Mythology of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Mitologija Bosne i Hercegovine


How plague looks like

Plague, as people across Bosnia say, tall and skinny woman. She is dressed in a long white dress, which was loosely encircled with a rope. But not all plague is in white, it is different according to which religion it belongs. Muslim plague is clad in green, Christian in white, Jewish in yellow and Gypsy in gray, but no matter whose she is she carries a broom in her hands and if she waves it in front of someone’s house, that person will soon die. She usually travels at night, when the wind blows softly. And where she enters a house, then she cleans the hearth with the broom which is a sign that all inhabitants will fall ill. She likes to peak through the window, when the family is having dinner, she laughs and goes somewhere else, but she never pillages, unless god tells her to.


Four holly books

In folk stories about four Indžil, holly books, it was claimed that they came from the sky. In all of those books Allah wrote the first prayer, and God’s messengers continued. One of Indžil, the first one was written by Adam, and they say that it is as old as Earth itself. It is the oldest of them all. As the story further claims, Adam when he could no longer write due to his old age, an angle held his hand so he could continue. Half of this Indžil was carried away by angels, “and it was very big, so big that not all people from earth could move it”. Adam restlessly continued writing, without taking a break, and as the story claims, he wrote it his entire life. The second holly book is from Moses. It is not as old nor as big as the one from Adam. Third book was written by Jesus. Fourth by Muhammad and he said that holly books will no longer be written, since in his book everything is contained, since the creation of the world and until judgment day.


How nature and herbs came to be

On one opportunity when Muhammad travelled, he was covered in sweat from the long journey, and from him his sweat dropped onto the earth. Where ever a drop from his forehead touched the earth a flower would grow. Sweat from other body parts that fell onto the ground became herbs that cured various illnesses. Bosnian people claim that among the first herbs to grow were dwarf elder, rue, alecost, basil and others. From the sweat which fell from his neck and hands small and large trees would grow. From the sweat from his the body of his horse made the hills, rocks and mountains grow.


Don't forget Srebrenica


Birth of dragons in Bosnia

Among the Bosnian people since the ancient times a belief about dragons was present, the dragon not only existed but it sexually assaulted women, but also cows, and out of this unholy union dragon cubs were born – snijet. This unusual belief is traditionally present among the Bosnian people while among Bosnian Christians it doesn’t exist or appears in rare instances.

According to people the dragons loved to stay in woods or hills, flying from one tree to another, sleeping inside caves or bathing in rivers. Namely, it occurred that random passers-by near a river, would hear sudden trashing on the surface of the river and would experience drops of water falling on them. For such sounds it was believed that they were created by a scared dragon which feeling someone’s presence would fly away. Allegedly, while in the water the dragon would go in circles and once bathed it would erect its body and would fly towards the sky.

Gaze of emerald eyes

People describe the dragon as a long snake, over two meters, with very thin and short legs and arms, whose body is covered with dark scales and a tale which is pointy at its end. What is especially characteristic for him are his magnetic, emerald coloured eyes which hypnotise his victim, preventing any and all resistance from it. Often in the past the dragon would lurk young women which went to get water on their own or women which worked in the field alone, he would surprise them with his appearance and he would hypnotise them with his gaze, out of which they would awaken without any memory of the event. But, this strange meeting did not go without consequences because four or more months later the woman, which was hypnotised by the dragon, would give birth to snijet – a dragon cub.

Birth of a dragon

Snijet or Snit got its name among the people by the soft membrane of the chicken’s egg which the chicken can lay when lacking calcium. Numerous ethnologists often made a mistake connecting this folk name of a dragon cub with a corn snijet (corn smut) /Ustilago maydis/ not realising what the informants were trying to tell them.

A few elderly women from which I had an opportunity to hear about the birth of snijet had an identical description of its birth. Namely, since all of them were illiterate and they didn’t know the name for a placenta, they used a folk name for it, what to them seemed to best describe what they see and that is snijet according to the soft membrane of the chicken egg. But, it is an important detail which reveals how snijet was constantly born in a white placenta, unlike a normal human baby whose colour of placenta was always dark red-blue or maroon, out of which the snijet would exit as soon as possible, running out of fear from human contact. According to the informants if in the woman’s stomach only a snijet was present, they would often give birth in their sleep, in the morning they would awaken with an empty stomach. Every night the dragon cub would return to its mother while it was sleeping in order to feed with her milk. Allegedly, such a woman would go to bed with her breasts full of milk and in the morning she would awaken with breasts completely empty.

As we can conclude by studying the ethnological records, but also listening to statements from individual old women, especially the ones which publicly and without hiding claim that in their youth they gave birth to snijet, every Bosnian woman in the past, until WWII, at least once gave birth to a snijet during her reproductive cycle. Because of this claim it wasn’t considered to be a sin to give birth to a dragon cub, moreover, it was considered to be a good deed even to the woman which three times gives birth to snijet entrance into heaven after death is promised. But, it was obviously considered beneficial in case the snijet is killed the moment it is born and buried, without allowing it to escape.

Cannibalism and killing

People firmly believe that all those snijeti which women don’t kill after birth, become dragons. Perhaps this is where the collective fear of Bosnian people lie, if all of the cubs would be allowed to live their population would grow to a dangerous level and it could endanger humans. Women described snijet, after it left the white placenta, as a small hairy creature of a dark colour which resembles a mole the most. It moved fast, climbing up the wall and would screech hysterically.

Sexual attacks by dragons on women occurred, when she would be in the early stage of pregnancy with her husband, and in her womb together, one beside the other, the child and snijet would grow. In certain ethnographic records it is written that a woman would give birth to a live child with a dead snijet on his head, then the child would die as well. Similarly, if both are born alive, and the snijet kills itself, it was believed that the child will die soon as well. According to this it could be concluded that according to folk belief the snijet represented a type of human animal doppelganger.

It looks like a human, but it is not

Fear of snijet, though common to the entire Bosnian folk, was not of the same intensity in all regions, and in certain locations its pronounced influence was recorded. The decisive factor in that was surely the frequency of birth, since in regions where such an apparition was rare, or better hidden and tabooed, it was less present. In Zukići they described snijet as a demonic being “which looks like a human, but wasn’t one”. That description in certain parts of BiH was a result of fear from cannibalism to which snijet was allegedly prone to in the first period of its life, in order to successfully finish its incubation period and exit the woman in the outside world. It was claimed that in certain cases snijet would eat the womb of the woman i.e. it would feed with it. That’s why in Zukići it was believed that the snijet for a pregnant woman represented a great physical and health issue since it would have a difficult time carrying it and giving birth to it.

In this part of Bosnia it was claimed that snijet can only be killed by a washerwoman, a board for washing clothes, after which it would be buried under ground. It is remembered that before WWII in a neighbouring village Kusonje a woman gave birth to a child with eaten fingers on the hand and the feet along with a snijet. For this deformity the snijet was accused, claiming that it ate the child’s fingers, and it was immediately killed by a washerwoman. In other parts of BiH, women would kill it with a broom.

In Pazarić and surrounding areas each time a woman would give birth to a snijet it would be covered up and would be kept a secret, which was usually a traditional taboo in all areas of BiH. Snijet, if it was born dead or if it didn’t manage to escape and save itself, would be immediately wrapped in an old cloth and buried in the ground taking care that no one sees it. A rule that all women across BiH held is that a dead snijet should be buried, whether in the ground or manure, and that under no circumstances should it be thrown in the trash. Was it done out of fear from the possible revenge from the dragon, which is evident, since it wasn’t even recommended for people to talk about dragons, or a certain dose of respect was given towards these mixtures will remain one of the numerous mysteries among the Bosnian folk.


Dragon eggs

That nature is surprising is shown by the perfectly shaped stone spheres, discovered accidentally underneath the hill Grljevac in Velika Kladuša. For now three have been “discovered” – the largest one seven meters in girth and weighing 2500 kilograms, a smaller one weighing 1200 kilograms with a girth of three and a half meters, and the smallest one girth of 52 centimetres and 600 kilograms. Because of the shape and composition, as well as the unusual space where they were discovered they attract attention also the mystery of whether they’re natural or manmade pique our interest. For discovery of this oddities from Velika Kladuša the members of the Mountaineering Association of Velika Kladuša are responsible.

President of the Association Šefik Sadiković says: “Though the first spheres were located two years ago, no one knew about them nor spoke about them. Only now, when we located these three did we speak publicly about it. Spheres were located in a creek which created a large canyon due to plentiful rain. Locals of Zborište found the spheres and they drove one into the village using a tractor.” That’s how the story about this phenomenon started.

We are sure that there are more of them in this area, the mountaineers made sure that geologists get the spheres. Geologists Ševket Goletić and Senad Karajić determined that “underneath the spheres a “floor” of the same structure as the spheres was found which means that they haven’t been moved since they were created, and that floor gives greater certainty when determining the way they were created.”

From the Jurassic period

“First estimation direct”, Ševket Goletić believes, “that the spheres come from the Jurassic period and that they were created underneath the surface of the sea. That’s why man has nothing to do with the creation of this phenomenon. That period of creation is called Initial Geosynclinal volcanism, which means that they were created around 30 million years ago.”

“It is known that in this region the Panonian sea was present and that it receded seven million years ago, which means that the spheres were created deep underneath the sea due to volcanic action. During eruptions of the volcano rocks in form of lava were expelled in the sea depths, which created additional blasts and chunking, and with the influence of water and sudden cooling this spherical shape was created covered in a manganese veil which gave the spheres additional firmness”, he adds.

According to the first estimations, the content of these rocks is made out of more elements: titan, zircon, vanadium, barium and nickel, which points to the sediment origin from the basic rocks. The surface is smooth and perfectly polished, and it is hard to assume that they could be a work of man which at the time possessed primitive tools. Otherwise, Goletić and Karajić recall, similar spheres were found in other areas as well.

“So”, they say, “they’re numerous in western Mexico, but they’re also located in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mostly around Zavidovići. And they’re most similar to the ones located in Zavidovići. They’re also located near Stari Majdan in municipality of Sanski Most in the north-western part of BiH.”

Mysterious spheres

Mountaineers say that the spheres were most likely “discovered” earlier, but no one spoke of them. It is assumed that the legends and stories imposed a type of silence. One that, for the people living in these areas – spurred the imagination of the inhabitants about the mysterious spheres.

One of the legends says that the spheres are actually eggs of an ancient dragon and according to folk belief we shouldn’t disturb them. That’s where the answer to the question of why no one spoke about them lies. However, out of curiosity the inhabitants broke them, and determined that the interior is made out of stone. Certain findings say that they were brought home, namely the parts of the sphere. Even built in the foundation of the houses. Later they would be unearthed and placed back to their original location.

In these numerous legends, stories and speculations, there is a theory which claims that they’re meteors which fell a long time ago in this area or that they’re the work of some ancient and unknown civilization. However, mountaineers from Velika Kladuša sought help and analysis of the Mining-geological faculty from Tuzla. While they’re waiting for an answer and debunking of the mystery about the creation of this phenomenon – they went into action.


How the snake saved all life

From the old days among the Bosnian people the snake was considered to be a saviour of mankind, which is proven by this short story. During distressful times, when general floods raged and everything hid in Noah’s ark, days and nights passed in fear for the future. Even the wild beasts were so frightened that they didn’t even think about hurting one another, their cruelty disappeared and all souls thought alike – hope in salvation. But, only one animal among all didn’t feel fear nor hope, it was ruled by evil and selfishness. It was a mouse. Being led solely by his own desires and needs the mouse started nibbling the bottom of the ark, not thinking that he is endangering everyone on it. Luckily, the snake saw him at the last moment, realising what disaster may strike the snake leaped, swallowed the mouse and curled at the place where he nibbled the wood, in order to stop the water from breaking in. Since then, in Velika Kladuša it is believed that it is not a sin to kill a mouse even from a prayer mat, while praying to god.


Shaitan and the woman

Long time ago there was a man and a woman, they constantly tried to outsmart each other, they tried to prove who was smarter and more resourceful. Neither of them wanted to quit, and these pranks of theirs would last forever until the man came up with a bold idea. He suggested that it would be best for them to compete who could talk the devil into entering a hollow pumpkin where they could trap him.

-The devil (Shaitan) is a liar and a scrappy, no one can fool him, and whoever succeeds is the smartest, said the husband to his wife.

In this almost impossible task the husband tried first, trying all day in various ways to trick the devil. He begged him, promised hills and valleys, but to no avail. Night came and he got tired and gave up. The wife smiled and took the pumpkin from him, looked inside and started to wonder, her eyes widened, inhaling and smiling to something that she sees inside. This immediately sparked the devil’s curiosity but he didn’t want to react he waited for the woman to start to gaud him as the husband did. But the woman didn’t even look at the devil, looking into the pumpkin she started to switch it to her right eye so that she can see better the thing that amazed her. Now, the devil was evidently nervous and curios, not being able to wait any longer, he asked the woman what is so amazing inside, she mumbled something quickly and continued to look into the pumpkin. This angered the devil and he shouted at her, to which the wife replied calmly and mellifluously:

-It would be best, powerful and great devil, that you go inside and take a look by yourself, since myself, illiterate, poor woman – the woman started to act and fake – couldn’t describe what type of wonder is inside. And you my dear devil, are so eloquent and very smart, you will recognise this thing immediately.

To these words the devil laughed haughtily and answered to her that he agrees with her, since a stupid woman like herself doesn’t know better than to look into a pumpkin and laugh, and it is best for him to see. As soon as he said these words the devil rushed and entered the pumpkin to which the woman quickly closed it and in the end won the hard bet. Since that time it is believed that a woman and the devil are one and the same – both use lying and seduction to get their will.



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


Holly bull of Bosnian forefathers

Tur is not a Slavic but a Latin word – Taurus, and a lot of similarity is seen in certain Illyrian names such as Teut or Trit, forms such as Tritan or Tritatron, and even Tana or Medauros. It is interesting to note that in the Bosnian language Tur is used for the part of pants, long johns or even pantaloons which connects tights, actually the hem between the legs, which connects them into a whole. Similarly the word Tur can be seen as an abbreviation from the terms poturiti or podturiti i.e. underlay something in order to keep a load or mass from falling.

Tur (taxonomically and Latin: Bos primigenius) is an extinct genus of a wild bovine, which lived in Europe, Asia and North Africa, it is a forefather of today’s cattle. The last European exemplar lived until 1627. Tur was from the old days an important animal for the survival of mankind; that’s why the drawings and descriptions of it are present even inscriptions “Comments on the Gaelic wars (Commentarii de bello, Gallico) from Julius Cesar. His character became the status symbol of numerous European states and cities: Alba-lulia, Kaunas, Romania, Moldavia, Turka, province Mecklenburg and Swiss canton Uri, which was named after him.

Tur was larger than cattle today which is familiar to us. It was 160-180 cm tall (males) and 150 (females), 2.8 meters long without the tail, the tail was 0,8 meters long. Tur’s had pronounced sexual differences, besides the basic biological differences in the built of sexual organs, they differentiated themselves by colour and size, females were shorter and smaller (smaller backbone) than males. Males were black-brown, and females red-brown, both had light, almost white, horns with black tops. Tur was abundant in almost entire Europe. Their habitat were usually steppe, taiga, wet swampy forests and river valleys. These bovines lived in herds, except a few older bulls which lived alone, until the mating season when they would join the herd. In the herd which had a few dozen units, there was a dominant male, and during the mating period there were fights over the females. mating took place during the end of summer, and calf’s were born during the end of spring. Tur usually fed off of grass, but also fruit, leaves and softer branches. Unlike most cattle today which are in essence day animals, Tur was active at dusk and night. According to the research of the paleontological museum of the University in Oslo, the first exemplars appeared on the area of today’s India before two million years BC, from where they migrated to the Middle East and other parts of Asia. They reached Europe around the year 250 00.


