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

Is This Herb the Sorcerer’s Stone?

37-1 Depositphotos_457713322_XL FOR WEB

Water clover (Marsilea quadrifolia) is called the raskovnik in Slavic folklore. It is one of the most secret magical herbs. People believe that the herb has strong alchemic ability and can transform iron into gold. More common, however, is the belief the herb can brings the person who finds it love, happiness, luck, and wealth. I wish that list included eternal youth as well… Some say the raskovnik makes whatever its owner desires come true.

Only a turtle knows where the plant grows, but if a hedgehog is covered with a bowl, it can also find the herb.

According to legend, the herb can unlock any padlock or closed gate. It has the power to make buried treasures rise from the ground: it does this by splitting the ground at the place where a treasure is hidden, so that people can locate it. But if the herb breaks, it’ll lose its magical powers.

African pygmy hedgehog isolated on white background
Gray african pygmy hedgehog isolated on white background

In some regions of Balkans, the treasure itself was a giant man in chains. He’d would request that a raskovnik be brought to him. The raskovnik would break the chains and the man would disappear into the ground, replaced by a cauldron filled with gold coins.

Would you like to learn more about the secret power of herbs?

We have created a book that includes more than 250 color images, medical and magical herb use, traditions, and more. Read on to find out more…

Our Campaign

Discover the power of herbs 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.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/77-1-2-magical-healing-herbs-the-secret-power-of-herbs

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

kickstarter6a idea

When the campaign launches, it will also include a short video. You can get a sneak peek here and check out our awesome project in progress: https://youtu.be/cnqHZ6NGbdQ

We hope you’ll join us on the adventure and support our campaign. 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

Images stock photos from DepositPhotos.

Magical Healing Herbs

“On Eniovden (Midsummer’s Day), the stars fly down, infusing herbs and water with magical healing power.”

Every year on June 24, Eniovden, I remember these words spoken by my grandmother. She understood the power of herbs and used them to heal body and soul, protect the home and family, and bring fertility and prosperity to the household.

In Bulgaria and other Slavic countries like Ukraine, women and healers gather 77½ herbs. A popular belief is the herbs have magical and healing powers if picked on the eve of Eniovden. However, the women must remain silent as they pour water over the herbs, so the magic is not ruined by the human voice. The women cover the caldron of herbs with an apron and leave it under the stars overnight to make the herbs even more powerful.

“There is an herb for every illness, and the half for all unknown.”

I never fully understood the meaning of the “half” herb as a child—and not even as an adult. How can you have a half herb? Even if you break it in half, it’s still an herb. Nor did I completely comprehend the power of each of the Eniovden herbs.

From the 77½ herbs they gathered, the women weave a giant, sacred wreath. They don’t pick herbs at random. Each herb has magical or healing abilities and is specially chosen for the wreath. According to folk belief, these herbs can cure illnesses, break spells, and drive away dragons (zmeys) and other malicious entities. After the women weave the herbal wreath, they dress in colorful, traditional costumes and dance the horo before they step through the wreath to start the day’s celebrations.

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

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

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

Giant wreath

The Magic of Eniovden

June 24 is a special day filled with other magical rites that focus on herbs. In one ceremony, women and girls sing while they place herbs on each corner of a field. This ensures a bountiful harvest and prevents witches from stealing the fertility of the land, which is contained in the dew. Otherwise, witches would cast spells on the fields during the night, collect the dew in their aprons, and bring it to their own fields.

Eniovden is also a night when the boundaries between the spirit and human worlds merge, allowing creatures from heaven, earth, and the underworld to roam the land. Samodivi (woodland nymphs) and dragons celebrate on this day.

LLR promo

Birth of a Book

I 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 the Balkans, and she has predicted many events that have happened in our lifetimes.

Did I get your attention? Would you love to learn more about herbs? Read on…

updated cover

Our Campaign

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.

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.

kickstarter6a idea

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/77-1-2-magical-healing-herbs-the-secret-power-of-herbs

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 get a sneak peek here and check out our awesome project in progress: https://youtu.be/cnqHZ6NGbdQ

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

Exclusive Opportunity

updated coverOur book 77½ Magical Healing Herbs is nearing completion. It’s currently in the hands of a graphic designer to make the pages even more compelling. A little color to make the herb photographs and text really pop.

The book is 350 pages long! In 8 x 10 format. So, that’s a lot of herbal information.

