to protect themselves against the being by going around the house or a stable in circles holding a walnut in each hand and clapping one against the other they uttered: “Tučem kućnog dušmanina, štoberićet odnosi a musibet donosi!”. The famous writer Mehmed ‘Meša’ Selimović
    wrote about Karanđoloz.


    In Bosnia there is a legend about Šehidi (martyrs) and especially evlije, holy men, that they can help people even after they die and that’s why they are called Dobri. It is believed that dobri rise from their graves at night and they pray to God. Because of that belief people leave jugs (made out of copper) of water and clean towels inside mausoleumsin order for the Dobri to take ablution (religious cleansing). A large number of people who were in charge of taking care of the mausoleums (turbe) swore that a lot of the times they saw wet floor from the water and misplaced towels. That was usually interpreted as a Dobri rising during the night to take ablution and to pray to God.

    Did Adže

    Belief in this mythological being is characteristic for the south-western part of Bosnia, in Cazin-Velika Kladušato be more exact, where it is believed that he is a dwarf with a long white beard and black feet who rides a large white rooster. His name stems from the Bogomil name for priests- Did. According to the above mentioned it is clear that this creature is a Bogomil priest from the south-western parts of Bosnia whose name stuck through legends in Bosnia. Did Adže presents a mystical character who was used to scare children into submission. Although in legends Did Adže possesses powers of teleporting, he is the keeper of wisdom and an entrance in the underworld.


    In Bosnia vampires are called lampir, lapir, lampijer, vukodlak or vukozlačina. It was believed that if a cat crosses over a deceased man that he will become a lampir. Of course the effect would be cancelled out if the cat returns the same way it came. Because people were afraid that this would happen they would place a knife on dead man’s chest or they would spike a knife next to his head. There was also a custom where people would place a bowl of wheat or only three grains of wheat where the dead person was lying before he was buried, after the burial the wheat was given to a pauper. There were a lot of lampirs but the most famous ones were Meho from Glamoč, Pajo Tomić and a certain Korkut from Nevesinje. Bosnian witches were able to call forth the deadly power of the vukodlak by going to a graveyard and repeating the formula: “Adali Adato protect me” and then they would sit next to a grave keeping their eyes closed, and they would grab a handful of dirt and they would take it home. They would hold on to that dirt until one of their enemies would die and they would plant the dirt under the threshold of his house while the deceased is carried out of it. They did this because they wanted someone else dead from that household.


    After WWII in Bosnia rumours started spreading about scary apparitions which were called Prepasti. Usually they appeared on roads, meadows or next to rivers and creeks as obscure, black clouds, silhouette and whirlwinds that would go high into the clouds and sometimes they would turn into scary dark figures. Those supernatural apparitions were described by the people as distempered ghosts of dead soldiers because the places where they usually appeared were battlefields where large number of soldiers died during the war. Prepasti usually appeared in places where the soldiers lost one of their body parts, and according to belief they appeared to search for their lost limbs. Prepasti would disappear forever when the rain completely washes their blood from the soil and when plough furrows their bones into the ground.



    With the Prepasti, in the outskirts of my hometown there is a story of a boy who died during WWII. The story goes, one night the Germans were shelling the town and the little boy ran outside and hid in the outside toilet, after a while, a bomb hit the toilet and he died; he was crying the whole time he was there. My cousin told me that he has a friend who lives on the property where that boy lived and according to this friend, he can hear the boy cry every night.

    I was curious and asked if I could stay the night at that place, and his friend said it was ok. In the middle of the night, my cousin woke me up and we could hear the crying of a little boy, but we couldn't see anyone outside. It freaked me out ;D



    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.



    Great thread :)

    – a Bosniak living in Australia knows more about his Slavic heritage, than the homegrown ones, that should be aplauded.



    Well, both sides of my families are from rural areas and so are aware of such myths and even still believe in some myths such as the Duša.



    Alija Đerzelez

    Alija Đerzelez is an epic folk hero of the Bosniaks. His name is derived from Turkish word gürzi (mace) and means ‘warrior with the mace’. Some historians believed that epic figure of Alija Đerđelez was inspired by Ali Bey Mihaloglu, an Ottoman military commander in 15th century and the first sanjakbey of the Sanjak of Smederevo. According to Ottoman census of 1485 he was in charge for nahiya of Dobrun near Višegrad as his timar. There is a turbe (mausoleum) in village Gerzovo (near Mrkonjić Grad) which according to the legend is burial place of Alija Đerzelez. The first written record of epic figure Alija Đerzelez (in form of Ali beg) was a form of South Slavic epic and ballad poetry bugarštica The Marriage of Vuk the Dragon-Despot, recorded by Đuro Matei at the end of 17th or beginning of 18th century. In songs recorded in Erlangen Manuscript Alija Đerzelez is mentioned in form of Balibeg.

