A Day with Rusalki – Blurry Photos Miss Cryptid 2020 Contest

A Rusalka is a contestant on the Blurry Photos annual Miss Cryptid Contest. We are excited that we were asked to contribute material. You can find this, and more, in our book A Study of Rusalki – Slavic Mermaids of Eastern Europe. Blurry Photos is a great site to check out if you love to “learn something weird.”

You can find the contest and listen to the podcast here: http://www.blurryphotos.org/miss-cryptid-2020-week-3/

The part about Rusalki starts around minute 27.

Here are the other entries in the contest:

Week 1: http://www.blurryphotos.org/miss-cryptid-2020-week-1/

Week 2: http://www.blurryphotos.org/miss-cryptid-2020-week-2/

Roundup (finalists): http://www.blurryphotos.org/miss-cryptid-2020-roundup/

And the winner is… [Winner announced at time – 01:07:19.]

Blurry Photos - Miss Cryptid Contest 2020 - Week 3 - June 6 Nandi Bear, Rusalka, Euroa Beast
Blurry Photos – Miss Cryptid Contest 2020 – Week 3 – June 6
Nandi Bear, Rusalka, Euroa Beast

Mankind’s fascination with the sea has sparked imagination since the first person beheld its mighty waters. Curiosity led people to invent the means to travel across the great oceans and eventually explore beneath them, trying to discover their secrets. Throughout the centuries, millennia in fact, people have created myths and legends about creatures living within the sea’s depths. One of the most alluring and formidable beings to inspire writers, artists, children, and adults is the mermaid, who has been forever immortalized in stories such as Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. But there’s more to this sea maiden than that story tells. In Slavic folklore, she’s called a Rusalka and lives mostly in fresh-water bodies or swamps, rather than the sea.

In case you’ve never heard of a Rusalka, she’s a Slavic mermaid. The plural of the word is Rusalki, but if you want to call them “Rusalkas,” go ahead. We’ll cringe, but we’ll know what you mean. She is most popular in eastern and southern Europe: Russia, Bulgaria, Poland, Ukraine, in particular.

She’s not your “Ariel” type of mermaid, because she has no tail. In fact, she was once a living, breathing human girl, but she died before she married—often the cause of her death was drowning. I know this sounds odd in today’s world, but the people who believed in them lived in a rural, farming society. Fertility of both the land and people was critical to them for survival. They believed if girls died before they married and had children, then that fertility was lost, and the girls became part of the “unclean dead,” that is, they were cursed. People did have many rituals, though, to entice the Rusalki to return that fertility to them.

Not everyone can see Rusalki, but those who can will tell you they look like normal girls, except they are extremely pale, and they have long, green hair. They can also shape-shift into geese, swans, snakes, silver fish, or frogs. Or they can appear as birds, like the Sirens, and entice men with their songs.

They don’t really eat anything, because they are … well, dead, or undead, after all. But some stories said they like wheat bread with salt, cheese, butter, and eggs. What they are more interested in is getting clothes. They were buried in wedding garments, even though they never married. That’s all part of the whole fertility mindset. So, eventually, those clothes wear out and the Rusalki are left wearing rags, or nothing at all. They beg girls to leave them even a small rag to cover themselves with. Rather sad to think about, really.

Rusalki weren’t always thought of as dead girls, though. They were once considered goddesses or nature spirits. Talk about your kick-ass heroines; they weren’t wimpy, sidekick-to-men-only goddesses, but powerful ones, who ruled the land. But then, the Orthodox Church intervened. They didn’t totally wipe the Rusalki out, but the Church authority repressed the role of these goddesses as much as it repressed the role women played in society. And Rusalki lost their goddess status. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

You can understand they probably didn’t care to much about this demotion. From goddesses to dead girls, and unclean, cursed dead girls at that. All because some supposedly holy men thought they weren’t worthy of the goddess status. So, they revolted and started their campaign of torturing men… especially any man who jilted them when they were alive, because it was men who decided Rusalki weren’t worthy of exalted status.

Being dead really wasn’t so bad. If they had lived and married, the girls would have lost what the Russians called their “volia,” their freedom. As Rusalki, they could be wild and FREE of male dominance.

They usually didn’t bother women or girls, unless they were jealous of their happy life. And they left children alone, unless they had an overwhelming desire to nurture a child, since they couldn’t have one of their own… they were DEAD after all, but still retained the feelings of the average rural girl. So men were their main targets.

They would either drown them (typical mermaid fashion) or tickle them to death with their breasts… which, I forgot to mention earlier, were huge, even if they had been small during their lifetime. This was just another sign of their unused fertility.

All right, stop laughing. Have you ever been tickled? If so, you know it can be quite painful, especially if prolonged. And a Rusalka most often was accompanied by other Rusalki, so you’re talking about several of these mermaids tickling you…

When you consider that some stories say the Rusalki had iron-tipped breasts, well, just ouch. You wouldn’t want someone to tickle you that way. Okay, laugh if you want to, but I’m glad I’m not male (says Ronesa), so I wouldn’t have to endure that torture.

They also loved to dance, and would flatter … or force … a shepherd to play his kaval, a flutelike instrument, for them all night long. He was fortunate if he survived and only had holes in his shoes and blisters on his fingers.

Geeze, you might ask, is there any hope to escape their attention? How could men protect themselves from these assaults? Well, the Russians would tell you to wear your baptismal cross, especially if you go into the forest or near water. You could also wear ferns in your hair when you go swimming; this prevents them from pulling you under. Magical chants are also useful to keep them away from you. Other methods are to prick the Rusalki with a pin or throw wormwood in their eyes. Be sure you DON’T carry anything that ATTRACTS Rusalki, like parsley, roses, birch, and especially not their favorite plant rosen (which is burning bush). You’re just asking for trouble if you do. They’ll think you WANT to be tickled.

Rusalki also love telling riddles. If you have the correct answer, they’ll leave you alone. But if you get it wrong… well, be prepared to be tickled to death.

As to whether or not they do any of this torture maliciously is up for debate. Some people say they are bent on destroying men. Other people claim they’re innocent maidens who are only trying to find the love they never had while alive…

Outside of folklore, Rusalki were often portrayed as tragic figures. Antonin Dvorak’s opera has similarities to Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. The mermaid in this story, called Rusalka, falls in love with a prince, but must lose her voice before she can have the opportunity to meet him as a living being.

Rusalka and Prince. Illustration by Nelinda. © Bendideia Publishing.

Act 1

Rusalka has fallen in love with a human prince who often steps into the water where she lives. Although she can caress him, alas, he cannot see her, because she is merely part of the watery element herself. She wants to become human so she can embrace him and feel his arms around her as well. She asks the witch, Ježibaba, to help her. Witches are witches and demand much of their supplicants. Ježibaba tells Rusalka that she will lose her ability to speak if she becomes mortal; on top of that, if the prince doesn’t love her, he will die and she will be eternally damned. Rusalka agrees and drinks the potion the witch gives her. The prince finds her, immediately becomes infatuated with the speechless woman, and takes her to the palace. So far, so good for Rusalka. The prince wants her.

 

Act 2

But fate can be cruel. Although the fickle prince summons guests to his pending marriage to Rusalka, he soon pays more attention to a visiting foreign princess… who can speak and flatter him, while mocking the mute Rusalka.

Poor, poor Rusalka.

It doesn’t take long before the prince professes his love to the foreign princess and rejects Rusalka. Her eyes filled with pain, she returns to her watery home. The foreign princess, however, is disgusted with the prince, even though she’s achieved taking his affection away from Rusalka.

 

Act 3

Poor, poor Rusalka. She doesn’t know what to do. She returns to the witch for help. Ježibaba gives her a dagger and tells her she must kill the prince in order to be free and return to her former life. Horrified, Rusalka throws the dagger into the lake. Never will she kill the man she still loves. She dissolves into the water, forever alienated from her family. And now she has become something vile, a spirit that lures people to their death in the water.