However, the book won’t be available in any retail store any time soon.

Why?

We’re running a Kickstarter campaign, and the print book (both paperback and hardback) will be EXCLUSIVE to that platform for SIX months. And an ebook version is ONLY being offered through Kickstarter. Once the campaign is over, the opportunity to secure one will be lost.

Kickstarter Green logo

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

No, absolutely not. Kickstarter is a direct-sales platform. Supporters pledge various amounts to support an author, and in return, they receive products before anyone else.

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.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/77-1-2-magical-healing-herbs-the-secret-power-of-herbs

Simply click on the “Notify me on launch” button, so you’ll be notified immediately when the project officially launches.

kickstarter6a idea

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: https://youtu.be/cnqHZ6NGbdQ

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 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.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/77-1-2-magical-healing-herbs-the-secret-power-of-herbs

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: https://youtu.be/cnqHZ6NGbdQ

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

March, the Moody Month

March will be here before we know it. March 1 is Baba Marta Day, one of the most popular holidays among Bulgarians. It’s a time to show friendship and wish each other health throughout the year. People make martenitisi, a charm bracelet, from red and white thread to give to others. The day is in honor of Baba Marta, Grandmother March. She’s the only female month, and her mood is reflected in the changeable weather those of us in the northern hemisphere experience as spring attempts to arrive.

This month, I’d like to share a memory about Martenitsa from my memoir, The Wanderer – A Tear and A Smile.

~~~

Sometimes, we need a sign or a miracle to encourage and empower us. As Oprah Winfrey likes to say, “Life is whispering to us; we need to listen.” It’s important to understand the signs and follow our intuition.

Years ago, on a gloomy, rainy spring day, I was dragging my feet with a bowed head, absorbed in personal and work-related problems that stifled my soul. I was in Boston Public Garden; I didn’t see or hear anything because I was so closed off inside my world. Anger tightened my throat, and my coat weighed me down like iron.

Then, in the distance, I saw a flower perched on the bare branches of a tree. It danced like a butterfly. When I came closer, I noticed that it wasn’t a flower; it was the traditional Bulgarian amulet called martenitsa. I knew for certain because it wasn’t any random martenitsa, but Pijo and Penda, the boy and the girl made with red and white threads.

penda-and-pijo

For the people passing by, this amulet meant nothing. But for me, it was a ray of light penetrating the clouds. I felt that somewhere near me, someone shared my cultural beliefs. Someone had put the martenitsa on the branch hoping for health and good omens. People going by were walking their dogs, chatting, and taking pictures. I stopped to look at their faces, hoping to spot the person who might have put the amulet there. I was looking for a sign. Perhaps the person would come back and touch the martenitsa.

People smiled at me, and a group of cheerful girls stopped to touch the martenitsa, but they didn’t know about it. They didn’t even know where Bulgaria was, but I expected that. I proudly described what it meant and the history of the amulet. They looked puzzled. One of them said she thought it was the Kabala Amulet or a sacral ritual. They took some pictures and went back to their own world. A little birdie was singing its song at the top of the tree; I felt it was talking to me to cheer me up and help me embrace the day.

The wind blew away the clouds, and the sun bloomed over the branches covering them and the martenitsa with gold. A few sparkling drops of water trickled down from the branch onto my hair and face. I wiped my cheeks with my palm and felt refreshed from their cold touch. The sun shone and tickled my face. Although I wore several layers of winter clothes and held my laptop bag, I felt as light as a feather, ready to fly in the breeze. I left the garden, turned a few times and still saw the boy and the girl dancing on the branch.

On my way home on the train, I looked out the window and kept my eyes glued to the last sun rays. The day was gone, but I had hope that tomorrow would be better. The martenitsa for me was a sign, a sign to embrace the positive in anticipation of a new beginning from the universe. As Byron says, “O, wind, If winter comes can spring be far behind.”

In Bulgarian folklore and traditions, the martenitsa is a symbol of the coming of spring and of new life and new beginnings. Several legends describe the origins of this amulet. I’ll tell you one that’s in my book Light Love Rituals: Bulgarian Myths, Legends, and Folklore. The tale is about Penda and Pijo, the girl and boy I found dancing in the wind.

Penda and Pijo Story

A long time ago, a Tsar named Pijo loved a woman named Penda. When Pijo found out she had been kidnapped, he wanted to search for her, but he couldn’t leave his kingdom. He sent carrier pigeons with messages asking his loyal subjects if they’d seen Penda. He also asked a brave, trusted soldier to look for her. The man left on a hot summer day and searched for her well into winter.

Far from his homeland, he met an old woman and eleven old men sitting on the cold ground by a well. The old woman struggled to rise, so the soldier helped her, then lifted the bucket of water from the well to give her a drink.

She said, “I’m Baba Marta (Grandmother March), and these are my brothers, the other eleven months of the year. Because you’ve been kind to me, you’ll find what you’re looking for.”

Soon the soldier discovered the house where Penda was held prisoner. He untied her and was going to take her home, when the man who kidnapped her returned. They fought for many hours. The soldier tired and feared his strength would fail. He jabbed once more and killed the bad man, then collapsed. Penda gave him a drink of water.

“Our journey back will take a long time,” she said. “I must let Pijo know I’m safe.” She wrote a note and placed it inside a tube. With a white thread, she tied it to the leg of a carrier pigeon Pijo had sent, then released the bird.

Along the way, the bird scraped its leg on a branch. Blood had stained the thread by the time the bird finally reached Pijo. When he read the note, he was so happy. He tied the blood-stained thread to his shirt until Penda returned safely.

