Feb 6, 2017

Secret of the transfer of knowledge about healing

 Healing tradition where a dominant position is healed by the hearth is present in shamanism of the peoples of Central Asia and Turkey in rituals of healing with fire, lead or wax melting, as well as utilisation of the ashes from the hearth. It is interesting how the mysterious healer Lokman, known in Bosnian folk tales, specifically the one where he has the power to communicate with plants through snake ashes, is mentioned as a third cult figure in Islamic-Shamanistic cult of healing. It is claimed that he spread the cult of healing using his hands, and perhaps the most interesting fact is that the 31st chapter of the Qur'an carries his name (Arabic Luqman), which could be a coincidence, or not.

In numerous Sufi circles that practice is visible and is presented as hereditary skill which stems from the Prophet himself. Namely, as it is believed in Sufism, at one point a mysterious voice from the fire spoke to Muhammad (s.a.v.s.) and gave him directions on how he can cure people using ash from the fire mixed with some water. The prophet listened to the voice and from that day on, he healed numerous diseased people but over the years he got tired and transferred that gift of healing to his daughter Hazrat Fatima holding her hand (often called Fatima al-Zahra or Bibi Fatima) (5).

Initiation into Fatima’s cult

Initiation into the cult of healing always occurs in such a way that a certain (chosen) person dreams of Hazrat Fatima, which then states her thoughts and gives her the necessary knowledge and power. As soon as that person awakes it “feels” and “knows” that it can help other people, knowingly becoming the catalyst of divine power. Here, as we may conclude, a larger accent is placed on the healing powers themselves and not on props or ritual movements since, for example, most of the Turkish odžaklija repeat the following formula in most of their rituals: “This is not my hand…”

According to which definition Fatima herself chooses her future healers is still unknown, but an example of one case hints that with true desire and will that gift can be consciously attracted. One female healer, odžaklija, which is known as “Fatima’s servant” told her story about the initiation, which is allowed to be published and shared:

“I had my first calling by Fatimah (a.s) about 14 years ago, but I was at the time not educated in anything to do with Islam nor Shamanism nor Sufism. Indeed, I was in my own way an atheist, believing only in rationality. That I was thinking so often about Fatimah I put down to some historical books I had read and which had fascinated me. Still, I had to think about Fatimah all the time for many months but then I forgot. Then my life took a turn into chaos and I had serious calamaties hitting me. A bad relationship, abuse, the loss of my home, financial ruin and bad health. It was then, in utter desperation, that I remembered Fatimah and I called out for her in a dream and she came, and after shouting at me for abandoning her she gave me her hand and I was set on the path I am on now. And I recovered everyhing I lost with her aid.”

Handing the knowledge (power) of healing to her successors is recorded in Bosnian tradition where an old stravarka holding her props gives them as a gift to one of the household inhabitants with the words: “Here you go, daughter in law, you continue, I can no longer do it!”. Namely, as I heard from several old ladies which practiced the ritual of lead melting, due to old age and disease or physical inability, stravarka would lose the will, but also the strength to perform the ritual and heal successfully, therefore she stops her work transferring her secret of healing to another, younger person. Sometimes the process of choosing and transmission of healing powers is successful and sometimes it is not, since if the stravarka doesn’t choose wisely who could serve as her substitute, the supernatural powers which facilitate healing usually subside and disappear.

According to my knowledge the surest sign that transfer was successful is evident if the person is successful in growing plants, especially flowers, but also vegetables in the garden. Anyway, all rituals of initiation into healing, among all peoples from Balkan, are closely tied to the ritual which involves a plant or trees. It is also logical since the healing ability is supported by spiritual elements in nature whether they’re called faeries, or some specific religious person such as Hazrat Fatima.

What is especially fascinating with such healing practice is the fact that the house in which a successful stravarka lives is well off and prosperous, since such a person attracts people and money. Besides prosperity, a person with knowledge of healing summons and spreads positive energy, therefore around its house grass, herbs and trees grow exuberantly and the flowers have a more intensive smell and colour, which is in and of itself a product of shamanistic practice of connecting man with nature.

However, although initiation into spiritual healing can come by means of Hazrat Fatima through a dream, it also arrives through transfer from generation to generation, by an older healer giving way to a younger one. But, in the end, it is necessary to mention another version of transfer, the initiation of Hazrat Fatima herself into spiritual medicine which can be heard from the tribes in east Turkmenistan. They confirm, in a subtle way, that the gift of healing is always of a supernatural nature and it doesn’t come easy for the one receiving it, a sacrifice is usually required:

“The daughter of the prophet sat in the shadow of a tree when a yellow bird descended from heaven and stopped on one branch of this tree. The branch became dry immediately. Not long afterwards the bird left the tree and the shadow of it’s wings covered the legs of Bibi Fatimah and she became sick for seven days. Since no one was able to cure her, the Prophet asked God for help. Then, 40 perfect men were send by Allah to cure her. Coming from the heavens, seven among these forty reached the earth, alighting near a mausoleum. They put up a banner in the house of Bibi Fatimah who made some circumambulations around it and then recovered her health.”(6)


(5) I noticed that the name Bibi (Fatima) is mostly used in Pakistan, Bangladesh and among the Muslims of India. The name Bibi itself can be found in the beliefs of Bosnian gypsies and it is an abbreviation of Bibija – the greatest female deity. Bibi has a dualistic character and is the manifestation of plague. Gypsies consider her to be their protector, according to legends in the ancient past she saved them from the plague in Egypt. Bibi in the language of gypsies has a few meanings: plague, weasel, daughter in law. Bibi (aunt) is the mother of the god, she walks in rags, with a stick and is followed by a dog. At early dawn, while the gypsies are sleeping, she passes through their village and chases away the disease from them. /Some beliefs of nomad gypsies/ GZM, Sarajevo 1958.

(6) Tierry Zarcone, “Shamanism and Islam” .