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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.

Mythology of Bosnia and Herzegovina
05/02/2016 23:17