~~~

That’s one story about why we use red and white to make martenitsi even today. There are many others.

Those Pesky Insects

Spring also means the arrival of insects. In our current work in progress, 77 ½ Magical, Healing Herbs, we’ve discovered several plants that are insect repellents.

Herbs that repel bugs

But more than that, there’s also a plant that kills mosquitoes and their larva. It’s called Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris). Its seeds are sticky. A way to get rid of mosquitoes is to toss seeds into the water where mosquitoes breed. The seeds not only emit a substance toxic to the larvae, but they also attract mosquitoes. The sticky, gummy substance binds the mouths of the mosquitoes to the seed.

Happy Baba Marta Day! Blessings and happiness to you all.

Magical Herbs of Love in Bulgarian Folklore

Disclaimer: The information in the article is not a recommendation for treatment, but to acquaint you with interesting old customs and historical facts. You should always consult a medical professional before undertaking any herbal remedies.

~~~

Happy New Year! We wish everyone luck, health, and love. We look forward to what the new year will bring even though we don’t know what is in store for us during the days that follow.

In Bulgarian folklore, on December 24, families start the process of forecasting the future with their ritual bread. Inside it are hidden lucky charms – messages for health, love, and success – normally wrapped in foil. Everyone in the household hopes to get one and secure their fortune for the entire year.

In the past, in addition to such rituals and traditions, our grandmothers and great-grandmothers knew the power of each herb and how to keep their home healthy and happy. They used herbs and flowers to cast love spells. And love itself is magic.

In Bulgarian myths and legends, you can find this magic by using herbs. Herbal rituals could fill many books, but with Valentine’s Day swiftly approaching, I’ve selected a few to help you learn how you can use them to attract love into your life and how to keep it.

Herbs for love

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Based on Bulgarian folklore, if you sprinkle your partner with powdered basil while he or she sleeps, the person won’t cheat. I prefer to use basil for my watermelon and feta cheese salad, but you’re welcome to try this ritual for a little love magic.

Common ivy, English ivy (Hedera helix)

If you know someone who’s getting married, give the bride a branch of ivy. It’s supposed to bring her happiness in marriage.

Mistletoe (Viscum album)

Oh, Mistletoe… I have one in my yard. I never knew how powerful the plant is. Do you know why you need to kiss under the Mistletoe?

Shakespeare calls it ‘the baleful Mistletoe,’ an allusion to the Scandinavian legend that Balder, the god of Peace, was slain with an arrow made of Mistletoe. He was restored to life at the request of the other gods and goddesses, and Mistletoe was afterwards given into the keeping of the goddess of Love, and it was ordained that everyone who passed under it should receive a kiss, to show that the branch had become an emblem of love, and not of hate (from: Botanical.com. “Mistletoe”).

In Bulgarian folklore, mistletoe is a sacred and magical herb. In winter, the bushes remain green and fresh on top of the tree host, reminiscent of spring and new birth. If a girl hangs a branch of mistletoe hangs over her bed in the winter, she’ll meet or marry her lover during the year.

Maybe give this one a try if there’s someone you long to be with and see if this ritual works. It’s harmless enough.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

If you worry too much about a loved one who’ll be away on a long business trip, place dandelion flowers and seeds into his pockets or luggage. He won’t even think about infidelity. Dill seeds have the same effect.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

“Samodivi,” Bulgarian woodland nymphs, rub their arrows with valerian, so that whomever they catch or wound immediately hates a woman or lover for life. The woodland nymphs wanted the men to love them instead.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

If you burn a pinch of ginger in your home, the relationship between you and your partner will improve.

Dill (Anethum graveolens)

If a woman washes her face and hands with a decoction of dill seeds, her partner’s love for her will increase.

Melilot (Melilotus officinalis)

Many songs and folklore tales mention this plant. It helps protect girls from being abducted by the dragon zmey. In Bulgarian folkore, the herb is also used to separate lovers as well as saving someone from zmey’s love.

Lentil (Lens culinaris or Lens esculenta)