Illyrian cult of Tur

In the religion of our Illyrian forefathers Tur was one of the main segments of the ancient cult of fertility whose influence was retained until today among the Bosnian people. Aleksandar Stipčević, Alojz Benac authors of the book “Cult symbols among the Illyrians: structure and contributions of systematization” (1981) mention the following:

“In farming cultures of the earlier iron age, in which the role of a woman, especially in terms of land cultivation is of the utmost importance for the life of the community, the cult of the bull as a principle of fertility represents a dominant component of the entire belief of people at the time. Bull, i.e. bovine, becomes an animal tied to the fertility of earth as the plough farming developed and the role of a woman in ploughing and farming in general lead to incorporation of the symbol of the bull as the principle of fertility in the basic of the religious cosmos of the matriarchal society. iconographicaly reduced to the horns, the bovine quickly became the symbol of the moon because of the similarity of the horns with the new moon. And the moon, as we mentioned earlier, is closely tied to the fertility of nature itself. Hence, the role of the woman in farming work, help of the bovine in the work, similarity of the bovine horns with the new moon, correspondence of the moon phases with the length of menstrual cycles of women, all of this gave an extremely important role to the bovine in the symbolic system of farming cultures from the earlier iron age onward. With the weakening of matriarchy and its substitution by patriarchy in the metal age didn’t lead to the disappearance of the bull as the principle of fertility. In Greek and Roman religion the bull plays a large role as a sacrificial animal tied to the cult of fertility.”


Tur in the folk calendar

Studying the description of living habits of Tur, especially the one about fertility, I immediately noticed a connection with the folk (agronomical) calendar of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is divided in only two seasons – summer and winter – and in which there is a very interesting segment, which was unclear to me from the very beginning, as a student of BiH ethnology. Namely, it is no coincidence that the Bosnian folk calendar begins when summer ends i.e. in the middle of autumn, when mating season of Tur began, and ends in spring, time when new members of the species are born. That we are talking about such a phenomenon is well demonstrated by the belief in three occurrences called Stablići, Kablići and Štapići, each lasts three days, which sums up to nine days, a lunar number and represents a stap, long wooden bowl in which one “pounded” milk and made butterfat, štap or mećajica i.e. an item which was used to “pound” and kabao – wooden vessel for storage of milk. All three names are closely tied to cattle and signified a very important thing, namely, when a cow brings a calf to this world she becomes lactic, in her udders milk is building up which is used to feed the calf but also members of the family which own the cow. That’s why it is clear that this belief stems from the distant past and is directly tied to the Illyrian cult of fertility and Tur.

Further, Stipčević mentions another interesting part which is directly tied to Tur: “In Donja Dolina, near Sanski Most, during excavations in villages a skull of the bull forefather has been found (Bos primigenius) which was, as Ć. Truhelka believes fastened to façade of the house and had a function of bucrania.”

As an inevitable symbol and bearer of fertility, among our forefathers Illyrians, the bull had a central role in celebration of the harvest, when at the beginning of August the bull was slaughtered in the name of the goddess Grand Mother. In that ceremonial segment of sacrificial offering, Celtic-Persian influence is dominant, through celebration of the pagan circle of the year with the ancient myth about the solar god of fertility Mithra, which the Romans inherited from the Persians. Goths which were at one time mixed with the Illyrians and enriched not only genetically but also culturally-religiously the habit of ancient Bosnians, they saw in Tur much more than an ordinary animal, because of his priceless importance in land tillage, and also the cult of fertility, he was identified with the land, as its guardian and ruler.

Identification with the fertile land, which brings food and maintains the community, its physical strength and endurance and striking look of the horns, elevated Tur in the pantheon to the level of divine being in Bosnian mythology. He becomes a gigantic bull which is holding the entire earth on his back. In that way he rules over the destiny of humans, but also everything else. With that he receives the label of Tur land keeper. But, everything is not only left on the mythological representation and iconography which is evident in certain ethnological records which record the ancient practice of dedicating prayers to this heavenly being, which hasn’t been interrupted with the advent of Christianity and Islam to the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In the book “Syncretic elements in Islam in BiH” M. Hadžijahić states an interesting part in which he describes the religious practice: “From a poor elderly lady, Puhalovka Alijaginica which lived in Čebedžije in Sarajevo, I managed to record this: “On Wednesday afternoon prayer is performed and one bows down to: Ognju and Ognjevu Piru, Tur, Hadži Dedi, Hadži Kasapi, Sitoj Nefisi, Vejsil Karanij, his mother and father…” Under the name Oganj and Ognjev Pir is hidden the god of sun (Oganj name for fire) and his son, from mythological notion that the sun is “born” and “dies”, but for this text the name Tur is the most interesting, as we see, he did not disappear from the religious consciousness of the Bosnian people until the middle of the twentieth century, and after that he was mentioned solely as a mythological being which is holding the earth. In the book the author mentions another perfect example about the preservation of the Illyrian religion in Bosnia. Namely, in the village Turovo underneath Jahorina each year a celebration of Vida was held i.e. Ilyrian god Vidasus, which was converted into a saint with the advent of Christianity in Bosnia, and from then on he is worshipped as holly Vid. Tur and Vidasus, with this toponym and somewhat shortened name, actually best represent how well entrenched the Illyrian religion is amongst the Bosnian people.

Illyrian crest has the sign of a half-moon as a symbol of the horn of Tur.


Bosnian mythology is not Slavic but Illyrian!

The first step towards destruction of a nation is destruction of its memory. Destroy its books, culture and history and then find someone to write new books, invent a new history. Such a nation will soon start to forget what it is and what it was.

Arthur Schlesinger


People and angels

Fascination produced by the emergence of a new life always inspired human imagination and created in such a way imposing legends and stories. Among the Bosnian folk we come across a whole spectre of traditional beliefs which were first of all based on mythology and which in a sense reveal divine origin of humans.

To a woman giving birth, according to legends, all bones in her body separate except the ones in the jaw, because without them the child wouldn't be able to exit her. Because of such a state she needs to rest for a full 40 days after birth, in order for her body to completely cleanse and regenerate. Besides, a young mother is then "weak as a bird on a branch" and is exposed as her child, to demon attacks which resist creation of new life.

Even in traditional belief about dangers which prey on a young mother, and especially her child, we glimpse divine status of a pregnant woman, which is creating new life in her womb, as well as the supernatural origin of life. Invisible beings and apparitions such as demons, faeries, witches, spellbound eyes, which represent threats, can be easily brought to the same level as the child which decided to join the world of humans from their world of darkness, concealed from human eyes. This procedure probably creates a feeling of anger and revolt and that's why they are trying to hurt it.

Before a child exits, angels promise to hand over senet to him, i.e. written confirmation that he will never die, he will remain immortal, since without it he wouldn't leave his mother's womb. But, during the moments the child is exiting angels suddenly strip him of senet and that's why the child is crying, since it became aware that it is no longer immortal.

A woman which dies during childbirth goes, according to belief, straight to heaven while if the child dies, without tasting her mother's milk, it will become a winged angel. Deceased children in mythology of Bosnia and Herzegovina are turned into mysterious night birds which are called Plačo or Meknjača. Actually, we could conclude that all the pain the mother feels is transformed into the concept of the bird, symbol of the soul, which sorrowfully calls to its mother. Sometimes, the pain of the deceased child is so great that it attracts death, therefore it is believed among the folk that once a Meknjača is heard that someone in the vicinity of it will die.

It is claimed that the children are like angels until they open their mouth to speak. They lose that lovely characteristic as soon as they can talk since then they can utter both the bad with the good words. But, as the legend from Bosnian mythology claims angels never leave a humans side. Namely, every human has two angels; one is sitting on his right shoulder and the other on his left one. The one on the right shoulder is writing down his good deeds, and the one on his left his bad deeds. Similarly, angels take care of the human and protect him from evil. Folk song narrates that a father threw down the tower his wrongfully accused daughter, three times, to see if she did wrong, but every time she was saved by her angels and nothing bad happened to her:

He took Tidža by her white hand,

and threw her down the tall tower,

Hatidža was saved by angels

She didn't break her hands nor legs.

Legends say that in the ancient history children, just like animal cubs, could walk as soon as they were born. The same thing would be taking place today, the legend claims, if it wasn't for one instance where a scared mother wept and complained when she saw that her child had fallen to the ground. From that day on, God decreed that children won't be able to walk as soon as they are born but that they will have to learn how to walk.


Illyrian legends

Mythological involvement of the snake in the cult of fertility is evident through ancient Illyrian legends, with whose analysis we can discern in greater detail the connection of the snake with other elements of this cult, especially wheat. In the book "Ancient pledged monuments on the locality of BiH" (1977), author Enver Imamović mentions an interesting piece of information about the connection of wheat and a female deity: "For example, in Herodotus we find data about a female deity among Paionians which are identified with the Greek Artemisia. Illyrian women sacrifice wheat straw to her". Artemisia is known as the goddess of hunting, nature and animals, all things that Illyrians ascribed to the goddess Tana. With this data we are closer to the conclusion that Tana is behind the Great Mother, often times depicted on reliefs and monuments alongside god Vidasus. Wheat plays a pronounced role in the cult of fertility and the act of offering of wheat to the goddess has the goal of securing her grace and successful harvest. Dominant symbol of the one that gives life, first deity in human history, for the Illyrians wheat represented the biggest sanctity but also ancient sin.

During the time of the Roman's i.e. Roman occupation there was a father with seven sons and one daughter in Illirika. At one opportunity the sons out of boredom and wanton took the bread out of the house, placed it on a larger stone and used it for target practice with spears. The father was unaware of their actions, but hearing their laughter he decided to see what was going on. At the same time, while the father was exiting the house, the spear of one of the sons hit the bread, and to everyone's surprise, blood started to flow out of it. Seeing this the father yelled at his boys, asking what they have done, because now they caused the wrath of gods, which will punish them surely. Punishment is ruthless since god's sentence sons to banishment and they have to leave the home, parting on all four sides of the globe, and the only ones left are the father and his daughter. Soon the father died out of great sorrow for his sons. The girl wept and mourned since she was the only one left in the house. The god's decided to turn her into a huge snake which will guard treasure in a deep cave and each year, during spring, she would go out onto the daylight, to have a chance to meet a hero, whose courage will be so great that he will kiss her between the eyes. If he performs this feat he will receive the treasure and the girl as his wife.

Besides being interesting, the legend reveals some historical facts such as sons leaving the home for such a long time that their father didn't live to see them return. Namely, after a long Illyrian uprising against the Romans, the occupying forces decided to send Illyrian men to the boarders of the Roman empire where they would serve the army for twenty or thirty years, after which they will be allowed to return home, if they survive. Sorrow and loneliness of the girl and her transformation into a snake, symbol of fertility, similarly speak of girls which couldn't get married and achieve motherhood because of the lack of men. But, more than that, the appearance of the snake in spring hints to awakening of fertility in nature, regeneration of the eternal cycle of new birth, and throughout the entire content of the myth, we have a few crucial elements which mutually agree and complement each other: young men, whose sexual power is represented by a spear - phallus, and bread the symbol of the Grand Mother, i.e. virgin, which is being penetrated by a spear, act of defloration. We shouldn't leave out the meaning of number 9 (seven sons, father and daughter) which is the number of the Grand Mother, with which this legend represents one of the oldest Illyrian legends which remained in the collective conscience of our people. Also, bread placed on the stone and punctured with a spear could represent a type of sacrifice to Illyrian gods before the men leave for war.

In another Illyrian legend there is talk of a time of wellbeing, when the people lived in times of plentiful food; the people developed hubris and became ungrateful. In their arrogance they made shoes out of bread which angered the gods and they punished them with a period of hunger and poverty.

In this legend also we notice historical sequences about a period of peace i.e. wellbeing and a period of war (hunger), which are always connected with god's of fertility, which is understandable if we take into consideration the fact that survivability of people depended on their fertility from the beginning of times. That's why in traditional Bosnian belief we come across numerous taboos tied to bread;

it's a large sin to trample bread crumbs;

bread shouldn't be turned upside down on the table;

you shouldn't walk down the street and eat bread.

Hearth as the centre of a household and a place where bread was baked is holly and it is forbidden to thread on it, i.e. undertake blasphemy.

Not even rain was allowed to fall on the hearth that's why the dormers was closed every night, otherwise an owl could fly inside the house, personification of death in ancient beliefs of our people. Namely, if an owl enters the house through a dormer, the entire family will die.

One even swears on bread, namely, if it so happens that a person is talking while eating and holding bread in his hand he would utter: "It was like that, I swear by this nimet (bread)!"


Bogomil demon of disease

One of the grand authorities of Bogomil religion is a priest called Jeremiah (Jeremija), for which many historians presumed that he could have been the famed Bogomil preiest, founder of Bogomilsm. But, what is certain is that Jeremiah was indeed a Bogomil, and this was confirmed to us by Atanasij, a Jerusalem monk. Without a doubt, we are talking about a very interesting historical person, an extraordinary mind and the biggest religious authority in this part of Europe and we could easily call him the Balkan Zarathustra. Jeremiah is credited with authorship over a number of popular, but forbidden works, but today it is obvious that many of those books had other Bogomil authors.

In Russia all those books were called by a collective name "Bulgarian basma (spell)" and they were extremely popular among the folk, which can also be discerned from the inscriptions of the Belarus translation by Iohannes Damascenus from the 16th century, in which the translator complains: "We haven't even translated the tenth honourable book of our teachers, because of the laziness and neglect of our nobility; and additionally the so called teachers of our century are entertained by Bulgarian basma, Bulgarian magical formulas, or better to say, old wives foolery, they read these things and laud them".

That the Bogomil religion left a deep trace in Bosnian tradition is evident from numerous examples, and some can be found through this analysis. By investigating available data about Jeremiah and his books I discovered another Bogomil belief in Bosnia about the demons of disease. Namely, the Bulgarian folk believed in a type of dangerous witches, or better to say, female demons which attack humans in various ways. They were called Tresavice. According to the writing of Jeremiah they were daughters of Irud and they were seven in number. Among the Russians, which latter took this belief, those demons were 12 in total.

In the Russian version of Jeremiah's exorcist formula (basma) this text is mentioned: "There is a stone pillar in the red sea (in the original basma: Mount Sinai), apostle Sisinij sits on the pillar and observes how the sea has been agitated and how it rises up to the sky and twelve long haired women are coming out of it (in the original: seven). Those women said: We are Tresavice, daughters of the king Irod". Holly Sisinij asked them: "cursed devils, why did you come here?" They replied: "We came to torture the human kind; whomever interests us we will follow and torture him: who oversleeps the morning prayer, doesn't pray to God, doesn't respect holidays and eats and drinks early in the morning, he is our favourite! Holly Sisinij prayed to god: God, God! Save the human race from these damned devils. Christ sent him two angels, Sihail and Anos and four evangelists. They started beating the Tresavice with four iron rods, causing them three thousand wounds a day." In the rest of the basma the tortured demons revealed their names and ways in which they torture people: Treseja, Ognjeja, Ledeja, Gnjeteja, Ginuša, Gluheja, Lomeja, Puhnjeja, Žuteja, Krkuša, Gledeja and Neveja.

But, in contrast to Russian, Bosnian folk medicine mentions a total of seven female demons: Mraza, Tvora, Otrovnica, Činilica, Krvopilica, Strava and Mora, of which, each in their own way tortures a man. However, only a few exorcist formulas were kept about a few demons such as the ones against Mora or Strava, while for others, for now, I didn't manage to find any valid data.

Nežit or poganica

Nežit is also another type of dangerous demon of disease against which the Bogomil priest Jeremiah revealed exorcist formulas through which he emphasizes the dualistic battle of good and evil, with the goal of releasing the human body i.e. healing. One of those formulas reads:

Nežit went from the dry sea, while Jesus went from the sky, they met and Jesus told him: "where are you going, Nežit? Nežit replied: "Sir, I'm going into a human's head, to drink his brain, brake his jaw, bite his teeth, bend his neck and deafen his ears, blind his eyes, stuff his nose, spill his blood. Jesus told him: "go back, Nežit, into a desolate valley and desert, find a deer head and move into it, etc."

After the basma has been uttered one would continue with the religious prayers until all the negative effects of this demon has disappeared. As we can see from the above text of the basma, the meeting between Jesus and Nežit is described, where the demon reveals ways in which he will torture humans, while Jesus discourages him and tells him to inhabit a deer's head, etc. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in all places where Bogumils lived, the belief in Nežit has been preserved, over time Nežit was beginning to be called poganica, we will discuss this later.

