Dragon Village (Zmeykovo) – Dragons in Bulgarian Folklore and Mythology

December 7, 2017

The day fire and ice erupted from the sky everything changed – forever.

Vote for the New book Dragon Village on Amazon Kindle Scout. If the book gets chosen, you get a free copy!

The Unborn Hero of Dragon Village Cover

The Unborn Hero of Dragon Village Cover

To review and vote for the book you can use this link.  If Amazon selects to publish the book through Kindle Press, anyone who nominated the book will receive a free, advance copy. This is your chance to read and review it and tell the world what you think.

The Unborn Hero of Dragon Village is the first book in a series that will expound upon Bulgarian mythology and customs. When twelve-year-old Theo’s sister is captured by a dragon on Midsummer’s Day, he’s determined to rescue her. His journey takes him to the mystical land of Dragon Village, a place he thought existed only in legends. As he searches for the way to defeat the three-headed dragon Lamia, he encounters inhabitants of the land—some friendly and others treacherous.

Fascinating legends about Lamia and Zmey, dragons from Bulgarian folklore, inspired this middle-grade series. The books will include many other Bulgarian mythological creatures, in particular Samodivi (woodland nymphs or fairies) and Baba Yaga (a witch).

Bulgarian folklore is filled with tales about dragons (zmey, male, and lamia, female) who lived in forest and mountains in caves, holes, or cracks in rocks. Serpents or carp would turn into dragons if they were not seen by humans for forty years. Therefore, dragons often had characteristics of various other creatures: snakes, fish, birds, and even humans. Flashes of lightning, shooting stars, large clouds, and rainbows were ways dragons manifested themselves.

Dragon Village

Map of Dragon Village

The lamia is what we typically consider a dragon to be: dangerous and malicious. She does not appear as a human like the zmey. Some tales describe her as a “huge lizard with a dog’s head. Her mouth is so big that it can swallow a whole man and her body is covered with yellow scales. The lamia also has wings, four legs, sharp claws, and a long tail.”  Some had three, seven, or nine heads.

The zmey, however, who often was depicted as a man with wings under his arms, was more kind. He often fought against the lamia when she appeared as a storm or hail to destroy crops. The zmey didn’t abduct a maiden to harm her. Instead, it is because of his great love for her. He often tries to entice her to marry him, telling her of the riches she will have. If persuasion fails, the zmey restorts to abducting the maiden while she performs the horo dance in the village. However, the dragon’s marriage to a human always meets with misfortune. The bride suffers depression and is ostracized from the community.

Zmey and Bride

Zmey and Bride

One tale tells of a girl who married a dragon she met at his well. After a few years, she wanted to visit her family. Unfortunately, she had grown a dragon’s tail. Wanting to appear normal to them, she kept trying to bite it off. When she heard the songs of friends she had once known, she became frantic and died when her heart burst with the effort of removing the tail. The girls buried her by the well. Every year thereafter they performed a buenetz dance, not the traditional circle horo dance. In the buenetz, they dance in a snakelike fashion in honor of the dragon maiden.

While researching for the book, I’ve discovered many creatures of Thracian, Slavic and proto-Bulgarian mythology. The hardest question has been which ones to include in the first book. On this page, I’ll post information about them to try to open the door to the magical world of Dragon Village (Zmeykovo).

Samodiva

Diva the Wild Samodiva

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Seventy-seven and a half herbs for healing

June 17, 2017

On June 24th people wake early in the morning to try to catch a glimpse of the flickering sun as it turns three times. Any water that the sun has touched, including dew on grass, acquires healing power. If people see the sun dance, they then bathe in bodies of the healing water or roll in the dew to ensure they will have good health for the coming year.

Also, when the sun rises, people face it, then look over their shoulders at their shadows. If it is well-defined, the person will be healthy. If it is unclear or the head is not distinct, he will be sick.

Bulgarian Mythology and Traditions

Besides the solstice and immortality rites, Eniovden celebrations center around herbs and marriage. First a little about herbs. Saint Enio was called the “Herb Gatherer.” On the eve of Eniovden, people (mainly women) pick herbs because they have magical and healing powers that night. But it is also a night when fairies and dragons celebrate, so they wear red threads on their wrists to ward off the evil ones.
Women collect seventy-seven and a half herbs. These represent seventy-seven known illnesses and half an herb for any unknown ones. Water is poured over the herbs silently so their magic is not ruined by the human voice. Then the herbs are left overnight under the stars to make them even more powerful. Afterwards, people place herbs on the four corners of a field to prevent evil spirits from stealing the fertility of the land and livestock. People sing while performing this task to ensure a bountiful harvest.