The prince, having been touched by Rusalka’s love, can’t erase her from his mind. He frantically searches for her where he first found her. He calls to her, and she appears. “Kiss me, please,” he begs. “I can’t stop thinking about you. I regret being a fool.” She tells him that her kiss will mean his death.

To which he responds, “Kiss me, kiss me, give me peace! Your kisses will redeem my sin! I die happy; I die happy in your embrace!”

They kiss and … yes, he dies.

Rusalka kisses her dead lover one more time, thanking him for letting her experience human love. She releases his body and sinks into the lake, forever condemned to bring death to those who come near.  Yes, poor, poor Rusalka.

Well, you must have a bad impression of the Rusalki by now. But, even though they cause pain and death, they have a benevolent side. They’re magical healers. Every year, several weeks after Easter, on a holiday called Spassovden, or Ascension, they ride through the night sky in a golden chariot made of human bones. Their green hair sparkles in the moonlight, and their transparent clothes billow around them as they hasten their way to a field full of white, pink, or red rosen. They’re here to plunder the flower.

Magical Night of Healing. Illustration by Nelinda. © Bendideia Publishing.

Not only is this their favorite flower, it’s also magical and used by witches and healers, as well as Rusalki. It’s said that if a lit match is brought to the flowers in hot and sunny weather, a flame will explode in the air. Black smoke is released, but the plant remains unaffected by the fire.

Below the Rusalki, in the field of rosen, lie the ill, the crippled, the maimed, the childless women. Each person lies on a white blanket. At their head, they put a white cotton towel, a bowl of water, and a ritual bread as a gift for the Rusalki.

Spassovden is a time for “impossible wishes” to come true. Each person there hopes the Rusalki will accept their gift and give them a cure. At midnight, as the Rusalki stir up a whirlwind in their frenzied flight, they bestow cures upon those below at their whim. To the crippled or maimed, they give new limbs; to the blind, they give sight, hearing to the deaf, speech to the mute; to the women who cannot conceive, they give fertility. It’s said that if any woman conceives on this miraculous night, it’s believed to have happened in a magical way and is not interpreted as scandalous behavior.

Does everyone receive a cure? Sadly, no. In the morning, people check to see what’s floating in their bowl of water. If it’s a green leaf or flower, the person will be healed. If the leaf is dry, or the water is filled with dirt, however, the person won’t be cured, and may even die soon.

Regardless of the outcome of the Rusalki’s visit, everyone must leave the healing place in silence, to keep the Rusalki happy and make sure their wish will be granted to those who were favored by the mermaids.

Are they good? Or are they bad? I guess you’ll only ever truly know when you meet one for yourself.

 

ЛУННА ИНТЕРЛЮДИЯ

“Лунна Интерлюдия” е откъс от Дебютният роман “Мистичната Емона – Пътешествието на душата” издаден през 2104.

~~~

Минало, настояще и бъдеще се събират в тази експлозивна съвременна приказка за любовта и отмъщението.

Пътувайте в света на Балканите с “Мистична Емона: Пътешествието на душата” и открийте тайният живот на самодивите. Сигурно сте срещали тези чудесни, мистериозни и опасни създания в различни книги, но  Мистичната Емона ще ви запознае с тях така както легендата ги представя.

 ~~~

ЛУННА ИНТЕРЛЮДИЯ

24 юни

С подивял поглед той се набираше да догони момичето, а дългата му рижа коса бясно се развяваше във въздуха. Когато тя се спъна и падна на колене, той скочи от въвишението, разкъса роклята й и я прикова към земята. Тя пищеше, докато ръцете му насилваха тялото й, оставяйки пурпурната следа от неговата възбуда. Спускайки глава, той задуши звука от гърдите й, като наказа устата й с целувка. Тя раздра лицето му с пръсти и по бузите му започна да се стича кръв. Той изпсува и се изправи на колене, което й позволи да скочи на крака и да се опита да избяга. Само след миг той поднови гонитбата. По-силен и бърз от нея, мъжът я настигна и я хвана за дългата й златиста коса. Жертвата се извъртя и започна да го бие по гърдите. Той я плесна по лицето и така добави още тъмни цветове по кожата й, след което я удари в корема с такава сила, че тя се преви на две, опитвайки се да си поеме глътка дъх.

Златен пръстен със син камък, блестящ като звезда, проблясваше на ръката й. Той я хвана за китката, но момичето стисна ръката си в юмрук. Силата й я напускаше, тя не можеше да му устои. Той прибра пръстите й и завъртя пръстена.

Един от неговите войници се изправи наблизо наметна пъстроцветната си зейра и намести шлема си. Две момичета лежаха вкопчани на кълбо на земята, разпилените им коси скриваха лицата им. Водата от сребърните съдове за вода пълзеше към него като змия.  Безмилостният мъж заповяда с крясък на войника:

– Вземете този пръстен и го сложете при останалото злато. Заровете цялото съкровище под ореховото дърво до реката. Ще го изровим, преди да се върнем в селото ни.

Мъжът отново насочи вниманието си към момичето и завърши това, което беше започнал. Той остави порцелановото й бяло лице натъртено и набраздено от сълзи. Очите й, изпълнени с болка и омраза, отново пламнаха, след което се затвориха. Главата й се сви на една страна и тя извика: „Душан!“, след което загуби съзнание.

***

Стефан се събуди със стряскащ вик. „Боже мой, какво ми става?“

Не беше сънувал два месеца – нито нещо приятно или неприятно, а сега този кошмар нахлу в съзнанието му. Сърцето му туптеше, сякаш се опитваше да изскочи. Той стисна гърдите си, където сапфиреният пръстен го изгаряше. Нападението над момичето беше толкова истинско – болката й, писъците й, отчаянието й. Лицето й остана в неясен образ, но пръстенът… Ръцете му трепереха, но той все пак постави едната около врата си. Гореше, не – пламтеше, и сви дланта си в шепа, и я задържа върху врата си, за да облекчи вълненията в ума си.

Отново същият сън! – притрепери Стефан.

Камолес, любим … Душан … Калина … Всичките тези странни сънища…

Има ли някаква връзка?

Балкан се протегна в кучешкото си легло. Погледна към Стефан и изскимтя.

– Какво има, приятелю? Събудих ли те? – Стефан се изниза от леглото, потупа кученцето, след което отвори прозореца, за да поеме глътка свеж въздух.

В красивата звездна нощ луната бдеше над морето, лъчите й се носеха по вълните като блещукащи светулки. Нямаше опасни непознати, които да дебнат отвън. Тревожният му кошмар беше свършил, но го остави замаян, а коремът го болеше. Страхуваше се отново да заспи, дори и да можеше.

Седнал на леглото той погледна часовника. Три часа сутринта. Часът на дявола!

Султана Знахарката. Може би тя ще може да го отърве от тази лудост с нещо по-силно от нейния омаен чай. Не получи ли помощ и облекчение, скоро ще полудее, ако продължи да мисли за този сън. Не можеше да чака до зори. Освен това тя беше казала, че спи малко и че той може да я навестява по всяко време.

В бързането си да стигне до къщичката й, той се спъна на стъпалата на верандата и се приземи върху червения божур. Стефан пъхна едно цвете в илика си. Вероятно Султана може да го добави към колекцията в аптечката си.

Ярката луна озаряваше пътеката, но в тъмната гора клоните пукаха и листата шумоляха сякаш горски същества се гонят по тях. Той се оглеждаше на всяка крачка, но нищо и никой не го следваше.

Когато наближи чешмата, чу бавна и нежна музика да се носи във въздуха. Няколко жени се държаха за ръце и танцуваха в кръг около прастарото орехово дърво, а в основата на дънера му светеше синя светлина. Венци от цветя украсяваха пуснатите им коси, а къдриците им се плъзгаха по раменете. Дългите им бели одежди се вееха в ритъма на танца под блестящата луна.

Това ли бяха циганите, за които Мария говореше на Великден? Той се скри зад едно дърво, защото не искаше да преживее същото след случилото се в Несебър.