    Songs which emerged in South Slavic milieu were transmitted by bilingual singers to Albanian milieu. Alija Đerzelez from Bosnian songs had became Gjergj Elez Alia in Albanian song. He is one of many Muslim heroes of South Slavic poetry who exists also in Albanian poetry. Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina modeled the poetic image of Alija Đerzelez after the image of Christian Prince Marko Kraljević. According to the legend, Alija Đerzelez also has an epic horse (sometimes called Šarac, like horse of Prince Marko) and he is a good friend of fairies who help him when he is in danger. Legend says that he was killed during his prayer because he did not want to interrupt it although he was aware that he would be killed. One of the oldest houses in Sarajevo, The House of Alija Đerzelez, is named after Alija Đerzelez. There are also streets in several towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bihać, Gračanica, Zenica, etc) named after Alija Đerzelez.



    Bosnian Fortune-telling

    The desire to foretell the future is as old as mankind itself. The fear of the unknown and generally, man’s need to influence fate has led to various forms of fortune-telling which served to foretell the outcome of some disease, to find a thief, to find out the sex of the baby, to find out whether the year will be fruitful, to find out if a couple will get married, etc. According to the beliefs in Bosnia the ideal day for fortune-telling,especially with the help of beans or coffee, is Tuesday. This is because it is believed that Tuesday is the day of magic when each spell has a stronger effect and each fortune-telling is more accurate. To foretell the future using coffee, it is necessary to fulfil a few simple conditions. First, the coffee cannot be express coffee but “Bosnian coffee” so that the cup will contain a lot of sediment. The coffee should be drank hot and without sugar.

    When the coffee is finished, the person that wants its future foretold, places some money under the saucer and spins the cup three times clockwise and covers it with the saucer. After that one places his index finger from his right hand on the cup and in his mind he must make a wish or think about a specific person. The side of the cup from which the client drank is considered to be a representation of him, whilst the opposite side is considered to represent a person of the opposite sex. The bottom of the cup is a symbol of a home and all the symbols that are found on that part signify events inside the family. Before the fortune teller starts, he first checks the situation of the entire cup. If the space around the handle of the cup is empty and without any sediment, it is believed that the person is unhappy in love affairs or is in a bad financial situation. If the bottom of the cup is filled with sediment that signifies a period of prosperity while an empty bottom signifies a bad financial situation, a departure or a trip. Bosnian fortune tellers pay specific attention to interpretation of individual symbols and they connect them with other symbols in their vicinity. Of course, there are some other important symbols that every fortune teller pays specific attention to. If there happens to be three identical symbols inside the cup, then that signifies great pleasure. The following represents some interpretations that Bosnian fortune-tellers use during their fortune telling using coffee:

    • [li]Angel: joy, a wish coming true[/li]
      [li]Aeroplane: mail, news[/li]
      [li]Car: happiness[/li]
      [li]Bull: wealth, money[/li]
      [li]Old woman: sorrow, sickness[/li]
      [li]Numbers: 1-decision, 2-sickness, 3-date, 4-you must be patient, 5-worry…[/li]
      [li]Flowers: you are in an advantageous period[/li]
      [li]Pigeon: mail, news[/li]
      [li]Lizard: change, new beginning[/li]
      [li]Piano: you will receive an important message[/li]
      [li]Umbrella: you will meet an old love partner[/li]
      [li]Wolf: tears and sorrow because of jealousy[/li]
      [li]Moon: feast, a wish will come true[/li]
      [li]Bear: sickness[/li]
      [li]Mouse: beware of a theft[/li]
      [li]Knife: an end of a relationship or marriage[/li]
      [li]Eagle: an advantageous change or move[/li]
      [li]Frog: you will be a victim of someone’s scheme and intrigue[/li]
      [li]Dots: large dots in the cup always symbolise favourable news. Largedot on the bottom of the cup: pregnancy in the family[/li]
      [li]Pregnant woman: monetary gain, present[/li]
      [li]Horse: a victory in court or in sports[/li]
      [li]Chicken:others are slandering you[/li]
      [li]Pyramid: trouble with a court or the law[/li]
      [li]Dog: stable relationship or marriage, loyal friend[/li]
      [li]Ring: marriage[/li]
      [li]Heron: pregnancy[/li]
      [li]Fish: worry, disease[/li]
      [li]Letters: A-new beginning or a new job, T-stress, F-love…[/li]
      [li]Heart: the best symbol in love fortune telling. This is a sign of love. If the heart symbol is white then it signifies true feelings[/li]
      [li]Deer: an important conversation with your partner[/li]
      [li]Cat: a black cat is a symbol of hatred, someone doesn’t like you. Awhite cat warns you to be careful with blandishment and mellifluouswords[/li]
      [li]Bird: a symbol for news[/li]
      [li]Parrot: you will meet a person who speaks two languages or is astranger[/li]
      [li]Spider: be careful of your pride and stubbornness[/li]
      [li]Rifle or a gun: stress, anger[/li]
      [li]Dragon: you are prone to saving and keeping money[/li]
      [li]Snake: enemy, adversary in love[/li]
      [li]Rabbit: you are having problems sleeping[/li]
      [li]Squirrel: lack of confidence or bravery[/li]
      [li]Cross: argument, fight[/li]
      [li]Fox: be careful or lies and hoaxes[/li]
      [li]Glasses: you will meet a new person…[/li]