An alternative to leaving only herbs in water overnight is a ritual performed by women. They tie together seven, nine, or twelve wildflowers with a red thread. To this bouquet, they attach a ring and let it sit overnight in the water.

Kukeri

January 1, 2017

The kukeri celebration is one of the oldest surviving traditions that can be traced back to Dionysian rites, symbolizing life, death, and rebirth. Men initiated rituals when spirits threatened the Sun’s rebirth. The kukeri continued the practices into the spring, before the sowing of the harvest, when the earth was awakening after a long winter. Thracian warriors believed if they dressed in animal skins, they could battle against these spirits and either scare them away or capture their powers. With them, the kukeri performed rituals to renew nature’s strength. Only men, who carried the seed of life in their bodies, had the ability to rouse and nurture the female Mother Earth.

Kukeri

Kukeri and Witch’s Magic

An unmarried ruler named Dobrodor, the maker of good, spurned the love of Zliyana, the daughter of a king of the northern lands. Because a kind, beautiful woman had captured his heart, he returned tokens of love Zliyana had sent to him.

Living up to her name, Zliyana sought to bring evil on Dobrodor and his people. She cast a spell to make all unmarried men die if they tilled the fields. Since it was springtime, some disregarded the warning and ploughed the earth, consequently dying.

To prevent any more deaths, Dobrodor told all the unmarried men to disguise themselves. Some donned women’s clothing, while others wore masks from the skins of animals and tied bells around their waists. The men dressed as women harnessed the ones clothed as animals and drove the ploughs through the fields. The witch’s magic was fooled, seeing not men, but only women and animals in the field.

Did you know…?

Kukeri have scared away more than spirits. Turkish soldiers surrounded a rebel leader his followers. To terrify the soldiers, they put on masks, bells around their waists, and made torches of hemp soaked in tar. At dusk they crept out to where the soldiers camped. The soldiers scattered upon seeing devils carrying long forks and breathing fire.

#RRBC Back-to-School Book & Blog Block Party

August 27, 2016

Blog Party 1

 

 

 

LOCATION: Southern New Hampshire, USA, EDT

# of PRIZES: 4
*2 audio books: The Christmas Thief
WINNERS: JOY NWOSU LO-BAMIJOKO & NATALIE DUCEY
*1 ebook: Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey
WINNER: C. S. BOYACK
*1 ebook: Light Love Rituals: Bulgarian Myths, Legends, and Folklore
WINNER: HANNAH HOWE

You are nearing the end of the RRBC Book & Blog Party. We hope you’ve had a pleasant time and have met a lot of wonderful, talented authors. If you’ve missed any, here’s a link for you to go back and visit the others:

Rave Reviews Book & Blog Block Party Lineup

While you’re here, please leave a non-spam comment on this page for a chance to win one of the above prizes. Contest ends midnight CDT, August 27, 2016. Winners will be drawn by RRBC and announced shortly after the contest ends.

Want to learn more about Ronesa? Check out her RRBC Spotlight interview.

Welcome to
The Land of Bulgaria

mystical_emona_add_V1MYSTICAL EMONA: SOUL’S JOURNEY

We’d like to start you off with what inspired “Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey.” Henry James once said, “It takes an endless amount of history to make even a little tradition.”

So, while the main theme of the story is soul mates finding each other after centuries apart, the book unveils much more than a love story. It’s a story about the modern Bulgarian people and their culture. The book introduces readers to ancient Thracian customs and rituals that have survived through the ages. As one reviewer stated so beautifully: “The relationships are handled with loving care as the story weaves a tapestry of ancient myths and traditions, mingled with the world of today.”

MYSTICAL EMONA:
An RRBC Book of the Month Selection

In addition to these traditions, the wild beauty of a real village called Emona was the inspiration behind this book. This secluded, mystical place located on the Black Sea, its people hidden from the eyes of the world, is filled with history and a soul of its own – from being the legendary birthplace of Thracian king Rhesus, who fought in the Trojan War, to being the site of a fortress during the Middle Ages.

