Mythology of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Mitologija Bosne i Hercegovine


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.

Mythology of Bosnia and Herzegovina
<< 11/2015 >>

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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