В края на горската поляна една сенчеста фигура, свиреща на дълъг инструмент, наподобяващ флейта, лееше тайнствени ноти. И всяка нота увисваше в тъмнината като нежна копринена мрежа, обгръщайки жените в своите нишки. Колкото по-дълго Стефан слушаше, толкова повече звукът го хипнотизираше.

Темпото на музиката се ускори и жените продължиха да следват ритъма. Краката им танцуваха в росната трева, а телата, окъпани в сребърните и златните лъчи на лунната светлина, се приближиха още по-близо, стеснявайки кръга около дървото. Танцът им стана див и хаотичен, гласовете им – по-силни, изпълвайки нощта със смразяващ звук.

Последна проницателна нота се разнесе във въздуха. Жените пуснаха ръце, вдигнаха ги към небето и започнаха да се въртят в яростен кръг. Коланите върху робите им тупнаха на земята. Когато и последните ноти избледняха, жените отпуснаха ръце. Робите им също паднаха и сякаш изчезнаха, не оставяйки нищо друго върху блестящите им тела, освен вълшебната лунна светлина. Стефан се опита рязко да си поеме дъх, но гърлото му вече се беше свило от вида на тяхната прелест. Неспособен да откъсне поглед от тях, той си спомни картината, нарисувана върху неговото платно.

И тогава флейтистът отново засвири нежна мелодия. Жените вдигнаха лицето си към луната и запяха със странни думи. Стефан слушаше с удивление великолепието на гласовете им, докато телата им, като екзотични цветя, сякаш полюшващи се напред-назад от лекия бриз, се носеха в ритъма на поклащането на дърветата. Думите им го обкръжиха, сякаш самите жени го заобикаляха. Огледа се, но нощта не издаде никого освен танцуващите пред него жени.

Осъзнал, че се натрапва, но все пак запленен от тези неземни същества, той отстъпи с бавна крачка назад. Всяко внезапно движение можеше да издаде присъствието му. Нощният въздух отекна с пукот, когато той настъпи сух клон.

Жените замряха на мига – ни танц, ни песен. Взирайки се в неговата посока, някои извикаха: „Ела танцувай с нас“. Съблазнителните им гласове го накараха да настръхне, принудиха го да опипа врата си. Беше късно да се скрие, твърде късно да бяга.

Една от жените тръгна към него. Косата й се стелеше по раменете й като златна река и се увиваше около тялото й като бавно засилващо се торнадо. Устата му пресъхна, а сърцето му започна да бие още по-учестено, когато тя съвсем се приближи. Той силно стисна очи, твърде много се страхуваше да я погледне. Тя проговори и думите й се понесоха във въздуха и отекнаха в главата му. Стефане… Стефане… Стефане.

Тя откъде му знаеше името?

Тялото й се приближи толкова близо до него, но все пак не го докосна. Той усети дъха й като топъл, нежен ветрец да гали шията, бузата и устните му. Беше сигурен, че тя може да чуе дори ударите на сърцето му. Тя остана още един дълъг миг, обграждайки го от всички страни, прегръщайки го със своята същност и след това изчезна без да издаде дори звук.

Очите му отказаха да се отворят, за да наблюдават какво се случва, а краката му отказаха да го послушат и да бяга. Чувайки как гласовете на жените се носят около него – дали в съзнанието му, дали в реалността – все още подканвайки го с присмех да отиде при тях, да танцува с тях, Стефан си мислеше, че ще полудее.

Постепенно познатите звуци на нощта се върнаха – ромонът на потока, бухането на бухал, шумоленето на вятъра изсред клоните на дърветата. Той отвори очи и раздвижи крайниците си. Облекчението, че жените са изчезнали, получи израз под формата на дълбока въздишка. С трепереща походка той тръгна към мястото, където до преди миг жените танцуваха. Земята около ореховото дърво беше стъпкана под формата на пръстен и покрита с еделвайси.

Това поредният странен сън ли е? О, майчице! Губя разсъдък!

Стефан напръска лицето си с вода от чешмата. Когато луната се скри зад един облак, недалечният вълчи вой накара сърцето му да започне да бие още по-бързо. Той на спринт взе останалата част от пътя до къщичката на Султана. Един от прозорците светеше. Вероятно е будна. Той потропа по вратата и зачака, крачейки неспокойно по верандата. Вътре прозвучаха бавни, тежки стъпки.

– Кой е? Късно е. Какво искаш? – лекото треперене в думите й, които минаха през процепите на дървената врата, разкриха нейната предпазливост.

– Аз съм Стефан. Трябва да говоря с теб. – Ами сега? Кое беше сън? И кое беше реалност?

Вратата се отвори със скърцащ звук, постепенно разкривайки лицето на Султана, пламтящо от светлината на огъня, който гореше и пукаше вътре.

– Влизай, влизай. Каква изненада да те видя! Всичко наред ли е? В опасност ли си? – Тя отвори вратата още по-широко, погледна навън, но пусна мандалото веднага щом той влезе вътре.

– Моля те, помогни ми. Омайният чай не действа. Имаш ли други билки, които могат да ми помогнат и да ме отърват от сънищата, които сънувам?

Султана докосна рамото му:

– Пребледнял си! Седни до огъня. Я се виж! – и мърморейки под носа си, тя се запъти към лавицата в задната част на стаята.

Той направи крачка към огнището:

– Мария?

Тя седеше до камината, държейки кошница с билки.

– Стефане, скъпи, изплаши ни. Какво става? Защо си бил навън толкова късно?

– Ужасни кошмари! Жени, които танцуват в гората. Полудявам! – Той седна до нея, после се изправи и разтърка ръце над огъня.

Султана се върна.

– Я се виж! Сядай! – Тя потупа облегалката на стола. След като Стефан седна, тя докосна топлото му и потно чело. – Мисля, че някой ти е направил уроки, хвърлил ти е лошо око. Аз ще ти помогна!

Тя взе зелен глинен съд, пълен с вода, и използва машата, за да извади няколко въглена от огъня. Припявайки си на непознат език, тя нареди въглените в кръг над гърнето. Три пъти направи над него кръстен знак, след което пусна въглените във водата. Чу се съскане. Поднасяйки съда към Стефан, с пръсти тя направи кръстен знак и върху челото му. „Изпий водата и си измий лицето. Това гони лошите духове.

Той отвърна поглед от Султана към Мария:

– Не точно това си представях да бъде моят лек.

Мария поклати глава, като не откъсваше поглед от него.

– Стефане, скъпи, послушай Султана.

Той направи както тя му нареди и тревогата буквално се изцеди от него.

– Невероятно! Чувствам се по-добре.

Султана бръкна в джоба на роклята си и му подаде малко синьо шишенце.

– Ето нещо, което ще ти помогне, синко. Намерих тази силна отвара в книгата на баба. Много духове те преследват. Силен демон иска да ти навреди. Други духове в тебе се бият срещу него. Това ще прогони злото. Излекувай душата си. Изпий няколко капки преди да си легнеш.

И като постави шишенцето в ръката му, тя обгърна своята около неговата. Очите й побеляха.

– Получавам вест за тебе. Съпругата ти казва, че е време да я пуснеш. Тя е щастлива. Пусни я, сине.

– Ти говори с Екатерина, така ли? – Гърдите му горяха там, където пръстенът го докосваше. Със свободната си ръка Стефан го извади от пазвата си. От синия камък сияеше светлина в мек блясък.

Все още в състояние на транс, Султана хвана пръстена. Тялото й се разтресе, а ръката й се стегна около пръстена.

– Това принадлежи на друг… Носи бреме… Нещо лошо се е случило… Погребано е под стария орех при чешмата… – Тя потрепери и ръката й изтръпна. Пръстенът падна обратно върху гърдите на Стефан. – О-о, ужасно.

– Стефане, нека я заведем на люлеещия се стол! – Мария обви ръката си от едната страна на Султана, а Стефан я подпря от другата. Той коленичи до Султана, като държеше вкочанената й ръка.