Interview with Bulgarian National Radio: http://bnr.bg/en/post/100485397/mystical-emona-where-ancient-legends-are-still-alive-to-this-day

Love Light Rituals

LIGHT LOVE RITUALS: BULGARIAN MYTHS, LEGENDS, AND FOLKLORE

Bulgarians take pride in their heritage and culture, which is rich in colorful folklore and traditions. The nation practices more than ten thousand rites from a person’s birth through his death. Many of these date back to an era when people both feared and worshiped nature. In the process of writing Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey, I found myself asking “Why?” on numerous occasions. Why did people do the things they did? Those “whys” resulted in further research. What were the origins of these customs and rituals? What did they mean?

What I discovered was an overlap of pagan and Christian beliefs. Many customs originated in the days when Thracians inhabited the area that is now modern-day Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey. So much of the material I read said Bulgarian traditions had Thracian origins, but few articles delved into what those Thracian beliefs actually were. So I continued digging.

This book is a summation of many months spent researching. Al­though I did search for reliable sources to validate the claims articles made, Light Love Rituals is not meant to be a scholarly document. Nor is it an exhaustive study of rituals. Its purpose is to provide readers with a glimpse into Bulgarian culture. It’s information I found interesting and wanted to share, so other people could take the same journey to discover the way others live and believe.

The following, among many other traditions, are part of the cultural heritage thriving in the Balkans today. The book will take you on a journey to discover some of these unique festivals.

  • Illuminated by the light of the full moon, a woman in a long, white robe holds an icon while she dances in a trance over burning coals. The mystical music of a shepherd’s pipe plays in the background.
  • Women dressed in colorful outfits dance in a circle, then pass through an enormous wreath made of magical healing herbs.
  • Wild spring flowers decorate the hair of young girls. Laden with baskets filled with colorful Easter eggs, the youths travel from house to house singing about health and prosperity.
  • Men clothed like wild animals with colorful, scary masks parade around a village. Attached around their waists, giant bells resound, announcing their arrival. The men jump and yell to scare away evil spirits.

These rituals have survived thousands of years and have been practiced by Bulgarians, Greeks, and other European. They have been transmitted from generation to generation. Some of these stories and rituals may seem silly, but the fact that they survive today is a testament to just how strong the forces of nature and love are. We encourage you to follow us on this blog tour to discover more about these people and their wealth of traditions and beliefs.

Praise for LLR: This is a charming and interesting book. I was hooked from the start. Our author takes us on an interesting journey to the heart and soul of Bulgaria. The details in this book made me feel as if I was in this ancient and marvelous country. There are instructions to make crafts and, being a story teller at heart, I loved the anecdotal passages. There is also a charming collection of delicious recipes. I loved the illustrations. I thought they added to the excitement and energy of each of the customs. This book will appeal to a wide audience from children to grandparents whether you are from Bulgaria or not. It’s educational, fun and very entertaining. I recommend it highly.

Interview with Bulgarian National Radio: http://bnr.bg/en/post/100570702/anelia-toncheva-the-magic-of-bulgarian-folklore-changes-bulgaria-s-perception-abroad

BABA TREASURE CHEST series of short stories / coloring books for children and adults

The Christmas ThiefThe Miracle StorkBorn From the Ashes

 

 

 

 

After writing these two books, we turned our pen to lighter fare: children’s books. These, too, have Bulgarian customs woven into the story. Although we say these short stories are for children, they are really for the entire family–in the tradition of Bulgarian storytelling, where grandparents preserve customs and pass on traditions to their grandchildren. And they are more than stories. They are activities and coloring pages to provide further entertainment for the entire family.

Interview with Bulgarian National Radio: http://bnr.bg/en/post/100638950/the-christmas-thief-or-tales-from-babas-treasure-chest-with-anelia-toncheva

Do You Like Mermaids?

Mermaids Around the WorldWe have two additions to our collection that will be available soon

Mermaid’s Gift, short story and coloring book, part of the “Baba Treasure Chest” collection.

Mermaids Around the World, an adult coloring book with 26 lovely designs by the talented Nelinda. Each page has the name of the mermaid, her origin, and a tidbit of information about her.

 

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Thank you for visiting. We hope you have learned a little a country many people are unaware of. Please be sure to leave a  comment by the end of today, August 27, 2016, for an opportunity to win one of our prizes.

All of our books are available on Amazon, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, & Smashwords. Discounts are available on the paperback versions of MYSTICAL EMONA, LIGHT LOVE RITUALS, and THE MIRACLE STORK. Contact us for discounts on the others.

