Bosnian magic

Mystical Bosnia and Herzegovina


Snake - girl

There is an interesting legend among people from Velika Kladuša about a buried treasure in the settlement of Rudnik, which is allegedly guarded for centuries by an immortal giant snake. This legend begins like this: during the time of the Roman occupation of the Illyricum in the area of today’s Velika Kladuša a Japodean family lived there – a father with seven sons and a daughter. Their lives were full of everyday chores and work until one day out of wrath and boredom the brothers placed a piece of bread on a large stone and they competed who will be the first to hit it with a spear. Horrified by this sacrilege the father tried to reason with them not to do it, but young and willing to prove themselves, the son’s didn’t listen to him, until the moment something happened which scared them – blood started to flow from the bread. Seeing this, the father wept in a desperate voice, holding his head and gazing towards the sky:

-You spilled blood! The Gods will curse you and punish for your craziness, the scared, poor man repeated.

Not long after that incident the weeping father died and the son’s one by one left the home without a trace. The only one that was in the deserted house was the daughter, since she couldn’t find the strength to leave the graves of her parents. In her sorrow and loneliness the wrath of gods hit her though she was innocent, and she was turned into a giant snake. In that form she was given a task to guard their gold and precious stones in a deep hole in the ground, until the moment someone strong and brave appears and stands in front of her and allows her to kiss him in the forehead, between the eyes.

A lot of time has passed since then, a lot of centuries, but the memory of the curse of the Illyrian gods and the large snake-girl, guardian of the unseen treasure, stayed in the legend which the old people from Kladuša transferred from one generation to the next to the young, warning them to respect the bread which feeds them. The legend in long winter nights woke up a desire among the young to be brave enough to stand in front of the giant snake, so that she may kiss them, which means that they would be immensely rich and that they would get a loving wife Every spring around the Mijene (May 6th) the giant snake-girl would exit at dawn from the depths of the earth and she would wallow in a sad voice.

-Oh, help! Are there any males, Muslim or Christian, to come to me, to allow me to kiss him between the eyes so that I may be a wife or sister. I will give him all the gold!

Everyone knew about her lament but rare were those which dared to head towards her, they were never brave enough, and so through centuries the girl-snake had less and less hope that she will ever be free of the horrible curse.

Persuaded by a stravarka a poor lad decided to head to the snake, around a hundred years ago. He waited patiently for the phase and one night, before dawn, he headed towards Rudnik, threading carefully through the forest. During the road he consoled himself that poor as he is he has nothing to lose even if the plan goes wrong. Suddenly in the darkness he heard a sorrowful female voice how it pleadingly called for a brave human heart to come and save her. He carefully came to the place where he heard the voice and suddenly a silence befell him, he stood, scared waiting to see what would happen. Suddenly in the darkness two eyes shined and the head and entire body of the giant snake appeared, such that the human eye has never seen. Frozen out of fear the young man watched the giant snake approach him looking into his eyes. At the moment when the snake was close to his head his bravery gave up on him completely, he pushed her away and started running as far as his legs could take him. The snake looked at him sadly and uttered:

-May you suffer as I do, may you die when I cannot!

Uttering that curse she disappeared in the darkness, receding into its lair. Soon the boy died and no one knew of what. From that time no one heard that sad cry of the snake-girl.


Bosnia, Illyrians and tombstones – beginning of European civilization

Continuity of our people from the old days up to today was not in question, and it was part of the scientific discourse until the end of the XIX century. Therefore, up until that period everyone knew that south Slavs were actually Illyrians. However, after the Illyrian name, crest with a crescent moon and tri colour were banned by the emperors decree, by Germanic-Hungarian political decision the progeny of the ancient Illyrians were declared as Albanians, and south Slavs all of a sudden became “settlers from Carpathians”.

Ancient Illyrians

Since long we are aware that Bosnia and Herzegovina represents an ancient land with its tombstones, with its ancient people, which surprised Europe with its unexplored world once it was occupied by Austro-Hungary in 1878. For the first time, entire Europe was aware that on the territory of BiH there was a unique cult, anthropological and national space which possesses the most imposing and the oldest megalithic culture in whole of Europe. The occupying force did not like this, it actually presented them a large problem: size and hoariness of our culture made Western Europe inferior, and their civilizations mission absurd. This is why a systematic plan of twisting historical facts was put into place, which was an easy task taking into consideration the pretty bad military, economic, demographic but also educational condition of the people living in BiH at that time.

Map of Bosnia and Herzegovina - Stećci

The greatest historical lie which brought the greatest suffering in the Balkans is the one about the influx of Slavs to this area, this myth started with systematic destruction of the Illyrian people and their ancient culture. Slavs were therefore always unsophisticated and primitive people, and their name comes from the word “servant, slave”, these people in reality don’t have structures nor cultural achievements, and they were always to the “civilized” and colonial Europe a symbol of barbarism and primitivism, to which we can attest to today. Namely, when we would performs a poll across Italy, Germany, France or Britain on the topic of Slavs we could hear some pretty unpleasant comments and judgements, which is a result of traditional belief but also ranking of European peoples, civilized– western and primitive – eastern peoples.

Until the beginning of the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina the theory of the great immigration was not seriously considered until the ruin of the Illyrian movements happened, this is best described by the historian Bogoslav Šulek (1816-1895). According to him, first the immigrants were of the same birth as the Illyrians, and second they could not outnumber the Illyrian aboriginals which inhabited the entire Yugoslavian area, and even further than that. Dr. Tibor Živković (1966-2013) also confirmed that during the VI and VII century only a couple of thousand people migrated and not hundreds of thousands, this Serbian historian of the newer generation estimated that during that period the part of immigrated people among the aboriginals did not exceed 3%.

Croatian historian Dr. Neven Budak similarly concludes that the older historiography mistakenly believed that the ancient aboriginals were deported and exterminated in large numbers, with a minority staying in mountainous regions, coastal areas and islands. According to him, modern research in various areas proved that aboriginals survived in greater numbers than was previously presumed. Bosnian historian Đuro Besler also claims that 85% of the ancient inhabitants stayed. Vladimir Dvorniković in his Magnum opus “Characterology of Yugoslavs” recognises an “ancient Illyrian” in humans of the Dinaric karst.

Stećci – Illyrian tombstones

After inventing lies that Illyrians are actually Slavs another lie begins, it places the emergence of tombstones, the ancient monuments of the Illyrian culture, into the middle ages, since Western Europe cannot tolerate the fact that in BiH there is proof of the existence of the oldest culture on European soil. Implications of discovering tombstones in the XIX century is that the European roots and continuity of existence belongs to our culture, which is in fact very logical: whoever opened an ancient atlas knows that it is nowhere stated that the European culture was begotten in Berlin, London, Vienna or Paris. To prevent further political and geopolitical implications of this cognition, the truth had to be buried under the deposits of twisted narrative.

However, despite all frauds and historical rigging, gradually enlightenment in scientific circles began and extensive research of various archaeologists and experts confirm that the origin of tombstone dates back to the ancient time even prehistory. Thoughts about prehistoric origin of tombstones was shared by an Austrian geologist and researchers Heinrich Sterneck which as an Austro-Hungarian officer-geologist researched mineral wealth of Bosnia and Herzegovina and found various necropolis’ in the field. He thought that the tombstones most certainly belonged to the ancient times, since they were usually located on Illyrian piles or in their vicinity and that they’re old as the Illyrian burial mounds. The other researcher Alexandar Sapieha spoke about tombstones as very old monuments which resemble Egyptian and Parthian ones. German archaeologist George Wild had an interesting claim, namely the tombstones in Bosnia represent the old European cultural heritage, and that some symbols such as lilies (which are symbols on the Bosnian crest) stems from the ancient times, often as tombstones, that various types of crosses are pre-Christian and were known in the ancient culture, and Christianity adopted them at a later period, giving them Christian interpretation.

Yet, the best proof that tombstones were not built in the middle ages are the dimensions and weight of a large number of tombstones. There is no technological context which would place the practice of breaking off of 32 ton megaliths and their transportation of across great distances. Anyway, why would someone do such a thing, and not use such technology in building other structures. Kemal Čolak from Sarajevo calculated that for the construction of such a megalith which is located in Pavlovac near Sarajevo, one would need to break off a cuboid of 40 tons. A logical question can be posed, where would one find such a quarry, and what tools were used for such a purpose. It is especially interesting to mention that some locals claimed that the monument is located on the former training grounds of JNA, and that the army removed all other monuments from that location, but they didn’t have the necessary machinery to remove this one. What did the man from middle ages use to move it? With that, in the dark middle ages, times of wars, fratricide and crusades against Arian Christians, time of famine, poverty and survival, there was no time for erecting hundred thousand monuments, nor the time for laborious and long transportation and great embellishment of the monuments. Was it done in the middle ages, such a powerful and technically advanced civilization would easily fend off attackers and conquer entire Europe.