– Добре ли си? Какво видя? – Той погледна загрижено в тъмнокафявите й очи. Спомняйки си съня, и неговите му ръце започнаха да треперят.

– Пръстенът притежава голяма сила…и носи послание за тебе. – Тя сложи ръце върху слепоочията си. – Не мога да чуя съобщението. Написаното върху пръстена ще ти даде отговор. Пръстен свързва миналото ти с бъдещето ти. Ти си избран. Трябва да решиш кое е реалността. Да решиш какво искаш…

– Какво искаш да кажеш, че съм избран? Избран за какво? – Стефан се изправи и стисна ръце.

– Ще разбереш. Бъди търпелив – потупа го тя по ръката. – Вярвай в себе си. Това е съдба.

Стефан започна да крачи из стаята. И погледна към Мария:

– И сега какво да правя?

– Довери се на Султана – и тя стисна ръцете му в своите; топлината и спокойствието й отново разсеяха притеснението му, сякаш вля във вените му успокоително.

Султана се изправи.

– Ще запаря чай. Трябва да се успокоиш.

– Ти си почини – Мария хвана ръката на Султана. – Аз ще го направя.

– Не, не! На него му трябва специален чай. Аз ще го направя – и тя се запъти към кухнята.

Стефан се обърна към Мария:

– А ти защо си тук толкова късно?

– Днес е Еньовден, лятното равноденствие, свещен ден, прераждането на Майката природа. – Тя седна на друг стол, взе си кошницата и започна да заплита билки. – Султана ме учи как да събирам билки и да лекувам с тях. Те са по-мощни, когато се берат на разсъмване.

– И тези ли си набрала? – каза той, докато сядаше до нея. – Но все още не се е зазорило.

– Не, тези са от градината на Султана. Скоро ще излезем. – Тя завърза няколко билки в букетче, постави го до себе си и събра още няколко клонки. – Трябва да съберем точно 77 билки и половина: по една за всеки вид болка и половин билка за всяка неизвестна болест. След това правим венец от тях. Ако оставим билките за една нощ на открито, под звездите, в кошниците, в които сме ги набрали, лечебната им сила ще се умножи. Това е традиция, която Султана и аз от години пазим жива.

– Султана си има странни начини да лекува и знае неща, които човек не очаква тя да знае. Имаш ли представя тя как се е научила да прави всичко това?

– Да.

Стефан положи ръка на рамото й и я погледна в очите:

– Моля те, кажи ми. Искам да знам.

Мария се спря за момент. Като че ли измина цяла вечност, преди да продължи:

– Преди много години, когато Султана е била дете, е попаднала във вихрушка. Хората са я търсели навсякъде, но не са успели да я намерят. Всички са се уплашили, че е била убита. Тя обаче се е завърнала няколко месеца по-късно с огромни познания за лечебната сила на билките. – Сега Мария хвърли кос поглед към Стефан.

– Продължавай, моля те.

– Хората са се уплашили от промяната в нея, защото тя им казвала неща, които ще им се случат. Започнали да я избягват, но я посещавали само когато са били тежко болни и не са имали друг избор. – Мария се спря, огледа се и прошепна: – Султана никога на никого не е казала какво й се е случило, но на мене ми сподели – едва когато започна да ме обучава.

Стефан кимна и се наведе към Мария. Думите й бяха толкова тихи, че се наложи да се наклони още повече, за да чуе какво му казва:

– Самодиви са намерили Султана и са я приели като сестра. Те са я научили как да лекува и да вижда в неизвестното. – Мария хвърли поглед към кухнята. – Една неделя, точно преди изгрев слънце, когато е имало пълнолуние, самодивите са посветили Султана в сестринското си тайно общество чрез свещен ритуал, извършен в гората.

В този момент Султана влезе и постави в ръцете на Стефан димяща чаша.

– Ето, сине, изпий това. Ще ти помогне да се отпуснеш. Добавих и мед, за да се успокоиш.

– Благодаря ти – каза той и отпи една глътка. Топлината на напитката се плъзна по гърлото му. Стефан затвори очи и започна да диша дълбоко, оставяйки билките да облекчат напрежението му.

Останаха седнали мълчаливо, докато Стефан не допи чая.

– Благодаря ти за всичко, което направи за мене, Султана. Сега трябва да се прибирам.

– Не, не! – Тя сложи ръка на ръката му. – Остани тук. Духовете бродят сега навън, в тъмното. Има някакво зло. Опасно е навън. Ще спиш в задната стаичка. Не излизай. Иди лягай. Дръж вратата заключена. Мария и аз отиваме за билки. Ние сме защитени. Но ти не си. – Тя докосна цветето в илика му. – Червеният божур ще те закриля за някои неща, но не е достатъчен. Магията беше силна тази вечер. Не си тръгвай, докато не се зазори.

– Ще се оправя. Мисля, че циганите танцьори вече ги няма. – И той направи крачка към вратата.

Гласът на Мария затрепери, когато заговори:

– Моля те остани. Духовете и другите същества празнуват с ритуали в гората. Не са били цигани. Видял си самодивите да танцуват коло, кръгов танц. Султана и аз ще им платим дан: ще им оставим малко мед, за да не се поболееш.

– Аз ще… – Стефан преглътна една прозявка: от билковия чай му се доспа.

– Остани да спиш тук. – И Султана му подаде свещ и го заведе до задната стаичка.

Краката му вече съвсем не го слушаха, затова той покорно кимна и я последва. Седна на леглото и постави синята отвара на масата до себе си. Пръстенът отново се затопли върху кожата му. Вдигна го изпод ризата си. Това беше последната му връзка със съпругата му. Беше си обещал, че винаги ще пази този камък близо до сърцето си. Преумората го надви и той заспа.

Тайната се крие в пръстена.

Spassovden

An excerpt from A Study of Rusalki – Slavic Mermaids of Eastern Europe.

Spassovden (or the Ascension) is a zadushnitsa, one of many days throughout the year associated with the dead, although not specifically those who are “unclean dead” like Rusalki. Women pour wine or water over the graves of relatives, and give food to other people visiting their deceased loved ones.

In Bulgaria, Spassovden happens forty days after Easter. The name comes from the Bulgarian word spassenie (спасение, “salvation”), and so it’s the day of salvation of souls. It’s the last of the seven “Great Thursdays,” the first being Maundy Thursday (three days before Easter).

The official Orthodox holiday relates to the day Christ ascended to heaven after spending his first forty days with the apostles after he had risen from his tomb. In the same way, on Easter, God releases souls of the recent dead, so they can wander for forty days to the places they’ve known in life. Their wandering concludes on Spassovden, and the souls remain on Earth until they return to the other world on Pentecost.

In folklore, souls can appear as flies or bees, visiting flowers on trees, in meadows, and along riverbanks. If you want to hear the dead speak in their graves, all you have to do is put your ear to the ground; you’ll hear them buzzing like bees. They also appear as white butterflies that arise from the water and live only on this day. Windows remain open on Spassovden so these souls aren’t trapped inside homes. Another belief is that if you’re quiet enough when you go to a well early in the morning and peer into the water, instead of seeing your own image, you may see the reflection of a loved one you’re thinking about.

White Butterfly Souls. Illustration by Nelinda. © Bendideia Publishing.

A Day of Bread and Fertility

Spassovden is also a day of bread and fertility. Sveti Spas or St. Spas (the Holy Savior) is the saint associated with this day, although he doesn’t exist as an actual Orthodox saint. He’s a made-up saint to go along with the name of the holiday. On this day, people walk around the fields to ward off drought, praying to the saint, who “unlocks the sky and the Earth to let the rain through so there may be bread throughout the year.”[i]

Ritual traditions forbid both men and women from working on any of the Great Thursdays. If you work in the vineyard, no grapes will grow. If you work in the fields, no grain will ripen. On Spassovden itself, women avoid touching anything green, because it will bring hailstorms in the summer instead of rain. Every drop of rain that falls on this day is considered “a piece of gold,”[ii] because it means the harvest year will be rich and fertile. On the other end of the weather spectrum, to avoid a drought, women are forbidden from doing laundry and hanging clothes outside to dry.

