May 24, 2013

Three demons of love

According to folk belief there are three stars/demons that appear after sunset, if the sky is clear without clouds. Demon stars move around the sky and they are always on the other side of the world where there is a woman which wants to enchant a man with magical formulas and oaths. The main demon among them is called Palinka and the other two which follow her are Budinka and Nesanka. According to folk belief the three of them are sisters and each of them individually have different magical powers: Palinka who is also called in some formulas Kostolomka, Sjanka or Planinka, she brings a lot of love and obsession into the heart of humans. Budinka, Budmirka or Budimka, brings unrest and hysteria and Nesanka, also called Prisanka or Podminta, causes insomnia. The folk imagines them as beautiful girls with long golden hair and bright eyes.

Three demons are classic characters in all rituals of Bosnian magic. Unlike Palinka, Budinka and Nesanka which are female sky demons, there are three male demons which respond to a call by banging one's hand on the wall on the eve of Tuesday and by uttering a specific formula. They are called Indija or Inda, Džindija or Džinda and Šumabir. In love rituals Indija and Džindija are sent on a trip in their lands and Šumabir is directed towards the one that needs to be spellbound and compelled to love. All three of them are imagined as creatures with tails which are blind in one eye and they limp. But none of these physical defects create difficulties for their courtesy and efficiency.
These three names are also mentioned in specific formulas used to negate negative energy, especially spellbound eyes and children weeping. While as in all other cases the first two demons are sent to their native lands Šumabir is sent to bring the child's weeping and spellbound eyes into a river vortex.

According to the occult classification Indija, Džindija and Šumabir are earthen demons which respond to banging against the wall of a house but in the end of the ritual the person calling forth the demons places both hands on the ground praying to earth, or antic goddess mother, to help and direct the demons in the desired direction. In other formulas which are of an esoteric nature the names of the demons are not mentioned, the term "three Jinn and three devils" is used. Based on that, we notice how the exorcists are not quite sure if they belong to a stronger or weaker line of demons. 

May 17, 2013


The Bosnian national (agricultural) calendar spans back to the old Illyrian era. The maker of the calendar is unknown. It is known that it was created and used by a ancient farmer. Some dates from the Julian calendar, which was created 45 years BCE, can be recognised in the Bosnian calendar. After Christianity came, some of these dates received names of saints. With the arrival of the Slavs, pagans, people known for agriculture, the dates had different names, but they always remained the same. The folk calendar was used continuously, it was used during the time of the Bogumil's, it was also used during the Ottoman period, and it even serves a purpose today. Besides this, in Bosnia the Hijri calendar was also strictly observed. It was done by the Imam's and other religious scholars, in order to be aware of the important religious dates (Ramadan, Bayram, New year, etc.). The Hijri calendar was impractical when it came to agriculture, since it moved forward ten days every solar year, however it was practical when it came to fasting during the month of Ramadan since it moved through all the seasons. We need to mention that the Hijri calendar was the official calendar in Bosnia during the Ottoman period, until the Austro-Hungarian period when they brought the Gregorian calendar.

The Bosnian folk calendar begins on December 21st, the folk belief holds that on that date, the day extends as much as a rooster can jump from a doorstep. From this date on comes the Zehmeriya (Turkish: Zehmeri) the coldest part of winter that lasts for 40 days. While Zehmeriya lasts people avoid drinking cold water in fear of catching a cold.

January: the folk call January the longest moth in the year. From January 17th the counting of the weeks until Hidirlez begins (May 6th), 17 weeks total. This is what determines the sowing.
The period from January 31st until March 20th is called Hamsin and it represents the second part of winter.

February- from February 14th until March 14th is Veljača, the folk belief is that if snow falls in the beginning of the Veljača that the year will be fertile, and that wheat will have a good yield.

Djemre (Turkish: Cemreler), the meaning of this word is "burning charcoal", it is believed that
Djemre is the sun's heat which starts to have an intense impact on the land and it start awakening the nature. 

 -The first Djemra appears on February 20th and heats the air. That's when the Southern wind starts blowing and it becomes milder.

