Colorful and Cheerful

All the glitter of Christmas is over. The tree and decorations have been taken down. I miss the lights, the holiday colors and greenery of a fresh Christmas tree. Even the trees outside are bare. Nature feels empty. From time to time, I catch a glimpse of a red dot on the treetops, and know it’s my favorite cardinals that are preparing for spring.

This weekend I was cleaning my closet and opened a box to discover a small colorful rug, a gift from my mother, hidden with other memories from Bulgaria. The flowers on it are woven together like a multi-colored rainbow and touched my soul with happiness and warmth.

rug1

Throughout the ages, our mothers and grandmothers have woven the beauty and wisdom of nature into carpets, shirts, and other traditional clothing. Each stitch tells a story or is a code for well-being and health.

Colors play an important role in our lives. Some evoke joy, others nostalgia. Everyone has favorite colors. Every culture has its own meaning about colors, so much so that it would take a whole book to describe them.

Today I’ll tell you about the meaning of some colors in Bulgarian folklore and how you can use them to bring yourself luck. Who doesn’t want luck and good news? We all need them.

White

A white thread symbolizes woman. This is the color of purity and innocence, joy. For the Bulgarian, it’s the color of beauty. In many songs it’s about a white bird, white maiden, white flower, white horse, or white cloud. Festive clothes for christenings and weddings are white.

Newlyweds walk to the new home on a path made from white cloth. The white color of the wedding flag is a symbol of the sun and the purity of the bride. Angels dress in white robes, and priests do also, as a symbol of purity and knowledge. In the past, the color of mourning was white; through this color, mourners joined the world of the afterlife and the souls of their loved ones.

Red

Red, one of my favorite colors, is a sign of warmth, vitality, flame, and the fire of love. It’s the light of the rising and setting sun, fire and blood. The apple in the Garden of Eden is red, Mary is painted wearing a red praying mantle, and a man’s belt is also red as a symbol of masculinity and strength. Women of child-bearing age wear red color in their clothing. Children and grandmothers don’t wear red. The traditional wedding veil is red.

A red thread symbolizes man. Red threads are also used for the new year’s survacha, a ritual object made of a wooden stick. We have more about the ritual in our Light Love Rituals book and how you can make one. It is a fun activity for both old and young.

The red thread has magical power and is used in many Bulgarian traditions and amulets. It’s used to make martenitsi, a gift of friendship that’s worn until the arrival of spring. I love this red and white amulet, and it’s one of the most beloved by all Bulgarians. You can also learn about them in our book Light Love Rituals, as well as how to make one in our children’s short story The Miracle Stork.

Red thread is used to embroider a baby’s clothes. It’s also put in the bride’s bouquet and worn by pregnant women.

rug2

Gold

This color is associated with the sun and the afterlife. In rites, it symbolizes the transition from this world to the other world and vice versa.

Green

Green signifies fertility, health, revival. In the Bulgarian Peperuda (butterfly) ritual, in which they pray for rain, a young girl is dressed in green and paraded around the village. People from each household pour water over the greenery-covered girl and pray for rain.

Blue

This color is the symbol of water and the sky. It’s the color of a glass talisman that protects against evil forces, the “evil eye.”

Black

Black is a heavy color, as well as brown. I don’t like to use them in my paintings. Black is used in black magic and attracts bad forces and unhappiness. When saying goodbye to loved ones, a black ball of yarn is rolled in front of the ceremony to protect the dead person from evil forces.

Amulet for Luck and Happiness

It’s believed that white, red, and blue threads twisted to the left make a strong talisman for good luck, against demons and bad turns of fate. Two people should twist the threads and say twelve times out loud: “God give us luck.” People then wear the twisted thread on the arm as a bracelet until the threads become dirty. At that point, the person throws the threads into a river or burns them and makes a new amulet.

I don’t follow any strict instructions. I like to make up my own ritual. Try it out with a friend or a family member and share with us if it brings you luck.