[i] Bezovska, “St. Spas or Ascension Day.”

[ii] Bezovska, “St. Spas or Ascension Day.”

Mothers – Our White Roses

The following is an abridged version of a chapter from The Wanderer – A Tear and a Smile: Reflection of an Immigrant, Ronesa’s memoir about the challenges and joys of being an immigrant, with many reflections on life and customs in Bulgaria.

***

We love mothers. Mother’s Day is the single busiest day for phone calls home to that special lady. Mom is our temple, the first person we met when we arrived in this world. Her love is unconditional all our lives, and she’s ready to give her life for her child.

While I was working on this chapter, another shooting, actually two mass shootings, happened one after another. One in El Paso, Texas, and one in Dayton, Ohio. Why would I even mention these horrible events? While I was watching the news, they were talking about a little two-month-old baby whose mother shielded him, and the gunmen took her life. This is what a mother does: she protects, she loves, and she is ready to die to save her child.

If you ask my children about me, I’m sure they’ll say I’m demanding, powerful, and sometimes mean, or that I expect the impossible from them. When they were growing up, it was hard for me to say “good job” on a school grade just because other moms were saying this to their kids. For me to give them this praise meant what they did had to be excellent, an A or above. I know I’ve been tough, and sometimes expected too much from my daughters. I even have called myself “the dragon mother.”

Even if we planned everything and hoped for success, life is an unpredictable journey. It throws everyone ups and downs: we win, we lose. But mothers are like a safe harbor, a sanctuary we can seek to get support, forgiveness, and courage. When life has been difficult, or if I’ve needed advice, I’ve reached out to my mother many times. She never asks or judges; she just supports me.

A famous Bulgarian song, “Prituri se planinata,” is about two shepherds trapped in a mountain with a storm coming. They ask the mountain to help them. They want to go back to the people waiting for them. One of them desires to return to his mother, the other to his wife, his first and only love. The mountain responds by telling them she will let go only one of them, the one whose mother is waiting for him. A mother, she says, waits and mourns all her life, but a wife will be sad for a while and then find another love. It’s a powerful song, showing again the love of the mother and how it’s portrayed in Bulgarian folklore.

 

Притури се планината

Притури се планината,

Че затрупа два овчеря.

Че затрупа два овчеря,

Два овчеря – два другаря.

 

Първи моли, пусни мене.

Мене чака първо любе.

Втори моли, пусни мене.

Мене чака стара майка.

 

Проговаря планината:

Хей, ви вази два овчеря,

Любе жали ден до пладне,

Майка жали чак до гроба.

 

The mountain has overturned (collapsed) 

The mountain has overturned

And captured two shepherds.

And captured two shepherds.

Two shepherds, two friends.

 

The first one begs: “Let me go!

My first love is waiting for me!”

The second one begs: “Let me go!

My old mother is waiting for me!”

 

The mountain replies:

“Oh, you two shepherds,

A beloved one grieves from morning till noon

but a mother grieves for life!”

 

Being a woman and a mother is even harder when you’re an immigrant. You need to work, take care of the family, and overcome obstacles presented by the new culture. One of the roles of a mother is to introduce her children to family traditions, their roots, but also help them embrace their new culture. It’s hard to do in this high-tech world where lifestyles and communication tools are different from those in your home country.

Even though the social dynamics are different today, we need to preserve our culture, our family rituals, making sure our children know their heritage. Knowing who you are and where you come from helps you build your future and gives you identity. This is why I started writing stories and books inspired by Bulgarian folklore and customs. I wanted my children and other people to learn more about Bulgaria, so they can respect my culture. I think we all need to respect and learn about the people around us, the new people we meet every day. Don’t judge people by their appearance, accent, or color. Take the time to learn about them. Each person has a story, dreams, and ambitions.

In Bulgaria and in Europe, Mother’s Day is on March 8. This is the day when everyone appreciates their mothers and says thank you for their hard work. I still celebrate on March 8 and also on the American Mother’s Day in May. Celebrating in May helped my children feel the same as their classmates. They make me lovely cards, and we go out for lunch.

On Mother’s Day, I get a bouquet of white roses, my favorite flowers, from my husband. A white rose is the flower of the Virgin Mary, the mother of God, our Mystical Rose of Heaven. For me, Mother’s Day isn’t about being one day in the year when you get cards, kisses, and flowers. Every day when you know you’ve raised good children is Mother’s Day. Every day we celebrate the love, the pain, the sleepless nights, the cheers.

We grow, we make friends; we move, we lose many of them. As time passes, it’s more and more difficult to make new friendships. But also with time, we become wiser and gain the ability to appreciate and respect the people around us. We begin to understand that our mother has always been and will always be our best friend in life.

Our mothers are our white roses.

Herbal Remedies for Health

NOTE: The following information is not meant to be taken as a cure for any illnesses. If you’re sick, always contact your health-care professional. The information that follows is common folk medicine, which people have used from generation to generation.

In these times when people across the globe are stressed and anxious about the future, it’s important to maintain and strengthen our immune system. Look around your kitchen and you’re certain to find products that are beneficial to your health: fresh vegetables, fruits, spices. The kitchen, the garden, the meadows are gifts that are good for our health.

Every culture and every household have beliefs and recipes passed down from generation to generation. A number of herbs and products in Bulgarian folklore are believed to help us achieve this. Here are some of my favorites, plus a couple of tasty recipes with simple ingredients you can easily find.

Ingredients for Healthy Living. Photo by Nelinda.

Honey

Bulgarians honor bees and in the summer, on July 8, pay tribute to their patron, Saint Procipius, or Prokopia the Beekeeper. On this day, early in the morning, people who raise bees go to the hives to remove the first honey of the year. They burn incense, allowing the smoke to enter the hives. The beekeepers bring two pitkas (ritual bread) to the hives – one for God and one for the saint. They take the honey and the bread to the church, where the priest consecrates them with a special prayer. The beekeepers then spread the honey on the bread and give them to neighbors to ensure the health of both the family and the bees, so the bees will produce even more honey. The rest of the consecrated honey is used as a remedy for mumps, measles, and other illnesses throughout the year.

Honey is a delicious immune-stimulator! It’s rich in many vitamins, including B and C, and has iron, calcium, zinc, and more. Honey acts as an antioxidant, much like fruits and vegetables. Using it regularly will stimulate your body’s organs, helping to improve your physical and mental state.

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm. Photo by Nelinda

The herb is native to the mountainous regions of Southern Europe, but you can buy it in the spring at Home Depot and other chains or local flower nurseries. The leaves of the lemon balm are well-known in Bulgaria and used in herbal teas. I have a few plants in my garden because its lemon smell keeps away mosquitoes and other insects.

Ever since ancient times, it’s been used to cure diseases resulting from the nervous system. The plant has a calming effect, it stimulates appetite and digestion, and suppresses nausea and vomiting. In folk medicine, the leaves are used to treat high blood pressure, dizziness, headache, vision problems, and tinnitus. Gargling with water infused with lemon balm also gets rid of bad breath.

Yogurt

Yogurt is an integral part of many Bulgarian meals. It’s served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When I was a child, my grandmother used to make yogurt with jam and call it “ice cream.” It was a much healthier option than regular ice cream.

It’s good for the digestive system, bones, and teeth, but it also helps strengthen the immune system, fighting disease and helping the body resistant to infection.

Walnuts

Walnuts are rich in vitamin B, vitamin E, fiber, magnesium, iron, and mineral salts. They are also high in calories, so limit them to no more than 42 grams a day. Even walnut leaves are a natural remedy, often used in tea to help prevent atherosclerosis, goiter, and skin problems such as eczema.

Nettle

Nettle is also a gift from nature that appears in the spring. If you pick it yourself, make sure to wear gloves, because nettle is not a friendly plant; it “bites.” My grandmother used to say that if you pick up nettle with your bare hands, it’ll prevent you from getting arthritis, but I never tried this. You don’t have to go and look for it in fields, though, because you can buy dried nettle online or in your local farmer’s market. You can drink it as a tea or add it to soup. I like to add fresh nettle to cream soup.