In Bulgarian folklore, lentil is used in magic love potions. To do this, you’ll need to collect one lentil from forty different shops. After boiling them, knead them into bread while saying, “As I tried to collect 40 grains from 40 shops, so should my husband work so hard for me and love me forever.” Then, when the bread it done, give it to your spouse to eat (from Lilia Stavreva’s Български магии и гадания [Bulgarian Magic and Foretelling], p. 209).

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

Beloved calming Lemon Balm. Besides its great aroma, this herb has a calming effect. Give your love tea made with it to calm them and also nourish their love.

Yellow Avens or Common Avens (Geum)

This herb is called an “old herb” (staro bile), probably because it is as old as its love magic. It will not only help you find the love of your life, it’s also used to keep away bad spirits and help you lose weight and get in shape. Stories tell how once pierced yellow avens with his arrows, and then gave it to the fairies so they could enchant and ruin the lives of more than one lover.

If you wear the herb, it will enchant everyone around you. That sounds like the movie “Love Potion No. 9” with Sandra Bullock.

Iris (Iris germanica)

The iris is a magical flower. Whoever takes a bunch of irises and puts them on his belt or hat, his soul will forever remain with the one who wears it.

Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)

Wormwood is another herb used to separate lovers. A girl who doesn’t want to marry an old bachelor picks up “bitter wormwood” in a dewy meadow and rubs her face it it so that the man will not like her.

An Old Love Charm

On St. Luke’s Day, take marigold flowers, a sprig of marjoram, thyme, and a little Wormwood; dry them before a fire, rub them to powder; then sift it through a fine piece of lawn, and simmer it over a slow fire, adding a small quantity of virgin honey and vinegar. Anoint yourself with this when you go to bed, saying the following lines three times, and you will dream of your partner “that is to be”:

“St. Luke, St. Luke, be kind to me,

In dreams let me my true-love see.”

(From Botanical.com, “Wormwoods”).

European wild ginger (Asarum europaeum)

Wild ginger evokes a feeling of love. People use this magic grass to cast spells to unite two young people.

***

I hope this information helps you spice up your holiday on Valentine’s Day. As you can see, your love life can be improved just by going to your pantry. Many of the spices and herbs in your spice rack can make both your kitchen and your relationship magic. It’s as easy as pie if you know the power of herbs and seasonings. Our mothers and grandmothers understood the power of herb and used them in everyday life for love, health, and great meals, uniting everyone in the kitchen and around the heart.

Herbs Cover

I’m working on a new book about the 77 1/2 healing herbs from Bulgarian folklore. It includes information like the above, as well as recipes from Baba Vanga and other famous, trusted healers, as well as more interesting facts about herbs.

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An Interview with Brendan Noble

Brendan NobleBrendan Noble is a Polish and German-American author currently writing fantasy inspired by Slavic mythology: The Frostmarked Chronicles. Through these books and his “Slavic Saturday” post series on YouTube and his website, he hopes to bring the often-forgotten stories of eastern Europe into new light.

Shortly after beginning his writing career in 2019 with the publication of his debut novel, The Fractured Prism (Book 1 of The Prism Files), Brendan married his wife Andrea and moved to Rockford, Illinois from his hometown in Michigan. Since then, he has published six full-length novels, including four in The Prism Files and two in The Frostmarked Chronicles, along with a novella for the latter series.

Brendan founded Eight-One-Five Publishing in 2021, wishing to inspire and help authors in the Rockford area write, publish, and distribute their works, regardless of socio-economic status.

Outside of writing, Brendan is a data analyst, soccer referee, and the vice-president of Rockford FC (Rockford’s semi-pro soccer club). His top interests include German, Polish, and American soccer/football, Formula 1, analyzing political elections across the world, playing extremely nerdy strategy video games, exploring with his wife, and reading.

About the Book

Title: A Dagger in the Winds and The Trials of Ascension (The Frostmarked Chronicles books 1 and 2)

Location: Fantasy realm inspired by Eastern Europe (particularly Poland)

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Audience: Upper YA

Time period: Fantasy realm inspired by time period around 500 – 800 CE

The Frostmarked Chronicles - Noble