    At the end of every fortune telling the client presses his finger on the bottom of the cup and makes a wish so that the fortune teller can see if it will come true. The sediment that remains on the finger of a female client is placed under her tongue so that her man says her name often and that he thinks about her often.

    Fortune telling for marriage: When a girl comes to someone’s house for coffee for the first time, she needs to steal a lump of sugar in a manner that no one notices it, and then when she goes to sleep she should place that lump under her pillow. That night she will have a dream about the man that she will marry.



    Bosnian Fortune-telling (continued)

    Divination with beans (falanje u grah)
    The Bosniak women (fortune-teller or faladžinica) selects forty-one white grain beans, and divides them roughly into three heaps. She then takes four at a time from each heap, until only four or less remain in each. The remainder she also divides into three heaps, and again takes from each by  fours. Three more heaps are thus made, so that at last there are three rows of three piles in each. What is left she divides by four, and sees whether the remainder be one, two, three or four. The varying numbers and positions of the grains of beans can be explained by an experienced fortune-teller to the intense satisfaction or to the disappointment of the one who consults him.

    One of the most popular methods of fortune-telling in Bosnia and Herzegovina is certainly divination with beans. The origin of this technique comes from Turkey, where there is an equivalent method called “fasulya fali” or “kumalak fali”. Among the people there are stories that demised Hazrat Fatima secretly performed divination with beans, hiding it from her father Muhammad. On one occasion while Hazrat Fatima predicted the fate of her friend in the room suddenly entered Mohammed. Hazrat Fatima in shock and rush managed to hide under her dress only half of the beans, which were located infront her, therefore since then it is believed that in every divination lies half truth and half lie. It is interesting that one combination of divination is named after her name –“Hazrat Fatima fal”. It is acombination of 333, which represents happiness, marriage and the fulfilment of whish.

    In Bosnia, a person dealing with the divination in the beans is called “faladžija” or “faladžinica” if it is a female person. For divination in the beans fortune teller needs the red patch on which he or she lines up 41 grains of white beans. Before she starts placing the beans on thepatch she takes the beans into the right fist, places the fist close to her mouth and recites the prayer: “Rabbi yesir tu’asir, rabbi temmimbil-hayr” three times and then blows into her fist three times. Then she divides the beans into three smaller piles and from each takes the four seeds making a figure of three rows with nine beans pile where each individual pile can have 1, 2, 3 or 4 seed. The left vertical line represents a female person and the right male person. The vertical line in the middle is called the house or heart. In addition, females and males lines are divided into three symbols: the head, arms, legs and the line in the middle is divided on: the cushion, fireplace and doors. The method of divination in the bean is extremely broad and requires much effort and space for an explanation, however there are several shorter versions of divination which people mostly use to get the answer to a specific question.

    The group of 41 beads of white beans the fortune teller arranges three times: The first arrangement is for the past and it symbolizes childhood and youth. The second arrangement symbolizes the clients present and the middle of his life. The third arrangement symbolizes the future, and is treated as the most important part of the complete fortune telling. It symbolizes the latter part of someone’s life.