Recipes

Honey-walnut elixir

Combining walnuts with honey creates an elixir that boosts the immune system, and fights colds, exhaustion, and anemia. The elixir is suitable for children, because it naturally increases the body’s defenses.

You’ll need medium-sized jar, about 24 oz. like the ones used to make jam. Cut a handful of nuts into small pieces. Then peel a medium-sized lemon and cut the fruit into small pieces. Add the nuts and lemon to a half jar of natural honey. Stir the mixture well.

Take 2 or 3 tablespoons once a day.

Tip: Don’t throw away a used lemon after the juice has been squeezed out. You can use it to clean your cutting boards. If you add a little baking soda inside the peel, you can use it to clean pots. It works like magic. I even like to massage my hands with lemon peels and yogurt. It makes them soft and cleans the germs naturally.

 

Dessert

Here is one of my favorite desserts using yogurt, walnuts, and honey. If you don’t like walnuts you can omit them.

400 g yogurt

4 Tablespoons honey

50 g walnuts (or other nuts)

Divide yogurt into individual bowls, one per person. Pour honey over it. Sprinkle with the chopped nuts.

Tip: You can bake the nuts for about 5 minutes in a preheated 220 degrees C (about 430 F) oven and then crush them and sprinkle them with milk. The dessert works well if you replace plain yogurt with strained yogurt. It’s best to look at the label and make sure it has Lactobacillus bulgaricus bacteria in it. You can substitute honey with liquid chocolate or your favorite sweet.

The Art of Forgiveness

The following is an excerpt from my memoir, The Wanderer.

According to Orthodox tradition, every spring before Easter, we ask our relatives for forgiveness. We also call our parents and other relatives in Bulgaria and ask their forgiveness. Even if we haven’t hurt or offended them, we use it as a way to get rid of the negative energy in our lives.

It’s important to differentiate between forgiveness and trusting someone again. Can you forgive a person when he hurt you several times? If you do, does it mean you approve of his actions? Are you giving this person permission to hurt you again? Some people don’t change for the better; they become more self-centered.

You can forgive, but you don’t have to forget.

Forgiveness is an important part of our lives. It’s no wonder Bulgarians, like other Orthodox, have a celebration called Proshka, Forgiveness. On the church calendar, this occurs before the Easter fast begins. The idea is to cleanse not only the body, but also the soul.

Although the church and other rituals were strictly forbidden during the Communist era in Bulgaria, my grandmothers honored them rigorously and taught us children to honor them. Before dinner, we had to kiss their hand and ask for forgiveness from them and our parents. It wasn’t just words; it was a serious matter. I saw the respect and dignity on their faces as we paid our respect.

Afterwards, for my cousins and me, the day was like a party. My grandmother made her delicious round bread, cooked fresh eggs, baked banitsa, and had homemade feta cheese and white halva. When she didn’t have white halva, she used Tahan halva, but they both melted in our mouths. We all waited for the dinner to end so we could make a hamkane.

My grandmother tied a red thread to the end of the dough roller, like a wooden rolling pin. To the other end of the thread, she attached a piece of halva, a piece of cheese, or a hard-boiled egg. We children stood in a circle on the floor or around the table with our hands behind us. We eagerly awaited our grandmother to shake the thread and make the halva dance. Like kids in America playing a donut game or apple dunking, each of us struggled to bite into the halva and get it to stay in our mouths. My brother and my cousins always won.

Bulgarian Leap Year Beliefs

2020 is a leap year, so we get an extra day this February. People around the world have various customs and beliefs about February 29 and even the entire leap year.

February 29 is the feast day of Saint Cassian, also called “Cassian the Unmerciful.” He was a demonic saint, as contrary as those words seem to be. Some tales say that all his life he sits motionless in a chair, with his eyes downcast, weighed down by eyebrows that reach to his knees. Only on February 29 can he raise his eyes and look at the world. But everything that his evil eye gazes as suddenly withers.

Saint Cassian

One popular Bulgarian legend says he was a rather lazy saint, who wore rich, fancy clothing and surrounded himself with worldly goods. He was rather miffed that Saint Nicholas had TWO feasts a year, while he, Saint Cassian, had ONE only every four years. He complained to God about it. Instead of an answer, the deity sadly shook his head and summoned Saint Nicholas to appear. The saint arrived out of breath and dragging his feet after having spent that day (and many more) battling the seas so he could protect fishermen and sailors. God glanced at Saint Cassian and pointed to the weary Saint Nicholas, saying, “Need I explain it? This is why Saint Nicholas is honored twice a year, and you only once every four year.” Saint Cassian shrugged, understanding, and accepted his fate.

You may be aware that on Leap Day women can propose to men. The History Channel says this tradition started centuries ago among the Irish Catholics, and a saint was involved in its origins:

“According to legend, in 5th century Ireland, St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about women having to wait so long for a man to propose. St. Patrick at once remedied the situation with a leap-year loophole. He declared 29 February, occurring every four years during a leap year, a day that women could propose to men.”

This tradition holds true in Bulgaria as well. However, if the man accepts, it’s best to wait until the next year to hold the ceremony. Getting married in a leap year will end in disaster or divorce, or at the very least make the new couple miserable and have all sorts of misunderstandings. (That sounds like the theme of a romance novel.) Likewise, don’t get divorced during a leap year; neither of you will find happiness with another partner for the rest of your lives.

It’s also best not to make a career change during a leap year. It will bring you only unhappiness and produce negative emotions in those you work with.

In a leap year, don’t even think about moving. If you build a new house, it’ll have one problem after another, until you’re poverty-stricken. Or the house may even burn down. You yourself are likely to become ill from living in the house. Don’t sell your old property, either, even if you’re not living there. it could be the start of your financial ruin.

If you were born on February 29, you’re considered lucky and chosen by God, ad will be protected from disasters. However, don’t celebrate your birthday on this day. Do it the day before or the day after. It’s fortunate that name-day celebrations are more popular with Bulgarians, so you can celebrate on that day instead. Here’s hoping your name day doesn’t fall on Saint Cassian’s day. Then you’re out of luck.

You can overcome these obstacles, though, if you wear silver for the year. This metal is believed to drive away evil that can befall you in a leap year. And if you want to secure even more luck during the year, go outside without an umbrella during the first rain of the year. The refreshing water will bring you luck, health, and happiness.

Symphony of Color and Light – A True Hymn of Harmony and Love

Orpheus

Bulgaria is known as the birthplace of the ancient singer and musician Orpheus. We don’t know exactly where his birthplace was, but tradition indicates it was somewhere in the beautiful Rhodope Mountains in southeastern Bulgaria, which was part of ancient Thrace. Legend has it that he lived there around 1400 BC.

According to Greek mythology, Orpheus was the son of the river god Oeagrus and the nymph Calliope. His unwavering love for his beloved wife Eurydice has inspired poets, writers, and artists in the past and to this day. His music enchanted everyone, and his sad songs made even the gods and nymphs cry. The heart of Hades, the god of the underworld, softened at Orpheus’s song, and the god agreed to allow Eurydice to return with Orpheus to earth. But she failed to survive the journey and disappeared forever, a brief but strong love.

Orpheus and Eurydice

Legend says The Muses carried Orpheus’s lyre to the sky after he died and placed it among the stars. His soul returned to the underworld, where he reunited with his wife.

Many visual artists, have taken up the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. I find those of Francois-Louis Francais, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, and Edmund Dulac to be especially moving. But nothing can compare them to the renderings of the talented Bulgarian visual artist Keazim Issinov, who has more than 400 paintings devoted to Orpheus.

