Bosnian magic

Mystical Bosnia and Herzegovina


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.

Bosnian magic
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