    The first row (A,B,C) is called “površina’ or “the surface”, and its characteristicis that it can only have an odd sum of numbers 5 or 9 beads, when compared to the second and third row. When there are five beads in the first row (212, 122, 221), and in the bottom that symbolizes time (or their) 5 groups each having four beads (or five hatmi) then that shows speed to the fortune teller, favourable progress of the situation, or as they like to say: “the beans go in yourfavour!”. The first row symbolizes intelligence, thinking patterns, thought processes,. and that’s why there is a “male” and “female” head inside and a “pillow”.

    The second row (D,E,F) represents emotion and the house. It can be said that the second and third row are connected while the first row is separate and independent. The one thing that most people don’t know is that only in the second and third row there can be for example a combination of infidelity, loss, moving, tears but also travel, gain, etc. The third row (G,H,I) is a symbol of the things that are outside or in front of the door. It is a symbol of movement and action which is confirmed by the male and female foot prints (or legs) and the “threshold”. The more beads there are on the threshold the more guests in the house or if there is only one beadon the threshold-the news will arrive inside the house, two beads “open door” that is the one whose fortune is foretold will travel or the like.

    Tehir or time symbolizes a specific period when a prophecy might come true, for example, if there are five groups that have four beads in the “time” row, that means that the foretold will come about soon, if there are four groups each having four beads then the client has to be patient because the prophecy will not come about soon, etc. Fortune telling of four groups each having four beads is called “hatma”. Besides this, each fortune teller with beans can foretell for three types of persons-girlfriend, wife, widow or boyfriend, husband, widower. For example, if a married person receives the “Hazrat Fatima fal” it is not interpreted as to the other groups. While to the other groups it foretells marriage, to the married ones it foretells divorce or the like.

    In simpler form of divination 38 grains of white beans is used a piece of bread, one coffee grain and a metal coin. Before deviation can begin a grain of bean is highlighted in red paint which will represent the person who asks the questions in the process of the divination. Then the fortune teller takes all beans into her hand and person who has come for the fortune telling raises the question she would like to have answered. After that fortune teller blows into her fist and throws the beans on the floor. With this is the first part of the divination is completed. After that the analysis of the position taken by a grain marked in red starts. If the grain fell nearer to the piece of bread it represents a symbol of happiness -the wish will be fulfilled, in love ones will marry, work will progress and etc. On the other hand if the red bean fell nearer to the coin, that person can expect the cash gains in near future. If the bean falls close to the grain of coffee it’s a bad sign, which represents trouble, tears, or at least unfortunate event. This sign also represents a negative answer to asked question.



    Folk Medicine

    People in Bosnia and Herzegovina always believed that one’s stomach (gastritis) can get dislocated from its natural position, what further on causes health problems. Stomach in humans can be dislocated in any of the following situations: hunger during hard work or a heavy burden; jumping or falling from a tree or some highness; nightmare or general stress, which is most common cause. It is important to say that stomach never dislocates because of nutrition/diet. When a human’s stomach (gastritis) dislocates, people in Bosnia say: “strunuo se” or suffering from stomach (gastritis). From the shifted gastritis patient feels severe pain in stomach, vomiting, decreased appetite and often being tortured by insomnia. Although the very method of treating gastritis is not that complicated and does not require particular knowledge, though there are some conditions to pursue and one of them is that the person (stravarka) have warm hands. The people of Bosnia believe that there are nine forms of “struna” that differs in colour. Blue string (plava struna) is considered to be the easiest form of the disease that is easily treated. Red string (crvena struna) caused by the stress, worrying, emotional problems; its manifested by weight loss, pallor and nausea. Black string (crna struna); women often suffer after childbirth, and men from carrying heavy burdens; it is manifested by sudden weight gain, abdominal distension, pain in the stomach and intestines. Stravarka pays full attention to diagnosis to which direction stomach (gastritis) dislocated, as, according to their believes, stomach can move/dislocate all the way up to the spine or legs. This is why the most important part of their treatments is massage.

    In order to find out whether the patient really suffers from that disease Stravarka touches patient’s skin located between thumb and forefinger. If, during such a diagnosis attempt she senses a small ball underneath her fingers/palms it is seen as a definite sign of the stomach (gastritis) disorder. Then, she starts massaging the patient up his/her arm all the way up to his/her shoulder until she “locates” stomach and bring it back to its place. There are several more methods of bringing gastritis back to its place using massage; stravarka puts a cup (in up-side-down position) onto a patient’s belly and massages patient from the hips to the navel. While she practices this routine she constantly chants the following magicwords: “Come Hazrat Fatima take your feather and remove from this patient all his/her pain, and return his/her gastritis in place!”. Then she, using a scarf or bigger piece of cloth, wraps up a cup around patient’s stomach and leaves the patient to lie down in that position for half an hour or until the patient gets well. After the treatment patient is recommended to follow a strict regime of diet for the next seven days; to eat only cooked food, fruits and vegetables and avoid meet, greasy meals, canned salads, fried eggsand so on.

