The Magical Walnut

On a recent podcast I listened to, one of the speakers was bemoaning the fact that walnuts were included in mixed nuts. She thought they should be excluded. Her reasoning was: Who, after all, actually eats walnuts as a treat? To which, a multitude of listeners responded that they ate the nuts as a snack, mixed with other nuts or by themselves. I include myself in that latter list.

The walnut tree is believed to have existed in prehistoric times, and has been revered through the ages both as a nutritional food and for its medicinal uses, as well as being valued as a source of beautiful wood.

Walnut image

Walnut is not one of the herbs found in the Eniovden (Midsummer’s) wreath that we discuss in our forthcoming book, 77½ Magical Healing Herbs, but it is a plant that has many magical associations in Bulgarian and other beliefs. Here are a few from Bulgaria:

  • Walnut is a World Tree. But, unlike others, it’s unsafe to sleep in its shade. Bulgarians believe that Samodivi (woodland nymphs) and Youdi (more demonic nymphs) gather under the trees. If they discover you there, they’ll make you become ill.
  • Also, as a World Tree, the walnut is a passage from this world to the world of the afterlife. On Pentecost, women place the leaves on graves, so the spirits who are wandering can find their way back to the land of the dead and give them peace. Anyone who wants to see or hear their deceased loved ones brings walnut twigs to church and kneels on them.
  • On Christmas Eve, walnuts are used to predict one’s health for the year. A plump white nut means good health and happiness, and one with two cores is lucky. The finder must make a wish and toss it over his left shoulder. On the other hand, if the nut is shriveled, the person will suffer illness and have bad luck for the year.
  • Walnut leaves can also keep dragons and Samodivi away.

Other beliefs include the following:

  • Walnuts attract lightning, so don’t carry one during a thunder storm. At all other times, it’s okay, because it will strengthen your heart and keep the pains of rheumatism away.
  • Being given a bag of walnuts means all your wishes will be fulfilled. However, don’t eat them if you are allergic.
  • A woman, on her wedding day, can place roasted walnuts in her bodice, so she remains childless. Each nut she carries corresponds to one year of not getting pregnant.
  • Walnuts are associated with expansion, whether it is a career, finances, or perspective on life.
  • Spending time around a walnut tree can give a boost to your immune system.

kickstarter6a idea

Would you love to learn more about herbs? You can with our forthcoming book, 77½ Magical Healing Herbs. But when we publish it, the print book will be available EXCLUSIVELY through our Kickstarter campaign for six months, and the ebook will ONLY be available through Kickstarter. We have no plans to publish it through retailers due to the large file size.

What is Kickstarter? Isn’t that just like GoFundMe?

No, absolutely not. Kickstarter is a direct-sales platform that has the potential to reach millions of people. Supporters pledge various amounts to support an author, and in return, they receive products before anyone else. And, as I mentioned, sometimes this is the only way to get a product.

Kickstarter cuts out the retailer middle-man. There are fees, of course, but they are much smaller than the chunk retailers grab.

What Kickstarter is, besides a platform to sell a product, is a way to bundle rewards for supporters. It’s a way to directly interact with customers. There will be early-supporter perks for those pledging within the first 48 hours. And what they call “stretch goals,” bonuses if the campaign meets certain goals.

Are you game?

We’d love to have you check out our pre-launch page.

Simply click on the “Notify me on launch” button, and Kickstarter will send you an email immediately when the project officially launches.

When the campaign launches, it will also include a short video. You can see it in advance here and check out our awesome project in progress:

We hope you’ll join us on the adventure. The book is chock full of fascinating information and fantastic images. An all-you-can-eat herbal buffet.

Hope to see you soon.

Nelly and Rebecca

The Healing Bogomils

This is an excerpt from our forthcoming 77½ Magical Healing Herbs book.


Bogomilism is a unique moment in Bulgarian history, originating during the tenth century, although the period of the sect’s history is shrouded in darkness by both the Church and the Communists. Bogomil (singular) is a word that means “dear to God,” from the Slavic Bog (God) and mil (dear). The sect believed in personal spiritual knowledge rather than adherence to Orthodox teachings. Many of the written works of the Bogomili (plural) were destroyed as heretical and controversial, because of their views about both Satan and Christ, among other things. New studies and publications about Bogomilism, however, have emerged in recent years.

There is more to Bogomili than their suppressed viewpoints. They were famous anti-feudal reformers and freedom-loving preachers. They believed in self-government, common ownership of goods, and equality of all community members. They brought literacy to people by writing books in native languages, rather than the Latin prescribed for Church documents. And they encouraged their followers to think and interpret everything they heard or read. All these ideals made the Bogomili dangerous to the feudal society they lived in, and they were persecuted and burned at the stake as witches.


Bogomili – Illustration copyright Keazim Issinov (used with permission of the artist)

More important to the topic of this book, Bogomili were great healers. Vasiliy Vrach, a medieval physician and Bogomil leader, is credited with being the creator of the Bogomil healing practice. The people lived in harmony with nature and used herbs and natural remedies to cure diseases. They believed that diseases had a bad origin, from Satan and other dark, supernatural forces like vampires, Rusalki (water spirits, often called a mermaid), and Samodivi. These beliefs are preserved today in various Bulgarian rituals.

Bogomili were averse to alcohol. According to them, it was an open door to all other sins and betrayals, the devil’s work created to corrupt and kill the spirit. They preached the avoidance of meat, and the higher officials in the group gave up animal products altogether. The people led a life that embraced the natural rhythm and healing properties of foods and herbs. According to them, this way of life prepared them for a spiritual rebirth.

In recent times, a Bulgarian healer called Emil Elmazov discovered a Bogomil recipe book called Zeleinik (Зелейник), which describes natural healing procedures, summarized into five practices: prognosis, herbal treatment, fluid treatment with four liquids, narichania (old Bulgarian rituals in which the ill person participates), and magical rites. The treatments include using herbs, milk, honey, wine, and other ingredients. Even today, honey is a popular homeopathic remedy in Bulgaria and has its roots with the Thracians.

But the cures didn’t stop there. Prayers and invocations were also essential. In addition, it was important for the healer to hold back all emotions, both those of excitement and anguish, in order to maintain his life energy for healing. This simple but important rule must have been difficult to achieve for people who choose medicine for a career. As we say, no one can drink from an empty cup.

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