“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

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

Don’t Miss Out on FREE Ebooks

The week 1 perks are coming to an end tonight (Saturday, May 14) 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.

Week 1 Perks

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

Magical Midsummer Herbs

Here’s a little about the meaning behind the 77½ Magical Healing Herbs book. Today, we look at the half herb.

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

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

Garden

“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.

In Bulgaria and other Slavic countries like Ukraine, June 24 is a special day filled with magical rites. Healers gather herbs at dawn, because this is the time when they have the most healing abilities.

In our book, we go into more detail about what the half herb is, and provide folk beliefs and tales about the herb.

Be sure to follow our campaign on Kickstarter, where we’ll keep you updated about the status of the campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/77-1-2-magical-healing-herbs-the-secret-power-of-herbs?ref=a23n7m

Our Kickstarter Campaign Is LIVE

We’re so excited. Our book is finally available for pre-order through our Kickstarter project! If you’ve followed the campaign, then you’ll have already received your email notification from Kickstarter the moment the campaign went live.

Here’s a little bit about what the book is all about.

kickstarter6 idea

Venture into the magical, healing world of herbs and embrace the power of nature.

  • Have you ever wondered what use you can make of all those “weeds” in your yard?
  • Do you prefer a natural way of cleansing the body and soul?
  • Are you looking for creative ways to add magic to games or novels?

If this sounds like you, then 77½ Magical Healing Herbs is the perfect solution. The book is an introduction to herbs found in a special Midsummer’s wreath. This is an especially enchanting time of year. Among the Bulgarians, the day is called Eniovden.

You may think herbs are only for spicing up food and healing the body and mind, but they have other uses, as well.

Herbs can:

  • Help prevent hair loss.
  • Eliminate turkey neck.
  • Repel insects.

And did you know herbs have magical properties?

Here are a few:

  • Attract love or repel it.
  • Provide protection from curses and unseen forces.
  • Help an individual find favor in court or success with money matters.
  • And so much more.

This unique herbal book is an essential guide for tapping into the power of herbs. It highlights centuries of lore and historical facts about healing and magical uses of herbs from Slavic and other traditions.

Plus, it includes rituals, herbal remedies, and simple recipes. Not only that, you’ll learn about several renowned Bulgarian healers throughout history—from St. Ivan Rilski to Baba Vanga.

One or two high-quality color photos, as well as a full-page botanical illustration, accompany each plant, so anyone can use the book as a field guide in their backyard or when they go foraging.

An index identifies some of the more interesting medical and magical abilities and the herbs that fall under them.

With more than 200 color images and fascinating information, 77½ Magical Healing Herbs is certain to entertain and enlighten you. 

***

Don’t forget to pledge early, so you get the EARLY-BIRD PERKS. You can find them at the top of our campaign page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ronesa-aveela/77-1-2-magical-healing-herbs-the-secret-power-of-herbs. But, they’ll be gone after 9 a.m. Eastern time tomorrow (Wednesday, May 11).

Herbal Prints

The botanical prints are available on merchandise on our Redbubble store. Keep checking back as we add new ones to the list.

Our Store: https://www.redbubble.com/people/ronesaaveela/shop

Rose image: https://www.redbubble.com/i/art-board-print/Rose-Botanical-by-RonesaAveela/105192854.NVL2T

Rose Print on Redbubble

 

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.

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