Bosnian Wor(l)d

Bosnia-Hercegovina is a multinational state. Today, most citizens identify themselves as one of three groups: Bosniaks (48 percent, Illyrians), Bosnian Croats (14 percent, Illyrians), or Bosnian Serbs (37 percent, Slavs).


13.08.2014.

Bosnian ritual with four elements and a pentagram

Lead melting is an old ritual of neutralising negative energy known from Bosnia and Herzegovina all the way to Palestine. But, while in Turkey and throughout the Middle East the ritual was exclusively practiced to nullify spellbound eyes, or, in Romanian and Bulgaria for removing effects of fear, in Bosnia this ritual cures the consequences of spellbound eyes, fear, black magic, influence of demons, certain skin diseases and different blockages such as the inability for someone to get married or a pupil to achieve success in school. Also, only in Bosnia and Herzegovina stravarke and stravari know how to use this ritual to help people which are far away from them, without physical contact, even on another continent. That's why it is known that Bosnian stravari are the best ones in this area.

In support of all the above the claim that the lead melting ritual originated in Bosnia is very popular, namely the Ottomans spread it across the lands they conquered in their campaigns i.e. from the Balkans to Palestine and Syria. In support of the originality of the ritual the data that lead melting was familiar in Bosnia since the old days and that there is no data in any ethnographic chapter which would disprove these claims. According to individual anthropologists lead melting is an ancient ritual of the Illyrians which knew how to use metals and how to shape them but also to use them for purposes of magic.

As I have written before on the ritual practice this time I will pay more attention to the theory and detailed explanation of the magical background of this ritual. To begin with we should stress that the ritual of lead melting itself is actually a combination of four elements, since a human is also made out of them. Namely, the human body is divided in the following way; from the foot to the waist rules the element of earth, from the waist to the chest is the element water, around the lungs, rules the element of air, while the head belongs to the element of fire.

In what way are the 4 elements present in the ritual? In the bowl with water, in which you melt lead, you place a hollow rock which is considered to be hardened earth. It's function is that all negative energy passes through it and goes into the ground. The water in the bowl is the second element which is combined with the element of air i.e. the stravarka blows into the water while chanting various formulas. The lead is melted with fire, with which we come to the last of the four elements. Namely, lead melting is an ancient ritual which is used to bring all four elements inside a human into balance and harmony and in such a way it enables a normal flow of energy and healing.

Another symbol, which is very important in the ritual of lead melting is what I would call "unification of the elements" and that is the pentagram or star with five points, which represents the human. Each point represents a part of the body: head, arms and legs. According to the procedure after the ritual the diseased washes his face with water which was used for lead melting and chanting of prayers and in such a way as to follow the pentagram; first wash the face, then the right arm and left leg and then the left arm and right leg. In such a manner one symbolically forms a star since according to ancient Bosnian tradition, successors of Illyrian cults, each man has his own star in the sky with which he is connected over his forehead, i.e. the place between the eyebrows. For that reason the stravar or stravarka every time after the last lead pouring dips his/her fingers into the bowl with the water and passes the fingers over the forehead of the diseased. With that ritual she "cleans" the star of that man or better yet neutralises all blockages which disrupted the connection of the man and his star.

Power of words

Uttering prayers above the surface of the water which is located in the bowl is an imitation of the mythological creation of the world which was, according to Bosnian mythology, created by a supernatural being (God) or more of them (gods) uttering a magical formula i.e. basma above the sea and then blew into the water out of which then came life. Still today there is a belief, that there is a secret and universal basma, the one that created life, the one which if found out by humans and uttered, would allow him to become the master of the entire planet earth. Bosnian stravarke believe that earth "stands" or exists on the power of the basma and the surface of the earth, on which people walk and from which they get food, rests on the strength of the prayer Ihlas from the Qur'an.

In magical practice prayer Ihlas is often combined with a basma in order to produce a magical effect. It is always repeated in the beginning three, five or seven times and then the basma is repeated three times. With that, through the ritual, one connects into a whole things which are theoretically inconceivable - basma as a pagan element with Islam i.e. prayer Ihlas whose content is the most important message of monotheism - There is only one God. Symbiosis of magic and religion doesn't stop there instead it culminates in the formula which is called "Backwards Ihlas", whose content has a few versions of the text, but every one of them starts with the identical words of the basma: "ćuhum ćuti, lehum leti." and ends with the first words of the prayer Ihlas: "kulhuvelahu". Power of this basma is extremely large which confirms folk belief according to which all those that know the text of this basma can rule over the forces of magic and can cast spells.

Lead, herbs, water

It is interesting to mention that there are a few versions of this ritual only in Bosnia, which are absolutely unknown in other countries where the practice of lead melting is present. Namely, besides the use of lead the ritual is performed with certain herbs such as stravna herb (glechoma hederecea) or kukurijeka (Helleborus niger L.var.macranthus Freyn). From the root of kukurijeka one would boil a tea and in it lead would be poured. After that the diseased would drink the tea.

The second way is even more interesting. The ritual is performed with the help of hot water which is poured from the vessel into a saucer, then the vessel is turned upside down and placed in the middle of the saucer with the water and one would utter prayers over it. When, because of the heat, the vacuum sucks the air from the upturned vessel, the water would also be sucked into the vessel. After that has occurred the vessel is raised and the diseased washes his face with the water and drinks some of it.

Bosnian Wor(l)d
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