Jul 15, 2013


The use of herbs for medicinal purposes is the oldest form of medicine. The cognition about the medical properties of individual herbs the Bosnian people reached through an empirical method, following particular animals, such as cats and dogs, which would eat an herb when they were sick or injured. In the same manner, humans would use a homeopathic method to compare the shape and colour of a plant with that of a human organ and based on that they reached a conclusion that since the plant corresponds to the organ it must have a positive effect on it.
The knowledge about medical and magic potential of herbs was revealed to individuals by faeries, as the legends claim. Dozens of folk songs speak about the verses that the faeries would utter in order to reveal the medical power of individual herbs. Besides that, one would come across information through magical rituals. One of them is the one of Illyrian descent when one would catch and kill a snake inside a forest and roast her until she turned into ash. That ash would be collected and gathered inside a glass. A person would take that glass and go to the part of the forest where the roosters and human voices couldn't be heard and would place some of that ash under his tongue. Apparently, at that moment the senses of that person would sharpen and that person would be connected with the nature bringing his consciousness in a state of trance. At that moment the person could hear and understand the voices of plants and trees around him and communicate with them.

Since the woman received the role of a mother and someone who takes care of the health of the children and family, from the old days, it is then logical that female deities were more present in those parts of healing where divine power and strength were called forth. When we analyze the list of medicinal herbs we can easily see that most names have a female connotation, which is another verification of the interconnectedness of the female sex and the plant world.
This connection can be seen in the short formula which is still today uttered by numerous stravarke while picking herbs which they intend on using as a magical item or an instrument for concocting a tea or medicine. While picking a specific plant the stravarka utters this formula which is followed by a rhyme in its original form: "I cull this plant from the garden of hazreti Hava (Eve), so that it can be a medicine and of benefit to me as it was to her." As we see from the above in herbal treatments the magic of words is inseparable from the process, the magic is constructed out of formulas of a short content called basme and formulas of a longer content called bajalice. Both of them are a key
component of the magical medicine in whose medicine the rhetorical power of the word is stressed.
Also in love magic a lot of attention is given to the use of specific herbs for which it is known to be a medicine for a "frozen heart". According to the rules of Bosnian witchcraft it is specifically culled between sunsets until midnight, on the eve of Friday, during the new moon.

An ideal example of such practice is the culling of milogled (asarurn europaeum) for whom there is a rule that it can be dug inside a forest with bloody hands on the first Friday of the new moon. Second powerful love herb is the mysterious "fairy grass" (Seseli rigidum?) which can only be found if you place a silver coin on the ground next to a spring. After that a witch would step aside and wait in hiding until the curious faeries show up drawn by the shinny object. At the place where they show up, after they have satisfied their curiosity regarding the silver coin they disappear, one should dig there since the root of fairy grass can be found there. Both roots should be carried on one's naked chest.

fairy grass

Herbs for magic but also for healing is infrequently grown in the gardens if the witches since they believe that the largest magic capacity can be found in "wild" grown (from God) plants especially if it grows in hard to reach places next to a river or a creek. Particularly amazing power is possessed by forest herbs, especially if there is a creek flowing through the forest. In the old Bosnian legends the faeries live inside the forests, and among them the famous Bosnian fairy, with whose song and dance all of the vegetation swells and grows and in special cycles it gains magical powers.