 -The second Djemra appears on February 27th heats up the water and raises its level. The water in the river doesn't freeze from this point on.

 -The third Djemra appears on March 6th and heats up the land. The snow melts fast and the first grass starts sprouting.

(Right after the first Djemra the people have a custom to notch the roots of the birch and put a glass bottle so that the juices of the birch flow in it. The bottle stays in that position until the third Djemra. The collected juices are used for medicinal purposes, especially kidney diseases)

March: the agricultural works begin during this month, the potatoes, onions and salads are sown. After the third Djemra the fruit trees are notched and inoculated.

Grandma (Baba)- from March 15th until March 21st is the period of the grandma, the unstable period when a couple of weather phenomena change in one day.

Grandpa (Did,Djed) - from March 21st until March 28th is the period of the grandpa, the folk beliefs are that it is more merciful and people start sowing potatoes during this period.

(“Did” or Grandpa is a name (title) of each Bogumil priest in Bosnia and “Baba” (Grandma) is the name of his wife who helped her husband and the community by healing with herbs, assisting in births, or foretelling fortunes. Since the Bosnian people were Bogumils before Islam came, it is then no mystery why they kept some of the memories of their old religion. Among the folk there are numerous stories, mostly comical, about Did and Baba and their adventures. By them, we can discern that they commanded great respect among the Bosnian people.)

Kablići- March 29th until March 31st

Stablići- April 1st until April 3rd

Štapići- April 4th until April 7th

(All three names are connected to the past of Bosnia when the winters were very long and they usually lasted until the middle of April. During that period the cattle used to die because of lack of food).

Mučenjaci- period from April 8th until July, this is the period when people suffered (hence the name) until the sowing of the wheat.

April: during April the corn is sown. The old Bosniaks would wait for the frogs to start making noise, which would be a sign that the climate is optimal for sowing. The people also followed other signs of the nature, and therefore it is believed that when the beech tree starts sprouting leaves that one can begin sowing grain without fearing frost. During the middle of April the grapevine was notched and a bottle was placed underneath it for the juices to drip in it until Hidirlez. This juice was used by women to smear on their hair so it would be healthy and grow quicker.

May: in the first quarter of May the sowing of beans begins. Hidirlez or Jurjevo (May 6th)- according to the national calendar from this day forward, the summer begins and the swimming in lakes and ponds can begin. In the period from May 6th until May 13th the first swarms of bees are let loose.

June: the first seven days of June are called "bijela nedjelja” or “white week" because the white mushrooms (Cantharellus cibarius) are picked in the forests at that time. In the beginning of June, pumpkins, turnips and radishes are sown.

August: it is believed that this month gives diarrhea to children and the elderly. To prevent this from happening, the mothers would take some clothes of their children and throw it under the wheel of carriages that carry wheat bundles. In the first days of August the onion and garlic are picked.

 Aliđun- August 2nd: the folk belief is that from this day on, the summer loses its heat and slowly turns into autumn, the water in the rivers begins to cool down and there can be no more swimming.

September: during this month the potato is reaped, the corn as well and the grapes start ripening. If some strawberries sprout in September, then it is believed that the autumn will be long and mild.

October: in the first and second week of October wheat is sown.

Kasum - November 8th: from this day onward, winter starts. On this day, all loans are settled, and leases of land end. Kasum is Turkish the name of November. The Arabic word kasim means 'something that divides“.

Pagan background of the folk calendar

As Christianity took over most of the pagan holidays and customs creating a cult of saints, in this analysis of ancient Bosnian calendar we won't waste space and time by discovering which saint took over which role of a pagan deity, instead we will focus on more important, original segments which are in its basis key principles for punctual description of the folk calendar whose content follows the creative cycle of nature. The only thing that is worth mentioning is that Christianity changed moved some dates a few days earlier or later from the original date of the pagan holidays in order to give it a Christian meaning and diminish the ancient, pagan one.