    Lead’s melting has been a very much spread practice of treating fear and other negative impact; in the past of BiH. The original method was brought by Turkish people who brought it over, amongst other magic beliefs, after they conquered Balkan countries. That ritual can be performed by man or woman, but women perform it more often, as they used to, traditionally, care about their family’s health. Woman who does that ritual in Bosnia is called “stravarka“, and she is usually an older lady who has been passed through menopause. Stravarka, in the process, uses a few props; metal spoon, bowl for water, 3 or 4 pieces of lead and red towel or scarf. Ritual follows the strict religious pattern and therefore Stravarka, before she starts performs abdest (muslim religious washing). Stravarka, over the lead and bowl filled with water, pronounces some individual Quranic prayers, with El-Fatiha first Quranic chapter and El-ihlas 112. chapter dominating. When treating a frightened child, Stravarka first put little pieces of led through the gun barrel and then puts them in a spoon and melt in the fire. However, when treating her adult patients she holds a larger or several small pieces of lead in her hand and rotates them 3 times clockwise round around the patients head saying: Euzubilahirrahmanir rahim. While the lead is melting in fire, Stravarka, over the bowl with water, quietly speaks prayers and basmas magic words that seek the salvation of God and the health for a patient.

    Between the prayers she repeats the following words: “Dear HazartFatima, my dear mother tell your father Mohammed that the patient needs help day and night”. When she pronounces all the words and prayers due to which she normally experiences some harmless sensations like uncontrolled yawning or tearing eyes stravarka covers patient’s head with a cloth or red scarf (patient sits on a chair). Then, while holding the bowl of water in her left hand over the patient’s head she takes a right handed spoon with melted lead and quickly pours it into the water. On this occasion stravarka says; “lead to break and all evil to bounce from (name of patient)”. When pronouncing the magic words she looks out into a high mountain intending, in such a way, to positively affect the recovery of a patient. Namely, in BiH high landscapes such as mountains, are considered as symbols of happiness and good health; this is originating from the old Bosnian Sun-worshiping Cult. We, during this ritual, several times encounter the segments of those beliefs when stravarka 3 times moves in clockwise direction; following the path of the sun, when circling lead around the patients head or during her prayers’ chanting over the bowl of water that she, after every prayer, rotates in clockwise circle. After she throws dissolved lead in cold water, on which occasion leads form various shapes, Stravarka commences analyses of the obtained shapes what leads her to the cause of problem/disorder.

    If lead forms in a shape of a needle or number of them, Stravarka is convinced that the patient was a victim of an enormous shock of fright. Lead formed in a circle is a sign of a direct patient’s contact with the spiritual world of Jinns, on which occasion spirits harmed the patient. After Stravarka performed the analyses of the obtained forms of lead, she collects all the lead by the spoon and brings it back to fire in order to re-melt it. Then, she repeats the same ritual that has already been described above, with a difference in lead being melted in water this time over the patient’s stomach not head. When stage two is completed the last time Stravarka melts lead over the patient’s feet, what is the final/ending stage of the ritual. The sign of successful treatment is sought in the lead itself. Namely, so-called heart appears in the very lead (shape of a tear), what is a sign of all the evil being neutralized in the patient. The patient washes his face 3 times with the water lead was melted in 3 times, drinks a bit of it too, washes his/her hands up to his/her elbows and washes his/her legs up to his/her knees. The rest of the water is spilled under bush of rose.