There are numerous arguments which testify that tombstones cannot be from the middle ages, though in the middle ages they were used, partially inscribed and ornamented. Here are some of them:

1. Official science until the end of the 19th century considered tombstones to be prehistoric monuments.

2. It was noted that the symbols on the monuments were tied to ancient civilizations, especially Egyptian and Parthian.

3. There are no known folk tales which speak of construction of monuments in the middle ages. However, there are numerous ones which place the process far in prehistory.

4. There are no inscriptions about the building of monuments amongst the ancient people from Dubrovnik, and it is known that the agents from Dubrovnik recorded anything which was of the smallest interest. Such inscriptions are not known in other archives of Dalmatia and Italy.

5. In heaps under the monuments we see a continuation of burials from the 20th century BCE up until the 20th century.

6. Tombs from the middle ages on necropolis’ are located near tombstones or underneath stone switches, i.e. smaller tombstones, which proves the continuity of burial from prehistory, but not their medieval origin.

7. From around 100 000 tombstones, and there were more, only 6000 of them are ornamented, and a smaller number contains various crosses which were pre-Christian and familiar in ancient times. Yet if we persist that they’re actually Christian symbols, we’re talking about a number which is smaller than 1%. The possibility of Christians avoiding cross symbols when ornamenting is simply absurd.

8. In the middle ages in Dalmatia, Bosnia and Serbia numerous wars were waged, mostly crusades against Arian Christians, during this time social-economic conditions were not ripe for erection of megalith necropolis.

9. Depiction of ancient pillars of a temple in numerous megalith monuments additionally confirms the pre-historical origin of tombstones.

10. Layers of humus on monuments which are today underground are between 30 and 80 cm, while on Roman monuments they are between 15 and 30 cm, which rather points to the Bronze age and not the Middle Ages.

11. That burial under tombstones and under a mound was a custom from the Bronze age is depicted through the verses from the Iliad and Odyssey in which burials of cremation remains are mentioned, bodies in a heap on which a tombstone was placed.

12. Tombstones are also mentioned in the Old Testament, which also points to the Bronze and Iron age.

Illyrian god Vidasus on stećak


Spells as arrows

Spells can be divided according to intensity – there are weak and strong spells. From the first the diseased person has transient symptoms such as yawning, headache, sudden passing of cold throughout the body. They usually influence the mood and appetite in children. Strong spells have a longer lasting and more pronounced activity; they can even cause death in smaller children while in adults they create “holes” in the aura, when we see a constant loss of energy, which is manifested in everyday life by sudden tiredness. In Islamic tradition a gaze of evil eyes is called strijelica (arrow), which is a suitable term. Spellbound or shot through person can be recognised by brown spots on the face, usually forehead, since evil, according to stravarke “always attacks the star”.

The only place on the human body which has immunity from spells is the backside according to folk belief. As soon as we are found in company of a person who is known to cast spells i.e. malicious, and if they laud us because of something, we should discretely touch our back side, whether by placing a hand or pinching the backside. Allegedly, it is a sure protection against spells. Similarly, in the south-western part of Bosnia (Velika Kladuša, Cazin, Bihać) certain women still today touch the child lightly, three times on the backside then on the face, while holding them, then they utter:

Whoever throws a spell onto this down here

may he throw a spell onto this up here!

Prophylactic motif of the backside, as a safe trump against spells, is used in this exorcist formula written down in Velika Kladuša:

Whoever casts a spell on you may he be inside the backside

may he stay there until barely matures,

with my basma and god’s will.

From all magical formulas in oral tradition, the healing ones from almost all peoples the formulas that are most widespread are exorcist basme against spells, which reveals to us a deep cultural fear from the destructive power of this supernatural apparition and its enormous geographical range.

One would often guess as to the state of the diseased, especially if a child fell ill. Dr. Stanko Sielski in his short work on the history of medicine called “How the folk healers cured the mentally ill and neurological patients”, notices that people would initially think it is fear based. Such a child could be recognised by “going to bed healthy and suddenly shouts – with a fixed gaze, fearfully looks to one side as if watching something, while shivering and jerking. This lasts for some time, then the child starts sweating from the excitement and droops and falls asleep. Only with soft words can it be calmed down a bit. People say that the disease is forced on the child, that the child is spellbound or scared of an apparition. Healing follows these principles.”

Allegedly the best cure against spells is an amulet of a Muslim priest but in the absence of it, a favourable substitute, is the ritual of coal extinguishing followed by an oral magic – bajanje.

Ancient belief in the magical power of words

Bajanje, a name which stems from the Turkish word bayamak – cast a spell with the intent of healing, it is based on exorcism, when with the help of poetic and often rhymed verses one wants to directly influence the spirit or spirits in order to free the body of the diseased. Bajanje is the integral part of shamanism and is usually performed by gifted persons. Namely, it is considered that some good spirits intervene in the magical education of a person or, more simply, they reveal to the chosen person ways in which it can penetrate into the world of ghosts and influence them directly. Usually during initiation they reveal which bajalice, rhymed vows they must utter in order to override the influence of evil spirits and to banish them from the human body. In combination with water, fire, herbs and special ritual gestures those persons succeed in suppressing evil and chasing it into “mračne havaje i puste haliluke” – eerie mythological place where havoc and infertility rule:

From nine spells and diseases on N eight,

from eight – seven,

from seven – six,

from six – five,

from five – four,

from four – three,

from three – two,

from two – one,

from one – none!

What stayed on the wing the fly takes away

into mračne havaje,

in puste haliluke;

where the rooster doesn’t crow,

the cat doesn’t meow,

where maša isn’t heard,

where the Jinn table is being set.

May there this namet wait for judgement day (kijamet),

with my formula and god’s will!

To find out if a child is spellbound, caring mothers would lick the child’s forehead or the temple or stroke it with fingers and then lick their finger and if they feel a sour, bitter or salty taste it is a certain sign that the child has been shot through or spellbound. Sometimes one would call a neighbour to perform this work and she licks the child’s skin between the eyes, and if she feels a salty taste, without a doubt the child is spellbound.

In that case one of the numerous exorcist formulas are repeated, such as this:

Bilobrk crosses the blue sea,

to dear god,

from dear god brings to N health and happiness,

and takes away začud and zazor,

veledalin amin.

Dr. Sielsk describes the way in which a stravarka performs a ritual of annulling evil eyes from a spellbound child. “In order to remove spells, coal is being extinguished. From fire, she takes out three coals and throws them into a wooden vessel with water. All the while uttering a prayer, she addresses the magical formula and blows three times (4) . If all three embers chirp, the spells will leave, if she doesn’t hear the sound, she repeats the extinguishing, prays further and gives water to the diseased which was used to extinguish the coals.”


Predaja iz Prozora

U prozorskom naselju Družinovići, smještenom na starom putu koji se penje prema Šćitu, nalazi se jedno od najstarijih mezarja u ovom dijelu naše domovine. Smješteno je nadomak mjesnog igrališta, u gustoj hrastovoj šumi. Put do nadgrobnih nišana je zarastao u korov i žbunje. Stariji mještani ga zovu "Rkaćko groblje".

Obilaze ga svi

Nije poznato ko je i kada u njemu pokopan, ali ostalo je vjerovanje u narodu kako ispod nadgrobnih spomenika leže kosti ljudi koji su, zbog ovozemaljskog dobra kojeg su činili, bili i ostali Bogu i narodu mili. Četiri nadgrobna spomenika su pravilno raspoređena, dok su ostali zbog fizičkog ili prirodnog utjecaja promjenili položaj. Među spomenicima na kojima su uklesani križevi, nalaze se i kameni biljezi koji imaju oblike stećaka i nišana, pa se pretpostavlja da je ovo groblje kao ukopno mjesto služilo u više vremenskih perioda, a najsigurnije od ranog srednjeg vijeka do dolaska Osmanlija na naše prostore.

Uslišene molitve

Narodne predaje su jedini putokaz događanja u dalekoj prošlosti. Usmenom predajom s koljena na koljeno prenosio se spomen i na ovo mezarje. Kroz povijest ovo mjesto su redovno hodočastili narodi svih nacionalnosti.