Nežit or Poganica - demon disease

According to etymology the name nežit and poganica have an interesting origin. Nežit is a term which comes from the term "neither alive nor dead", because of the state the person is in which is afflicted by this disease, while poganica comes from the term pogan(sordid) or unclean, or even pagan, i.e. we could look for the origin of poganica in the demons function from the ancient times, which the demon actually represents, namely an evil spirit which in some ancient time in the religious history of our region, represented one of the numerous dieties. Undeniably the belief in nežit was present in each territory where at some period during the middle ages Bogomils lived or even if their religion was present in that area. Therefore, for example, in Herzegovina and a part of Dalmatia, it was believed that this disease appears mostly through unexpected pain in human limbs, while there is no visible wound. If the diseased feels weakness and dizziness, the diagnosis is, without a doubt, poganica.

Folk belief from all parts of BiH coincide in the belief that poganica manifests in a mysterious and secret way, usually as a manifestation of spellbound eyes, evil gaze, black magic or by a person accidentally "stepping" on it. During one of the enumerated extreme cases an evil spirit of disease enters into a human and "through blood" attacks the person, or better to say, "travels" through the body, which is identical to folk description of how poganica can appear on any place on the body. That's why, similarly, it is believed that poganica originates from a hematoma, place where "blood has gathered".

According to some specific symptoms, poganica can even be characterized as an imaginary illness, since it is demonstrated by a weird, even phantom pain, which suddenly and unexpectedly appears. But, in order to remove the veil of mysticism, we need to studiously fathom in all it represents in folk medicine, how it is detected and cured. According to the symptoms which follow poganica has the most congruence with rheumatism (Rheumatismus) and gout (Greek, ostealgia), since it is manifested in acute pain, usually in the bones of the arms and legs, neck but also the head.

What is interesting to mention is the fact that poganica is sometimes used to name diseases for which people cannot find an obvious and visible cause. In Bosnia, since the old days, it is claimed that one disease, if treated on time, carries with it another, often more dangerous, disease. A classic example can be found, in the traditional fear that individual wounds on the child's body won't become inflamed and result in two inflammations, or more often, that a hematoma (uboj) doesn't transform into a poganica. This archaic belief is the product of mythological belief of pagan Bosnia when the belief that wounds on human bodies, especially ones that have blood oozing out of them, attract evil spirits of disease and stimulate them to attack the diseased through them.


Kučibaba or Baba kukača

Among the Bosnian Catholics and Orthodox there is a belief in a grandma with a hook, which is called kučibaba or grandma kukača. This mythological being was used to scare little children to prevent them from approaching a well or the bank of a river since they could be caught by the grandma with her hook and they could be pulled towards her.

Behind the name kučibaba a Russian female demon is hidden called Baba Jaga, which is among the Russians identified as a cannibal witch since she feeds off the flesh of children which she catches and kills. In certain legends it is considered that she is the protector of streams and running water, which is why she is connected with streams and water in general in stories of Bosnian Catholic and Orthodox Christians.

Though the belief in kučibaba (Baba Jagi) is not present among Bosniaks, it is interesting to note that they told stories of Grandpa and Grandma (Did i Baba) to their children, Bogomil priest and his wife, in the form of humorous stories. Therefore extremely popular were the stories of the Grandpa sending the Grandma to the stream to get some water in a griddle and the Grandma cooked a bitch instead of a chicken out of revenge, etc. Such stories stemmed from the middle ages and as we can see they were transferred generation through generation.


Two angels of the afterlife

As Antun Hangi wrote in his anthological edition about the tradition and life of Bosnian people after funeral, when the gathered people leave the cemetery, i.e. move 40 steps from the grave, Suvaldžije or Suradžije come to the deceased to prepare suval for him, i.e. ask him about his earthly life. When Suradžije come the deceased comes to life, but not in the form that he lived on earth, he is in some hypnotic state, from which he will answer all the questions that will be posed to him. According to Bosnian mythology, Suvaldžije are two angels which are called Munkir and Nekir. They're in charge of asking certain questions based on which the decision if the soul will go to heaven or hell will be made. First questions to which the deceased will answer are: "Who is your God?". He will reply: "My God is Allah". Then comes the second question: "What is qibla to you?" - "Qibla is my Mecca". "Who is God's messenger?" - "God's messenger is Muhammad". The questioning doesn't end, then comes the second round of mysterious questions about which people know nothing about. But we can presume that they are tied to the character and good deeds. If the deceased was a good Muslim, i.e. if he was a true believer and if he followed the rules of the religion and abided by them, he will then answer positively and quickly to all questions. The result in the end will be that Suvaldžija will take his soul to heaven. After his soul has been taken to heaven, his grave will be widened so that his body doesn't suffer, since the body of the just will not see judgment day. If the deceased was not a real Muslim and he hasn't died in god's grace and the real fate which was revealed by Muhammad, he cannot then reply to all the questions, and his soul will be taken by Suvaldžija and thrown into hell, which the deceased earned with his inadequate life and character.


Illyrian religion

By its natural wealth Bosnia and Herzegovina was always full of forests and numerous water streams, which by itself, in a very logical manner, predetermined the religious system of the Illyrians, this system was entirely dedicated to worshiping natural forces. This is why Tana and Vidasus became symbols, but also personifications of the human environment, and as such they signified the strength of nature and everything that nature offers to mankind. With them, of course, comes an entire pantheon of other gods and goddesses such as Bindu, Tur, Anzotik, or the divine serpent Boa, whose roles in the religious system were not negligible. But, as a starting point for further observation when researching ways of healing by our forefathers the most important are Vidasus, Tana, Tur and Bind.

What we need to stress at the beginning is the fact that thanks to these deities of our forefathers, today we can be proud that we have a durable cult of healing, which has a deep reach in the ancient times. Documented data from the National Museum in Sarajevo present examples of continued ritual practice of visiting streams and washing the diseased, which ends in leaving a piece of clothing or food next to the stream or even throwing a coin inside of it, which is without a doubt a preserved tradition of respecting and seeking help from god Bind, which our forefathers the Illyrians worshiped as a deity of streams. In pagan Bosnia he was offered animal sacrifices, usually of smaller animals such as goats, which was latter exchanged by symbolic gifts. Cult of Bind was especially dominant in the part of Bosnia, which was dominated by Japod's, as well as boarder parts of the Croatia at that time, especially in Lika, where it was practiced until the middle of the previous century. Belief that spring water, especially the one taken before sunrise, medicinal and suitable for healing is another segment of the mentioned cult.


Tana and Vidasus

Sculptures which depict god Vidasus, sometimes accompanied by Tana, show him encircled by girls dancing or in the form of nymphs, water faeries. Beside the data which confirm that the Bosnian folk were familiar with faeries from ancient times, this information is extremely important for further study about correlation with persons which came into direct contact with faeries and gained healing powers as well as texts of spells. From Bosnian tradition we know that faeries are skilled in healing with medicinal herbs and spring water in which, according to legends, they would bathe.

What was especially interesting to notice when gathering materials for this research are individual ways of initiation of certain persons into the world of magic and healing and for which it is impossible not to find a direct link with Tan, Vidasus or even a snake, holly totem of our forefathers.

-"Bosnian folk believes that spells are a gift from spirits, especially faeries, which is evidenced by numerous testimonies about initiation. A large part of older women in the past that used to work with spells were illiterate and they used to live in villages. Their initiation into supernatural was always based on weird dreams in which young and beautiful girls used to appear, usually three, they would teach the chosen woman healing formulas in the dream. There are different examples. According to sayings of a well-known witch from Velika Kladuša called Ćanka, an unknown man and woman appeared in her dream, clad in white clothes. They pulled her by her large toe and "woke her". Then they told her that they chose her to heal and help people. Another woman received her initiation into the world of magic by a snake bite. Namely, at one time while she was out working in the field she got tired and she laid down to rest. Without realising she fell asleep and when she woke up she felt pain in her lips. As soon as she came home she saw that her lips were swollen and dark. She quickly went to a doctor who determined that she was bitten by a snake. It wouldn't have been a sensational event if she hadn't felt that she "knew" strange things and that suddenly she knew how to perform love magic and cure people of it."


Cult of god Tur

In folk religion of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is based on Illyrian traditional beliefs, some segments of the Bosnian god Tur were preserved thanks to the cult of spells (magical formulas); in Bosnian mythology it was believed that Tur was a gigantic black bull who held earth on his back. The name Tur itself probably comes from poturiti, onaj koji potura, drži nešto ili pridržava (plant, someone who places under, upholds or holds something) which fully corresponds to the function which is ascribed to this mythological being. Though according to the writings of ethnologists the belief about the gigantic bull who is holding up earth is only found among the Bosnian people, some segments of that cult are present in the magical practice of all three people in our country. We are talking about healing rituals of cattle where women or men who perform these rituals preform a spring ritual of transmission of divine power of Tur in order to gain his blessing or power of healing.

Namely, in folk religion of Bosnia the snail is a miniature representation of the bull Tur since it possesses attributes which symbolise the bull: horns and house on his body which symbolises earth. It is no less interesting to mention that for the ritual of touching, a dark coloured snail is often sought, since the bull Tur was described as being of a black skin or hair, therefore the Bosnian people in the northwest part of Bosnia call him Garonja (black). Significance of touching the snail is the magical connection with earth, in which Tur lives, otherwise in Bosnian mythology is the only culprit for causing earthquakes, and calming Tur, personification of the earth's strength, which is clearly visible in the formula which follows ritual touching of the snails horns: "Ustuk biče, moje biče jače!" (stand down bull, my strength is bigger than the bull's)

When a woman from the surrounding area of Mostar would gain the power of healing livestock, she would use her index finger of her right hand to touch the horns of a dark snail three times, pulling her finger down his body, backwards, uttering the following spell: "Stu na se! Stu natrag, ne znalo ti se za trag. Stu na se. Od Boga derman a od mog iladž!" (Go back, go back, may your origin be unknown, go back! From God the cure and my labour recovery). As we can see from the examples, touching the horns of the snail is nothing but a magical imitation of touching horns of Tur, whose entire strength rests in them, and using that force to heal, since that is the energy of earth or Grand Mother. It is believed that after such a transfer of power from the snail onto a woman or man, a person can use their acquired powers to cure throughout the entire year.

A diseased animal is brought to a rock which is firmly fixed into the ground, i.e. it never moved from that place, which is alluding to a tombstone, then the woman which is performing the healing ritual uses her index finger to make three circles around the diseased part of the body and utters: "stu natrag!" (an abbreviation of "come, tread, move"). She then spits on her index finger uttering: "Ptuj, u živac, u kamen, stu natrag!" she repeats this three times.

Right index finger in folk medicine is the finger of healing and is brought into connection with the finger of Hazrat Alija, who is always depicted with a raised index finger as a symbol of god's wisdom but also blessing. This is no coincidence since Hazrat Fatima and her husband Hazrat Ali in folk medicine, especially in Iran and Turkey, are regarded as a couple who have ascribed mystic properties to them, among which are healing properties. In north-western part of Bosnia, in Velika Kladuša and Cazin, right index finger is represented in the prayer to the new moon which is pointed towards the moon after uttering five short (smaller) surah, then a spell is uttered with which one aims to renew vitality and beauty of the body.

According to traditional belief for this magical transmission one would chose the period from the beginning of May until the middle of the month which is no coincidence, namely, it was a custom in the past to slaughter a bull (once people used to say: "We'll slaughter a bull for the first of the May!"), which was a symbol in the former Yugoslav republic of labour day, however, that practice of slaughtering animals, i.e. sacrificing a bull on our territory is an ancient practice and stems directly from Illyrians. All of this of course has its roots on the cult of Tur and mother earth or goddess Grand Mother.

Actually, today's holiday St. George's day, which is observed on May 6th among the Bosnian orthodox Christians, is not a Christian holiday at all, nor any other, it has been taken over from paganism. In this data we can find an answer as to why Bosnian people, former members of the Church of Bosnia before the advent of Christianity, were pagans, therefore it is normal and logical to conclude that they, like other people, did not fully renounce their old religion. Instead they continued under the veil of Christianity and later Islam to celebrate the holidays of their pagan forefathers. That's why among the Bosnian folk some so called "Christian" holidays were marked (observed) but not in a religious but magical way i.e. the original pagan way, during which destiny was foretold, spells uttered and livestock protected from evil spirits and diseases.

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Zduhači or Stuhe

The wealth of Bosnian mythology is certainly reflected in numerous names for various beings from the folklore such as guzenzuba, previdi, more, leptirice, plakavac, div, buka, kučibaba, kamenica... Though Bosnia and Herzegovina is a relatively small country often a few names signify one mythological being such as bird-child soul called Plačo, Plakavac, Buka, Meknjača, or for example name for a witch: leptirica, naletnica, sihirbaza, guzenzuba, etc.

Certain mythological beings are tied to geographically small areas such as kamenica and are therefore relatively unknown or there is only mention of them in folk stories. Such is the case with divovi (giants) which among the Bosnian people exist solely in folk tales and stories (Folk short stories, author Munib Maglajić, Esma Smailbegović, Svjetlost, 1978) where cannibals are described while in folklore there is no mention of any memorable giants or a belief about them.

But, when we talk about stuhe or zduhači it is very interesting to mention the data that in BiH, where we come across a widespread belief in stuhe or zduhače, together with border territories of Montenegro, Serbia and Croatia, we can find tombstones. This information is very important since it leads to a conclusion that stuhe or zduhači were probably guardians of tombstones, which was modified after the Middle ages into the belief that stuhe are guardians of a place. In the parts of Bosnia where there are no findings of tombstones there is no mention of stuhe nor mention of a local zduhač, no matter the religious affiliation.


Karanđoloz and Psoglav

Three demonic beings which were used to scare people are karanđoloz, kučibaba and psoglav. Karanđoloz is a dark demon from the Turkish folklore about which there is a belief in Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is believed that he wears an iron shirt and that he smells horribly. Karanđoloz has a habit of jumping on one's back at an intersection in order to be carried around. He is a nocturnal being and appears only then.

Psoglav (doghead) is a mythological being of Bosnian Orthodox which stems from Russia. It is described as a human being with legs of a horse and the head of a dog. It has teeth of steel and an eye on the middle of the forehead. It is used to scare disobedient children.



Another mythological being about which there are a lot of stories and beliefs in Bosnia is Aždaha which is described by people to be fat and round as a stump, it can devour a goat, has no wings and can be heard when an hour away. "Wherever it comes it will create havoc or evil". According to mythology aždaha which devoured the sun was called Sap. A long time ago there were three suns in the sky and the aždahe which lived in the lake ate two and cut into the third one. People shot cannons at them in vain. Then a gypsy came and said: "Don't do it like that, slaughter a hundred sheep, skin them, fill them with plaster and throw them into the lake in order for aždaha to come out." When they threw plaster the aždahe thought it was a sheep, they ate them and died.


Living dead - lampiri

Vampire is a Bulgarian word, which comes from north Turkish word upir. That's why there is a logical question - did the belief in vampires even exist before the advent of the Ottomans to the Balkans?! According to the available data we can conclude that such mythological beliefs in the territory of the Balkans did not exist until the Ottomans came, which confirmed by the issue "Karadžić svesci" from 1900 where folk tales are described about how Muhammad became a vampire since "the Turks took care that no one leapt over Muhammad and not if someone stole him, since they believed in vampires".

The first known vampire in the Balkans is the one from Istra, Jure Grando, whose existence was documented in 1689. Jure Grando from a place Kringa, not far from Pazin, died in 1656 when Stipan Milašić decapitated him with an axe. There are testimonies about Jure the vampire in the work "Slava vojvodine Kranjske" from the Slovenian historian Janez Vajkarda Valvazor (Johann Weikhard von Valvasor).

Among the Bosnian people, both in BiH and Sandžak (Sanjak), the most widespread name for a vampire is lampir. According to etymology the name lampir stems from the folk name for a butterfly - lepir, lampijer, which is confirmed by the Bosnian belief that the vampire exits the grave through a small hole in the ground in the shape of a butterfly. In Serbia and Montenegro lampir is often called ukolak, which is why in some places in Bosnia we come across the name vukodlak (werewolf), though he has no real connection with the lampir.