    Evil Eye

    Modern man, though having a higher level of consciousness and living in a society much more developed than his ancestors, is still afraid of “evil eyes” more than all other diseases combined. The best evidenced for this is a belief in the nation that more people have died as a result of “evil eyes” than all diseases combined. Belief in the power of “evil eyes” was found even in ancient Persia (Iran), the culture for which it is assumed, based on the discovered historical sites, that is older than 7000 years, where she was embodied in the form of the female demon named Agas. Now days, there is no nation in the world where there is more or less expressed belief in the power of the human negative view, whether we talk about Hindu, Muslim, Christian or other religion. With the arrival of Turks and Islam in Bosnia, belief in the “evil eye” suddenly escalated, therefore in line with this whole series of rituals and beliefs about the protection and eliminating the negative effects of the “evileyes” were developed. “Evil eyes”, is a reflection of the negative energies of one’s soul (psyche) triggered by uncontrolled emotions such as jealousy or a great admiration. It is believed that every man has this power even those blind, because the spell is created with the help of views and words. It is believed that the green eyes are evil eyes, especially if that person is born under the sign of Scorpio. This category includes persons who cut their nails with scissors, etc.

    While the evil eyes are considered primarily children’s disease, since they are most affected, also adults are not immune to them especially the young, beautiful and successful ones. Spells are subject to pregnant women, patients, animals and etc. At least resistant to the spell are children especially in the first 40 days of their lives, therefore caring mother stick to the various prophylactic rituals of placing amulets, garlic, or list of nacre (Rute graveoles’) under the pillow or a piece of wood yew (Taxus baccata), or around his hands she ties the red thread on which is tied 40 knots and etc. For the purpose of prevention in Bosnia we usually can hear the word universal “mashallah” which is believed to be the strongest protection from all forms of evil eyes. When a child cries for no apparent reason and is restless, mother immediately suspects on the effect of the evil eye, especially if this happens after departure of guests from the house. In order to neutralize the effect of the evil eye mother pours some water into hers mouth but does not swallow the water and stands behind the door and looks into the angle between the door and the wall. While standing in that position she recites the prayer “Ikhlas” and then water from her mouth spills into her right hand and throw it over herleft shoulder and with her wet right hand wipes the child’s face. Once the power of evil eye has been neutralized, she ties around his hand red or silky thread for his “health”.



    Bosnian Magic (Sihir, Basme, Zapisi, Hamajlije)

    In a long tradition of magic practice in Bosnia & Herzegovina, particularly the practice of love magic, we encounter various aspects of beliefs in the power of spirits, planets, herbs, as well as blood, human secretion, and so on. Alongside it all, an influence of Slavic and oriental beliefs based on animalism is evident, what tells us about the ancient connection between human beings, nature and its forces. Only some persons used to practice magic throughout the centuries; those who were able of establishing contacts with the invisible entities. Sometimes, such communication was initiated by spiritual forces themselves and more often by human beings performing magic rituals. In Bosnia & Herzegovina, the most known ritual of establishing contact and alliance with the invisible forces is “sacrilege with the Koran”, in which man or woman denies their faith in God and accept devil as their master or partner. Such power was often desired by women aiming to be successful inlove magic practice. In order to acquire magical power and make an alliance with the world of demons (jinni), a girl involved in a dark ritual of initiation must get completely undressed/nude and step with both feet on Koran and say: “Iblis, I surrender to you my soul and I ask the following…” By such an act of sacrilege she gets in union with demons.

    The benefits of such a pact for a woman are numerous; a girl (witch) has the power of invisibility, or power to revenge who ever she wants to, or to cast love spells. Various magic rituals aiming to get jinni (spirits/demons) across prove that. One of them is performed by a girl during the night; right before she gets in bed, she knocks the walls saying: “I knocked the wall and 3 jinn’s popped out…”. Traditionally, every witch performs her magic right at the sunset time, although the whole night is adequate for all magic practices, particularly a night before some important holiday when various fortune telling practices are performed too. In that way, a night before Bajram, girls get outside, take a look to the brightest star at the sky and, being very focused, repeat for nine times: “Tell me star, who loves me, tell me is it the one I love too?” Immediately after this they go directly to bed and if they happen to dream about men they love that night; it is a proof that their love is mutual.

    The special attention in love magic Bosnian witches pay to a herb called milogled (asarum europaeum) for which they believe it possesses a power to stimulate erotic desires in a monotonic marriage and to fire up love in the heart of the wanted person. Milogled is picked up in the forest in ritual way at the sunset time, in a way that a herb is first encircled by a golden necklace and then pulled up from the soil, along with the root. Since this herb mainly has only two leaves, one is coated by honey and second with butter with magic words being chanted. After that one leaf is placed at one side of the entrance door of the house and second on the other side, in order to get loved person passing between them. The moment beloved person passes through the door; the leaves are to be immediately glued to each other and carried along for some period of time. If this magic is performed for the husband then the mentioned leaves are to be put in his pillow.

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