We wish you a happy and blessed new year. We have so much planned out for the coming year, and we’ll be launching new projects on Kickstarter, so be sure to follow us there. First up will be a book on Magical Healing Trees to complement our book on Herbs. As part of this project, we are working with other authors to create a unique oracle deck. Visit the website we’ve set up for it to find more details: https://storytellersoracledeck.wordpress.com/

Oracle Deck Template passion reveal

Later in the year, we’ll be launching the completed Dragon Village series—plus plenty of goodies to go along with the books—and all new covers! We’re also setting up our website to be able to more easily sell books direct, where we can offer special discounts unavailable on retailers.

Article source: Bulgarian spells and fortune telling (in Bulgarian) by Lilia Stavreva

The Magic of Water

A Bulgarian proverb says: “You can live without bread, but you can’t without water.”

We’re talking about water because today, January 6, is the Epiphany, the day among the Bulgarians when a priest tosses a cross into the icy river water. Whichever of those brave souls that rushes in after it and retrieves it is bound to have a healthy new year. This ritual is part of the Voditsi, a holiday divided into three parts: it starts the day before St. Jordan’s Day, continues with the Epiphany, and ends with Ivanovden on January 7.

1542px-Stavros_Bridge_in_Veria_1908

Throwing the Epiphany Cross from the Stavros Bridge (Cross) or Hadjikavur Bridge, Ber, 1908. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

You can watch the “chilling” event here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TrYDDnMFZHc

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Of course, the Epiphany is more than that. It’s a celebration of Jesus’s baptism in the Jordan River. It’s also a celebration of the day the three kings, the Three Wisemen or Magi, visited the baby Jesus in Bethlehem.

Bulgarians revere water and use it in all important rituals, for births, weddings, and farewells to the dead.  Water is even a part of more ordinary events. I remember when my grandmothers or my mother poured a whole cauldron of water in front of me or my brother when I needed to do something important. They used the same words every time that can be translated into a simple “I wish you luck.” The wanted to make sure that everything would flow easily like water. To this day, this ritual has been preserved and is a part of the beginning of the school year, before an important school exam, or before a trip. Its purpose is to bring good luck. The ritual is done with special brass or clay vessels that are decorated with zdravetz, the Bulgarian geranium.

In Bulgarian legends and folklore, every water body, from rivers to lakes to streams, has its own spirit who guards and protects the water. These are places you’ll find all kinds of mythical creatures: nymphs, fairies, and dragons.

At midnight on Epiphany, Bulgarians believe that rivers and streams stop flowing and gain healing powers. Before the cross-throwing, river-jumping event, water is consecrated at the church. People bring this holy water home, keeping it all year to ensure good health. They will also put some of the water into wine to make it strong and keep it from spoiling. Additionally, people take a sip from the water and wash their faces to ensure good health.

After the event at the river, the sick are sprinkled with the holy water in which the cross was thrown. Some people throw three splinters from their Budnik (a ritual piece of tree that is burned on Budni vecher, Christmas Eve) into this the river as a means to remove evil from their homes. The Budnik is an important part of the Christmas Eve celebrations. The tree used for the log is preferably a young, straight oak. It’s cut own in a ritual early on the morning of Christmas Eve. Every part of getting the Budnik is surrounded by elaborate rituals: the cutting, the preparation, bringing the log into the home, and placing it on the fire.

Ronesa’s News

We’d also like to tell you about what we’ve been up to. December was a month to relax, or at least get somewhat caught up on tasks that have gone undone for too long. At any rate, it was a month free of writing. I spent time tracking statistics from our website. We revised it in April of 2017, so data from the time we first published is lost. But from April 2017 until December 2023, we have had visitors to our site from 122 countries! And people have viewed our pages 19,523 times! We thank you for that. So many of those visitors have been you, our subscribers and viewers! And we’ve already gained one new visiting country in January.