Katolici su plaćali misu za pokojnike i vjerovalo se kako bi se molitve i nade uslišile. Muslimani su učili dove za duše mrtvih vjerujući kako su bili evlije, ali jedno je sasvim sigurno da je ovo mjesto imalo svoju religijsku posebnost u životu ovdašnjeg naroda.

Ljudi svih vjeroispovijesti; katolici, muslimani, pravoslavci, ovo "sviti misto" pohodili su zbog različitih zdravstvenih problema, pripisujući mu nadnaravnu iscjeliteljsku moć. Kazuje se kako se najčešće dolazilo zbog bolesti, ali i drugih životnih nedaća. Pripovijeda se kako su i majke dovodile svoju djecu ako ne bi bila poslušna, ali i nerotkinje koje su molile da postanu majke.

U našem vremenu ostala je zabilježena "pripovid" izvjesne Nevenke Jelić-Balta (balta ili sjekira na turskom jeziku), koja je kao djevojčica živjela nedaleko od groblja:

-"Moju tetku su zaboljele noge, maknut nije mogla, ni ustat, a onda se ona zavituje da će platiti misu za duše ukopane u groblju. Tako je i učinjeno. Dok su se vjernici iz crkve vratili kući teta je ustala na noge."

Zabilježena je i druga Nevenkina "pripovid":

-" Bio neki Zair, koji je također imao zdravstvenih problema; oči su ga bolile, i nije znao šta će i dođe mojoj tetki da moli na tom groblju za njega. Ona ti je hodočastila na groblje. I obilazilo bi se oko toga gajića u kojem su grobovi. Nakon par dana ide Zair ponovo i nosi punu kesu svačega, kafe, šećera da zafali. Kaže on teti: "Hvala ti moja tete, ja sam k'o nov!". Ona mu reče:" Bogu zafaljivaj sinko!".


Fatal power of spellbound eyes

In folk medicine in BiH all mental illnesses were called džanbola (from the Turkish word „džan“ – soul), and it would come through as a result of the detrimental activity of evil spirits – Jinn. Among the most difficult ailments were considered the ones caused by direct contact with demons („naletio na džinsko kolo – he came across a circle of Jinn“, „udario ga džinski vjetar – he got struck by demonic winds“ etc.), for example when a diseased would fall victim to specific mental states such as hysteria, paranoia, schizophrenia, epilepsy, etc.

According to Bosnian Imam/healers and stravarke a man can get seriously ill from fear, black magic, namet, nagaža, ograme, zgranila, letame (so called “džinski šamar-demonic slap” pareza facialis – Bell’s palsy) and spells. However, from all of the above, spells are considered to be the most widespread disease. Fear from the destructive power of a spellbound gaze is deeply embedded in the collective consciousness of many cultures in the world, whether primitive or developed societies, and among the Bosnian folk it is most evidently presented in the following statement: “As soon as he looks at you, he disrupts everything, you can’t curdle cheese nor douse a fire!”. As we have mentioned spells are common among people, far more than black magic, possessions or for example red wind. It appears always as a negative side effect when one has excessive emotions. Often, Imam/healers claim, it happens that parents cast a spell on their child, despite the great love they feel for the child, since “whatever a man does too much, it is not good nor healthy!”.

What is actually a spell and how does it work?

In his book “Power of thinking in scientific life”, William Walker states the following: “Science has confirmed the strength of spells by conditioning so called theory of magnetism. It is, actually, holding a strong inner desire with the help of the eyes, because of the ability of the eye not only to see but to feel as well, in this case, the final extreme ferocity of the gaze. As evidence to this, in a theatre or a place where people sit one behind the other, gaze into the back of someone’s head who is sitting in front of you. Persistently watching at the lower part of his nape wish inside of yourself, very hard, for him to turn around. Notice that the person will suddenly turn and look exactly at the place you were looking at him from. This exercise is shown as very successful among people which know each other, and less among people which are strangers. Similarly, it is more successful in women than in men, since women react better to such types of influence. The better you know a person the faster this will work.”

I am of the opinion that a spell, but also other paranormal appearances, have a direct connection with the astral body, our spiritual doppelganger who is also a link between the world of humans and spirits (1). What we call supernatural powers such as clairvoyance, telekinesis or spells are nothing more than the ability of our astral body which has the ability to penetrate into the higher spheres. Through the “third eye” i.e. as it is called in Bosnian occult practice – “star”, we are connected to the universe but also the spiritual world (see. “Illyrians – Europe’s greatest mystery”). From there we draw all our knowledge and information. But, since further explanation would take too much space and would somewhat distance us from our main topic it will suffice to say the following. According to some technical definitions the human body is nothing else than a collection of condensed energy, which has its own clearly determined way of acting. Every time when it comes to disruption of the normal flow of energy, primarily because of some overemphasized emotion, usually negative, our body accumulates that negative energy on some part of the body, where a disease then appears, or simply it “throws out” that excess energy in order to reset i.e. normalise. Which is somewhat identical to our physiological needs. If that expulsion of excess energy happens –visually through the eyes or orally through the mouth – at the moment when we are praising someone or when we envy someone, the energy will be automatically directed at “the target” and it will become spellbound. It is, also, an answer to the question – why do we get spellbound every time when someone lauds us or when someone openly or secretly envies us?

Hence, the power of spells is a native occurrence among all humans, it has nothing to do with specific character traits, sex, physical appearance or national affiliation. In folk belief there are sort of cultural animosities towards individual groups for which is then claimed that they have an evil gaze like the Roma people, but also elderly women, men without beards (ćosavi), bearded women, etc. (2). Actually, the symbol of evil amongst people were always those people which for some reason did not fit into the societal order or yet persons with lighter or more difficult physical deformities, whose appearance caused fear and prejudice, especially in rural areas.

Writing about spells, Leopold Gluck states that the belief in them is present among the entire Bosnian people, but, especially among the Bosniaks and Čifutima (name for Bosnian Jews), which claim that one can cast a spell “without looking” with only a word, and what is worse is that you can put a spell on yourself. When you laud someone because of his characteristics, physical or mental, when you are in awe of someone because of their animate or inanimate property, whether he heard it or not, you can put a spell on him. Even when you think of yourself as hard working, rich, you can put a spell on yourself. The above mentioned belief completely explains why dozens of prophylactic gestures appeared among these people whose sole purpose, during conversations whether important or unimportant, was to block or annul eventual spells by knocking on wood with the index finger or spitting to one side.


(1) Best informed about the definition of the body and the soul were our forefathers the Bogomils whose doctrine about the soul, representative of heavenly energy and physical body the personification of demonic force, clearly talks of the dualistic strength which creates life. Mission of every human is to achieve a balance of good and evil inside of himself, not allowing any of the forces to prevail. When that happens, and usually when weevil prevails, various evils occur among which are the influences of the evil eye.

(2) Traditional understanding which type of eyes can cast spells, i.e. their colour, is based on a very simple template. Namely, researching the available literature for acquisition of information which would help me in writing this modest work about folk medicine in BiH, I discovered that it primarily depends on geographic position and genetic structure of a people. A generally accepted thesis is that the evil eyes or spellbound eyes are determined on the colour of the iris which is least represented or is not present at all. Since there is a very small percentage of people with black irises among the Bosniaks, dark eyes especially combined with dark hair are considered to be evil. That’s why it is still today believed that one should beware dark eyes “since they can easily shoot through a person, to their heart and lead to death!” On the contrary, in Turkey, as well as in the entire Middle East, spellbound eyes are blue eyes and blonde hair.


When the gizzard is “moved” from its place

Strunjen želudac (Gastritis) If a person feels pain in his stomach right after eating then it is believed in Bosnia that his/her stomach has been moved out of its natural position, to the right or left side of the stomach. One determinant that the stomach has been moved is the pain under the ribs. The Bosniak women that treat such problems are called Želudarice. Before treating the ill they touch their right hand, the part between the index finger and the thumb, and if they feel a knot in form of a small pellet, then they are certain that there are problems with the stomach. That uncomfortable and painful experience can be caused by various factors but the most common are; if a hungry person lifts heavy weight, bad diet, stress, emotional problems, falling and hitting oneself, strong coughs, etc. Stomach problems can be treated with massages, vacuum or magic. All three methods warrant success.

When the gizzard is “moved” from its place

Due to suffered fear the gizzard can be “moved”. Among the people it is called “strunjeni želudac” and has all the symptoms which are classified in medicine under hernia on the gizzard or just hernia. The diseased gains weight suddenly, no matter what type of diet he uses, he is bloated, or loses weight drastically, he feels pain underneath its ribs, and if it happens that the person suffers this condition for a long time, according to stravarke, the person can die. Sometimes the diseased person has all the classic symptoms of a heart attack such as tingles in the hand or even strong pain.