 

Connect with Us

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RonesaAveela/

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/Ronesa_Aveela

Where to Find Our Books

Amazon: http://viewAuthor.at/Ronesa-Aveela

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/%22Ronesa%20Aveela%22

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/ronesa-aveela/id1088547343

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Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/aveela

Prokopi Pchelar (Procopius the Beekeeper)

July 7, 2016

Prokopi Pchelar

A well-known Bulgarian livelihood is beekeeping. It’s no wonder the country has a day, actually two, honoring beekeepers. On July 8, Prokopi Pchelar (pro-copy pchee-lar) or Procopius the Beekeeper, beekeepers perform rituals to entice bees to produce an abundance of honey. They also give away jars of honey and bread coated with the sticky substance as a way to protect family and friends since they believe honey has magical and curative powers.

Aristaeus, Ancient Beekeeper

The first Thracian beekeeper was Aristaeus. He was indirectly responsible for the death of Eurydice, wife of Orpheus, the renowned lyre-player. Aristaeus became enamored with Eurydice and chased her. As she fled, she stepped on a snake, which bit her and she died. Thereafter, her companions, the nymphs, caused the bees of Aristaeus to die as his punishment. With the help of his mother, the water-nymph Cyrene, Aristaeus was able to bind the prophet Proteus, who then told him what to do to regain his bees.

“You have to appease their [the nymphs] anger, and thus it must be done: Select four bulls, of perfect form and size, and four cows of equal beauty, build four altars to the nymphs, and sacrifice the animals, leaving their carcasses in the leafy grove. To Orpheus and Eurydice you shall pay such funeral honors as may allay their resentment. Returning after nine days, you will examine the bodies of the cattle slain and see what will befall.”

Upon returning to the location, Aristaeus discovered a swarm of bees in the carcass of one of the slaughtered cattle. This led the ancient people to believe that bees were born from decaying flesh.

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To learn more about this ritual and other Bulgarian and Thracian Rituals get a copy of our book: Light Love Rituals: Bulgarian Myths, Legends, and Folklore.

Eniovden (Еньовден)

July 7, 2016

Eniovden (Еньовден) is an old Bulgarian holiday, celebrated annually on June 24. It is believed that its roots lie in the Thracian tradition. There are many legends and beliefs about the mystical power of this day.

A proverb states that an herbal remedy exists for every malady, injury or ailment. In folklore 77 and a half illnesses exist. Herbs are more powerful when picked and gathered at dawn on Midsummer.

It was believed that water acquired healing power after the sun had bathed in it. People wake up early on this day to see how the sun “turns three times” and whoever manages to “bathe” in the dew will be safe from illnesses until next Midsummer Day.

Light Love Rituals book
Light Love Rituals

Eniovden is one of many wonderful rituals and celebrations surviving today.

As humans we grow, learn and discover ourselves by maintaining family traditions and collecting memories to understand the present and connect to the future.

Image by Nelinda: facebook.com/NelindaArt

Eniovden (Midsummer’s Day)

June 16, 2016

Eniovden (Midsummer’s Day) the most magical tradition during the Summer! On Midsummer’s Day, people worshiped the sun!

Eniovden (Еньовден Enio’s Day, or Midsummer’s Day), celebrated on June 24, coincides with the Eastern Orthodox Feast of St. John the Baptist, celebrating his birth. Born six months prior to Jesus, John proclaimed a message of repentance as he paved the way for the Savior.

Poppies

Origins

In terms of its pagan roots, however, Eniovden is a celebration of the summer solstice. In Bulgarian mythology, the Sun (a male deity), along with his twin, the Moon (a female deity), were created when the sky and earth merged. Both light sources played prominent roles in the beliefs of the Thracians, but on the summer solstice, or Midsummer’s Day, people worshiped the sun.

For the Thracians, seasons were divided into winter and summer. On the solstice, the sun had completed its exhaustive journey to summer and was now at its highest point in the sky and shone the longest. It bathed in water sources while it rested, then shook itself, covering the land with dew. At last refreshed, the sun played or danced three times in the sky before it began its return journey toward the next winter season.

On the solstice, Thracian kings performed immortality rites, symbolizing the marriage between the Sun and the Earth (a female deity). The ceremony included a ritual bath, after which, the king passed through a stone arch (the womb of the Great Goddess) as the sun penetrated it. This rite at the gateway to the afterlife brought about the king’s conception and re-birth.

Source: Light Love Rituals: Bulgarian Myths, Legends, and Folklore