Website Visits at end of 2022

We are excited about this growth. Back in 2014 when we first published, the thought of reaching almost two-thirds of the countries in the world would have been a fantasy.

Now, we are back to work and eager to write more stories and produce more nonfiction books for you to enjoy. Our current projects are to finish up the final two books of the Dragon Village series. We’re hoping to launch a Kickstarter campaign on the series in September or October.

Our second, ongoing project will be a book on Magical Healing Trees. We offered a short ebook during our Herbs campaign, but now we will be updating that information with more detail and adding several new trees that have a special meaning in Bulgarian folklore. And we’ll be making a hardcover version of the book. We’re hoping to run that Kickstarter campaign sometime during the March to May period.

Be sure to follow our Kickstarter profile to get notified the moment we launch these campaigns: https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/ronesa-aveela.

As part of the Trees campaign, we are also participating in a Storytellers Oracle Deck project. Here’s our official description of the project:

The Storytellers Oracle Deck is a multi-author project spanning a variety of genres. Each author has designed a card that distills the essence of their book or one of their characters. Put them all together and you have a truly unique Oracle deck that can be used for divination or displayed however you see fit.

Each author will offer their own card plus a two-card starter deck in their Kickstarter campaign. Back as many campaigns as you’d like to assemble your Oracle deck. These campaigns will be staggered throughout the year and on-going into the years to come, resulting in an ever growing, ever evolving deck.

Storyteller Promo Image

You can find the author who are running the first of these campaigns in January below. We’ll keep you updated about all new participants as they begin their campaigns.

I’ve seen some of the cards that they are offering, and they’re really awesome. If you’re an Oracle fan or just want some cool cards, be sure to check out and back these amazing campaigns.

In other news, we have more cool projects we will be working on throughout the year. Vampires will join the Spirits & Creatures collection, although this book likely won’t be completed until early to mid-2024. Plus, we have other, smaller projects we hope to fit into 2023. We’ll keep you posted.

Storyteller Oracle Deck Kickstarters

Here are the first of the Storyteller Oracle Deck projects for you to check out this month. We appreciate you taking the time to visit with our fellow authors. Be sure to follow the campaigns now, so you’ll be notified when they go live. Thank you.

Therena Carlin - 100 Gilded Dragons 1

100 Gilded Dragons Art zine & other fantasy art prints.

Limited edition art zine, gold-foil art prints, & more featuring hand-illustrated dragons! A make 100 project!

January 18 – January 28

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/therena/100-gilded-dragons.

Amy Wegner Campbell - Effigiest

Effigest Illustrated Hardcover: A Weird Western Fantasy

Saddle up for a tale of fierce outlaws, reluctant heroes, loyal pegasi, and magic. (Make 100 Project)

January 10 – January 26

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/legendhasit/effigest?ref=2721t7.

Cara September Echo North - Crossbow University

Crossbow University Series: Books 1-3 Dark, NA, Romance

Additions to Book 1, and Books 2 & 3 four months before available anywhere else! Bonus content only available here.

January 10 – January 29

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/naglenorthpublishing/crossbow-university-series-books-1-3-dark-na-romance.

Dragon-Repelling Herbs

st demetrius

October 26 is Dimitrovden, St. Demetrius’ Day or St. Dimitar’s Day. This saint is sometimes called the twin of St. George, the mighty dragon slayer. But did you know that St. Demetrius also fought dragons? I bet he never came across Baba Yaga when she was in dragon form, though.

What? You didn’t know she could appear as a dragon or giant snake in fairy tales? She is so huge that when she opens her mouth to swallow the hero, her jaw reaches from the clouds to the ground. Unlike the Bulgarian version of this dragon, this incarnation is always evil. But, there’s no need to worry, unless you’re the hero’s brother. Your sibling may toss you into the dragon’s mouth so he can escape.