Coffee beverage of destiny

Divination from a coffee cup is probably the best known mantic skill in the world. Even though ways of preparing coffee, worlds most favourite refreshing beverage, changed over centuries, residue is also less and less seen in our cups, human desire for decoding signs of destiny, especially divination with coffee, stayed unchanged since the Persian times, where this type of divination originated.

Since the time of the discovery of quahve (literal translation of this word is “refreshing”) bush in Yemen and Ethiopia many centuries ago, coffee became a pleasure for all layers of society. Because of its taste it inspired numerous devoted minds and a brilliant statement by Talleyrand, Napoleon’s minister, which read “coffee black as the devil, hot as hell, clear as an angel and sweet as love!”

Whether we call it kahva, kafa, coffee, kafe it is always a call for socialisation and discussion, and sometimes even a flirt. That’s why it’s positive social effect is undeniable. Similarly, without a warm cup of morning coffee many of us couldn’t literally open their eyes and start their day and as such it represents a beverage for awakening consciousness, cognition and strength to keep moving. With coffee many think of things that they need to do that day since it awakens concentration and gives strength to muscles.

Coffee is without a doubt a magical beverage and we shouldn’t be surprised that on the territory of today’s Iran decided to divine from the residue of coffee, especially since coffee had numerous effects on people. It is quite evident that this unknown diviner didn’t even suspect that with his imaginative inspiration he accidentally opened up a road to world fame to one of the most prominent divination methods.

With the advent of the Ottomans to the Balkans, drinking coffee became widespread and then a sudden interest for this divination method increased. Because of its availability divination with coffee became entertainment of idle women and girls who desired to reveal their luck in love.

Since the old days such diviners were called among the folk gledalice or faletarke. That divination with coffee residue is given full attention and effort is best proven by the ceremonial performance of coffee preparation, even before the main divination which occurs once the finished cup is turned upside down, the diviner would interpret the appearance of the foam, whether the coffee got spilt, etc. But, after drinking an unsweetened cup of coffee the atmosphere would become tense and people would wait anxiously for the diviner to take the cup in her hand and begin her presentation.

Sugar cube for better interpretation

Ritual of designating a coffee cup in Bosnia works as follows; let’s say that the client’s name is Melina. After drinking coffee, the diviner takes the coffee cup and asks the client what specifically she would like to know. Usually people would say what their burning issue is such as love issues, work, home or marital relationships, exams, trips, and the like. If we’re talking about love then the name of the loved person must be used. We’ll take for example that the man which interests Melina is called Edvin. Since she gathered the necessary info the diviner offers the cup to the client, so that the client can blow in it, then she turns the cup clockwise and says quietly;

Melina drinks this coffee and dedicates in the name of Hazrat Fatima and Hazrat Alija,

their din and iman,

god’s knowledge, and this cup,

to her destiny with Edvin.

If there is any it should be shown,

and if there is none let it be known!

For the readers which do not understand the meaning of the word din and iman the shortest explanation is the words faith and belief. This so called fal-basma (divination formula) is interesting because the words Hazrat Fatima and her husband Ali, daughter and son in law of prophet Muhammad are mentioned, in folk belief of Iran and Turkey to the two of them people ascribe divination capabilities with the help of beans and coffee.

The cup is then turned upside down on the small saucer and a sugar cube is placed on top of it. In the past there was a custom that the client before the divination process places a bank note underneath the saucer whit which he intends to pay the divination, to which it was usually said “to luck” i.e. for the cup to “open up” better. The money would be taken by the diviner before the process of divination started. After five minutes, which is quite enough for the spilled figures in the residue to take form and dry, the diviner turns the cup and places the sugar cube in her mouth or slowly breaks it and during the divination process places pieces of it on her tongue. It is not an accidental gesture, instead it has its logical and motivational sense. Namely, as sugar is usually a candy and favourably effects mood of people, it is evident that the diviner , with such an incentive be in a much better mood for divination.

Before the interpretation places which have special characteristics are clearly defined, this especially relates to the bottom of the cup which is called the “house” but also “heart”. Everything above the bottom, which is located on the walls of the cup, is characterised as “circle of destiny”, it begins from the handle and goes in circle, clockwise, ending at the starting point. Figures on the edge of the cup or close to it represent the present and those in the middle or at the bottom of the cup symbolises the future. The side which the client used to drink the coffee symbolises the sex, in this case female, and the one opposite male sex.

Traces of negative energy

Show of love, mutual feelings, engagement, marriage are those, they could be called as such, classic one such as heart, ring, sun, rose and the like. Besides, to all those which are interested in this divination skill, more or less are familiar with most of the symbols therefore I will use this opportunity and transfer some extraordinary interpretations of the cup according to some Bosnian coffee diviners. They’re extremely valuable, since they’re a result of empirical knowledge, and can help in detecting individual hidden motives and their consequences. Namely, it is known that with each mantic skill one can find out what is eventually behind an issue which is troubling a person. Their radius is pretty extensive; from the accidental contact with negative energy, where we can mention spellbound eyes, targeted evil (magic, chronic envy, curses) or even destructive influence of one’s own thoughts )mental blockade, fear, shock). All the mentioned forms influence a person in a different way, his physical and mental state, and with that his own destiny.

As a person which has been practicing esotery I’m inclined to warn you that towards the issue of possible negative influences you should approach carefully and before you conclude anything eliminate all possible causes. Or simply said, don’t judge hastily if in one divination (cup) you see some of the below mentioned symbols.

Repeat divination after three or more days and if you see an identical sign then you have little room to doubt.

Signs of negative influence

Collection of little dots on a plate can implicate that someone has placed dirt from a grave on your threshold.

Black cat implies presence of black magic. When that symbol is seen in a cup one should consider in detail what is located around it, in order to discover from whom or from which direction it is coming.

A figure of a bat reveals that you are a victim of love magic, you must inquire to whom do you feel attracted lately or towards whom you have undefined feelings.

Eye is a sign of a curse. Someone has placed a curse on you and you probably have symptoms: frequent yawning, you have headaches, you have sudden shivers or temperature fluctuations and the like. You should immediately talk to a person with blue eyes which eliminates evil so that such a person can remove the curse.

Knife is a warning sign and it is advising you to offer sacrificial animal (kurban) or give alms. This will help you to remove current or to protect yourself from recent adversity.

Rabbit is a symbol which points that you urgently need to saliti strahu (melting lead) and the best indicator is desperation and abrupt dreams – poor quality of sleep, insomnia.

The key is the sign of being blocked. When that sign is pronounced (large) in the cup then it reveals that everything you start will go with difficulties or you will find constant hurdles.

Spiders web reveals mental issues of a person or that she is currently located in a crisis of some sort.

Rock is a warning that a person (client) is suffering from depression, and even thought of suicide.

Arabic letter – when in the residue one spots one of the signs which unusually resemble an Arabic letter it is a sure sign that the client is under protection from a higher power, he is protected by angels or God himself.

You must turn the cup upside down because of curses

b In the end, Bosnian diviners recommend to turn the cup upside down as soon as the divination process is done since, allegedly, “it is not good” for someone to look at it from the side. – Someone can curse your cup and nothing will come to be, one of them reveals, Nisveta Č. from Velika Kladuša.


People of sealed fate or blocked luck

There have always been men and women who remained unmarried through their whole lives and among people are known under names: the old guy or old maid, a spinster, old girl, and so on. The reasons for such a fate are different and they are sometimes the result of poor living conditions, great childhood trauma, congenital frigidity, homosexual tendencies, sexual abuse, or even certain mental health problems.

But what about those who do not belong to any of the said groups and yet failed to make any serious relationship let alone the marriage? Bosnian people traditionally believe that only the person who wanted so remained alone, because when someone sincerely wants to have his/her suppose he/she is not so choosy. However, is that really so?

Before we get into analyzing the “sealed fate” we have to separate this unnatural phenomenon from today’s modern life trend, in which extremely poor economic situation and extremely unstable living environment results in an increased percentage of individuals who consciously choose not to marry or establish family. There, we cannot talk about “sealed fate” but only about personal will and decision.

The greatest enemy – love

Since ancient times there are stories among people that there are individuals with a “sealed fate” or luck. Despite the attractive appearance, eloquence, social status, a university education, family pedigree, material situatedness, or some other desirable condition these people do not have serious success in love ?! In short, for them - love is the greatest enemy.