Researchers of ancient Bosnia came across archaeological evidence which point out that there was mixing between the Celtic religious cults with those of the Illyrians, especially with the Japodi, a tribe that inhabited the north-western part of Bosnia. By analysing the folk calendar of that part of Bosnia, which was transferred orally from one generation to the other, we can discover the traces of Celtic religion, the cult of fertility to be more exact, which is a staple part of what we know today as European witchcraft.

By describing particular calendar dates and beliefs connected to them we can relatively successfully reconstruct the ancient cult of triple goddess Brigid which is also considered the Grand Mother. Wheat was dedicated to her out of whom prophylactic symbols were created with intent to keep the family safe from evil. Herodotus in one of his descriptions of the Illyrians mentions that Illyrian women bring wheat as a sacrifice to one of their goddesses. This undoubtedly confirms the similar belief of the Celt and the Illyrians.

In the folk calendar dualism is emphasized, the permeation of the negative and the positive period during which nature begins and ends its circle of fertility, which is under the protection of the goddess mother and god sun. Modelled after the antique folk calendar, the Bosnian is divided on only two seasons i.e. summer and winter because it is in its essence agricultural and follows the natural cycles. According to the belief of the Bosnian folk summer begins in May and ends in November (Beltane-Samhain), and then comes the winter, when would the manifestation of the goddess mother, in her three forms, commence together with the winter solstice.

Zehmerija, Veljača and Baba we will analyse in more detail, besides female names and characteristics, they symbolise three life stages which are undoubtedly reminiscent of the pagan cult of the goddess mother, which was celebrated as triple goddess - girl, mother and old woman. The name Zehmerija, unlike the other two names, doesn't originate from Bosnia, it is a part of the Turkish folk tradition which was accepted by our people and merged into the tradition. But, while Zehmerija actually Zehmeri or Zehmerir in Turkish alludes to males, in Bosnia Zehmerija was always considered to be a female name. This is supported by "Crna Zehmerija" (Black Zehemerija), which represents the coldest winter days. During that period in the past people tended to get frozen fingers or toes, in case of very low temperatures.


Witches holiday Yule which is exactly on 21st December and more than ideally it corresponds to the calendar date of the beginning of Zehmerija. From the winter solstice the day starts to get longer by the amount that the rooster can jump from the house doorstep. In this folk belief there is a clear allusion to the sun cult, whose symbol is a rooster, because in paganism after 21st of December the sun is "born" and announces a gradual arrival of warmer days.

The goddess gave birth to a son, god, which will eventually become her lover and father of the child in the next cycle. She is tired and exhausted and that's why she's resting and recuperating. That's why it's cold and snowy in nature. The goddess like the Bosnian woman rests for 40 days (četeresnica) after birth, which is also how long the Zehmerija is, and during that time the folk tradition records various taboos which clearly allude to birth. Apparently, while the Zehmerija lasts the people would avoid travelling by night, in order not to cross places where the demons celebrate and dine which also has the greatest influence during that part of year. From such encounters between people and the Jinn, humans can fall ill both physically and mentally. A similar prohibition pertains to a woman who gave birth; she was prohibited from going out at night from fear of a demon attack, since she has no immunity to them during the first 40 days after birth.


Calendar wise Veljača is different from Zehmerija because it doesn't coincide with the other pagan holiday called Imbolc which is celebrated from dusk of 31st January until 2nd February which means that it comes at the end of Zehmerija, and we shouldn't disregard this information. Imbolc is the event when the Celtic triple goddess Brigid first appeared as a girl and made love with the young sun god, who was born on the shortest day in the year.

The difference of 12 days is perhaps due to the events i.e. mistakes in oral transfer of the tradition from one generation to the other. But, we shouldn't ignore the fact that Zehemerija, which lasts for 40 days, begins on December 21st and ends 1st of February. The name Veljača probable comes from Velja, Vela or Velika which alludes to the fact that the girl became a mother, and that's why she obtained the title grand/big, the one that brings forth life. Her symbol is the full moon. The goddess recovered from birth. God has strengthened and his warmth slowly permeates the earth and that's how the first signs of spring come about. His power grows continually, the light pierces darkness and the days become longer. The nature is slowly coming to life, which is reflected by the Bosnian calendar in the form of a fight between southern and northern wind. The goddess shows her blessings, the folk tradition claims that if the beginning of Veljača i.e. 14th, 15th and 16th of February is marked by precipitation of snow the year will be fruitful, especially for wheat, usually a symbol of the goddess.