In these stories, the dragon is defeated in a couple of ways. One is to toss in so much salt that she has to go to the sea to quench her thirst. Another is to hide in a blacksmith’s shop. When the dragon Baba Yaga arrives, the blacksmith will tell her to stick her tongue through the keyhole and grab the hero. While she does this, the crafty blacksmith will pinch her tongue with red-hot tongs and hold her there while the hero makes his way outside to kill the dragon Yaga.

But there are other ways to defeat dragons. By herbs. A few are used mainly to stop the amorous advances of a dragon, such as Melilotus officinalis (called komuniga in Bulgarian folklore), Gentiana cruciate (called tintyava), and Tanacetum vulgare (tansy). However, if you just want to drive away an angry dragon, such as a Baba Yaga one, you might want to stick with wormwood (Artemisia vulgaris). It’s one of the most effective anti-demonic herbs to protect you from dragons and other evil entities.

46-Wormwood

Its greatest magical strength lies in its buds and tips. Hang a bunch of the herbs around the house (preferably in a bedroom or hallway), or burn it as incense for a short time and in small doses. Its smell will drive out every unclean, evil force from your home—whether it’s a spirit or simply anger and negative energy. Another way to drive out evil spirits is to gather wild wormwood on Eniovden (Midsummer’s Day, June 24), make a broom with the stalks, and sweep the unwanted beings from your house. If you can’t harvest the herb on that day, do it when the moon is waning. This is when wild wormwood will be more powerful.

Common methods for applying the herbs include:

  • Wearing them as a small bouquet or corsage. Bulgarians like to include a geranium (здравец, zdravets) among the flowers. Its leaves smell nice and protect against the evil eye, and bring health and strength to the wearer. Men often pin the herbs onto their shirt, while girls make herbal and floral wreaths to wear in their hair.
  • Burning them and spreading the smoke like incense, including burning hay in a field that contains the herbs. The smoke from burning herbs will protect and purify you, and its smell will sicken the dragon so she’ll no longer come near you. It may even kill the dragon.
  • Soaking them in water, then sprinkling the water on the victim or the place where the dragon resides.

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We have more interesting topics like this in our book 77½ Magical Healing Herbs. You can get the book here: https://77-1-2-herbs.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders.

Or if you want to find out more about dragons, check out our book A Study of Dragons of Eastern Europe.

And don’t forget to take a look at our campaign about Baba Yaga. It’s ending on November 1, so don’t miss this opportunity: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/a-study-of-baba-yaga?ref=d97tft

If you’ve never logged into Kickstarter before, you’ll have to create an account. But then, you’ll have access to all the great projects going on every day, not just for the Witchstarter program.

The Power of the Rose

We’ll be launching our Kickstarter campaign for Baba Yaga on October 4. In her honor, we’d like to do a series of posts about herbs. Although you may know her as a cannibalistic witch, she has other characteristics. She was also a healer.

Today, we’ll be talking about roses and rose hips (Шипка).

If you have a cold, cough, or laryngitis, you can add honey to a tea made from rose hips to provide fast relief. This tea is also good treatment for people with cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, or diarrhea. It’s one of my favorite teas. It reminds me of the tea made from hibiscus.

 

Rose Hip Tea

Add 1 cup of rose hips to 1 quart of water and boil for 10 minutes.

Filter and add 3 Tablespoons of honey.

Drink a cupful three to four times a day.

 

Rose hips were also used as amulets to inducing love or protecting a home from evil.

First, the love remedies. Making beads from the rose hips is a way to seduce someone of the opposite sex. Or, if you prefer, you can bathe in the rose petals to make yourself more attractive and desirable. This works especially well for married couples. Your love for one another will become even stronger. The fruits will also protect you against love spells from unwanted admiriers.

If you’re not looking for love, but want to keep evil or negative energy, curses, and the evil eye away from your home, rose hips will do that work as well. The thorns are also especially powerful. By planting a rose bush near your home, you can prevent all kinds of evil, supernatural creatures from entering.