Magical Music

The light and love in his works are amazing. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet him and spend time to learn and explore his art. He is not only a master of the brush, but a humble person, born ahead of his time. His art demonstrates much philosophy and prophecy and an awakening message to humanity. If life on Earth is ever destroyed, surviving future generations could use his paintings to recreate nature and humanity, a type of Noah’s Ark embedded in canvas. It’s no surprise he was given the Artist of the Century award in 2005 in the competition Millennium “1001 Reasons to Love the Earth” held in the Netherlands.

Orpheus’ Music

His paintings tell the story of Orpheus. Examine each of them, imagine their world, make up your own stories and dreams, and travel to the unknown.

Orpheus and Eurydice

I would like to close the article with few quotes about Keazim Issinov’s art

“Keazim Issinov is closely connected with the world of folklore – with its poetry of the legend which turns into a strange and thrilling fairy-tale not only the sagas but also the every-day life of the people. The essence of his style could be defined by the often used now term ‘magic realism’. For Keazim Issinov it is an organic combination of mythical and fairy-tale content, rich and striking imagination, primary ecstasy for nature and events, curios details while in technical aspect – of a calligraphic drawing, precision of the plastic form, magic lighting. In any case he is a gifted and productive artist who has a lot to say and knows how to say it to the people – in an unforgettable way.”

Kiril Krastev  

Orpheus’ Dream

“Great artists are always prophets. All of them, as well as Keazim Issinov, work with the past to create ideals of beauty that lead us to the future.”

Dr. Meter, Director of the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna

A Whiff of Antiquity

“Without losing from its depth, the art of Keazim Issinov fulfills a rare mission nowadays – to both delight and ennoble.”

Boris Danailov

 

If you’d like to buy an original or a reproduction or his art, you can contact the artist directly at https://www.facebook.com/issinov/ or by email at issinov.fine.art@gmail.com.

Eternity

BIOGRAPHY

Keazim Issinov was born in the village of Sadovets, Pleven region on April 16, 1940. He graduated from the National Art School in 1960, and in 1968 graduated from The National Academy of Art, the class of Prof. Nenko Balkanski in Painting. After graduation he worked as a restorer at the Institute of National Monuments of Culture. In 1969 he started work at the National Research Institute of Psychology and Neurology as an art teacher.

AWARDS & EXHIBITS

1971

Competition “1300 Years Bulgaria” – Shumen – 3rd prize for his work “Sava Dobroplodni”

Individual exhibition at the Union of Bulgarian Composers – paintings and sculpture

Individual exhibition at the Central House of the National Army

1973

Exhibition – competition in Bulgarian Sports Union – 3rd prize for his painting “Portrait of Maria Gigova”

1974

Exhibition – competition at the Union of Motorists – 3rd prize  

1975

The painting “A Television Fairytale” was printed by UNICEF

Second prize by the Bulgarian Sports Union for the painting “The Flying Dimo”

1976

Exhibition in Berlin

1977

Competition ‘’Portrait of Sofia’’, 2nd prize

International painting competition “Humor and Satire” Gabrovo – 1st prize

1978

Individual exhibitions in Sofia, Blagoevgrad, Razlog, Gotse Delchev, Razgrad

1980

Individual exhibition in Lovech

1981  

Exhibition in ‘’Sredets’’ Hall, Sofia

Japan – 1300 Years Bulgaria, Tokyo, Odawara, Nagoya

1982

Varna – Days of Fertility

Exhibitions in Pleven, Gotse Delchev

1983 

Sofia – May Literary Days

Szczecin – Poland – 10th Biennial of Painting – Honorary Diploma

Exhibitions in Zlataritsa, Veliko Tarnovo

1984

Exhibition in Dolni Dabnik

1985

Exhibitions in Algiers, Prague – Czechoslovakia, Veliko Tarnovo

1986

Exhibition in the Bulgarian Cultural Center Wiigenstein in Vienna, Austria

1987

Exhibition in Sofia

1989

Exhibition in Vienna, Austria at Lenderbank

Exhibition in the Embassy of Russia in Sofia

1990

Exhibition in Sofia gallery “Art 36”

1991

Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan

1992

Exhibition in Sofia

1994

Exhibition in Pleven

1997

Exhibition in Sofia

1998

Included in the manual of the International Bibliographical Center of Cambridge 

Exhibition in Bursa, Turkey and “Sredets” Hall, Sofia

1999 

Plovdiv – Culture Capital of Europe – exhibition in ‘’Vazrazhdane’’ Gallery

2000

Exhibition in Sofia Earth and Man Museum

Registered in the 2000 World Foundation, Netherlands

2001

Exhibition in Sevlievo

Entered in the publication of the American Bibliographical Institute of North Carolina

2002 

Exhibition at the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sofia

Exhibition in First Investment Bank, Pleven

2003

Participated in general exhibitions in Germany, Denmark and Great Britain

Exhibition in Razgrad

2005

Artist of the Year in the 10th Art Salon in the National Palace of Culture

Honorary Sign of the President

Awarded Artist of the Century in the competition Millennium “1001 Reasons to Love the Earth” held in the Netherlands

2006

Awarder the order “Cyril and Methodius” 1st degree

2009

Exhibition in Sofia gallery “Arte”

2010

Jubilee exhibition at the National Palace of Culture, Sofia

First Prize – Art Salon

2012

Exhibition in the Bulgarian National Radio

Exhibition in London, Great Britain

Awarded the prize of the national campaign “Guardian of Tradition”

Exhibition in Dupnitsa

2013

Exhibition in Sofia gallery “Minerva”

2014

Exhibition in the Palace “Vrana,” Sofia

2015 

Awarded by the Ministry of Culture the Order “Golden Age”