Interview

Tell us a little about The Frostmarked Chronicles.

The Frostmarked Chronicles tell the tale of an outcast named Wacław and a witch named Otylia, two once-best friends who were torn apart against their wills as children. Combining Slavic mythology and epic fantasy, it explores what a fantasy realm would look like if Slavic gods, demons, and spirits roamed the world.

Quick description of A Dagger in the Winds:

An outcast cursed since birth. A witch chosen by a goddess. Torn apart by fate, together, can they save their tribe from eternal winter?

Rejected by his father and forced away from his best friend, Wacław is a dreamer who has never actually dreamed. Each night, his soul leaves his body, allowing him to wander invisibly until he wakes. He’d do anything to understand why—even give a blood offering to the goddess of winter and death.

But when a dark force soon rises within him, his only hope for answers is the one girl he’s forbidden to see: the witch Otylia.

Favored by the goddess of spring, there’s no one Otylia hates more than the winter goddess—except her once best friend Wacław. It’s been four years since she saved Wacław’s life using forbidden magic. Her thanks? Abandonment. She’s needed only the spring goddess since.

But when her goddess goes silent on the first day of spring and she discovers Wacław bearing the winter goddess’s mark, Otylia realizes the horrific truth: Winter will not end, and her lost friend is the key to uncovering why.

Embark on an epic journey through a world rooted in Slavic mythology and folklore that has powerful gods, menacing beasts, cursed forests, forbidden romance, and plenty of secrets to uncover.

What is your passion about this country? Why did you choose it for you setting?

Growing up as half Polish, I never realized some of our family traditions came from our Polish heritage. When my grandparents on my mother’s Polish side of the family died in recent years, though, I took an interest in my heritage. I dove into learning about Polish soccer/football and tried to learn more about its language and history, since so little of it is taught in the United States. That led me to Polish mythology (and Slavic mythology as a whole).

As someone who’d loved Greek myths in school, these new gods and demons were fascinating to me. I couldn’t believe how hard it was to find about them in English, so I decided to compile as much on them as I could through my Slavic Series posts on my website and YouTube, sharing the cool stories with others. I’d also enjoyed the bits of the Witcher that had Slavic mythological inspiration. Nothing I saw, though, was like the Percy Jackson books I’d read as a kid. It was all loosely pulling from tales or implementing a few demons here or there. So, I decided to write my own epic fantasy with the gods and myths wrapped into a new world.

Is this the country you were born in? If not, have you ever lived there?

I am from the United States and have unfortunately not had the chance to visit Poland or Europe at all yet. Though, it is definitely on the top of the places I would like to visit once the pandemic has passed.

What will readers discover about this country when they read your book?

Despite The Frostmarked Chronicles being high fantasy, Wacław and Otylia’s Krowikie tribe is rooted in the Vistula Veneti and the successor tribes of the Dark Ages. Their tribal government, customs (like the Drowning of Marzanna), warfare, and conflicts with surrounding groups are inspired by real events, just in a new world. Throughout the series, readers will meet Slavic gods, encounter horrific demons and spirits, visit mythical realms, and delve into some of the themes of Slavic myths.

What other books have you written? 

My previous series is called The Prism Files. Based in the modern Twin Cities of Minnesota, the series examines an alternate history where the United States never became a republic. In the dystopian present, people are sorted into color-coded classes by the corrupt Prism Test, and through the four book series, a Red slave named Ivan must infiltrate the elites of the society to end the Prism. This one has no Slavic mythology, though the remnant American monarchy is inspired by the Russian one.

The Prism Files

What People Are Saying about The Frostmarked Chronicles …

“This is one hell of a journey, one hell of an epic adventure and once I picked this up I was so engrossed in the story the day just slipped on by! It’s so well written and the world building is so incredible that you can actually visualise yourself there as we follow our amazing characters on their journey.” – Goodreads review of A Dagger in the Winds