If you need to cleanse the inside of your home, gather a bouquet of rosehips. They’ll absorb all that negative energy and calm your nerves and help reduce any domestic problems. You can even scatter dry twigs with roses on them around your home.

rosehip

Rose Hip Amulet

Dry the fruits and put them into a cotton bag. If you don’t want to carry that, use a scarf of other accessory that has roses, with the fruits and flowers, embroidered on it. But you’ll want to keep it with you for protection.

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We’d love to have you follow our Baba Yaga Kickstarter campaign so you know the moment it launches. You may think you know all about her, but I’m sure we have plenty of surprises that we’ll reveal in our book. We also have some really cool pins and postcards we’ll be offering backers. Illustrations come from Bulgarian artist Alexander Petkov. Click on the link below and set up a Kickstarter account if you don’t already have one.

Baba Yaga Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/a-study-of-baba-yaga.

Baba Yaga Baner 2

Article Source: Nikolova, Ani. “Няма да повярвате: Шипката пази от магии и слуги на Сатаната!” December 23, 2020. https://www.topactualno.com/123681/nyama-da-povyarvate-shipkata-pazi-ot-magii-i-slugi-na-satanata/.

Can You Help Us?

It’s down to a little more than a week before we launch our Seababies Adventures campaign. Now’s your chance to get a peek at what we’re offering.

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If you are new to our site, we’re launching this book through a Kickstarter campaign. You may or may not be familiar with Kickstarter. It’s a crowdfunding platform. But, unlike many others out there, Kickstarter is a platform where people promote CREATIVE PROJECTS to potential backers. It’s a way to test the market to see if the product is something that consumers desire. It’s not a platform where people are seeking personal funding. No charities or general fund raisers. All backers are helping support a PROJECT with an outcome—whether it’s a book, a game, a movie, or some other creative endeavor. And you get all kinds of cool perks along the way if you back the project to help us achieve our goal of producing this children’s book series.

Here’s where we need your help.

We’d love it if you could look over the preview of our campaign that we plan to launch September 6 and provide us with feedback. Look over the content. Does it make sense to you? Is there anything confusing? Is there something else you’d like to see included? All comments and suggestions are welcome. We want this to be something you are excited about as we are.

Here’s the preview link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/seababies-adventures?ref=2czqkh&token=133502a3.

And don’t forget to click on the “Notify me on launch” button at the top. The moment the campaign goes live, you’ll receive an email from Kickstarter. You don’t want to miss this because we’ll be offering perks along the way. The earlier you back the project, the more perks you’ll receive.

If you’ve never used Kickstarter before, you’ll have to create an account. Once you click on the “Notify me on launch” button, the site will ask you to log in. Scroll down to where it says: “New to Kickstarter? Sign up.” And follow the instructions from there.

Thank you for your support. As the Kickstarter guru who has taught us about this platform says, “We hope to see you behind the backer wall.”

And we’re also gearing up for another campaign in October for Kickstarter’s Witchstater promotion. For that one, we’ll be continuing our Spirits & Creatrues series with a book about Baba Yaga. You can follow that campaign here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/a-study-of-baba-yaga

Baba Yaga Baner 2

“Golden Egg” Protection

I would like to share a magical practice called “golden egg.” In Bulgarian folklore and popular belief still today, people protected themselves by using their thoughts to build a wall against evil around themselves and their home. Everyone can do this by putting themselves into an imaginary egg and becoming untouchable. This practice protects against bad forces, energy deprivation, and sometimes weak spells.

How can you accomplish this?

Calm your mind and imagine yourself and your home and family inside a big golden egg with mirrored walls. If you have trouble imagining the egg, say the following:

“I am in an egg. My home is a huge egg. (Name of person you want to protect) is in an egg.”

Repeat the words until you feel the golden, mirror-shelled egg forming around you, until it becomes real. Try this and see if it will help you the next time you fear a bad spirit or evil forces.