During the 50 years of creative work the author has participated in Bulgaria and abroad in many events, connected with charity.

~~~

Симфония на цвят и светлина – истински химн на хармонията и любовта

България е известна като родното място на древния певец и музикант Орфей. Не знаем къде точно е родното му място, но традицията сочи, че той е бил някъде в красивите Родопи в Югоизточна България, която е била част от древна Тракия. Легендата гласи, че той е живял там около 1400 г. пр.н.е.

Според гръцката митология Орфей е син на речния бог Оеагр и нимфа Калиопе. Непоколебимата му любов към любимата му съпруга Евридика е вдъхновявала поети, писатели и художници в миналото и до днес. Музиката му омагьоса всички, а тъжните му песни са накарали дори боговете и нимфите да плачат. Сърцето на Хадес, богът на подземния свят, се смекчава от песента на Орфей и богът се съгласява да позволи на Евридика да се върне с Орфей на земята. Но тя не успява да оцелее в пътуването и изчезна завинаги в подземният свят, кратка, но силна любов.

Легендата казва, че Музите пренесли лирата на Орфей на небето, след като той умрял, и я поставили сред звездите. Душата му се върнала в подземния свят, където отново се събрал с любимата си жена Евредика.

Много художници са черпили вдъхновение от историята на Орфей и Евридика. Намирам тези на Франсоа-Луи Франсе, Жан-Батист-Камил Корот и Едмунд Дюлак за особено трогателни. Но нищо не може да ги сравни с магическите платна на талантливия български художник Кеазим Исинов, който има повече от 400 творби, посветени на Орфей.

Светлината и любовта в неговите картини са невероятни. Щастлива съм, че имах възможността да се срещна с него и да отделя време, за да се запозная отблизо и изследвам неговото изкуство. Той е не само майстор на четката, но един невероятно духовен човек, роден преди времето си. Изкуството му демонстрира много философия и пророчество и едно силно събуждащо послание към човечеството. Ако животът на Земята някога бъде унищожен, оцелелите бъдещи поколения могат да използват неговите картини, за да пресъздадат природата и човечеството, те са един вид Ноев ковчег, вграден в платната му. Не е изненада, че през 2005 г. той получава наградата „Художник на века“ в конкурса „Милениум – 1001 причини да обичаш земята », проведен в Холандия.

Картините му разказват легендата за Орфей. Разгледайте всяка една от тях, представете си техния свят, съставете свои собствени истории и мечти и пътувайте към непознатото. Оставам платната му да говорят.

Бих искал да завърша статията с няколко цитата за изкуството на Кеазим Исинов.

Много художници са черпили вдъхновение от историята на Орфей и Евридика. Намирам тези на Франсоа-Луи Франсе, Жан-Батист-Камил Корот и Едмунд Дюлак за особено трогателни. Но нищо не може да ги сравни с магическите платна на талантливия български художник Кеазим Исинов, който има повече от 400 творби, посветени на Орфей.

Светлината и любовта в неговите картини са невероятни. Щастлива съм, че имах възможността да се срещна с него и да отделя време, за да се запозная отблизо и изследвам неговото изкуство. Той е не само майстор на четката, но един невероятно духовен човек, роден преди времето си. Изкуството му демонстрира много философия и пророчество и едно силно събуждащо послание към човечеството. Ако животът на Земята някога бъде унищожен, оцелелите бъдещи поколения могат да използват неговите картини, за да пресъздадат природата и човечеството, те са един вид Ноев ковчег, вграден в платната му. Не е изненада, че през 2005 г. той получава наградата „Художник на века“ в конкурса „Милениум – 1001 причини да обичаш земята », проведен в Холандия.

Картините му разказват легендата за Орфей. Разгледайте всяка една от тях, представете си техния свят, съставете свои собствени истории и мечти и пътувайте към непознатото. Оставам платната му да говорят.

Бих искал да завърша статията с няколко цитата за изкуството на Кеазим Исинов.

„Същността на неговия стил може да бъде определена от често използвания сега термин „магически реализъм“. За Кеазим Исинов това е органична комбинация от митично и приказно съдържание, богато и поразително въображение, първичен екстаз за природата и събитията, подробности за любопитството, докато са в технически аспект – на калиграфска рисунка, прецизност на пластичната форма, магическо осветление. Във всеки случай той е талантлив и продуктивен художник, който има много да каже и знае как да го каже на хората – по незабравим начин“.

Кирил Кръстев

 

„Великите художници винаги са пророци. Всички те, както и Кеазим Исинов, работят с миналото, за да създадат идеали за красота, които ни водят към бъдещето“.

Д-р Метер, директор на Академията за изящни изкуства, Виена

 

„Без да губи от своята дълбочина изкуството на Кеазим Исинов изпълнява една рядка в днешно време мисия – едновременно да радва и облагородява“.

Борис Данаилов

 

Ако искате да купите оригинал или репродукция или неговото изкуство, можете да се свържете директно с художника на адрес https://www.facebook.com/issinov/ или чрез имейл на issinov.fine.art@gmail.com.

БИОГРАФИЯ

Кеазим Исинов е роден в село Садовец, Плевенска област на 16 април 1940 г. Завършва Националното училище по изкуствата през 1960 г., а през 1968 г. завършва Националната художествена академия, класа на проф. Ненко Балкански по живопис.

 

“The Witcher” Connection

The Witcher Connection

Have you seen Netflix’s The Witcher? Although it’s received poor reviews from critics, fans are loving the show. We are excited that these types of shows are beginning to become more popular. It’s a move into a new type of fantasy realm. By now, fantasy lovers know about elves, gnomes, goblins, and such creatures. But what does the world, the western world, know about the creatures that haunt the lands of Eastern Europe?

Like Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, whose fantasy works are the basis for the series, we have a connection to The Witcher. It has been our goal to promote this rich folklore and mythology to readers. Some of the creatures you’ll discover in The Witcher are the inspiration for our fiction and nonfiction books. You can also meet other fascinating creatures such as the dragons Lamia and Zmey in our books.

At the beginning of The Witcher, you’ll meet a Kikimora. Although she’s not portrayed as the traditional folkloric creature, she’s still quite scary and fascinating. Time magazine referenced our work on household spirits (A Study of Household Spirits of Eastern Europe) when talking about the show.

Here’s what the TIME article had to say about the KIKIMORA:

Kikimora

When we first meet Cavill’s Geralt in episode 1, he’s emerging from a blackened swamp, in the middle of a terrifying battle with a multi-limbed kikimora.

Kikimoras are a mainstay of Slavic mythology, though the one shown in The Witcher may not exactly line up with the traditional depiction.

Throughout Eastern Europe, according to A Study of Household Spirits of Eastern Europe by Ronesa Aveela, kikimoras are believed to be female spirits that haunt houses. They can appear either young or old, but usually as deformed humans, thin and scraggly. Though they can be useful, they are largely troublemakers and occasionally dangerous.

“Do you hear creaking, scratching sounds coming from the walls and floors, or the clatter of pots at night?” Aveela writes. “All these may be signs a Kikimora lives in your house. This female spirit causes havoc from dusk until dawn.”

She posits that the origin of the name, as well as the myth, may stem from an old Finnish word, “kikke mörkö,” which roughly translates to “scarecrow.”

In The Witcher TV show, the kikimora appears as a very large, spider-like monster who tries to drown Geralt and bite his head off with a large maw full of sharp teeth. Not quite the type of monster that would be clattering pots in Slavic homes.

Still, the show’s depiction does match up with the some rarer aspects of the kikimora legends. Aveela writes that kikimoras have been associated with Baba Yaga witches who often appear in Russian fairy tales. They are contorted, long-limbed women who live in the deepest parts of the forest. Kikimoras also traditionally have bird feet, like the claws shown in The Witcher. And finally, many sources, including Aveela, say that a variation of kikimoras live in swamps and are married to Leshys, a Slavic woodland spirit.

You can read the full writeup here: https://time.com/5753369/the-witcher-history-folklore/

A Little Christmas Magic

Christmas is a special time for many people. The holiday can be chaotic and has become one of the most commercialized days of the year. Yet, still, it’s a holy day for many people, despite the fact that the stresses of the season take over. We talk about this holiday in our book “Light Love Rituals.” An excerpt from the book follows.

Christmas Eve. The year is coming to a close. It’s a time of festivity for Christian and non-Christian alike. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Budni vecher marks the end of forty days of fasting from meat to purify both body and soul. In preparation for the holiday, families thoroughly cleanse and tidy their houses, because on Koleda, Christmas, traditional beliefs prohibit sweeping, washing, cleaning, and any kind of household work. An old superstition says that even sewing isn’t allowed, to prevent family members from going blind.

A more unusual “cleansing” is the removal of bad spirits. To accomplish this, the female head of household walks around the home and yard with burning incense, to chase those spirits away. This tradition began long ago when people believed unseen beings lurked in dark corners. By ridding their homes of both dirt and spirits, families can greet the new year clean and full of positive energy.

Other traditions people perform on this day also have special meanings. Among these are cutting a budnik or Yule log, selecting food for the evening meal, and blessing families with incantations and songs.

~ Origins ~

People in antiquity believed the winter solstice brought beginnings, rather than endings. Up until this date, the Sun was a dying god, his light shining less each day. On the solstice, however, the Sun was reborn as a new god called Mlada Boga or Young God, and daylight once again increased.

Various religions celebrated the solstice in their own way. In the third century A.D., Emperor Aurelian combined these celebrations into a single festival called the “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun,” observed on December 25. Eventually, the early church designated this day as the celebration of the birth of Christ, and “Young God” came to refer to Jesus rather than a pagan, or non-Christian, deity.

During the solstice, people in antiquity believed the heavens and Earth were at their closest points and merged, renewing natural energies. With the release of this power, vile spirits and the souls of the dead had free rein to mingle with people. These unsavory beings desired to bring chaos to the world by preventing the return of light, that is, the rebirth of the Sun God. People therefore performed rituals to protect families and crops.

Winter Pitka bread

That’s not all. The ashes from the budnik log are considered magical. In February, in a ceremony to bless the grape vines, these ashes are scattered around the plant’s roots, ensuring a bountiful harvest.

The winter season is magical in other ways. It’s the time of year when many name day celebrations occur. We talked about this before in the “Santa’s Name Day” post.

You can learn a little more about Budni vecher in our children’s short story “The Christmas Thief,” where a little boy learns about sharing.

Wishing you a blessed and happy Christmas and holiday season.