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).


15.10.2015.

Cult of god Tur

In folk religion of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is based on Illyrian traditional beliefs, some segments of the Bosnian god Tur were preserved thanks to the cult of spells (magical formulas); in Bosnian mythology it was believed that Tur was a gigantic black bull who held earth on his back. The name Tur itself probably comes from poturiti, onaj koji potura, drži nešto ili pridržava (plant, someone who places under, upholds or holds something) which fully corresponds to the function which is ascribed to this mythological being. Though according to the writings of ethnologists the belief about the gigantic bull who is holding up earth is only found among the Bosnian people, some segments of that cult are present in the magical practice of all three people in our country. We are talking about healing rituals of cattle where women or men who perform these rituals preform a spring ritual of transmission of divine power of Tur in order to gain his blessing or power of healing.

Namely, in folk religion of Bosnia the snail is a miniature representation of the bull Tur since it possesses attributes which symbolise the bull: horns and house on his body which symbolises earth. It is no less interesting to mention that for the ritual of touching, a dark coloured snail is often sought, since the bull Tur was described as being of a black skin or hair, therefore the Bosnian people in the northwest part of Bosnia call him Garonja (black). Significance of touching the snail is the magical connection with earth, in which Tur lives, otherwise in Bosnian mythology is the only culprit for causing earthquakes, and calming Tur, personification of the earth's strength, which is clearly visible in the formula which follows ritual touching of the snails horns: "Ustuk biče, moje biče jače!" (stand down bull, my strength is bigger than the bull's)

When a woman from the surrounding area of Mostar would gain the power of healing livestock, she would use her index finger of her right hand to touch the horns of a dark snail three times, pulling her finger down his body, backwards, uttering the following spell: "Stu na se! Stu natrag, ne znalo ti se za trag. Stu na se. Od Boga derman a od mog iladž!" (Go back, go back, may your origin be unknown, go back! From God the cure and my labour recovery). As we can see from the examples, touching the horns of the snail is nothing but a magical imitation of touching horns of Tur, whose entire strength rests in them, and using that force to heal, since that is the energy of earth or Grand Mother. It is believed that after such a transfer of power from the snail onto a woman or man, a person can use their acquired powers to cure throughout the entire year. A diseased animal is brought to a rock which is firmly fixed into the ground, i.e. it never moved from that place, which is alluding to a tombstone, then the woman which is performing the healing ritual uses her index finger to make three circles around the diseased part of the body and utters: "stu natrag!" (an abbreviation of "come, tread, move"). She then spits on her index finger uttering: "Ptuj, u živac, u kamen, stu natrag!" she repeats this three times.

Right index finger in folk medicine is the finger of healing and is brought into connection with the finger of Hazrat Alija, who is always depicted with a raised index finger as a symbol of god's wisdom but also blessing. This is no coincidence since Hazrat Fatima and her husband Hazrat Ali in folk medicine, especially in Iran and Turkey, are regarded as a couple who have ascribed mystic properties to them, among which are healing properties. In north-western part of Bosnia, in Velika Kladuša and Cazin, right index finger is represented in the prayer to the new moon which is pointed towards the moon after uttering five short (smaller) surah, then a spell is uttered with which one aims to renew vitality and beauty of the body. According to traditional belief for this magical transmission one would chose the period from the beginning of May until the middle of the month which is no coincidence, namely, it was a custom in the past to slaughter a bull (once people used to say: "We'll slaughter a bull for the first of the May!"), which was a symbol in the former Yugoslav republic of labour day, however, that practice of slaughtering animals, i.e. sacrificing a bull on our territory is an ancient practice and stems directly from Illyrians. All of this of course has its roots on the cult of Tur and mother earth or goddess Grand Mother.

Actually, today's holiday St. George's day, which is observed on May 6th among the Bosnian orthodox Christians, is not a Christian holiday at all, nor any other, it has been taken over from paganism. In this data we can find an answer as to why Bosnian people, former members of the Church of Bosnia before the advent of Christianity, were pagans, therefore it is normal and logical to conclude that they, like other people, did not fully renounce their old religion. Instead they continued under the veil of Christianity and later Islam to celebrate the holidays of their pagan forefathers. That's why among the Bosnian folk some so called "Christian" holidays were marked (observed) but not in a religious but magical way i.e. the original pagan way, during which destiny was foretold, spells uttered and livestock protected from evil spirits and diseases.

Bosnian Wor(l)d
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