This magical practice is useful if you are about to meet with negative people or be immersed in a crowd. It helps if you need to do public speaking. The more creative your imagination, the easier it becomes to build this egg or shell around you.

What’s Special About This Book?

If this is news to you, our campaign is about the book people have been asking for. It provides lots of fascinating information about the herbs that make up a Bulgarian Eniovden (Midsummer’s) wreath.

I, too, was curious what herbs made up the 77½ in the wreath, so I researched old Bulgarian books and articles and finally discovered a list. That is how the idea of “77½ Magical Healing Herbs” was born.

In this unique book, you’ll also learn about well-known healers from Bulgarian history. Baba Vanga is one whom many people these days have heard about. She’s a clairvoyant who’s been called the Nostradamus of Balkans and has predicted many events that have happened in our lifetimes. But she was also an herbal healer. All the healers from the past were not treated kindly or with respect, however. In the tenth century, the Bogomils were burned like the Salem witches. These are only two of the healers mentioned in the book.

I have been blessed to know talented Bulgarian painter Keazim Issinov. With his permission, we have included in the book five of his one-of-a-kind paintings of Bulgarian healers.

Boyan-Maga-marked

The bulk of the book focuses on the Midsummer’s Day herbs—all 77 (and a half) of them. It’s an ultimate guide to tap into knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation.

More than 200 eye-catching images illustrate the book, including a full-page botanical image, to help you recognize the herbs, along with the descriptions. But the book contains much more information.

Water Clover for KS

Water Clover PDF2 with border for KS

Historical facts and traditions will take you back to school days, while medical, culinary, and magical uses will have you heading to the kitchen or garden store. Fun facts, legends, and recipes fill the pages. Or perhaps you’ll just want to forget about everything that’s going on in the world and bury yourself in the book.

The book is for anyone who wants to widen their knowledge about herbs and also learn about Slavic traditions and beliefs. It will satisfy your curiosity and widen the horizons of your mind. It’s the perfect gift that will make a beautiful coffee-table book.

Here’s your chance to learn how to make basic recipes and discover fun facts, lore, and magical beliefs.

But you can only do it if you back this campaign through Kickstarter. The print version won’t be available on any retailer until the end of the year. Backers get advance copies. Head on over to Kickstarter now: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/77-1-2-magical-healing-herbs-the-secret-power-of-herbs?ref=a23n7m

Samodivi – Witches of Darkness or Thracian Goddesses?

We’ve mentioned Samodivi throughout the campaign. They are mentioned only in passing in the herbs book, but we thought you’d like to know a little more about them.

Who are the Samodivi? Where did they come from?

Let’s start with their name. Samo (alone) and diva (wild), so “Wild alone” or “Wildalone.” What exactly does that imply? First off, although diva describes them as wild creatures, the word also comes from divine. In fact, it has been said the Samodivi were daughters of the Thracian goddess Bendis. What samo signifies is they shun interaction with people. When humans come across a Samodiva, the nymph may harm them or befriend them, depending on her mood.

Being the daughters of Bendis (often associated with Artemis, the Greek goddess who was a protectress of nature), Samodivi have a special connection with nature and have the power to heal using herbs, and so their role is to protect the forests and its inhabitants. They are a symbol of the coming spring, the awakening of nature. Each year on Blagovets, March 25, they return from their secret winter village in Zmeykovo (Dragon Village) to the human world and go back to their own world in late fall.

These nymphs are renowned for their beauty, power, and magical seductive voices. Described as blonde women with long, curly hair, they are enchanting mythological creatures who have been portrayed for centuries in Bulgarian folklore — in fairy tales, poems, and legends passed from one generation to another. Numerous legends about them are still alive, and people in Bulgaria claim to still see them in forests and near water bodies.