It is likely that you yourself know such a person who has had dozens of unsuccessful relationships that have all ended in one way or another, comic or tragic, but always with the same result. With all the undertaken efforts or interest, very often their relationships "broke overnight" or their engagement and weddings were cancelled without an actual reason.

While in the last century early marriages were popular and parenthood was exercised already in the early twenties, this trend has, within relatively short period, moved forward for ten years, so it is now the most normal thing to enter into marriage and also to exercise motherhood in thirties. This is why young people in their thirties can no longer be considered as persons with “sealed fate”, but only those of older ages.

Accidental and intentional reasons

There are many people in this world for which parents have accidentally selected a name that does not match their destiny and as such is blocking their life happiness and energy. Sometimes the name is so negative that the child is constantly sick and poorly develops and as long as the name is not changed, it has neither health nor progress.

Wrongly selected name, according to the spiritual experts, magnetically attract dark forces and spells which then further complicate person’s destiny and makes him susceptible to all negativities and especially to “sealed happiness”.

This is why, in order to detect if a person is a victim of “sealed happiness” her name and name of one parent are being converted into a single-digit number – the answer. This information is crucial in order to undertake a ritual or make a talisman.

Besides, there are other predispositions to enter into this negative category. Namely, the people have always considered girls with lush hair and bright eyes as the most often victims of spells that blocked their luck and made them a lot of problems in emotional life.

It is wrong to believe that a person's "sealed fate" is the result of God's punishment (curse) because God neither hates nor punishes anyone, and even less he listens to human evil desires and requests. God is a pure Good and absolute Love and everything that happens to people is exclusively the result of human evil that manifests itself through negative thoughts, words and deeds - spells, curses and witchcraft.

What characterizes person of “sealed happiness" is a feeling of indifference or, as some of “stravarke” like to say: such a person sometimes feels "neither as a male or a female", no matter her actual sex. In addition, there is feeling of depression, anxiety, aggression, distraction. Very often, the symptoms tend to be physical so that a person often suffers from headache, has a sensation of suffocation in the chest, or has bloating stomach for no reason.

Seven ways of happiness

It should be noted that in the past girls were more affected by “sealed fate”, while today there is no difference between boys and girls. Therefore, there's probably a lot more ways to help the girl to unseal the happiness than for a man.

For a girl who has sealed destiny, in order to find her chosen one, a magical inscription (talisman or tilsum) for unsealing the fate has to be ordered. Girl who wears this inscription for 40 days will have her fait unsealed and thus shall be relieve from misfortune. However, the imperative is that the inscription has to be ordered by parents or one of the girl’s close relatives, because she should not know about it. Even when the desired result is achieved, the discretion about the origin and purpose of the record must be respected.

The person who is ordering inscription had to secretly take seven hairs from the girl of “sealed fate” and bring them to the one making the magical inscription, usually to Hodza (Mullah) or Dervish “of good reputation” – who is famous among the people for his power and skills. Each of the hair Mullah individually coats with wax and bent into the form of fork. When this is done with all the hairs, he wraps them into a paper on which is written a male name. Each paper he wraps into linoleum and then in a piece of green cloth that he ties. At the end the seven bundles have to be buried on seven different roads, and by that the first part of the ritual is completed.

After this, Mullah is looking at the stars and horoscope signs. He says a short prayer from the Quran and blew in the direction of the girl's house. Only then he starts with writing of the magical inscription for the unsealing of happiness. The one who ordered the inscription brings it to the girl and give her instruction to carry it around the neck, under the pretext that it is a lucky charm. The real purpose must not be discovered. It is important that after the marriage the girl continues to carry the inscription around the neck and that she is not allowed to open it and show it to her husband.

Very good result gives the ritual with the tread and the padlock, when a person is measured from head to foot. After the magic ritual was performed the tread is being put into the padlock and locked. The padlock is then given to a person of "sealed fate" who has to, on the night of the new moon, unlocked it on the river bank and throw it into the water.

Another good way to "unseal the fate" is the smelting of lead. Special exorcism formulas that are uttered over a bowl with water and smelting molten lead neutralize extremely detrimental effect of blocked luck. If among lead figures appear a figure in the form of angel, this is a sure sign that spells and rituals were successful.

By the allegations of stravarke (folk doctors), when unsealing the fate, it is always easier to help persons in their thirties than to those of the older ages.


Anastatica hierochuntica in Bosnian folklore

Anastatica hierochuntica is a plant which has been traditionally brought by pilgrims for centuries from Saudi Arabia into Bosnia, partially as an exotic souvenir, but mostly for the widespread belief that it can ease birth of any woman and save her from sudden complications, or even worse, death. Pilgrims besides these reasons brought the plant because of the belief that it will summon good fortune with the help of which they will collect debts from debtors, negotiate and conclude deals, but also soften the hearts of other people.

The peculiarity of this apparently dry plant is her longevity and ability to absorb water into its root, which spreads after the absorption or as people say – “opens up!”. As people explain the act when a brush spreads its twigs is actually a prayer (or duas) which the plant is directing to god, and old women have a habit of saying “amen!” when they see this phenomenon, wanting to help and obtain sevap – good deed.

It is still today believed that the house which houses this plant is happy and that in the long run it helps the influx of wellbeing.

Besides, among the folk there are rituals of invoking luck and chasing away evil, which are a combination of monotheism and pagan beliefs, which is a standard form of numerous folklore beliefs in BiH.

Although there are numerous beliefs which describe the act of spurring and invoking a happy birth, there exist among the people, though to a lesser extent, somewhat different rituals whose purpose is to free blocked positive energy or exorcism.

To ritually “programme” a plant i.e. sanctify and so make it suitable for magical use one must turn his face towards north, otherwise direction which in Bosnian magic is dedicated to curing, herbs but also faeries. You will need a wide but shallow vessel and special water. It is best to use rain water for the ritual, collected from rain which fell on a Thursday evening just before Friday. In the absence of it one can use water taken from a spring on a Friday which is located on an eastern side while the Imam is sounding the call to prayer.

While holding “Hazrat Fatima’s hand” in one’s own hands one must utter the prayer Ihlas three times and utter this formula:

I picked these herbs from the garden of hazrat Hawa,

with the hand of Hazrat Meryem,

with the fingers of Hazrat Fatimah,

from the barakah of three mothers,

Elif lam mim!

Then the person which is performing the ritual turns towards east, places the bush into the bowl and above “Fatima’s hand” utters three times:

Tiri tiri tiri hand spread,

accept god’s bereket (barakah),

topple evil from me,

open up my fortune!

Somewhat mysterious word “tiri” actually steams from the name of the ancient Persian goddess of rain and fertility Tir, whose cult can be found in traces in Bosnia, especially the female term Tirinica. With this short formula one is invoking Tir, i.e. water element, in order to “open” the root of the brush under his influence.

When the “hand of Hazrat Fatima” opens up after spending a short time in the water, then one utters a certain prayer above it. If one is seeking help for easing a birth then one utters above the plant prayer Meryem three times. If one wants to neutralise evil, one must utter three times prayer Kursi and for opening up good fortune three times prayer Vakia. Water is sprinkled on the woman giving birth, on corners of the house, if one is chasing away evil from it, or in the case of opening up luck an unlucky person sprinkles its own belly button and washes its face with the water for the next three days.

After the use of the hand of Hazrat Fatima one needs to dry it in the sun or keep it in the shade or even a clean vessel with a lid. If it is kept in such a manner it can last for years and used over and over again.


Folk medicine – curing faery disease

According to old Bosnian belief, faeries when angry and vengeful, if someone hurts them on purpose or accidentally, can hit people with their arrows; so called “heavenly arrows”, which cause people to be sick.

When someone has a sudden headache, pain in the leg, arm sleeps poorly and has puncturing pain in the body, it is believed that he has been pierced by faeries. Help is sought from stravarka, which melts lead for the person and utters with a low voice:

Nine faeries flew,

from nine clouds,

from nine mountains,

from nine forests,

from nine seas, from nine meadows,

from nine crossroads,

from nine streams,

from nine rocks,

from nine rue plants,

they sang along the way,

danced in circles,

their path crossed by Ahmed*,

he angered the faeries.

They hit him with their arrows in the head,

in the heart, in the legs,

they floored him completely,

Ahmed got sick.

Ahmed yelled: “Help me Mujo, help me Halil,

I’m shot by faeries!”

When the faeries heard this,

each of them took out their arrow out of fear,

Ahmed was cured.

