Bosnian magic

Mystical Bosnia and Herzegovina


Magical protection of children

With Bosnian people since the old days the custom was for beautiful and kind children to be protected from spells - because of the gaze. Before she goes into the street with her child, the mother performed one of the prophylactic rituals to protect the child: she would draw a short line with charcoal on the child's forehead, she would clad him with an upturned piece of clothing, such as socks, she would utter a magical formula, she would spit on him, she would turn the child's face towards the stove alluding that no one can harm the old, dark stove with the gaze and with that her child, she would pull him by the nose, etc. She would do all of that in fear that someone wouldn't gaze at her child for long or in enthusiasm or even envy would hurt the child with the gaze or words.

If someone would hurt him in this manner according to the thinking of local grandmothers the only ritual that would help is extinguishing charcoal in a bowl of water. But, In order to avoid it, as soon as she would return home with the child the mother would wash its face with water over which she would utter a prayer, or she would hold him over a well so that the child can see his reflection on the water, or she would place a leaf of rue under the pillow or some other plant.

Often it happened that out of precaution the mother repeats three times above the child a magical formula such as this:

Not even on a sea bridge,

nor brain stone,

nor a white feathered crow,

nor a saddle on a cat,

nor a bell on a cat,

nor a horn on a dog,

nor on my N a spell!

Go ye spellbound eyes on an army!

Nine leave, eight arrive,

eight leave, seven comes,

seven leaves, six arrives,

six leaves, five arrives,

five leaves, four arrives,

four leaves, three arrives,

three leaves, two arrives,

two leaves, one arrives,

the one also leaves for health and happiness!


Spell to create a Jinn

In Bosnian magic there were rituals which were used to create a Jinn (demon) which will serve those witches which helped with his birth. But, rules of such and similar rituals are often rigorous and demand somewhat unusual conditions which need to be met in order to reach the desired result. Of course, there were those witches who managed to circumvent some of the rules with their knowledge and wit, thereby reaching their goal - creation of a demonic servant.

In order to successfully complete a magical task a girl, which will become the "mother" of the future Jinn, must meet two criteria, from which the second one is very difficult. The girl needs to be seventeen, if she is younger or much older she won't meet the strict rules of witchcraft, which is a pretty simple task compared to the second one. Namely, a more important condition is that she never spoke to a man in her life, not even her father?! If one happens to find such a candidate, then her task is not to wash her face or comb her hair for seven days, in order to expose herself to the sun in such a condition. After the seven days pass she takes an egg from a black chicken with a short tail, but a small egg, the one which is called among the folk pronosak or iznosak. She will carry that egg under her armpit for a month, taking care that the egg is with her during the night as well. At the very end of this time period instead of a chicken a monstrous creature will appear which is called cikavac in Bosnian mythology. But, with that her magical task is not completely over, since cikavac is still not a Jinn.

It is believed among the folk that in the past of Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially rural areas, there were many cikavac which the local witches used for their egoistic and criminal goals, i.e. stealing of milk, cheese and sour cream from their neighbours. Though miniature creatures these creatures had a large pharynx (or gullet) in which they would store the milk, cheese or sour cream which they devoured in the houses during the night.

Cikavac is also a being which suck the blood out of an udder and would leave it completely without milk. When they returned to their witch after their visit, they would empty into a wooden dish everything they stole. In such a manner they would supply their mistress with all the dairy products to the detriment of her neighbours.

More ambitious witches weren't satisfied with owning a cikavac instead they wanted to create more powerful beings, which in the future could offer them a wider range of services, therefore they would wrap a cikavac into a swath for 21 days, like a mother would her child, made out of hairs taken from the tail of a brown horse. In that time the cikavac would slowly transform into a demonic being, a small mixture of an animal and a human, which would consider the witch her mother and it would be able to fulfil numerous wishes. But, since the Jinn is a pretty intelligent and evil being, with a constant hunger for human souls, in the beginning his services are free but later, when he managed to create a certain dependence towards himself, he would offer the witch a deal which would be based on trade - she will be his master as long as she is alive and after her death the witch will give him her soul.

Such a deal was acceptable for both parties since witches yearned for great power with whose help they could perform various miracles and in a sense rule destinies of individuals while the lifespan of a human presents no problem for a Jinn, since unlike humans the Jinn live for a few thousand years.

And in the end we need to mention that among the Bosnian folk there was a firm belief that women are more successful and better than man in the world of magic, which is often reasoned by this short tale. On one occasion a man and a woman made a bet who will talk a demon into entering an empty pumpkin. The man tried first but all his persuasion attempts ended negatively. Then it was the woman's turn. She took the pumpkin seductively and brought the opening of the pumpkin next to her eye and she started to wonder and gasp. Struggling to bear his curiosity the demon asked her what is her amazement and why is she so exalted by what she sees, to which she replied: "My dear demon, I cannot describe it to you in words what wonders I see in the pumpkin. You need to see it for yourself, enter and see." After those words the demon thought to himself "I could enter quickly to see what is so amazing in that pumpkin". As soon as the demon thought this he entered the pumpkin, the woman sealed it and took away the bet.


Ritual agains the black magic

Growing common houseleek on the balcony is an old Bosnian tradition since it is believed that this plant protects the house from lightning and black magic.

To neutralise negative effects of demons one should make movements with the left hand which resemble chasing away invisible beings. Actually, that's what you are doing. When performing this action, one should utter: "Get away from me devils!"

The Jinn are masters of the dark. Their habitat is underground, underneath the root of walnut trees. That's why one should never plant walnut trees in one's yard since it brings bad luck. The trunk of the walnut tree should not be cut, and if it is necessary it should be done with an appropriate prayer. It is considered as especially negative to fall asleep underneath a walnut tree, since, as it is believed by the folk one can die or fall mentally ill. Besides, the one that falls asleep underneath a walnut tree will awaken with a headache.

The Jinn are located in persons with weak immunity, people mourning excessively or people who are overjoyed constantly. To protect oneself from a Jinn, one should utter the following prayer in the morning after waking up: "God, be in front of me, be next to me and those dearest to me and protect us from evil. Amen".


Mystical beings

Aždahe are similar to snakes and they can hurt humans. It is believed that when a snake turns 100 that she grows wings and she becomes a being called aždaha in Bosnia and Herzegovina, she feasts on animals, especially livestock, but also humans. In the past people often spoke about the traumatic encounters with this beast and according to one of the stories there was an aždaha which disrupted people when they tried to pass along a road and that's why she was killed by one of the villagers. But, fighting the beast, he got so scared that he died shortly after killing the beast.

Dragon is a mystical being which flies through the air and pours fire from its mouth. According to tales from grandparents, the dragons, in the past, were often encountered in mountains, close to hollow caves. According to Nešid Avdagić from Radovlje, he often saw dragons during sunset, flying from mound to mound, close to a forest located near Konđilo. There are hollow caves there which serve as homes to the dragons whose specialty was to pour fire from their mouths.

It is believed that when a virgin dies that she can often turn into a mystical being called Prikaza. We are talking about a luminous phenomena, which often sits next to its grave at night and weeps. To stop the innocent girl from having such a supernatural state, during her burial one should break her pinkie on the hand.

Bosnian magic
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