Prevalent opinion about the lampir among the Bosnian folk is animistic i.e. it is a "rogue spirit" of a man who died i.e. his spirit mysteriously received such power that even without a soul it can temporarily resurrect a dead body:

-"But, in order to die we must be born, feel life for at least a moment, in order for our spirit and soul to achieve a balance, since without this alignment with two universal principles, or with two deities of our forefathers Bogomils, we cannot enter the adventure called death. Folk wisdom claims that the spirit is the representative of the god of evil and the soul, pure and holly, it represents the god of good inside of us. While the spirit has the possibility to, usually at night while the man is sleeping, go out of the body and travel the world and also perform some weird, often bad things and bring us into various temptations, the soul is firmly fixed for the human body and there is no possibility of exiting it until death*"

Lampiri are socially aware. They know how to return to their home, make love to their spouse or disturb the neighbours by throwing rocks on their roof. Business is not strange to them, namely, "some lampir, stemming from Herzegovina, had his own store in Sarajevo where he sold all goods by a yardstick (scales), so when they pierced him in his birth place, they forcefully tried to break his store, but the store was nothing more but spider web and snowdrift. When people find out that someone in the village has become a vampire, then they make a fire on that person's grave and they sharpen a hawthorn stick to puncture the dead person's stomach. When a strong stick has been made with hammers it is bashed to bring him into the grave." In the descriptions of the treatment of the lampir among the Bosnian people we cannot but notice an almost identical treatment toward the soul and the dead which the angels Azrail and Džibril have according to Bosnian mythology:

-"Such belief confirms the belief that when the deceased is buried he is visited in the grave by angels, judges, Azrail and Džibrail. They question the deceased about his good deeds and sins, and if he is sinful they hit him and bury him into the ground. Folk claim that they can bury him up to 77 meters into the ground".**(Soul and death in Bosnian tradition, author Raif Esmerović)

Making a fire on the grave is obviously alluding to the fire from hell which swallows the souls of the evil and sinful people. It is used to scare the deceased, moreover, give him a mortal fear so that the spirit runs from the body, which will then be decapitated and made unsuitable for use by puncturing its stomach. Lampiri can be very aggressive.

According to the documented case of Ahmed Ramov Mujović from Montenegro who got into a fight with this supernatural being. Coming back home one night from ploughing, "something stopped his oxen and they couldn't move forward". Seeing this he shouted: "Please if you are ukolak, but a devil, but a human, move away, by my faith I will return again". Then he went home, took his sabre, two pistols and a rifle and returned to that place where he shouted: "Where are ye that has waited for me?" at that moment ukolak appeared. They fought until the roosters sounds were heard. Tomorrow Ahmed came back to that same spot and found out that it was a lampir. He followed the bloody trail and arrived at the yard of the family Puranović. They found him there in the grave, they burnt him with quicklime and stuck him on to a stake made out of the tree Prunus spinosa.


Dwarf Perkman

Political rise of Bosnia was followed from the first part of the XIV century by a corresponding development and progress. By expansion of the territories of medieval Bosnian state naturally the scope of trade had increased, which in its basis had the rise of production, especially mining. Bosnia was rich in ore and metal which were produced and processed in numerous places: Fojnica, Zenica, Vareš, Kakanj, Srebrenica, Foča, Banja Luka, Tuzla, Goražde, Ustikolina and Zvornik. Significant source of income for the rulers and nobility were the mines, especially of silver and lead. Migration of the Germans and the Slavs covered the continuous development of ancient mining in the late ancient and early medieval period on the territory of Bosnia. Mining still existed, but with reduced capacity on the traces of the ancient mines. A greater swing in the development of mining belongs only to the developed middle ages. The reason for these improvements is found in the fact that after the shortage of noble metals in western and middle Europe, a general search began for the metals which had its reflection also on this territory. For that purpose the German miners sasi or Saxons (German tribe) were employed, they were specialised in finding and organizing exploitation of ores. This is why Srebrenica was the homeland of the miners spirit, dwarf Perkman, north-German mythological being. Remnants of the medieval mining works for which it is believed that during their excavation the merry dwarf Perkman helped, they are visible by the promenade which leads towards the spa from the city.


Soul and death in Bosnian tradition

Death which represents the end of life, is probably the main "culprit" why the belief in supernatural appeared among the human civilizations. Inexplicable fear from that strange condition and generally panic from disappearing caused among the people on the entire globe frustrations and eternal questions from the earliest times - why are we born and why do we die? Though we don't know the answer to this question even today, yet we as a civilization tried to fill the world with things in order to introduce some order and thereby give a certain sense to everything we do.

This is why humans invent religion, its unrestrained imagination creates a large number of imaginary beings which surround him, and despite numerous human characteristics, still they have some exaltation which separates them from the world of humans. Throughout centuries religion experiences its constant trend, upgrades, adjusts to human advancement and finally in ancient Iran it receives its present nature through dualism of Persians Manesa and the prophet Zarathustra, on whose principles monotheism is born - direction which tries to convince us in the absurd i.e. how it is possible that in the universe there are two principles - good and evil, but that only one principle is important and the second one is less important?! Because of such an erroneous religious idea in Bosnia and Herzegovina around the tenth century, and probably even sooner, a revolutionary religious direction started to spread fast which seriously impairs the rigid Christian doctrine, it propagates that through the world, but also the universe, two equally important deities rule between which exists man and his primary spiritual mission to clean his soul from sins, and after death to return it to heaven. Such a claim is pretty rational, if we take into consideration the definition that according to the principles of quant physics all matter is actually condensed energy and that this is the reason why all of us are beings of energy or beings of light, what leads us into traditional belied in the spirit and soul, which every human possesses.

But, in order to die we must be born, feel life for at least a moment, in order for our spirit and soul to achieve a balance, since without this alignment with two universal principles, or with two deities of our forefathers Bogomils, we cannot enter the adventure called death. Folk wisdom claims that the spirit is the representative of the god of evil and the soul, pure and holly, it represents the god of good inside of us. While the spirit has the possibility to, usually at night while the man is sleeping, go out of the body and travel the world and also perform some weird, often bad things and bring us into various temptations, the soul is firmly fixed for the human body and there is no possibility of exiting it until death.



Spirit and soul as two abstract terms are actually a basic framework of the entire spiritual thread which spans through the human race since its beginning. In Bosnian mythological beliefs it is an extremely dominant idea of similar, almost identical, representation of a few supernatural aspects of man himself. Namely, when we analyse some segments of traditional representations about the human spirit and soul, which are often not differentiated in folk tales which causes confusion, wild nature is clearly evident which according to mythological notion represents the essence of every man. While in classic European mythology the spirit, but also the soul, is represented by a see-through white silhouette, which in a human form hover through the air or suddenly appear and disappear, in Bosnian representation the spirit mostly resembles an energy ball whose shape has an astonishing similarity with a mouse. Certain mythological tradition describe the appearance of the soul as "fruit of the apple tree" i.e. such a description actually associates us with a light ball which exits a hole (mouth) and moves with fast steps towards the surface, emitting sounds similar to a mouse squeak. With such a comparison one receives an impression that the energy is restless and nervous, i.e. unrestrained, which it proves by exiting the human body.

A mouse was not chosen accidentally for the totem animal since it is used for the description of other supernatural events, closely tied to humans themselves. Some of the examples are as follows:

- Mouse in the folk tale about Noah's ark is an extremely negative character who wanted to let water in by trying to create a hole in the ark, and destroy the entire world. He would probably succeed if he wasn't prevented by the snake. Actually, the mouse is the incarnation of evil, a demon which wants to destroy mankind.

- snijet, which in mythology in Bosnia and Herzegovina is considered to be a dragon seed after intercourse with a woman, it is described as a small hairy creature, which resembles a mole or mouse, which runs and squeaks, even climbing walls in fear of a human hand touching it, or even worse, getting killed by a broom from one of the present women.

- in exotic séances of Bosnian dervishes and Imam's, in the ritual known as "skupljanje daire", the final sign of a successful performance, usually curing a mentally ill person, is the hanged or dead mouse on a nearby bridge. This is a signal that the Jinn use to show that the Jinn attacker has been punished by the severest punishment.


Ubiquitous Bogomil tradition

The human spirit is very restless. When a man is sleeping the spirit exits the body and walks away. The man dreams where the spirit goes, and when it returns into the body, the sudden energy surge wakes the man up. The spirit in Bosnian mythology is described as an etheric apparition which squeals. As for the soul, so as for the human spirit a bridge represents a very strong barrier and prevents it from further movement, namely, as soon as the spirit comes across a bridge during his nightly travels, he cannot cross it, it gets restless starts squealing and screaming. If someone would catch that mouse, the sleeper whose spirit is represented by the mouse would die immediately.

In Bosnian mythological representation a bridge is a notion of a place with high energy, which besides connecting two shores in the material level, on the spiritual it has the meaning of a spiritual portal through which the soul passes or perishes on its journey.

According to belief from south-eastern part of Bosnia a child's spirit is especially restless, like the child itself, it is restless and always in the mood for movement and games. Aware of this older women still today warn young mothers when moving a sleeping child from one place to another or if waking it to do it carefully, calling him by his name and pulling it lightly by the nose. If the child is a heavy sleeper they would imitate the sound of a mouse (cccc) in order to draw attention to the wandering spirit, this would force him back into the body. Otherwise, if the child would awake and the spirit hasn't returned, they would risk the child would fall ill mentally and physically.

Also for an adult the same rule applies, it should not awake suddenly, since its spirit is far away, traveling across the world. Apparently such a person could physically attack, start kicking the person that is awaking him at such an unpleasant moment. In that case it is necessary for such a person to be taken to the place where he is sleeping, for it to lie there again, and stay there until it awakes. If this is not done, the person could have some mental issues all its life.

As it is narrated among the Bosnian folk, according to the Bogomil principles, the human spirit belongs to the god of evil and the soul to the god of good. This is why it is believed that witches and wizards have to sell their souls to Iblis or some other ranked Jinn, in order to engage in magical practice and rule the unseen forces. They perform this with a ritual, usually by bringing the holly book Qur'an inside the bathroom and urinating or defecating on it. This is why the soul was purposefully exchanged for a certain power, the soul is trapped and no longer belongs to the human.

After such a situation and the disturbance of the equilibrium of good and evil, the human spirit in the body of the witch or wizard becomes extremely powerful but also evil and is capable of making various evil deeds. While the witch is sleeping, the spirit exits her, and the body gets a blue hue and becomes cold, almost as if she died, which is the consequence of a trapped soul. Her mouth gaps open and become black. It is considered that a spirit of a common man is capable of doing bad things during its nightly travels, such as attacking someone along the way, but this spirit like the witches spirit avoids crossing over all bridges which it encounters.

Similar belief exits in Iranian - Arabic occultism where it is claimed that every human possesses its astral doppelganger. Haamzad or Qarin is the name for the Jinn which follows the man at all times and tries to influence negatively his conscious and his behaviour. Qarin is the only Jinn which cannot be destroyed with exorcism or in any other way.


Soul tied to Halal

Soul is the holder of human destiny. In BiH it is believed that Allah in the first 40 days of inception in the mother's womb determines what the destiny and life of the child i.e. future man, shall be. This is why it is considered that only when the soul enters the embryo it can develop into a fetus and begin its formation. When a man is terminally ill his family and neighbours come to say goodbye - halale (forgive), in order to ease his death throes. Forgiveness is a very important segment of Islamic tradition, which shows mercy but also ensures an easier passing of the soul from the body. Namely, it is believed that the diseased dies in great pain and agony if someone who he has hurt won't forgive him. His parents, if alive, need to say their indulgences and by that comfort the diseased in his last moments.

How necessary halal is for the tranquillity of the soul is best described by a folk song. Sister in law while dying curses the bride Alibegovic. Time came for the bride to die, but she cannot separate from her soul which is why she asked to be carried to the tomb of her sister in law:

When they were close to the tomb,

From the tomb a small voice came:

Don't bring hither the cursed,

Until she has suffered enough!

They took her to the mountains, the mountains didn't want to take her, they took her to the water, the water threw her out. They brought her again to the sister in law. As soon as she forgave her, she immediately separated from the soul. How important halal (forgiveness) for the Bosnian people is, is testified by the custom that the person wronged by another says: "I shall die but I will not halaliti (forgive)!"

Bosnian people believe that the one who dies in the eve of Friday or during Eid is freed of all his sins, since then, it is believed, only the noble people die. Harbingers of death are numerous. In Velika Kladuša it is believed that when an old man starts to be dirty, no longer takes care of personal hygiene, or his favourite drink or food o longer tastes good that death is close by. Similarly, people give a lot of meaning to interpretation of dreams since through them one can foretell someone's imminent death. In dreams taking out a tooth and feeling pain, is a sign of death in the house, if the pain is not felt death will take place to other relatives. It is not considered favourable to plough or dig in dreams, and generally overturn earth, or see that the ground has cracked, at some location, since it foretells death in the family. Similar meaning is represented by a sunken foundation of the house or fallen beams from the roof. Such dreams are often disregarded or not shared for fear of them coming true. Usually as a counter measure it is said: "Dream is a lie and god is the truth" or, even, "Hey, let it be, thank Allah!"



According to traditional belief the soul and body during a human's lifetime create a whole. If the soul leaves the body forever - death occurs. The body will decompose over time and disappear, it is believed that the soul is eternal and immortal. The soul cannot disappear, but over time it changes its habitat and goes to an unknown world which is called Ahiret or another world.

The soul doesn't leave the body on its own, Azrail intervenes, who in Bosnian mythology described as a skinny man with long arms and wings. Instead of nails he has claws, like a bird, which he uses to rip the soul or take it out of the body.

General belief is that the soul leaves the body slowly, since it is wrapped around every joint 99 times, it exits through the nose and mouth. Only with a man who has been hanged the soul does not exit in this manner, instead it exits through the rectum and this is why it gets dirty which makes it difficult for it to go to the next world.

The soul leaves the body from the legs towards the head. This belief has a rational interpretation since the feet and hands go blue to the deceased. On its way from the body the soul can be disturbed and confused if there is a noise and weeping inside the house that's why a general rule is that there should be peace and quiet around the deceased. Otherwise the dying shall die painfully and for a long time. It is believed that sinful people die with difficulty and suffer mightily before death. To ease the final moments the person is descended from the bed onto the ground, on a strewn carpet, while his shoes and socks should be taken off so he doesn't die with his socks on, in that case he would lose his religion. Rings are mandatorily taken off from a female in order to ease the passing of the soul.

When Azrail rips the soul from the human he carries it to the seventh heavenly floor and gives it to Allah, where it stays until judgement day. According to another belief, angel Azrail takes the soul from the body and there his job end. Separated from the soul, the soul stays there, close, for a certain period. It can follow what is going on with its body, but without any emotions since exiting the body it became free of any feelings, in the house, on the way to the cemetery and in the grave itself.


Are you a Muslim?

When a girl or boy would die one would place a stalk of nacre (ruta graveolens) above their heads. According to the custom one places an herb of a distinct smell next to the deceased in order to chase the Jinn away. One would usually use nacre, whose bouquets often adorned the grave of a girl or a boy. Nacre is according to this an herb dedicated to the cult of the dead in Bosnian tradition.

As soon as a person would die one would make "dead man's paste" and would distribute it across the neighbourhood. Necessity to follow his departure into the other world with good deeds, in order to ease it, was pronounced before and during the funeral. That's why next to the head of the deceased one would place a bowl of flour, or wheat, with a few tallow candles stuck inside of it. On the next day the candles and the flour were given to the poor.

According to folk knowledge, the deceased should be buried as soon as possible. Depending on the case the funeral should be done the same day, and if death occurred at midnight or during the evening - then the next day. If the person died suddenly in his bed, and he wasn't lowered to the floor prior to that, to die there, then it is done once he has died. His head is tied with a bandana and his eyelids are squeezed, so he can have a nice face. The deceased is placed so that his body is straight, it used to be a habit to tie the thumbs on the legs in order for the body to keep that position, while a heavy object was placed on the stomach, such as a knife, or a piece of earth, out of fear that the dead body wouldn't bloat, since that was explained as him "prikazati" i.e. - becoming a lampir. This is the reason why the house cat was locked away until the funeral has passed, out of fear that the cat will cross the deceased' body.

Deceased is covered with a white sheet and positioned so that his right cheek is turned in the direction of the holly city Mecca. One of the inhabitants, using a straight stick, takes a measure of the deceased, which is called "unčija" or "ulčija" in order to know the length of ćefin, the cloth of the dead, and digging of the grave. When the deceased is taken from the house, to the outside then care is taken that a part of him doesn't get stuck by a door or wall, since if that happens, it is believed, that his spirit will come back to the house and will disturb the inhabitants.