Out of nine faeries and arrows,

with my formula and god’s will,

only eight remained on Ahmed,

out of eight only seven remained,

out of seven only six remained,

out of six only five remained,

out of five only four remained,

out of four only three remained,

out of three only two remained,

out of two only one remained,

out of one none remained.

By my hand, formula and lead – good deed,

and from god salvation, peace and cure, amen!

*or however the diseased is called.

Lead is being poured three times: above the head, chest and legs. It is poured until in the molten lead, at the bottom of the vessel with water, one finds nine needles (thorn). In the first pouring above the head one can find one or two needles, then one observes how many will there be above the chest and legs. If there are a total of nine in the end or more the healing is finished. If they’re not located, then the procedure is repeated in three days. After nine or more needles, the diseased is cured. Those needles are thrown down the water or one by one is placed in nine holes in the ground. The diseased washes his face with the water, his arms and legs and drinks some water, the rest is poured on a nacre bush.


Magical herbs for a happier life

I will reveal a very powerful ritual of neutralising negative energy, purification and invocation of forces of good, which can improve your life in all regards. I need to thank a few stravarke, especially Fatima Dizdarević and Hasiba Ordagić for this ritual, which described in folk terms what they have been taught by their predecessors or mentors. Everything that they told me, I wrote down and will share with you in a modern version in this text, which will be another valuable contribution to everything that exists in Bosnian magic.

Nacre (Ruta graveolens)

While fresh the nacre has a natural characteristic to spread a prophylactic smell around. But, when dried the smell is not so intense it actually recedes in the plant, and that’s why it is necessary to place its leaves on hot coal, three or seven coals, so that it can transform into the element of air in combination with the fire; this way the possibility of fumigation of the house and all space inside of it with the goal of cleansing. It is especially desirable to fumigate the house before rain, so that one can open the windows during fumigation in order for the smoke to leave the room and combine with the moisture in the air, while it is raining or just before it rains. With that, this miraculous plant combines all four elements, but also sky and earth which purifies rooms and human bodies. Results of this magical ritual is creation of a kind of a vacuum and it is an ideal time to summon human aura and positive energy and forces into the house. Another shrub plant can help us with this, though it does not stem from our area.


Rue – plant which one nurtures better than a child

Sedefil, sedef or sedefat, also known as rue, Latin name Ruta graveolens, is the most famous plant in magical tradition of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its purpose is manifold, it is used to cleanse living space, repel parasites, and is used to clean the human body and spirit from negative thoughts and energy. Rue is a plant whose origins are from the Mediterranean region and it grows well in dry conditions. It naturally has an inclination towards sunlight. In BiH it is used for its peculiar fragrance as well as a fly and mosquito repellent and traditionally one stem is left inside a wardrobe. Among the Illyrians, Greeks and Romans rue was used for the expulsion of negative energy and for curing various health issues. Remnants of these ancient beliefs are present in folk medicine where, for example, it is claimed that rue successfully cures all heart ailments, etc. Even Shakespeare uses a peculiar name for sedefil “holly plant of the Sunday” because of the ritual practice that its stem is dipped in water and is used to spray people with water who were believed to be possessed by evil spirits. Curiously, when it comes to this plant, certain Mediterranean cultures it is profusely used in cooking because its leaves are rich in vitamin C. In Bosnia and Croatia, sedefil is added to schnapps, in order to get a cure for better digestion.


Plant against disease and evil

Sedefil is from the family Rutaceae, it is rich in silicic acid, alkaloids, flavonoids, phenol and numerous other substances which are used in pharmacy. With all of these benefits, sedefil is used when one gets poisoned by henbane, it is also a great remedy for bad breath. In natural healing sedefil is used to help the kidneys, bladder, intestines and inside of the ear. It can also be used for eye infections, constipation, sciatica, asthma, headaches, dermatitis and stroke. However, one needs to be careful when using rue and use it in appropriate doses, since if one overdoses a completely opposite effect is achieved. Pregnant women and those women which want to get pregnant should avoid consuming any part of this plant.

Besides its healing properties, rue possesses amazing power against evil, mostly because of its fragrance but also unusual appearance of the leaves which remind us of a human hand, i.e. five fingers. It was reason enough for it to receive a reputation as a plant against evil along the entire Mediterranean coast. That’s why in BiH rue is traditionally grown alongside a house, close to the entrance door, because of the old belief that in such a way, with its vicinity, it protects the home from spells, spirits and magic. A few leaves of this plant were usually placed under the pillow of children as a protection against spellbound eyes. Still today old women before autumn would gather the hard seed of rue and make so called “tespih” (beads) out of 33 beads, by using a needle and a string, they would tie it and place on a wall of a house, so that the beads would bring good luck into the house.

A faery fell asleep on a leaf of rue

In Bosnian mythology rue is a plant dedicated to good faeries. According to folk belief faeries love to sleep on the leaf of this plant because of its specific fragrance. It is probably corroborated by certain women’s love formulas, which are uttered while holding a stem of rue. In one of them, a girl which wants to be noticed wherever she shows up and with that have more suitors, would first bathe in order to wash away all the dirt from herself and then naked and wet, with her hair down, she takes a pre prepared stem of rue and a dish with warm water. First she pours some water in her mouth and holding it in her mouth, in her mind, she repeats the prayer Ihlas nine times. After that she spits the water out of her mouth back into the dish with warm water. Then she places the stem of rue and utters this magical formula:

On the leaf of a rue a fairy fell asleep,

from her it spilt over onto me

gold, silver and silk.

Gold, gilded me,

silver cleansed me

silk wrapped and a fairy blessed me;

to be healthy and happy,

to everyone in the world the best and prettiest,

veledalin amin from God amin!


Na listu sedefila zaspala vila,

sa nje se na me prosulo

zlato, srebro i svila.

Zlato me pozlatilo,

srebro očistilo,

svila obavila a vila blagosila;

da budem zdrava i čila,

najbolja i najljepša svakom ja bila!

Veledalin amin od Boga amin!

After repeating this formula three times the girl blows into the water and washes herself from head to toe with it and lets the water pour down her. With that the ritual would be completed. From the bottom of the bathtub she picks up the stem of rue and after she is dressed she throws it out, somewhere where no human foot goes. Stravarke claim that with this spell cleanses the girl from spellbound eyes, hate and envy, and her kismet or fortune can open up, if it was closed. If she is completely unlucky in love, then it is believed that her “kismet is closed”, and then this ritual must be repeated three Tuesdays in a row and her luck will be opened any time soon and she will find her future husband.

Rue doesn’t just help girls to find luck in love but also to married women, especially ones whose husbands are unfaithful. From the old days in the north-western part of Bosnia there was a custom that a wife whose husband is unfaithful, whenever she washes her bra or panties, she would dry them on a rue bush, and then she would wear them. Allegedly, the plant will put a spell on the underwear with its fragrance which will make the woman attractive and desirable to her husband and he will be dedicated only to her.


Substitute for incense

Another unusual characteristic of rue is that it can be a substitute for incense. Namely, in talisman magic it is advised that instead of incense one should burn a few dry leaves of rue, together with the amulet, and with that smoke the diseased is to be fumigated, a person which is suffering from attacks of spirits or black magic. Along with that, the constructors of amulets after they have finished writing and start folding the amulet in its characteristic triangular or square form, they place a few leaves of dry rue in order to increase the power of their text and in order to ensure immunity from evil to the owner of the amulet. Because of all of the enumerated specifics of this plant it is important to mention the frequent statement of Bosnian stravarke that “rue should be nurtured better than a child because of its usefulness!”.

With dry leaves of rue one should fumigate the entire house or apartment at least once a year, in order to chase away all negativity and spells that the space has “absorbed” over time with visits of guests and family members. Namely, every time we go out into the streets we risk when coming into contact with other people or simply by stepping into unwanted negative elements whose span is varied, from various impurities such as urine, blood, trash all the way to purposefully spilt dirty water on the street, which one used to ritually wash away black magic from himself, and spilt the water for a random passer-by to cross the place and pick up all the evil. When a home is filled with negative energy then one can experience unreasonable friction, unrest, nervousness, there is no peace and money is lost and in the end discord and quarrel appear in a family.

Fumigation is performed in such a manner when a fistful of dried leaves of this plant are thrown on a few hot embers and with the smoke created from combustion goes through the entire house. While the smoke is spread throughout the rooms one needs to utter this spell three times:

Whatever the enemy brought,

rue brought it back to him,

the house goes up the hill,

all evil with this smoke flies away from the house,

the house stayed clean, all evil fell away,

with my formula and god’s will, amin!