“I was so excited for this book and it did not disappoint. A Dagger in the Winds artfully weaves Slavic mythology into a story of feuding families, disgraced young people, and the hope of finding yourself. Both main and supporting characters are incredible and give hope that there is redemption for even the demons among them.” – Goodreads review of A Dagger in the Winds

“The world I found myself in, was so beautifully crafted, so many different aspects come to life, the underworld is unlike any I’ve read before, magnificent.” – Goodreads review of The Trials of Ascension

Connect with Brendan

Social Media: Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | BookBub | YouTube |

Email: brendan@brendan-noble.com

Where to Buy: Amazon | Apple Books | B&N | Kobo | Books2Read |

Baba Yaga: Deity of Death or Regenerator of Life?

Back in March, we gave a brief overview of the infamous Baba Yaga, which you can read here to refresh your memory. But, this famous witch is more than a mere child-eating demon. If Hansel and Gretel had happened upon Baba Yaga in the forest, the witch might have taught them a thing or two about Slavic customs. She is a “baba,” after all, a wise, skillful old woman, who often performed the role of a midwife. Saving lives, not consuming them, she’d tell her honored guests.

First, she would let them know that by venturing into the forest, they had entered the in-between realm, the land of unconsciousness, the other side of life. It’s here that she guards the entrance to the “other world,” the world of the dead. It was once her role, long ago, to escort souls to the world beyond.

Baba Yaga and boy
Ivan Bilibin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

And next, if they questioned her about her penchant for sticking children into the oven, she’d tell them it was an age-honored tradition in parts of Russian and elsewhere to perform a ritual on premature babies to make the infant strong and resilient. Just like you make dough rise by putting it into a warm oven, so you do the same with a baby born early.

“How so?” her guests would ask.

“Why,” she’d reply, “aren’t you a wonder. What do they teach children these days? All the smartest people know that you have to cover the baby with dough and place him on a bread shovel, which you place into the warm oven—warm, mind you, not scorching hot. We only want to plump up the little one so he completes his growth cycle. The oven is much like it’s mother’s womb and ensures the child becomes fully developed.”

“But how do you know when he’s done?” children ask with a tremor in their voices.

“Surely, you know when bread is done. By practice, you can tell. Same goes for the little one.”

The witch, with a gleam in her eye, goes on to tell them that the same can be done with older children who have become ill. The oven heat will burn away the disease and it escapes through the chimney. Then, lo and behold, the child becomes healthier. These ancient rites and traditions have served our ancestors well, she tells them, and it’s such a shame they are now forgotten.

“How are you feeling, dear children?” She approaches and touches their heated cheeks.

“Fine, just fine,” they say as they take cautious steps back to the doorway.

The woman they see before them may be ugly as sin. She may even have a snake’s tail. Once, long, long ago, before she had any resemblance to a person, she had the appearance of a frog. Her arms were twisted with claws at their tips. She was bent over and had long, dirty hair.

Baba Yaga in Her Mortar
Ivan Bilibin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

It is this Baba Yaga who is said to transform you through your death. Yes, you heard me right, your death. She not only burns away impurities such as diseases. She can also end your existence—but for the better. That part of you that dies is that which holds you back from becoming who you should be, the better you. Fear not, she has the power of death, but the power of life, as she is the keeper of both the Water of Life and the Water of Death.

***

We could talk about Baba Yaga for 1001 nights. There is so much information about her. But we hope this is enough to pique your interest in this ambiguous witch. We are currently researching more about Baba Yaga and will publish the fourth book in our “Spirits & Creatures” series hopefully by the end of 2022 or early 2023.

Sources:

“Baba Yaga’s Cottage: Meeting the Goddess of Death and Rebirth”: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/babayagascottage/2020/03/baba-yagas-cottage-meeting-goddess-death-rebirth/

“Baba Yaga – The Ugly Evil Witch of Slavic Folklore”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSCkdWREr7k

“Баба- Яга: в сказках и в жизни” (Baba Yaga: in fairy tales and in life): https://www.b17.ru/article/6550/

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