Bosnian folk believe that the soul can return home up to 40 days after the funeral. That's why lights or candles were turned on in the room where he lie, for the entire period, among the more affluent families, while the poor families would practice this ritual for seven or three nights. Place where the deceased was bathed was passed with fire, so that the Jinn and devils don't gather, and the room in which he lie was sprayed with water or was washed "so that the soul doesn't return". If the room was swept after the body was taken out, then the broom would be thrown far from the house.

After the body of the deceased is washed and all present men and women forgive him, halaliti, the body is taken to the grave where it is buried with a prayer. It is believed that when the Imam leaves the graveyard, since he has uttered all the necessary verses and prayers, the soul stays in the community of the dead. An interesting belief is that during the Imam's question of the deceased: "Are you a Muslim?" - the deceased in the grave lifts his entire body on the small finger of his right hand and answers readily: "I am a Muslim!" He does so that he is received by the dead. It is evident that the soul, according to belief, can resurrect the body so that it can lift itself up.


Bridge for souls

Such belief confirms the belief that when the deceased is buried he is visited in the grave by angels, judges, Azrail and Džibrail. They question the deceased about his good deeds and sins, and if he is sinful they hit him and bury him into the ground. Folk claim that they can bury him up to 77 meters into the ground. In some parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina it is believed that the worst case scenario for the deceased is to be buried in the eve of Tuesday and Saturday, since then he will be visited by scary Jinn called suhaladžije, which beat the deceased until they break and shatter all his bones.

Road from this earthly world leads to heaven across a bridge called sirat bridge, which is according to belief "thinner than a hair, sharper than a sword, longer than thousand kilometres". Underneath the bridge is a scary chasm - hell. There a large and powerful hell fire for which it is claimed among the Bosnian people that it is so hot and strong that no earthly fire can compare to it "since our fire is washed by 99 waters". Apparently, when out of "spite" only one spark from hell fire would jump out the entire world would burn. That fire heats up a cauldron which contains a black mass "tar like", which is boiling and when sinners fal in it they are turning like bean beads in a boiling pot.

The soul of the deceased slowly crosses the bridge (thousand kilometres). That road could be cut shorter and the road could be crossed sooner if for Eid he would sacrifice his best, most healthy ram. The soul of the ram -kurban, will carry him across the bridge "like a horse", it is believed.

Depending on the region of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Sandžak, the people have their beliefs on the movement of the soul. One part of the belief claims that the soul of the deceased leaves the earth after seven days, graveyards and the house and across the siratbridge carrying the good and bad deeds tries to reach the blissful, eternal life. It is believed that the man, while crossing the sirat bridge, carries the good deeds in his right hand or right shoulder, and the bad deeds on his left shoulder or left hand which he is hiding behind his back, that's why he is walking sideways so that the judge (Allah) has a harder time seeing the sins. Similarly, it is believed that the head needs to be raised high, and eyes looking at the sky. So that the soul doesn't see where it is walking when crossing the bridge. Out of many other beliefs a very interesting one is that if the deceased had sexual intercourse with someone else's wife during his lifetime, her menstrual blood will drip into his mouth and he will fall into hell. A similar punishment will be given to the one who has denounced a woman, broke up a wedding or killed someone.


Love - road towards heaven

Among the Bosnian people, especially in the south-western part of BiH, there is a custom that every family have their own graves, which are usually placed in the vicinity of the house. There is documented proof that there was a custom of burying the dead in the woods, yards or underneath bushes. In old graves one could usually see, especially around Sarajevo, a planted tree above the grave, so that often, the graveyard resembled a forest. This practice was familiar in the entire country. Reason for this was the desire to ensure good deeds to the dead, namely, if one would plant a cherry tree the fruit would be eaten by birds so called "bird's alms", which should ease the soul of the dead. But, there is probably a deeper tradition behind this practice, Illyrian one, dedicated to the cult of the deity of nature and fertility, Tana and Vidasus, therefore the act of planting a tree next to the deceased would have the role of gift for the ancient gods, such as, for example, the practice of leaving gifts at the spring to god Bindu with the goal of seeking amelioration. For people who spread hatred and quarrels it is said that they are the "firewood of hell", they're used to light a fire on which souls such as theirs will burn. The notion, that the largest sin which dooms someone to hell is if someone separates two people which love one another (i.e. husband and wife), was created based on the belief above. That sin is characterised among the people to be so large that it cannot be annulled even if the man builds nine mosques with his money and his own hands. Again, it is believed, Allah will not forgive his sin. Recount of a touching folk song:

Hazrat Fatima was walking,

Across heaven and hell,

She opened the doors of heaven,

She didn't see her dear mother,

She opened the doors of hell.

-"what are you doing there, mother dearest?"

-ask me not my dear daughter,

I committed a great sin,

I broke off a reel of a graft,

I muddied clear water;

I started a quarrel between a boy and a girl,

Allah would've forgave me everything,

Only not those two."

How much love is considered to be the most noble and to Allah the most dearest occurrence, with which an individual can gain many deeds and open the doors of heaven for himself, is evidenced by the belief which claims that the person who introduces two people, which fall in love and get married, earned so much good deeds with God that he is free of the obligation to pray and go to the mosque his entire life.



While crossing the Sirat bridge it is determined if the soul will receive punishment or reward. Out of the great weight of sins the unlucky will soon fall off the bridge into boiling tar. Souls which are good and noble, and with that have many good deeds, will easily cross the bridge and reach heaven. However, this belief is not the only among the Bosnian folk, we also come across different beliefs. As people claim the soul of the dead rests in the grave or on the seventh floor of the heavens, until judgement day. On that day everything will be levelled, hills and meadows will disappear and everything will be destroyed. The honourable Qur'an mentions this in the Surat Ez-Zilaz (Earthquake):

When the earth is shaken with its [final] earthquake, And the earth discharges its burdens, And man says, "What is [wrong] with it?" -That Day, it will report its news, Because your Lord has commanded it. That Day, the people will depart separated [into categories] to be shown [the result of] their deeds. So whoever does an atom's weight of good will see it, And whoever does an atom's weight of evil will see it.

To the dead ancestors one usually says prayers in the eve of Monday and Friday. The things one prayed and forgave, would be given (handed) to the dead in the next world. According to folk belief the thing one prayed is rolling down a large hill into the valley, like haystack carried by wind, where souls of the dead eagerly watch and wait if they will receive hedija from their loved ones. According to this description we get the idea of how people imagines the afterlife to be, at least the one which is reserved of sinful souls, which somewhat corresponds with the notion of hell which is located in a deep abyss. In the folk perception souls are trapped inside a space surrounded by tall mountains and hills, from which there is no escape. In that space they are treated as prisoners, which is after all confirmed by the belief of delivering the prayer.

That's why we need to conclude that in Bosnian traditions afterlife, especially hell, does not start and finish by the fall into the fire, instead through hell there are various scenes of torture and abuse of sinful souls. People claim that, for example, a woman which had an abortion or in some other way killed its child will be doomed to run madly after a small bird trying to unsuccessfully catch it. Bird as the personification of the soul is present in Bosnian mythology through the mysterious bird Meknjača or bird Plačo.

All evil which a person did during his life will come to the fore in the afterlife, where evil deeds are emphasized to the degree where they become absolute, so that the soul directly and brutally faces its sins. Suffering of sinful souls, according to Bosnian folk, stop only five times a day, while the Imam is uttering the Azzan (call to prayer). That's why farmers in the past would stop their field work when they would hear Azzan, because the living also need rest at that moment, empathising with the sorrows of those which serve them in hell and at the same time that short period should be moments of reflection and warning that they shouldn't sin and be bad people.


Bogomil doctrine on the migration of the soul

Furthermore traditional beliefs of our ancestors have a very strong impact on the century long spiritual reflections therefore we shouldn't disregard if we wish to get an overall impression.

Remnants of the old Illyrian-Bogomil beliefs are still present in tradition of Bosnian people therefore we come across folk notions which are complete opposites of what the Islamic tradition teaches. According to sayings of the older population souls of people that committed grievous sins during their lifetime, tortured and killed innocent, will not end up in hell but will be reborn in a body of an animal, usually domestic, such as a horse, cow, pig. in order to serve people and to amend their evils. The worst punishment, it is believed, is to be born in the body of a swine, since it is considered to be, because of its filth and tendency to eat its young, a demonic animal. That's why the human soul rarely frees itself of that damned form.

This belief of our people has spawned some humane habits towards animals, especially towards dogs, which is proven by some written records. In the past people from Sarajevo were prone to feeding stray dogs out of fear that some of them might harbour human souls. Still today it is considered to be a good dead to feed a bitch that just had puppies, Antun Hangi also wrote about this in his work on the life of Bosniaks. Belief that the human soul is inside animals, especially domestic, is evidenced by traditional warning statement: "An animal doesn't know how to forgive!" This suggested that humans should treat animals correctly and with care "since you never know which one of them is harbouring a human soul!"

White colour - symbol of sorrow

While mourning a dead family member, women avoided wearing red coloured clothes, white clothes was worn exclusively. Black was never worn since it was considered a sin. Women would, equally, take off all the jewellery and wouldn't wear it for the next 40 days, and some didn't wear jewellery for a year or two. During the time of mourning none of the family members can organize a wedding or goes to one if invited; there is no singing and no joy. During Eid a ram is sacrificed for the soul of the deceased. If the deceased appointed by his will for a ram to be slaughtered, then all the meat needs to be given to the poor, while in other instances only the blood goes for his soul, and the meat can be eaten by the members of the household. There was a custom in Sarajevo that the left side of the sacrifice is distributed to the poor and the right is left to the family. In Jajce on the eve of Eid, halvah and bread were distributed for the "soul of the dead". In Bihać on the eve of both Eid's people would bring halvah and pies in front of the mosque, they would be then distributed to the children "for the soul of the deceased". For the forgiveness of the sins of the deceased it was customary to distribute "čagate" (kefaret) i.e. money wrapped in paper with which a person can provide a meal for themselves. Čagete was distributed during the first seven days after the funeral, seven čageta for seven poorest households in the neighbourhood or for forty days.

Karl Steiner, doctor from Ljubinja, in his work Bosnian folk medicine, notes that Bosniaks do not consider as something horrible, instead every Friday, and often other days, they gladly gather in graveyards for conversation and rest, which the author considers as proof of great respect towards their ancestors. The interesting thing is that the author highlights that there is no sorrowful mood with the gathered people, instead everyone is feeling relaxed and especially with the young. Bosniaks even have a very special custom to make small dents on the gravestones in order to gather rain water for the birds but also leave food for them . Connecting birds with the dead i.e. graveyards is not a coincidence since the bird besides being a mythological personification in Bosnia of the soul, her symbolism is much greater and leads us to the Illyrian religious belief in which birds which pulled carriages of the sun god, are mentioned, the same god which is born each day in the "east" and dies in the "west". It is obvious that are ancestors considered birds as souls, holly animals, which has a foothold in Bogomil teachings that it is a deadly sin to kill animals and especially birds and to destroy their eggs.

Respect towards the dead is an integral part of Bosnian spiritual tradition since the old days. Passing by graveyards old people still today preserved a habit to utter El-Fatiha for the dead; first for god's messenger Muhammad, then for the deceased and in the end for all of the dead.


Bosniaks as descendants of the Germanic Goths

The Gothic theory of the ethno-genesis of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian muslims was "last" officially propagated during WWII, mostly by some local muslim leaders, like Uzeir-aga Hadžihasanović, Mustafa Softić and Nedžad-beg Sulejmanpašić. It is belived that it was these autonomists who in an anonymous memorandum of november 1, 1942 asked Adolf Hitler to extract the Bosnian-Herzegovinian lands from the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) and integrate them directly into the Third German Reich granting autonomy to Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, the theory is still in use among Bosniak nationalistic circles, but also of modern Bosniak intellectuals, historians and philosophers, like Ibrahim Pašić, Muhamed Filipović, Besim Spahić and Nurija Agić. The Bosnian muslims authors of the memorandum from 1942 claimed that their ancestors were not Slavs, but rather Goths, and that they had come from the north to the Balkans in the 3th century C.E. as a Germanic tribe named "Bosni". Heinrich Himmler also fantasized that there was a fanatical, blind obedience in the Bosniaks. He thought that muslim men would make perfect SS soldiers as Islam "promises them Heaven if they fight and are killed in action." As for their ethnic background and SS requirements, the widely accepted belief that the Bosniaks were in fact descendants of 5th century Goths was even supported by Himmler as well as Bosniak autonomists. It was the Germans that later coined the name "Musulgermanen" (Germanic muslims) due to their unique situation. There were plans made that, in the event of a Nazi victory, units such as Handschar and Kama and the other Eastern European Divisions (Latvians etc) would release 'Germanic' ones like Totenkopft from their concentration camp duties. Also the German SS-Hauptamt Gottlob Berger subscribed the theory of Gothic origin of Bosnian muslims in "Weltenschaulich geisitge Erziehung der muselmanischen SS-division", where he described Bosniaks, in fallow way: "The muhammedans of Bosnia belongs racially to the Germanic and culturally to the Oriental peoples". In their memorandum, the Bosnian muslim authors do not say explicitly on which concrete historiographic arguments they base their view. Perhaps they had in mind the 12th century manuscript in Latin, Sclavorum Regnum: The Chronicle of the Priest of Dioclea (Presbyter Diocleas), which seems to incorporate in itself an earlier chronicle Libellus Gothorum (the book of the Goths). The chronicle Sclavorum Regnum indeed portrays a 600-years genealogy, connecting some Dioclean and first Bosnian rulers and dukes with the Gothic king Totila. Analogously, in the work a generalization is made and South Slavs are presented as an offspring of the Goths. However, let us note here a very important theoretical point, namely, that the ethno-genesis of an entire people was devolped through the assumed ethno-genesis of their medieval rulers. Exploring this historical source, Bosnian historian Muhamed Hadžijahić also agrees (in his book; Povijest Bosne u IX i X stoljeću) that the fact that the Latin version of the Chronicle of the Priest of Dioclea i.e., Regnum Sclavorum (The kingdom of Slavs) includes in itself Libellus Gothorum (The book of the Goths) reflects medieval beliefes about the Gothic heritage of the medieval Bosnian rulers. There are some other peculiar circumstances that perhaps ought to be cited in connection with the persistent arguments advanced by the "Gothicists". Both Tvrtko and Stjepan Tomašević (King Stephen of Bosnia) placed curiously ornate Gothic letters beneath the Bosnian crown and coat of arms. On many shields found in Bosnia, and which antedate the Moslem conquest, the typical device represented is that of the moon and star, the design which appears on the shield of Theodoric and other Ostrogothic kings, as well as on the mosaics that date from the period of Ostrogothic rule at Ravenna. Also there is to be found on many of the oldest Bosnian gravestones shields with this same device which was so popular among the Ostrogoths. The German consul at Sarajevo in the last century was inspired by the noted historian, Theodor Mommsen, to undertake a study of Bosnian antiquities. He deduced a definite connection between the strange appearing Bosnian tombstones and the Ostrogoths who ruled Bosnia and worked its mines from the latter part of the fifth to at least the middle of the sixth century. Muhamed Hadžijahić also explains that the name "Goths" was frequently pejoratively used by the Roman population of the coastal Dalmatian cities as referring to the people of rural continental areas of Dalmatia, i.e., of early and late medieval Bosnian territories. Even in the 15th century the ladies of Dubrovnik used to depreciatively call their mates from inland (Bosnia) gotice (Gothic women). In medieval times it was common to call countries with their old names and medieval historians knew very well that between 490 and 535 C.E. the whole Bosnia had been under the control of Theodoric the Great and his Ostrogothic kingdom. Dr. G. Rus, a professor at the University of LiubIjana, after the war of 1914, undertook a detailed study of Croatian origins (including the origins of Bosnian muslims). Rus considered that he had proved that there were two Gothic migrations into Bosnia and Dalmatia. The group ruled by Ostroilo survived the collapse of the Gothic state in Italy and received an accretion of strength from the Ostrogothic masses who left Italy between 453 and 455 to avoid submitting to the Byzantine power. He regarded the coming of the Slavs in the seventh century, as related by Constantine Porphyrogenitus "De administrando imperio", as a second migration of slavicized Goths from the Vistula area. Archaelogical excavations and studies carried out a later date in Bosnia, around Duvno, Delmin, valley of the Neretva river and at Breza near Sarajevo, provided new evidence of the identity between the Bosniaks and Ostrogoths.