Most often their eyes are bright and light blue (although sometimes green). People with blue eyes have long been attributed with being able to connect to the spiritual world and cast the “evil eye” to harm others. Samodivi wear white robes made out of moon beams along with a green, golden, or rainbow-colored belt. A wreath of wild flowers adorns their heads and it, along with their clothing, is a source of healing and magical power. The Samodivi carefully guard their clothing so men cannot steal them. Sometimes they are careless when they bathe, and a man captures her source of power, forcing the Samodiva to live with the man and have his children, until she finds the stolen garment and escapes.

On occasion, Samodivi choose to associate with humans. They befriend women who have been kind to them and teach these women how to use nature to heal. A Samodiva may also willingly marry a man and have his children. Those offspring become legendary heroes.

Then why are people afraid of Samodivi?

One reason is because Samodivi love to perform the horo circle dance under the moon in forest glades. Better yet they prefer it if the dancing is accompanied by the music of the kaval, or shepherd’s pipe. In many tales, they seduce and kidnap a shepherd to play for them.

Samodivi entice people who disturb their dance to join in with them until dawn breaks. Humans are unable to keep up with the wild, fast pace of the Samodivi, and die from exhaustion. Or according to some tales, the Samodivi take the fallen person’s eyes and heart. People in remote villages still believe that trespassing on a Samodiva’s special places will cause them harm, even blindness.

Samodivi cause havoc in other ways as well. In remote villages, people pay respect to them and are afraid of these creatures who can seduce men with their beautiful songs. In Bulgaria, small villages have been deserted, locals afraid of the powers of the nymphs. Stories circulate about a man who was found dead in the woods, murdered and left naked. The common belief is that this was done by Samodivi. People see flashes of white among the trees and claim they are the Samodivi.

In another story, the mysterious disappearance of men has often been attributed to them being captured by Samodivi. A story tells of a village where five men disappeared. Two were eventually found, but they had no recollection of what happened.

The existence of Samodivi has not been proven and may never be. Sightings of them may simply represent fear and respect of the unknown and of nature. When we don’t understand something, we call it magic, witchcraft, or evil, but in reality, it’s an issue we don’t want to face.

Don’t Miss Out on these FREE Ebooks

The week 2 perks are coming to an end tonight at midnight, Eastern time. And they won’t be offered again. Get them now while you have a chance. Simply pledge at any level and they’ll be yours after the campaign ends successfully.

Head on over to our campaign if you haven’t done so already: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/77-1-2-magical-healing-herbs-the-secret-power-of-herbs?ref=a23n7m

Nostradamus of the Balkans

In our book, we talk about various healers throughout Bulgarian history. Who are these healers, and how did they obtain this power?

Both men and women can be healers, although most often the role falls to an elderly woman called a znahar. But, please, don’t call her a witch. To this nation of people who believe in a single, omnipotent God as much as they do in beautiful, enchanting Samodivi, a “witch” is a veshtitsa, a spiteful person who practices the dark arts and wishes to cause death, sickness, discord, and the theft of fertility from the land, rather than healing and well-being. A community fears a veshtitsa, while they respect a znahar.

In rare instances, the znahar receives her healing arts by a supernatural means—from a saint, angel, or Samodiva through a dream, or even in a near-death situation, when the boundaries between this life and the next merge. The znahar in this case not only becomes a healer, but also a clairvoyant. The most famous was Baba Vanga (1911 – 1996). As a child she was reportedly caught up in a tornado and dumped into a field. From that point on, her eyesight failed, but her psychic and herbal healing abilities developed, which she claimed came from invisible creatures.

Baba Vanga2

Samodivi are said to be daughters of the Great Goddess Bendis, and are therefore protectors of nature. In this capacity, they have the power to heal creatures and the land itself. Bulgarians believe the nymphs initiate chosen women into the sisterhood, and pass on to them the secrets of healing with herbs. The ceremony takes place in the woods right before sunrise on a Sunday on a night when the moon is full.