Šta god da je dušman donio,

sedefil mu je nazad odnio,

kuća uz brdo kreće,

svako zlo sa ovim dimom od kuće odlijeće,

kuća čista ostade, svako zlo otpade,

sa mojom basmom a božijim emerom, amin!

After the house has been fumigated the windows and doors can be open so that negative energy can go outside and stay there. Residue from coal and dust, after they have cooled down, are brought to a crossroad and thrown there. with that the ritual of fumigation is done.


Issues and diseases that can be solved and cured by Imam healers

Neutralising black magic spells, which can cause various diseases or emotional issues, business or material damage.

Marital harmony

Happiness in love, work or generally in life.

Finding lost persons or things.

Positive influence on people.

Epilepsy on a mental basis.


Manic-depressive psychoses.



Impotence on a mental level.

Schizophrenia (certain cases).

Diabetes (lowering blood sugar levels).

In certain cases they heal an array of other diseases, but they are not taken as characteristic.

Mental illnesses which the Imams heal, according to a famous healer Sulejman Pekarić, are divided into three large groups: 1.-black magic, 2.-ogromak, 3.-wind.

There are 40 types of spells. Each type acts in a certain way on humans and for each a special type of healing is applied. Sihir or spell affect, among other things, 1)people starting to hate another person, 2)feeling of nervousness, headaches without - from the stand point of medicine - a real reason, 3) joint pain, 4) lack of focus, 5)disorder of love and family relations, and others. If spells act for a longer period of time on a man, he can fall ill with a stomach ulcer or duodenum ulcer or have issues with gallbladder. There are extremely dangerous spells, when a person can stay paralysed in certain parts of the body, and even die in a couple of days if he is not helped immediately (diagnosis in this case cannot be determined medically). Such persons are in a special state, they do not answer calls, they have lowered eyelids and they only react when their stomach is being touched because of pain.

Such issues are removed by long-term praying above the person.

There are seven types of ogromak. They cause people to be mentally ill, they can get a stroke or some other issues in the body. All types of ogramaka have a similar activity. Evil spiritual beings - here the Jinn have a direct influence.

Wind manifests through a rash or itch, but also through some more difficult forms of bodily disorders. There are a few types of wind, they also stem from the Jinn and faeries. So called black wind can cause certain types of tumours.

Imams can heal diseases of the organs. It is known that numerous diseases of the organs have their origin in the psyche, i.e. they stem from mental illnesses. When we eliminate spiritual attacks, i.e. mental cause, then the healers remove the disease of the organs.


Bosnian spiritual medicine

All across Bosnia and Herzegovina stravarke, and also some Imam's, claim that a much smaller percentage of physical and mental issues are caused by the effects of black magic in comparison to four supernatural phenomenon to which people are subject to on a daily basis. We are talking about spellbound eyes (envy and jealousy), fear (stress), ogroma (direct contact with spirits) and wind. While there are relatively few people that possess skills of black magic, since such practice requires a large knowledge and capability of communication with spirits, the mentioned four phenomena exist regardless of magic, even though they comprise its main components. All of the above mentioned is tightly connected with our lives through an everyday tempo, meetings with other people but also our surrounding, which is increasingly polluted by waste and faeces, which is a favourable surrounding for the spread of wind (activity of evil spirits) i.e. effects of unseen forces and energy. All our encounters with such apparitions, if we're not protected by an amulet, have a negative effect on the psyche but also human health. This is why most people are confused when coming across with spiritual healers (stravarke) who claim that their disease or issue are not a result of some wizard practicing black magic but that their state was inflicted on them by accident or by their carelessness. We should point out that all people are not subject to the effects of the mentioned spiritual phenomenon but a large percentage is, especially sensitive persons with lighter skin and eyes, for which the Bosnian stravarke usually say are like "magnet for evil spirits".



According to the claims of Bosnian folk doctors there are a few types of wind i.e. there are a total of nine and they are named as follows: red wind, black wind, yellow wind, Satan (Jinns), pasji sugreb, scabs, measles, itch and wild fire. By the intensity of activity some are weaker and some stronger. Even though there are numerous ways for a man to come into direct contact with them the most frequent one is when passing next to garbage. If at that moment, the man is passing by a load of rubbish. If at that moment, while the man is passing by the rubbish, a wind blows over the rubbish and hits the person there is a large possibility that the person unawares has suffered a direct hit with negative energy, whose effects will be seen later after some time. Winds of smaller intensity require a certain time period in order to accumulate enough strength capacity in the human body i.e. to develop. Frequent symptoms of their effect are headaches, and from some vomiting. From most of the enumerated types of wind a man can get a skin disease such as measles, spots, skin redness or even psoriasis. Out of some stronger winds a person can even die. So called black wind falls into this category since it causes cancer with its negative effect and in a lot of cases it encompasses a small portion of the neck. Curing the effects of wind usually take longer, sometimes even years. If a shorter period has passed from the appearance of the disease, for example three years, then the diseased can be cured in a year, etc. It is considered that the winds are actually manifestations of invisible beings such as Jinn and faeries, which don't have to be evil or antagonistic towards humans, they could be startled by a passer-by, who has accidentally walked into an area which they consider to be their own, where according to beliefs they spend their time, dance or eat, and they answer to this provocation by attacking. That's why whirlpools of wind, places where dogs urinated, waste dumps, or places where there is blood, urine, hygienic pads, bones, etc. from the old days are considered to be places where invisible, usually negative, beings gladly gather and spend some time. Traditionally such places are being avoided or when one is passing through he is praying to God for protection.


Ograma or nagaza

Ograma or nagaza is a folk name in BiH which explains that a person crossed over a place where invisible beings are gathered or through items of black magic i.e. across a place over which dirty water has been spilt, often a ritual of neutralising black magic. Namely, according to an ancient rule, a person that is under the influence of black magic from a stravarka or Imam receives a talisman which is submerged in a bottle of clean water and after a few hours one bathes with the water and the residue of the water is then spilt on an intersection or street. First person that passes by will become a victim or better to say, negative energy will pass onto him. That magic transmission is extremely familiar in rituals with lead when a piece lead along with a bank note is brought onto an intersection and leave it with the goal of a random person picking it up. Ograma also happens in other instances, especially when one passes over dirty places. Many of us, especially those that do not take off their clothes when entering their home, can accidentally bring on the souls of their shoes a small item or a blood stain, urine or something else and in such a manner accidentally summon evil into their home. Ograma, just like winds, has a very negative effect on the human body and often causes inexplicable pain in the legs, headaches, restless dreams, and over time it can cause panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, etc.


Spellbound eyes

Another negative manifestation which like all the others comes usually by someone accidentally coming into contact with people or living environment are spellbound eyes. All cultures of the world are familiar with the belief of detrimental effect that spellbound eyes or words have on people. That's why there are countless ways of defending and protecting against it. Evil eye is defined as the influence of mental forces and their ability to produce a negative effect on a material level, especially on live beings and especially man. Moving force of evil eye from various places but it is often induced by the feeling of hatred, envy, contempt but also love, passion, etc. For that reason human eyes can harm another person consciously or unconsciously. We all have that ability and it is wrong to consider that only negative people can harm someone with a gaze. Bosnian stravarke claim that urok i.e. effect of evil eyes occurs in combination of a gaze full of positive or negative emotions which follow similar words or statements. Three days are necessary for such supernatural effect to develop inside a human and for it to start causing some of the following symptoms: headache, raised temperature, nervousness, insomnia, weakness of the body, depression, etc.



We divide fears to conscious and unconscious. Conscious fears we recognise and we know of what we are afraid of. However, unconscious fears are different. It simmers inside of us, even though we do not register it. It lives in our soul subtly and drains its energy. Fear is one of the biggest "thieves" of positive feelings. With fear we spread negative energy. It seeks our weak points and in such a manner it drives us and our thoughts. One of the biggest energy consumers is stress. Also low, but chronic level of stress, reduces the level of energy, it can drain a person both mentally and physically, even if that person spends its day in bed. Fear and restrained rage are basic segments of all stress, which has an extremely destructive effect on our physical and mental state. Classic syndrome of fear is the ability to change mental but also physical state of a person. In Bosnian folk medicine people are warned that fear is extremely harmful for humans since the body of the person subject to great shock or long term stress is tightened, shrinks, the body is tense and is in a way changed i.e. deformed. Though there is a lot of harmful manifestations of fear these are the most frequent: nightmares, panic attacks, nervousness, loss of self-confidence, arrhythmia, sexual issues, frequent headaches, stomach issues, etc. Fear also blocks people in all areas of their lives and they become unhappy and unsuccessful both in love and in their professional career.