Besides Sclavorum Regnum, there are other historical sources indicating the same. Thus, for instance, a letter dated from may 14, 1432 sent from the Dubrovnik (Republic of Ragusa) City Council to their emissaries in Bosnia, mentiones the Bosnian medieval ruler, Stjepan Kotroman (ruled 1287-1314), as a Goth. In addition to the above-mentioned letter, the work Il regno degli Slavi (1601) by the Venetian historian Mavro Orbini (d.1614) also mentiones Stjepan Kotroman as Cotromano Tadesco (Kotroman the German). It is believed that he was the son of a German nobleman in the service of German knight Gotfrid, founder of the family Kelad who went to strengthen Hungarian hold in Bosnia in 1162 or 1163. This German nobleman co-signed the edicts for Bosnia in the Split Church in 1163 with Hungarian King Stephen IV. Apparently, the Hungarian King Stephen III invited him to place him as a regional ruler in Hungary's name because of his ancestor's successes. Kotroman ruled as a vassal of this King. The Dubrovnik Archives from the 15th century refer to him as "Cotrumano Goto", i.e Kotroman the Goth. Kotroman might have been the son of Bosnian Ban Prijezda I. Another piece of evidence often used by the German and Austrian scholars to prove the Germanic heritage of the Bosnian Kotromans is the similarities between the heraldic insignias of the Kotromans and the Styrian Schärfenberg dinasty. The third piece of evidence for the Germanic hypothesis of the Kotromans heritage is the existence of the toponym "Kotrou" in the Austrian province Styria from where (according to many Austrian historians) the ancestors of the Bosnian medieval dinasty Kotromanić could stem. There is noted in Chronica Ragusina that "Bosnia is a Gothic land" and that Kotroman Got married "dobra Elisalda", who took refuge in Dubrovnik for their three sons, one of which (Vladislav) was the grandfather of the Bosnian king Tvrtko II Kotromanić. Although it is generally held that Stephen Kotroman, founder of the Bosnian royal family Kotromanić, it is very likely that Bosnia was ruled by members of the same ruling house long before him. Stephen Kotroman predecessors, Ban Prijezda and Ban Matej Ninoslav were also members of the same royal house or dynasty, and Ban Ninoslav explicitly says that his ancestors had ruled Bosnia "from antiquity." In the chronicle it is also mentioned that the friendship between the Republic of Dubrovnik and Bosnian royal dinasty "has been ongoing since Kotroman Goth." A source from the year 1432 says that the ancestor of the Bosnian King Tvrtko II Kotromanić was Kotroman Got. This source is not isolated and not supplemented only by Mavro Orbini, but it confirms the very strong interference of Gothic ethnic elements in the Mile - the major throne of the Bosnian church. In fact, it is a general royal Illyrian-Gothic symbiosis whose beginnings conceive in late antiquity. This is vital to note that in the year 1355, sources confirmed the name of the onomastic context in which the father of a Kotroman was called "Goimir", which is again the name of Gothic origin. The term (etymology) "Kotroman" roots in the coin, which consists of three Germanic words; "Kur(Fürst)-tro-man", which freely translated means "the commissioner of the king". Kurfürst is the aristocratic title that belongs in the highest rank of nobility - from where the election of the king is reduced.

It is alleged that the "arian heresy" of the first half of XI century was in use as a label for neo-manichaeism, which were in XII. century specifically referred as Cathars. The possibility that the Bosnian Church dates from the arianism (also called the Germanic christianity), indirectly could lead some sources who mention the arian heresy in the neighborhood of medieval Bosnia. In XII. first century Serbian King Stephen (Stefan), in his letter "Žitije svetog Simeona" describes how his father Stefan Nemanja, had destroyed arian heresy in the last decades of the XII. century. Čremošnik states that no one can doubt that thuse persecuted heretics were in fact remnants of Germans, mostly Goths, who remained in the Balkans within the borders of the Eastern Roman Empire. Archdeacon of Split (Thomas Archidiaconus Spalatensis) also the heresy of the medieval Bosniaks associates in his chronicle Historia Salonitana with the Gothic arians - with it he connects the letter (Goticas litteras) and worship in the Slavic language. Bosnian governors, and later kings, were the highest political leaders of Bosnia's land and closely linked with the Bosnian medieval church, which is associated with a similar relationship in the former arian states. However, the Bosnian rulers and provincial lords often sweard in the presence of christians in 318 fathers of Nicea, and these fathers had in the year 325, condemned "unfaithful" arianism. Arian origin of the Bosnian church also indicates the letter by the Ragusian dominican Ivan Stojković at the church council of the catholic church in Basel, Juny, 10 year 1434: "in the grace of God, we have finally revealed a great opportunity for addressing the whole Bosnian kingdom, which is over three hundred years infected by manichean heresy and arianism ..." "... Offertur facilis occasio reductionis regni de Bosne quod iam a trecentis annis et ultra infectum heresi manicheorum et arianorum..." During the whole medieval period in Bosnia, many military campaigns, by the Hungarians was disseminated against the Bosnian heretics and the Bosnian faith. The crusade army of Hungarian king Sigismund were totaly defeated in 1405. Sigismund did not come to terms with defeat, and soon began preparing for a new attack. In the name of support, the Pope Gregory XII, writes in 9th November 1407 the letter to Sigismund of Luxemburg (Holy Roman Emperor) where he calls Sigismund in war against the heresy: "sending the christian crusaders in the name of the Lord, against the Turks and heresy of arianism and manichaeism"(...). The soursces by the Pope Gregory XII of the "the heresy of the arianism and manichaeism", unambiguously defines the Bosnian heretics, and the Bosnian church.

The association of early christian and late antique basilics in Bosnia and the Goths proves by Germain Morin in one of his text from year 1932, that in VI and VII century in some of the "Illyrian" or Bosnian municipalities they still gradients ceremonies of the three Gothic martyrs, such as "Hildaevora, Vihila (Juhila) and Theogenes". After the death of Theodoric, and during the Gothic war, and the conflict between Theodoric's daughter Amalasuntha and Teodahad (king of the Ostrogoths between 534 to 536) - as written by Procopius, many Gothic supporters of Amlasuntha, maked a huge part of the Byzantine army and Justinian. In this regard, Čremošnik believes that these events would enforced huge Gothic ethnic elements in Bosnia. After the murder of Amalasuntha, Theoderics daughter and heiress, in 535, strife arose over the former Gothic possessions in Dalmatia. Emperor Justinianus (527-565) succeeded in 536 to incorporate Dalmatia in the East Roman empire. The Goths, under their new king Vitigis (536-540), fought a battle against Justinianus and recaptured Salona. In the meantime, the Dalmatian borders were left unwatched. The chrisitan church in Bosnia was first mentioned under the Latin name of Ecclesia Bosniensis (or bistuensis, boestoensis) year 530-533 on the church council in Salona, where the bishop Andrew signed the acts of the church councils. It is belived that the seat of the church municipiality where in Mošunj, near Bistua Nova (nowdays Zenica), at the time when Bosnia still was ruled by the Ostrogoths. In the chronicle Historia Salonitana by Archdeacon of Split (Thomas the Archdeacon), it is mentioned about "some priest, named Ulfus" and his "bishop" Cedded, in the village of Moštre (central Bosnia). It has been discussed in the chronicle that Ulfus (Ulfo) was a teacher Ceded's teacher (magister nequitie). That had been associated, that the Ulfus was hypocoristics of Ulfila, which is in fact Wulfila, The information from Thomas the Archdeacon would refer to Wulfila - the spiritual leader of the arian Goths. Lujo Margetić sees the heterodoxy of Bosnian Christians whose roots are in quasi-arianism, in the debate between Roman Catholics and Patarenes where Hereticus says that: "Our faith was the same as in Rome, until the time (the Pope) Sylvester I, who was our teacher and then (from it) falled off." - From which it is evident that the Bosnian Hereticus connects heterodoxy of Bosnian Christians with the Arius battle with Synods of the first council of Nicaea, year 327 - just from the time of Pope Sylvester.

Many historians believe, through the medieval sources that Germanic origin of Bosniaks can also be traced back to the 6th and 7th century's Slavic migration in Bosnia. Greek and Roman writers (Homer, Herodotus, Tacitus, Pliny) used names Henetoi, Uenetoi, Enetoi and Veneti for Slavs. Several more synonyms developed later: Vinidi, Venedi, Vinedi, Winidi, Wendische, Windische. Within its pages are many references to Veneti in relation to Slavs. Here are a few examples, “Fredegarii Chronicon (year 623) uses the name Winidi for Slavs, "Sclavi coinomento Winidi’", also ‘Venetii’ and ‘Vinidi,’ even ‘Vandali’ and ‘gens Wandalorum,’ their land is named ‘marca Winidorum’” - which is reffered as Germanic tribe of Vandals. Slovenian Prince Valuk is “Walucus dux Winedorum". There is also the often-cited equation of Slavs with the Veneti/Vandals by the author of Vitae S. Columbani, where he speaks about the “land of Veneti who are also called Slavs" (Termini Venetiorum qui et Sclavi dicuntur). It is also mentioned that "Sclauoni hodie, vandali antiquitus fuerant", which means that "Vandal is the old name for the Slavs". However, according to Muhamed Hadžijahić, the Slavic version clearly indicates migrations of Slavs - according to him specifically Normano-Slavs. Like Novaković, Hadžijahić also belivies that there were at least four migrations of the Slavs at the south, among theme there were also some third migration of Normano-Slavs (Russian Varangians) between 820-829, and some Moravian Slavs who came in the forth migrations (902-906), as a "large mass".


J. Kelemina: Goti na Balkanu

K. Šegvić: Die gotische Abstammung der Kroaten. Nordische Welt 9, Berlin 1935.

J. Kelemina: Libellus Gothorum I - VII, študije o starogermanskih spominih v naši zemlji.

I. Mužić: Vjera Crkve Bosanske

I. Mužić: Slaveni, Goti i Hrvati na teritoriju rimske provincije Dalmacije

I. Mužić: Hrvatska kronika, Libellus Gothorum 547.- 1089.

I. Pašić: Predslavenski korijeni Bošnjaka - Mile i Moštre, ilirsko-gotski korijeni bosanske vladarske dinastije, stećaka i crkve bosanske

N. Agić: GOTI - narod ratnika

D. Bašić: The roots of the religious, ethnic and national identity of Bosnian muslims


How snow came into being

In the old days the people very corrupt, they became evil and godless, when Allah saw what had happened he decided to destroy all the people that were evil. In that intent he created a huge snowball with which he intended to destroy the entire deviant people. At the moment when he raised it, Muhammad came and begged him humbly not to do it, because he could kill good men among the wicked. That's why snow falls both during summer and winter, but people can't see it always, since due to sun rays in the summer it melts and turns into air. Tow angels, as it is believed among the Bosnian folk, haven't managed to scrape half of the snow from the snowball and it will be a couple of thousand years until they finish it. According to Saliha Santara, which was recorded by Ivan Zovko, the more wicked and evil people are the snow will be more abundant during winter.


Gigantic ox

As the old Bosnian legend describes when Allah created Earth, he created it out of nothing. After he had finished his creation and determined how things should be on the planet, the saints (prophets) asked him to create an animal but for it to have a very massive body. Allah granted their request and created a gigantic ox. His body was so large and massive that not even earth could hold him and the ground broke and shivered under his feet. Seeing this the saints were surprised but also somewhat frightened by the size of the animal. Then god ordered for the earth to open up so that the ox could enter it and descend deep into the core. God ordered it to stay there once he reaches his destination. Since that time the ox lived deep underground and he is the main culprit for earthquakes that occur on our planet. Bosnian people believe that when the ox moves so much as a hair that an earthquake happens somewhere, and that day when the ox closes and opens only one eye that the entire world will collapse. Before judgement day the gigantic ox will come to the surface and all those people that are wicked and mean, will freeze out of fear and die once they lay eyes on him.



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.


Illyrians - the largest mystery of Europe

That are ancestors, the Illyrians, were a warlike, mystical people, with shaman cults is known regardless of the fact that there is little data about them. But, the thing that is more interesting is the fact that it has been written by Roman historians, such as Pliny, that among the Illyrians there were many magicians, healers and clairvoyants of high regard, known across the Roman Empire.

Illyrian religion constituted numerous shaman cults where among the most important deities were those that represented symbols of the cult of fertility - god Vidasus (Cernunnos, Pan) and Tana (Diana, Aradia). Similarly, among the numerous spirits and god's of the earth (nature) and sky, the dominant place was occupied by the snake, incarnation of the Grand Mother, to whom the hearth and threshold were dedicated. Still today in Bosnia it is traditionally believed that every house has its own snake protector, which protects the home and family from evil and bad luck. That this belief is not one of the many but very important, but also holly, is confirmed by its taboo - if the snake is accidentally or on purpose killed, the owner of the house will die.

According to a legend the snake is not only the protector of the house but also planet earth. Namely, in Bosnian mythology it is mentioned that above earth there is a gigantic snake which formed a circle with its body (bit its own tail) around the planet and in that way it protects it from all danger and bad luck, which additionally justifies her name of a protector.

Illyrian are equally prone to worshiping both earth spirits and gods as well as celestial ones, among which we will single out sun and moon as well as the stars. Belief of the Illyrians that stars are the seats of the human soul reveals an intriguing fact that our ancestors considered that they stem from another planet, i.e. space. Traditional belief about Bosnia claims that one should not gaze at the stars at night because of the fear that at that moment one of them doesn't "fall", because if it happens to be the star of that person, the person will die immediately?! Analysing certain segments of Illyrian legends and beliefs, such as the one about the black dragon, god of evil, which attacks the sun and moon trying to swallow them (black out), we can see parts of the ancient myth about the demise of a civilization or even planets from which the ancestors of the Illyrians escaped.

Representation of the snake as the Grand Mother, symbol of life, and protector of humans from one side and the black dragon, god of evil, which constantly attacks sun and moon, trying to devour them and cause the end of life on earth, and humans themselves, is an ancient myth about the struggle of good and evil. But, behind it all is something much deeper and mystic. We could refer here to the theory of David Icke about the reptilian race of earth, which is present from the ancient times of Sumerian and Babylon, whose symbols are represented in various segments of the ruling families throughout the world.

If we recap the history of religion at its very beginning we will come to an obvious fact that today's monotheistic god is twice as young as all pagan gods, and that the teaching of monotheism cannot be taken seriously in the attempts to fathom the history of the human race and its genesis, irrespective of the fact that monotheism, especially Christianity, took numerous segments of the pagan religion. The oldest religious movement which is familiar to us is the Neolithic cult of the Grand Mother, which is called the first and oldest deity in human history. And the Grand Mother is what connects the Illyrians with the reptiles (snake, dragon, salamander) and their alien heritage or ancient race from which they stem.

What connects Bosnia and India?

There is a large possibility that the Illyrians had some connection or even common heritage with the people from India, which can be grasped if we analyse certain legends from Bosnian mythology. The most interesting tale about the mysterious creatures called utve zlatokrile - half humans, half birds, which didn't have sexual distinctions. It is claimed that they have escaped to Bosnia from India, "that cursed land". Another rarity of the Bosnian people but also connection with India is located in the traditional belief in the migration of the human's soul into an animal and vice versa (reincarnation), which is actually the basic concept of the Bogomils in Bosnia during the Middle ages. How much this belief was widespread and accepted from the folk is best witnessed from the fact that still today in the 21st century, there are old people who prolong the belief about the migration of the soul. In Velika Kladuša there are still old ladies from which you can hear the claim that evil people, especially murderers and thieves, turn into cows after death, horses, pigs, etc. so that they could repay their sins in the new life, serving other people. This traditional belief, which is found in total opposition about the classic monotheistic maxim of the soul leaving to heaven or hell, clearly points to the deep rooted belief about reincarnation among the Bosnian people.

Third eye or stars

In the end, we will return to the beginning of the text which speaks about the Illyrians as skilled mages and clairvoyants and the part about the belief in the connection of humans and stars in the sky and we will compare all that with the hinduistic teaching about chakras. Ajna or the sixth chakra is located in the middle of the forehead, above the eyebrows, and is connected with the pineal gland which is inactive in most humans, and it gives the ability of telepathy, clairvoyance, astral projection, etc. to mystics. This sixth chakra is often called the third eye and can be seen on ancient drawings of numerous deities.