A more common initiation, however, is one passed down from one generation to the next, or from grandmother to granddaughter. The females involved are expected to be “ritually pure,” that is pre-menstrual or post-menopausal. These points in a female’s life bring them closest to the states of birth and death, respectively, allowing them to transition between the earthly and otherworldly realms so they can communicate with spirits.

The initiation can take place in various sacred places—by a river (symbolic of birth) or next to a hearth (representing the home or temple of the gods). In the first, the initiate climbs a willow tree by the river. With its branches in the air, and its roots in the earth, getting nourishment from the water, the tree unifies all three elements. The initiate recites the words to the sacred ritual three times, then moves to another branch and repeats the words three more times. Once more, the initiate moves and repeats the words three more times, ensuring the power will “take root” in the individual.

When performed at the hearth, the elder woman places bread in a covered clay dish called a podnitza and sticks it into the fire. Using iron tools, which have purifying power to chase away evil, she buries the dish with ashes, then places the tools on both sides of the hearth. Facing the fire, the initiate kneels on a broom, which symbolizes purification, the sweeping away of all unclean things.

The elder woman places three grains of wheat on the initiate’s right knee and three on the left, then tosses three grains into the fire. In ancient rituals, wheat consecrated the sacrifice offered to the gods. Placing it on the initiate, therefore, purifies her so she can become a vessel divine power can flow through.

Next, the elderly woman stands behind the initiate and recites the incantation, which the initiate repeats. They repeat the words three times. The elderly woman removes a metal or clay ceremonial object from a wicker basket placed to the right of the initiate. The initiate makes the sign of the cross three times, then touches the object to her forehead, then to her heart, and finally to her knees. She makes the sign of the cross again, and places the sacred object on her left side.

The elderly woman stirs a bunch of basil in a bowl of water and recites a blessing. After the blessing, the elderly woman sprinkles the initiate with the water using the basil to endow her with divine power. The initiate drinks the water from three places. This provides her with guidance for her mouth, hands, and heart: to speak, do, and feel those things that bring health and life to others.

A mediator is needed to transfer the healing power to the initiate. This is done with the bread, called dobra dusha, kind soul. The elderly woman breaks three pieces from it. She eats one, the initiate another, and the third the elderly woman places on the inside of the chimney. The two women now share the power. The initiate will gain her full power only after her mentor dies.

In the final rite of the ceremony, the elderly woman ties a red thread to the initiate’s right hand and pins a geranium onto her clothing. These both are symbolic of protection.

If you’d like to learn more about these healers, you can get a copy of our book through our Kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/77-1-2-magical-healing-herbs-the-secret-power-of-herbs?ref=a23n7m

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The Midsummer’s Day Wreath

Earlier this week, we talked a little about the herbs. Today, we’ll tell you another special use of these magical herbs.

“Is this a portal to another world? Is this a circle to protect against black magic and evil spirits?”

These were questions in my mind when I looked at the colorful floral wreath on Midsummer’s Day many years ago. It was giant. I mean really giant… Woman, maidens, and girls were passing through the wreath. It felt like they are going to a different dimension.

It was magical experience, one which I always wanted to learn more about.

The wreath is made every year on Midsummer’s Day. It’s considered sacred and is woven from 77½ herbs. Not any herbs, but ones that are magical and healing. According to folk belief, the herbs in the wreath can cure illnesses, break spells, and drive away dragons (zmeys) and other malicious entities.

It’s well-known in Slavic folklore that dragons love to capture girls for brides, so the unmarried females need this extra protection as they approach adulthood.

Besides walking through the giant wreath, girls also crown their heads with a wreath made from herbs that repel zmeys and keep the beasts from loving the girls.

Sounds scary, right? Who wants to be abducted by a dragon and taken to a dark cave?

Don’t forget to follow our campaign on Kickstarter if you haven’t already done so: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/77-1-2-magical-healing-herbs-the-secret-power-of-herbs?ref=a23n7m

And here’s another ritual where herbs are prominent.

Rain

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