Protection of the house

Besides people, the place of dwelling, house or apartment, can often be epicentres of negative energy which enters the house mostly through visits by persons who are envious or hypocritical. Similarly, on your shoes or clothes, or even directly with you, in the space in which you live, negative energy finds ways to accumulate. When it reaches a certain degree it causes a series of unfavourable things such as restlessness, nervousness, feeling of unease or insomnia, fights which start without any real reason or even an unusual apparition inside the house. Besides, if a burglary happens, besides a material loss causes a block of wellbeing and general luck and often one or even more persons have issues with money or lack of success. Of course, behind all of the enumerated negative phenomena, someone's magical activity might be hiding, whose consequences can be extremely serious. Item which is used for performing black magic is usually discretely placed inside the house or its vicinity in order to send negative energy from that hidden place into the house and its inhabitants. Its activity in the beginning is usually of a weaker intensity but it strengthens as the lunar phases gain strength and range of action. Due to such a situation the inhabitants start to get sick, in the beginning we are talking about headaches, fatigue and insomnia, so in time these phenomena become more serious and debilitating such as blockage of luck and peace, constant fights, discord, sudden accidents, loss, etc. Though it is very important to find the source of negative energy and remove it from the house, in order to eliminate the influence, a house which has "soaked" negative energy must be "cleansed" because otherwise the energy will stay in the house and cause issues. The best way of cleansing the house is by a ritual known among the Bosnian stravarke as "house water" where one uses tap water and extinguishes matches above it while uttering a long exorcist formula. Use of three basic elements, fire and water, those words i.e. air, is the essence of white magic in Bosnia and represents the strength of number 3. Spraying all rooms in the house according to a precise defined ritual in a very short time, one achieves neutralization of the effects of negative energy after which a channel for flow of good luck and wellbeing is open which was blocked up until that moment.


Hijama (cupping)

Thanks to an enthusiast of ancient medicine Dr. Merim Omerhodžić, a well-known neurosurgeon at clinical centre "Koševo" in Sarajevo, the old method of curing by drawing out blood from the organism has been revived. Searching intensively for new sources of knowledge in alternative medicine Dr. Omerhodžić studied Hijama for two years in the medical centre in Medina. Though this method was initially primitive to him, in time he grasped its priceless importance for alternative healing. Certificate which allowed him to practice this folk recipe was given to Dr. Omerhodžić in 2006 with which he became first physician to cure with Hijama in our region.

One cures with Hijama by placing cups to various spots on the body, and then by releasing air out of them one creates a vacuum, the sucked in skin cracks, which causes the blood do drain out. -Once the cups have been removed, there is a red mark created by the gathering of blood under the skin. That blood is initially very dark, and the suction is repeated until it becomes light red, Dr. Omerhodžić explained and added:

-It is considered that such blood is "dirty", full of toxins which is eliminated from the body by this procedure. Contemporary scientific studies support this, while analyses show that there is a difference in the content of the blood from the finger and that blood collected with the help of Hijama. Doctor Omerhodžić says that with Hijama, which regulates the flow of energy in blood, removes cold, moisture and toxins from the body, and thanks to it the pain disappears as well. -With this ancient method one can successfully cure lumbago, pain in arms, shoulders, legs, back and muscles, but also stomach aches, migraines, insomnia and it can prevent vomiting. Hijama helps with wound healing and reduces high blood pressure.

The expert from Sarajevo mentions that this method activates the entire organism, improves memory and acts preventively even on insanity. Hijama is recommended once annually before the hot days, best at the end of May or beginning of June. Treatments last around half an hour, and in curing diabetes it is employed consecutively three times every month.

Hijama throughout history

Hijama was known in Bosnia until the fifties of the last decade. Until then the suction of air from animal horns was used, the wider end was placed on the patients skin and the skin was cut by a sharp stone or knife. However, releasing blood today is a medical method and belongs to the domain of "small" surgery. Vacuum is achieved thanks to a pump, surgical scalpel is used to make small cuts, and since the procedure requires strict hygiene, the material is sterile and the instruments are disposable. This is why it would be best if it is done by an educated person, with a certain certificate, Dr. Omerhodžić claims revealing his plan to open a centre for traditional medicine in Sarajevo with a group of colleagues. He intends to employ his rich experience gathered at the medical centre in Medina, but also America, where certain success in curing migraine was achieved.


Secrets of love magic

When we talk about Bosnian love magic then it is best to start with the truthful story from Prijedor about a woman which had an unfaithful husband, which brought the woman to despair. She found out from her neighbours that by accident her mother in law knew the secrets of love magic so she asked her for help, to make her son a good husband. Raised in a traditional manner knowing that a marriage must be saved, especially for the children, the mother in law agreed to help after she had some time to think but asked her if she knew what she was getting into, since according to her, once one starts with the practice then there is no going back. But, that didn't daunt the young woman.

The mother in law gave advice to find a love frog and two hazelnut twigs and to piss into flour after that, which was once considered a great blasphemy, and to make maslenjak out of the flour which will change the mind of the husband and make her attractive and desirable. She made the dough following the magical recipe and kneading it with her feet she thinned it out on the sofra (traditional round table for preparation of dough among the Bosnians). She then placed a frog on the dough, took two hazel branches and hitting the frog lightly with them she would utter: "call my NN!" then she removes the frog from the dough cuts a circle from it, strips naked and passes the dough against her body, folds it a couple of times, places it into a casserole and places it into a stove to bake it. Finished maslenjak is then served to the unfaithful husband who eats a good part of it not suspecting what he is eating. In a very short time he changed his behaviour towards her and started to shower her with attention and love. But, no magic lasts forever and this one was nearing its end and the young wife noticed that the husband started to be rebellious again and she realised that the mother in law was right - she will have to repeat the magic her entire life if she wants a harmonious marital life.

In Bosnian magic the frog represents a shaytan, i.e. a studiously analysed heavenly being - Grand Mother represented in the form of a witch, which is clearly visible in the second version of the recipe where the frog is not used, instead while passing the dough for maslenjak down her body the girl or woman utters: "shaytan, help me, be of service..." The connection between the shaytan and a frog can be found in the story about the woman from the Dizdarević family and the scene when one of them sees a large pregnant frog on the road and pushing her away with her feet she said to call her when she gives birth, which happens in the end when the devil themselves come for the woman and lead her to the frog i.e. witch to help her during birth.

Love magic also requires strict obedience of the rules and the slightest mistake can cause unwanted effects. Powerful and outstanding love spells of traditional Bosnia are performed with the help of nine bean beads, nine kernels of corn, wheat, nine willow twigs, etc. Which are at the end of the ritual discarded into the fire of a low intensity. Rasima Š. From Bihać admits that she is scared of magic since she had an unpleasant experience with it. She was instructed into the secrets of magic by an old neighbour which she assisted for years with work related to the house. As they became close as time passed, Rasima frequently told her about her marital issues and on one occasion the old lady revealed a few love recipes to her which she used to practice in her youth. As at the time it seemed as if the marital issues will never end, Rasima decided to try out a love recipe with bean beads in hope that they will help her settle her husband and make him a more loyal partner.

-"I did everything as described, except the last part, Rasima revealed, and instead of throwing it into a smaller fire I threw it into a raging one. In the next two days all the members of the household fell ill, all of them complained of fatigue, dizziness, headache and lack of appetite. I was immediately suspicious of what could be the cause of it. I ran to my neighbour to tell her what had happened. She suggested that I light some sugar inside the house, ground coffee and a stem of rue (ruta graveolens) and that after half an hour I should open all the windows and doors. On the same day I performed all of this the members of the household miraculously got better?! Since then I never dabbled with magical recipes".


Curing from black magic and evil

If a man had pain all over his body, or only in one place, it was called udarac (blow), and it was believed that this disease was caused by demons or black magic, and that's why an exorcist was called, i.e. a person which cured others with magical formulas. The exorcist would take a thin branch, usually hazel tree, and he would lightly hit on the painful body parts, repeating the following formula rhythmically:

Exit namet, exit nagaz;

from bone into flesh,

from flesh into skin,

from skin into hair,

from hair into earth!

Earth is the mother,

she received many things,

she will receive you too!

Go namet, go nagaz

into the depths of the sea,

into the mountain;

where the rooster doesn't sing,

where the ox doesn't roar,

where the chicken doesn't crow,

nor the axe cuts!

*namet - spell, *nagaz or nagaza - direct contact with the demon over a certain item (spell) or as a result of accidentally passing by a place where demons dwell, or disturbing them, after which they attack the person.

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