In Illyrian-Bosnian tradition the third eye is called "star" which has the function to connect man with its star in the sky, seat of the soul. In practice this belief is widespread among the stravarke which annul negative energy while performing the ritual, using molten lead, covering their forehead with their hand i.e. their "star" for fear of negative energy blocking their invisible connection with the star in the sky. As each one of them claim, if that would happen, it could be possible for them to lose their mind and fall ill physically.

This ritual process directly goes in favour of the assumption that the Illyrian believed that they stem from another planet, with which they stayed in contact through the "star" on their forehead or the third eye. Or that their astral bodies descended to earth and populated it in the bodies of some ancient human beings. From that event it is easy to assume that through the generations they lost the precise detail from which part of the universe and from which planet they came so they considered all of the stars to be seats of the soul and their genesis.


Mythology in fairy tales and folk tales

A large chunk of mythological elements of ancient Bosnian mythology is hidden in folk fairy tales which individual ethnologists have written down and stored in the annals of the Herald of the national museum in Sarajevo. Thanks to them, today we know about the goddess (female demon) of the underworld "with breasts over her shoulder and teeth large as hooks from a scale", which helps those who favour her and her three daughters, which will marry mortals, cannibalistic demon, sometimes in a form of a pig, which devours entire cities, and she is beaten by the hero "peasant" (sometimes Nasrudin-hodža (Imam)), old woman riding a goat, she lives in a house full of "children's fingers". In the surrounding area of Srebrenica fairy tales about a demon were written which turned tsar Murat into a donkey, he turned her into a magpie from which all magpies and ravens stem from; about a hero Ćelo who leaves, climbing a giant tree, for the astral world of (heavenly) demon's which pluck eyes; in legends around Bratunac there appears a "wolf shepherd", forest or mountain ghost which leads wolves and he coordinates where they will find food (master of animals).

A group of mythological beings which are particularly interesting are the "bearded men", which live in streams and "throw chains to those swimming in them". Emilian Lilek, a professor at the Grand Gymnasium in Sarajevo at the time, still in 1985 in his work Religious antiquities from Bosnia and Herzegovina, recorded a custom of "gifting the river" with food, clothes and valuables, spread both among the Christians and Muslims - which represents the remainder of the sacrificial offering to the ancient Illyrian god of streams, Bindu.

All mentioned mythological creatures and beliefs fit nicely into the narrow frame of the things familiar to us about the belief of the Illyrian-Roman inhabitants, and especially of the things which are considered as authentic work of Illyrian cults, where among other things worship of various spirits of nature which live on earth, in water and air, and special attention was paid to the cult of celestial body which is called among the Illyrian people "father", "grandfather" - sun. An interesting data is that the sun is called among the folk Zvizdan (zvizda, zvijezda-star) which alludes to the Illyrian cult of star worship as the seat of human souls. According to this data we can conclude that sun or zvizdan is considered the leader (guide, father or emperor) over other stars i.e. souls. A good example of dedication of certain places to this deity is the name of the medieval city Podzvizd in Velika Kladuša, etc.

While the sun was called the father or grandfather, the moon was called "mother" or "grandmother". In Illyrian-Bosnian legends the moon was always denoted by a female creature, Grand Mother, to which prayers were directed for the life of new-borns, and it was recorded that the Catholics in Bosnia during the appearance of a new moon fell to their knees. As Šefik Bešlagić recorded in 1982 one of the biggest scholars of Bosnian middle ages, "one of our Catholics sought advice 30 years ago from one of the priests if she could pray to the new moon" (Šefik Bešlagić, Tombstones - culture and art, IRO Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo 1982). No matter how questionable the credibility of such conclusions can be, it is pretty evident that the moon, precisely as mythological Illyrian-Pagan "sanctuary of souls", i.e. a symbol of fertility and regeneration, ended up on Bosnian-Hum medieval marbles (tombstones), in the form of crescent moon, as the most widely used astral motif.

For the most famous tombstone from Radimlja - representation of Radoja Miloradović with a lowered right hand, next to which are a bow, arrow, sword and shield and the left hand raised towards the representation of the crescent moon - is tied a folk legend from north-western Bosnia according to which in the nights of a full moon, one can see on his surface a giant figure which god punished when he raised an axe on his mother in anger. His punishment was that god killed him immediately and placed his body with the raised hand onto the surface of the moon to stay there forever as a reminder to humans (sons - males) that they need to respect their mothers (woman, goddess Grand Mother).

Among the Illyrians the moon was closely tied with the cult of the dead and therefore tombstone and legend clearly depict a picture of abandoning the earthly life and the crossing into the afterlife - moon world. However, since death is a major part of the cult of fertility, the moon besides the function of psychopomp (guide of the dead), represents fertility but also carrier of this fertility, "grandmother" i.e. woman.

This fits into the etymology (history of meaning) of the Slavic word Mjesec (moon), which comes from pre Indo-European root *med-mjeriti (measure), which entails calendar calculation of time, such as measuring pregnancy, and means that the Illyrian mythical moon, home and symbol of the divine ancestral being which controls periodic renewal, both in cosmic and celestial, plant, animal and human plan. In Bosnia, both in relief of medieval tombstones as well as saved traditions, we find valuable material for the reconstruction of Illyrian lunar myth.

A fairy tale written in the north of Bosnia in the village Debeljaci has special value, it speaks of the connection of three ancient mythological beings: "A wolf came to the shepherd Ivo and asked if he would like him to eat his sheep or him. Ivo told him that he should eat him, but only when he gets married. On the day of the marriage Ivo ran away and went to the moon's mother. She gave him a magical shawl. Running from the wolf, he came across the mother of that wolf which had an iron head. Along the way, he came across three dogs which helped him. The mother of the wolf talked Ivo into him becoming her shepherd so her son can eat him. She tricked him into leaving the dogs, but the dogs managed to save Ivo from the wolves". (Vlajko Palavestra, Radmila Fabijanić, Folk tales from Bosnia, GZM, N.S. Ethnography, sv. XIII, Sarajevo 1962, p. 163). According to that, the moon had a divine mother, sorceress which, like the goddess of the underworld, saved the ones that favour her. They are known in Bosnian mythology as fairy Zlatna and Mountain fairy. In this case, she is the ally against the demon wolf and his cunning mother (it is unclear if it is a mythological creature, demon, mother of all wolves).

It is interesting that Saint Ivan (Saint Ivo), according to the belief of Bosnian Catholics which was recorded by Ivan Zvonko, was born twice and died twice: the first time Jesus advised him to burn himself, he burned completely expect his heart which was swallowed by his mother, and becoming pregnant she gave birth to him (Ivan Zvonko, Belief from Herzegovina, in collections life and customs, book 6, p. 190 and p. 303).


Short history of Bogomils in Bosnia

Pope Pius II (1458-1464) in his work "Cosmografia" wrote while describing the Adriatic countries: "Behind Albania come the Illyrian people towards the west and north. This people were called the Slaves in our time and they call themselves Bosniaks, other Dalmatians, third Croats, Istrians and Carniolans".

Bosnia - land of the Bogomils

The first mention of heresy in Bosnia stems from the first half of the 10th century. In the letter of Pope Ivan X, sent to an archbishop from Split and the local clergy in 925, a complaint is mentioned that in the neighbouring diocese or land (referring to Bosnia), there is a science "located in holly books". The Pope rebukes them for not paying attention and "tacitly approving it". Though here there is no direct mention of who the heretics were, nor is there mention of the character of their teachings, but there is mention that it is not "in the holly books", this clearly implies that the Pope saw it as heresy. That it refers to Bosnia and its heretics is quite clear since in the later period Bosnia was the only country in this part of Europe where heresy developed and where it, so to speak, gained the status of state religion. (Source: F. Šišić, Manual on Croatian history, I/1 Zagreb 1914., p.215.)

Another important document confirms that the Bogomils were present in Bosnia in the 10th century. Anselmo Canterburyjski (San Anselmo) from Alexandria in Italy, which lived and worked in the 13th century, in one of his documents mentions that "the heretics were initially in Bosnia from where they spread their teachings to Lombardy, and from there towards France, from where it arrived to Orleans in 1022 and into Arras in 1025." (Source: A. Dondaine, Le Tractatus de hereticis d'Alexandrie, Arch. Fr. Praedic, XX, Rome 1950., p. 308-324).

Letter of the Roman Pope Gregory IX about Bosnia as a nest of heretics

"In his letters from 1232 to 1239 (pope Gregory IX) mentions heretics in Bosnia several times. Thus on May 30th 1233 he wrote to the cardinal Jakov Prenestinsky his legate in Bosnia, that with sorrow he discerned from his report, that the Bosnian bishop fell "into the bitterness of the crazy heresy ". That's why he ordered to place two, three or four bishops?! (though he has no support in Bosnia).

About the Bosniaks he says: "About the inhabitants of that country he says, that they are poor in estate, and rich in wickedness, since in most part they are infected with wickedness of heresy". (Pope doesn't hide his hatred towards the Bosniaks and confirms that Bosnia is mostly heretic but despite that he plans to place bishops in Bosnia?!)

In the second letter from February 13th 1234 Gregory IX wrote: "such is the multitude of infidels in Bosnia and surrounding areas, that the entire country (Bosnia) weeps and aches, barren and impassable". On August 8th 1236 the pope wrote to Sibislav, the duke of Usora, son of the former king of Bosnia Stephen (Stepan Kulinić), that "he received with joy the news that he is among the dukes of the Bosnian diocese?! (which never existed), which are infected by the taint of heretic wickedness, like a lily among thorns".

From this letter one can clearly conclude that the pope clearly wrote to one catholic among the Bosnian nobility, commending him for not falling into heresy like all the other Bosnian nobility. He mentions that in the letters, which he wrote to Ancila, the mother of Sibislav and to Hungarian bishops (since there are no Bosnian bishops), to whom he recommends Sibislav and his mother". (Source: Dominik Mandić "Bosnia and Herzegovina volume II: Bogomil church of Bosnian Christians" p. 33-34).

Letter of Pope Ivan XII 1319 to Croatian liege Mladin Šubić

"They are learning disastrous heretical fallacies. Every believer has to stand up against such people and destroy them in order to up root their poisonous anger to prevent contamination of other believers. We often, with great sorrow, listened, from credible sources, that the land of the Bosniaks is the home to heretics, that churches are being abandoned, the clergy has been up rooted, Christian sanctities are being trudged on, the cross is not being respected, moreover, there is no sacrament of christening".

Bosniaks - dualists

"Dialogus contra manichaeos in Bosna" translated "Dialogue against Manichaeism in Bosnia" is the work of Jakob de Marchia who was placed as the vicar of Bosnia and main inquisitor by the Roman curia. This work which was written on the ground of Bosnia describes the Bosniaks as Manichaeists and as bi-fundamental heretics (dualists). In the dialogue it is mentioned that they baptize themselves with the book, and not water, similarly to the western Cathars, which is the original spiritual, dualistic baptism called consolamentum. The work "Dialogus contra manichaeos in Bosnia" was in the hands of church censors in 1697 when the issue was canonization of Jakov (Jakob) Markijski (de Marchia). Since then the work has been lost. Censors Johannes Bapt. Lucini and Jochannes Bapt. Barberio exhausted the content of the work and incorporated it into their analysis which is contained in a collective work called "Monumenta canonizationis B. Jacobi de Marchia" which is in Rome.

Jakob de Marchia who was labelled a saint was a doctor of canonical law and a great fighter against heresy. Senate of Dubrovnik called him "the most elegant sower of the Lords word". His lack of success in converting Bosnian Patarens he justified to the pope by claiming that he lacked support from the royal couple Tvrtko II and Dorothea. Dorothea and Tvrtko became very unpopular among the Franciscans, which called Dorothea an "evil woman".

They would rather die than accept orthodoxy

One of the four grand inquisitors which were labelled saints by the Roman church is inquisitor Capistran (Giovanni de Capistrano) which was also known as the expert on heresy. In his letter to pope Kalisto III 4/7/1455 wrote: "Bosnian Christians are not members of the Eastern church, nay they would rather die in disbelief, than accept the religion of the Rašan (Serbs)." (Ref: Franjo Šanjek Phenomenon "krstjani (Christians)" in medieval Bosnia and Hum, collection of works.)

How much hatred and revolt there was against the Pope, and the eastern church - which at one moment had a competition who will commit greater genocide over the Bogomils - is best confirmed by this letter according to which the Bogomils inclined towards the Ottomans as protectors against Christian evil (inquisition) and murdering. At the end of 1456 pope's legate Ivan Karahal sent Nikola Barbucini to king Tomaš in order to talk him into declaring war against the Ottomans in unison with Hungary. After the stay and discussion with the Bosnian king, Barbucini sent a report to the pope's. legate that Tomaš is willing to go to war against the Ottomans but that "he can't because of the Manichaeists which are still a majority in Bosnia, and which love the Ottomans more than the Christians..". The statement that the Bosnian king gave to Barbuicini was repeated literally, three years later in 1459 in his letter to pope Pius II.


Fifty Manichean fallacies in Bosnia according to Torquemada

Theological structure of Bosnian heresy according to inquisitor Torquemada:

Cardinal Juan Torquemada, uncle of the infamous Spanish grand inquisitor Tomas Torquemada, in 1461 compiled a list "fifty Manichean fallacies in Bosnia". Namely, that year three Bosnian nobles were brought in chains to Rome ("three champions of heresy, influential in the king's court"). Cardinal Torquemada questioned them and studied their religion for a whole year and found 50 fallacies. He had Croatian priests at his side, and especially Luka de Talentis, archdeacon from Korčula, who was at the time serving among the pope's curia. In the end he interpreted to the three Bogomil's the list of cardinal Torquemada and based on that list on May 14th 1461 they renounced all 50 "Manichean fallacies" and promised that they will try to persuade their countrymen to change their opinion and renounce them as well. After the ceremonial renunciation the three Bosnian Christians returned to Bosnia. The two of them kept their promises, and one of them reclaimed and escaped into the parts where Stepan Kosača ruled "his friend in unbelief".

Fifty Manichean fallacies in Bosnia according to Torquemada:

1. There are two gods, one of which they call supreme good, and the other supreme evil.

2. There are two principles. The first they call god of light and the other god of darkness.

3. Some angels have an evil nature and they couldn't stop sinning.

4. Lucifer ascended into the sky and fought god and he brought many angels from there.

5. Human souls are demon's trapped inside bodies.

6. Evil angels, trapped in bodies, will return into heaven with the help of baptism, cleansing and repentance.

7. They condemn and reject the Old Testament. They say it stems from the god of darkness.

8. For the angel that spoke to Moses on the hill Sinai, they claim he was evil.

9. They accept the New Testament only partially. They deny that Jesus was born by a woman and they don't accept his genealogy.

10. They renounce the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament.

11. They condemn the blessed John the Baptist and claim that there is no greater devil in hell than him.

12. The tree of knowledge (of good and evil) was a woman, and Adam sinned for having sex with her and that's why he was cast out of heaven.

13. Blessed Marry was not a woman nor female being but an angel.

14. Son of god took a pseudo-body and not a real one.

15. Christ didn't truly suffer nor died, nor did he go to heaven or hell, but all that he did was illusory.

16. They believe that their church was God's.

17. They are successors of the apostles, and their heresy is the bishop of the church and the deputy and successor of Peter.

18. The Roman church was condemned and cast out.

19. Everyone is a pope, from Saint Peter to Saint Sylvester, whether their religion or not, and saint Sylvester was the first one who went rogue.

20. They condemn brick churches and called them synagogues, and for those that pray inside them, they say they are performing idolatry.

21. Use of pictures inside churches is idolatry.

22. Sign of the cross is the devil's symbol.

23. They despise the service of the lord, laude and hymns, they say it's all contrary to Christ's gospel and his teachings.

24. They make fun of and condemn worship of holly relics.

25. All reverence of saints which is done in churches is condemned and made fun of and they say one should only pray to god and worship him.

26. Their elders allow the people to pray to them, saying that they are without sin and that they carry the holy ghost in them (Parakletos).