Baba or Grandma

Baba, as the name suggests, symbolises an old lady. In the same way, the pagan holiday Ostare falls on the vernal equinox on the last day of a seven day cycle which is ruled by the Baba. With that we could claim that the last day symbolises the end of the life cycle. In this period the goddess mother conceived a child i.e. son who will be born on December 21st. Baba can be easily seen as a pregnant woman since the Bosnian term zbabna refers to a pregnant woman and the word babine refers to the traditional visit to the woman who gave birth. The folk description of Baba's character clearly alludes to classic symptoms that a woman has during childbirth - she is wilful, fickle, prone to frequent changes of mood... Due to such circumstances the goddess mother can sometimes steal fertility from humans and cause a dry year or a year marked by frequent storms.

During this period the goddess covers the earth with fertility, awakens it from its slumber, and the god grows and slowly reaches maturity. The hours of the day and night are equal, and light slowly triumphs over darkness. Farming activities start. The sun is in its northernmost point.

The end of Baba begins with a seven day period during which Did rules, the male principle, or better to say god whose mother is the goddess, he has now reached maturity and shares grace to the people, which is described in the folk tradition: "Did is merciful because during it one can start planting potatoes". The seed is placed in the earth which needs to supply the crop, fertility. The dominant influence of god is seen in the following months.

Jurjevo (Hidirlez)

In the pagan tradition Beltane symbolises the beginning of the light half of the year i.e. the arrival of summer. For the Celts that is the holiday dedicated to the god of light (sun) who has fire as its symbol. That's why each year during Jurjevo or Hidirlez in Bosnia early in the morning, before sun rise, a fire is lit in the yard as a sign of welcome to the sun which will appear in the east. Because of the strong monotheistic influence that ritual was interpreted as a defence from snakes, which allowed it to be hidden and freely practiced throughout the ages.

Ajvatovica - ancient cult of sun

Ajvatovica according to all the available data is an Illyrian tradition of the sun cult which announced the renewal of nature, its fertility through water and the forest. The days of Ajvatovica last from 15th to the 25th of June which coincides with the summer solstice (June 21st). In Celtic religion during the summer solstice a large ritual takes place, holly unity of the mature sun god and mother earth. On this day the sun god's might is at its peak.

40 days and nights is the time that Ajvaz Dedo prayed for the water to start flowing perfectly coincides with the period of June 21st to July 31st i.e. the beginning of the second pagan holiday which is celebrated for three days of Lugha or Lughnassan.


Lughnassan which lasts from 31st July until 2nd of August is the ancient holiday of harvest. In Bosnia during that period comes the Aliđun which is considered by the people to stand for the height of summer during which there is prosperity of fruits and grain. In the past the Bosnian people visited cult places in nature, known as dovišta, and those were the places where god was worshiped and celebrations were held followed with entertainment and food. With that the old pagan tradition was followed of praising the holiday of harvest and thankfulness for the yields of nature. Dovište Lastavica was until the middle of the twentieth century a cult place where Bosnian people would gather for 2nd of August to practice the ritual of slaughtering sheep, which is a tradition from the Illyrian times as many ethnologists claim, and it symbolised "sacrificing a virgin to the devil" i.e. a specific deity from whom one sought mercy and blessing in order to ensure fertility.


Samhain (31.10-02.11), symbolises the end of the summer and the light part of the year after which winter and darkness arrive. Among the folk it is called Kasum, Turkish name for November. The name Kasum stems from Arabic which means "something which is shared". The end of the warm period and the beginning of winter is best supported by the folk saying: "Jurjevo brings a green leaf and Kasum white snow!" That is where the Bosnian folk calendar ends.

Iris illyrica Bosnia