27. They condemn church sacraments.

28. They renounce baptism which is done in the water and they say that it is John's baptism and that it cannot save anyone.

29. They claim that's Christ's baptism is done without water, by placing a book of the gospel on the chest and imposition of hands.

30. With their baptism everyone achieves forgiveness of sins and becomes as holly as Peter himself.

31. A child cannot be saved before it reaches the age of reason.

32. Full worth and power of baptism comes to the baptised from merit of the baptist.

33. The number of times the baptist sins, that's how many souls, though they be in heaven, will fall into hell.

34. The number of times the baptist sins, that's the number of baptisms those that he baptised will need.

35. They renounce the sacrament of confirmation.

36. They say that the Christ's body cannot turn into bread, and if it is turned, we cannot eat it.

37. They renounce the sacrament of penance, they say that sins are forgiven by their repeat baptism.

38. They renounce the sacrament of the last ointment.

39. They renounce the sacrament of the (holy) order.

40. Bodily marriage is adultery.

41. Every sin is a death sin.

42. Renouncing every church authority, they say that no one must be excommunicated.

43. They renounce enjoyment of meet, they say that no one who eats meet or cheese or dairy products can be saved if they are not baptised again.

44. They deny resurrection and say that the body that dies now will never resurrect but the spirit will.

45. They claim that there is no purgatory. They say that there is no middle way between heaven and hell. 46. They renounce prayers which are used for the deceased inside the church.

47. It's a death sin to kill animals or birds, also to smash eggs.

48. They condemn blood justice which is done by worldly leaders.

49. They condemn all oaths.

50. They forbid giving charity, they reject and rebuff acts of mercy.


The Maid's cave

Cave in the village Breteljevići, 12 kilometres from Kladanj, was always mysterious to the inhabitants of that part of the world. Since the ancient times the cave was considered to be a holly place. Besides medicinal water from the cave, special attention was attracted by the grave of an unknown girl which tragically died inside the cave. Next to Ajvatovica (pilgrimage), the cave gathers the largest number of pilgrims, who utter prayers for the brave soul of the girl on the last Sunday in August.

Last Sunday in August gathers pilgrims from all over BiH and the neighbouring region, they gather in the village Breteljevići not far from Kladanj. Pilgrims pray for the girl which died and was buried in the cave. The maid's cave, besides functioning as a pilgrimage site, has special meaning for the inhabitants. In the inside of the cave there are engravings horseman, standing figures and animals. Characters of a man and a woman are very prominent, which have something like wings on their body. It is considered that the drawings inside the cave are older than 10 000 years.

Even in the pre-Islamic era, the church of Bosnia and the inhabitants of neighbouring villages, ascribed special meaning to the cave. A long time ago solemnity of St. George was held in that area, St. George is nothing more than a Christian substitute for the solar deity Mitra, whose cult was very widespread across the entire Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the cave, throughout all periods, had characteristics of a holly place. The water flowing down the walls of the cave is considered to have medicinal properties - whoever washes himself with that water will be healthy during their life, so say the inhabitants. Besides ancient drawings, some places contain a larger number of Arabic inscriptions. The cave in Breteljevići got its name, and became important to the inhabitants of Kladanj and surrounding areas, because of the tragedy which occurred in the early period of Ottoman occupation.

A girl which was more brave than the girls of that age, challenged by stories of male bravery, decided to show that girls can be equally brave as men. She admitted this openly, that she can visit the cave at night and as proof she would leave her spindle inside of it. Those that want to check if she really went inside the cave can look for her spindle the next morning. Under the guise of night she visited the cave. She managed to go inside but when she tried to stick her spindle in the agreed place, she made a fatal mistake. She punctured a part of her clothes with the spindle. When she went back, the spindle stuck in her clothes prevented her from walking. She thought that she was held back by demonic forces, and she died on the spot out of fear. Since then the cave was named after her - an unnamed girl, her grave is inside the cave. That the legend is still "alive" today, is evident by the memories of the girl, through events "Days of the maiden cave" which is held every last Sunday in the month of August. The last August Sunday is meant for saying prayers for the soul of the unnamed and brave girl who is buried inside the cave.

August - month for offering sacrifices

August i.e. prayer day, so called prayers and pilgrimage sites, which are marked throughout this month at the beginning and end of the month are remnants of the Illyrian tradition of sacrifice which the Bosnian's kept since the ancient times. Namely, slaughter of sheep on Aliđun (St. Elias' day) and sacrifice of a girl (virgin) is a classic symbol of the sacrifice to god's of fertility, especially the solar deity, which are the basic parts of pagan rituals at the end of the summer, when one is showing gratitude for a good harvest. This tradition was practiced by all ancient peoples, among them the Illyrians, which is why this religious practice continued among the Bosnian people. Of course, without the sacrifice, only as a visit and prayer at cult places.



In Sarajevo there was a belief that the one who wishes to see Dobre should go to Obhodža, on the eastern periphery of the city, or to a grave of a Šehid (martyr) or ascetic and to pray for his soul there. Then Krkleri will appear to him, forty Dobri, clad in green clothes, which, before dawn, rush one after the other to the morning prayer in the mosque.


Wild grandma

In Bosnian mythology it is believed that in every chasm in the ground a wild grandma lives who has her kitchen utensils in the underworld and that she does the jobs that women do in the real world. Legend says that a sheepherder threw a stone into a chasm in the ground and soon he heard a threatening woman's voice: "If my hand's weren't covered in flour I would come out and I would punish you!" Belief in the wild grandma is a remnant of previous beliefs in pagan Bosnia when this mythological character represented a female demon or one of the goddesses of nature which controlled weather. In favour of it speaks the belief that every wind is born out of large chasms in the ground and still today one can hear from the old Bosniaks that when there is a wind blowing one should go and place a large stone on the openining of the chasm and that the wind will stop blowing.


Mythology of Bosnian Gypsy

Mythology is first and foremost a social phenomenon which successfully permeates and connects different religious, magical and geological influences producing absolutely fascinating effect - the created myths have a pronounced social effect since through them the Roma, as a nomadic people, could hold on to their unity but also assimilate more easily in all new locations.

The Roma population in Bosnia are mostly Muslims, but because of their dramatic and unlucky past, especially in Romania where they were treated as slaves for centuries, they kept some segments of Christianity such as celebrating certain Christian holidays such as Saint George's day (May 6th) or Christmas. Even though they have Muslim names and they celebrate both Eid's, the Bosnian Roma don't practice fast during Ramadan claiming that sin doesn't enter through the mouth but exits through them. Mainly, the Roma take from every religion the things that suit them and adjust it to themselves and in their everyday life. That's why in Bosnia there is a saying that "among Roma there is no religion".

Even though by analysing descriptions and activity of good and bad demons one can easily notice a chronic lack of old beliefs which they took with themselves from India, the Roma assimilated all myths from other peoples and enriched them with new and original additions making them part of their culture and identity. Though one gets an impression that, besides the names of mythological beings, there are no other connections with the motherland and its rich spiritual culture, still in some expressions one can hint the old beliefs such as the traditional burning of the dead. Namely, the Roma for the word "burial" use praxosarav, which means - I turn into ashes.

In some myths some specific characteristics of Roma are pronounced which actually reflect the mentality of the people, their habits, fears and thoughts. Belief about javišti, though a mixture of the Bosnian belief about Lampir and Prepasti, it is enriched by one of the biggest fears of ancient Roma prone to stealing, namely, they believed that javišta can warn the owner about the thief, and so make his undertaking dangerous and fruitless. Similarly, constant desire of all nations for gold and riches is deeply rooted in the Roma conscience. According to their belief the easiest way to get gold is through Karankočija but usually because of the lack of modesty, the demon would trick the human and would steal what he brought the first time. Karankočija can usually be seen by older people and through legends a lesson is imposed that man even in his old age cannot triumph over himself, his greed and imprudence.

The mythology of Bosnian Roma relies heavily on traditional legends and myths about various supernatural beings of Bosnia and Herzegovina but also numerous other peoples and cultures. A good example for observing common elements is the most famous demon of all - Karankoči. Besides the similarity in names Karankoči and Karanđoloz, which stem from the Turkish language and signify something black, dark, which alludes to a black physical form or black hat, both demons have identical time of appearance - winter. Karanđoloz always appears in the period of the greatest winter i.e. during zehemerija - January, and usually small disobedient children are frightened by this legend. Classic con of the described demon through transformation of gold is characteristic also of Bosnian legends about the Jinn, the legends say that some people, when they performed the spiritual ritual called daira, were fooled by the Jinn and instead of gold they received coal.

Another example of identical or very similar beliefs is also the demon Aždaha. Namely, Aždaha is among the Bosniaks a mythological creature which most resembles a dragon. Fragments of belief in Aždaha is still present today in practice of soothsayers, which, when analysing various forms of lead, see some sort of dent in the lead or an opening, sets the patients diagnosis with the statement: "something swallowed you as an Aždaha", alluding to the effects of the demon. According to the sayings of old Bosniaks, Aždaha is a demon which lives in dark caves or openings in the ground and attacks and swallows people and animals.

But, we shouldn't disregard the real possibility that the domicile people of an area in Bosnia and Herzegovina, under the influence of the Roma legends used some elements for creating their own. Ušušur, water demon which attacks and drags people under the water, it could have its mythological foundation in the myth about Ledaši or Karakončiju. In favour of this thesis the data that the legend about Ušušur is located in a very narrow area and is not present in a large part of BiH.



Karakonči is considered as one of the most famous demon of Bosnian Roma. It is stated that he is a "gypsy" since he speaks exclusively using that language. He lives in the water, under the ice, he is short and has a red hat on his head or a dark coloured one which holds all his demon powers. He comes to people during the night in order to keep warm next to the hearth. Around the description and his function there are a lot of conflicting data, which is a clearly and influence of mythological traditions that the Roma encountered. While it is often mentioned that Karankoči has a red hat on his head, in Vlasenica, Čajnič, Sarajevo and Visoko, the Roma believed that his hat was made out of dirty intestines which is placed over his head. Karakonči has horns which he uses to attack his victims. According to belief, while he is hitting the humans with his horns, they fall of into the water and out if it see walnut is created "šungurja". While some Roma consider Karakonči as well-intentioned and harmless, others describe him as a demon which calls out to people at night to go out of their house so he can take them to a river and drown them. That's why the claims of Halil Salkanović from Čajnič are closest to a real mythological division: "Ledaši live under the ice and not Karakonči. He comes among the Roma during the winter and speaks in gypsy language. He is good and won't do you any harm, he likes to play with the children. There are various Karakonči. They are dwarfish. They have dark hats on their heads. If you steal the hat of a Karakonči, he will be obedient and will be your servant. If you wish for a bag of gold he will bring it to you. When you give him back his hat, he farts, and instead of gold you are left with a bag of coal. Šungurja (Trapa natans) are the horns of Karakonči, that herb is good for magic". There are several names for Karakonči, in Vlasenica they are called Demiri, in Čajniče two names are mentioned Amir and Demir, etc

Stariji postovi

Mythology of Bosnia and Herzegovina
<< 08/2017 >>

Bosnian mythology is not Slavic but Illyrian!
When we're talking about Bosnian mythology it is important to clarify instantly the following - Bosnian people are speaking a Slavic language, but this doesn't mean that they are Slavic people, since according to that logic the Mexicans would be Spaniards, Brazilians would be Portuguese and for example the Algerians or Moroccans would be French.

Thesis about the southern Slavs, which is based exclusively on the Slavic language is as it's historically known, a merit of the European colonial forces, primarily Great Britain and Austro-Hungary, which disintegrated Balkan people in order to manipulate them better, they enforced numerous historically catastrophic thesis, primarily about the affiliation to the Slavs!? To demolish this absurd theory it suffices to take a look at the physiognomy of a Russian, which are of a lighter hair colour and skin as a people, shorter, i.e. they're similar to the Germanic people, comparing such a person with for example an Albanian, Montenegrin or for example a Dalmatian, which are of a darker hair, eyes, usually tall, one could then notice an incredible difference in physiognomy, which is crucial in classifying to which nation does a person belong to. We won't even notice genetic research which proved that there is a dominant Illyrian gene present when compared to all others.

But, one of the strategical interests was stimulating nationalism, in order to place this strategically important part of Europe under their sphere of influence, using the primitivism which was traditionally rooted among the Balkan people. In order to more clearly explain what I'm talking about let us remember this historical fact which states: how is it possible that the people of the Balkans, which existed between two great civilizations, Greece and Rome, never managed to achieve a cultural or civilization advancement?! Everything that was created in the previous centuries in this area is a result of all other people besides the Balkan ones, starting from the Romans, Greeks, Germans, Ottomans, Austro-Hungarians. whether we like it or not, the answer is simple - primitivism was always a dominant trait of this part of Europe. History has shown as well as proved that the people which can be manipulated the easiest are primitive ones.

A less known fact among the public is that the Austrian monarchy secretly distinguished Vuk Karadžić, who quickly made some type of dictionary of Serbian language according to instructions of the Monarchy in 1818; the dictionary has no scientific validity, since it is not a result of linguistic research, instead it was created on a geographically small area. The intention was to create foundations of nationalism on whose enthusiasm a surface for conflict will be created between the small nations all with the goal of easier western manipulation over them. In contrast, in Bosnia since 1631 a Bosnian-Turkish dictionary was created by Muhamed Hevai Uskufi, but the dictionary was never a cause for hegemony of Bosnians over other peoples, since the dictionary wasn't created by someone's order but out of love for Bosnia and its people.

This manipulation of Europe over primitive Balkan people was so evident and at the beginning of the twenties of the previous century when the western representatives came at the same time to Belgrade and Zagreb agitating Serbs against the Croats. Namely, western representative would say to the war criminal Slobodan Milošević that he has the right to preserve Yugoslavia from disintegration and in Zagreb that Croatia has the right to independence since it was decided by a folk referendum. In such an abject way they pushed, again playing according to the verified recipe of nationalism, peoples of former Yugoslavia into war, which culminated with genocide in Bosnia.

This is why it is important that we finally become aware of ourselves, our origin, rich history and that we finally stop caring what our enemies write and say about us, we need to value and respect our identity and Illyrian forefathers who are our inseparable part.

Kada govorimo o bosanskoj mitologiji bitno je razjasniti sljedeće - Bošnjaci govore slavenski jezik ali to ne znači da su i slavenski narod, jer po tom pravilu bi onda Meksikanci bili Španjolci, Brazilci bi bili Portugalci a, recimo, Marokanci - Francuzi. Vjerovatno se zbog toga bosanska mitologija dovodi u vezu sa slavenskom ali to je još jedna zabluda. Teza da su pojedina bosanska mitološka bića zapravo slavenska temelji se na narodnim vjerovanjem u vampira (lampir), vještice, vile ili Moru. Odmah na početku treba istaći neospornu činjenicu koja glasi - vjerovanje u vampire je izvorno rumunjsko, nema veze sa Slavenima, mada to vjerovanje srećemo i kod Grka, Turaka, Cigana (mulo) itd. Isto je i sa vilama, vješticama, zmajevima ili Morom (Sukubus). To su izvorno vjerovanja mnogih europskih naroda. U bosanskoj mitogiji nema nikakvog spomena ničem slavenskom, posebno božanstvima, niti su oni kod Bošnjaka poznati. To je danas bar lako provjeriti u Zemaljskom Muzeju u Sarajevu, gdje je pohranjen najveći dio etnološkog materijala BiH. Sve je evidentnije, nakon početnih istraživanja, da bosanska mitologija ima svoje izvorište u ilirskim vjerovanjima a posebno kućnoj zmiji, zaštitniku doma i familije, kultu zdravlja boga Binda, bogu Turu, i pojedinim detaljima o Tani i Vidasusu. Tu su i animistička vjerovanja o žabi, zviždenjaku/salamanderu, izvoru i drvetu kao totemima čovjeka. Naravno, ove se činjenice nikako ne dopadaju hegemonistički nastrojenim sistemima ali to je u suštini njihov a ne bošnjački problem. Naš jedini aktualni problem je nepoznavanje vlastite povijesti, koja je izuzetno duga, i naše bogate kulturne tradicije. Zbog toga trebamo istraživati svoju baštinu i biti ponosni što smo potomci slavni Ilira, hrabrog naroda čije nosimo gene i na kraju dijelimo sa svojom albanskom braćom.


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