Stravarka

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04.01.2015.

Let him be healthy, clean and bright like the stars

According to folk belief spellbound eyes (curse) are a demonic being which exerts negative influence through one human onto another. However, in order for this definition not to be ambiguous we need to stress that this belief stems from the Bogomil religion (Bosnian church) according to which human souls are demon's trapped in bodies. That's why every man has the ability to harm another person with his gaze. However, belief in the destructive power of the eyes is older than the middle ages and dates from the Illyrian period when our ancestors fostered a great fear from the devastating effect of a gaze. That's why even the Romans were scared if the Illyrians believing that among them there are persons of extremely dangerous and unlucky eyes. The word itself urok (curse) which is used as a term for spellbound eyes stems from the Illyrian forefathers and means to fascinate, enchant.

It is believed among the Bosnian people that there are a few ways in which spellbound eyes manifest, the most common being zazor (when one shy's away from something) i.e. negative influence spurned by envy and malice, as well as začud - negative influence of another person through amazement or awe at someone's beauty, health, etc. Due to destructive influence of spellbound eyes a person can fall ill, become unhappy or even die. That's why people were scared of gazes from specific people, especially in the presence of small children which are the ones most susceptible to the effect of someone's evil eyes.

Stravarka Šerife M. (68 years old) from Velika Kladuša neutralises the negative effect of spellbound eyes, fear but also black magic with rhythmical chant of a magical formula. According to her saying the mentioned negative effects can cause mental but also physical issues and therefore they should be treated in time. Among small children, according to her opinion, disease is manifested after three days from immediate contact or touch with the source of negativity and among adults through three Tuesday's or 21 days. Šerife repeats a formula three times over the vessel with the spring water and every time she throws three coals from the fire into the water. When she utters the formula she yawns, stops for a moment and again mechanically repeats the exorcist procedure:

From nine spellbound eyes and nine diseases on N (name of diseased) eight,

out of eight, seven,

out of seven - six,

out of six - five,

out of five - four,

out of four - three

out of three - two,

out of two - one,

out of one - none!

On N there is no longer any magical attacks, no more spellbound eyes,

no more disease,

no more fear,

with my oath and god's will!

In the end, after the formula has been repeated three times, stravarka Šerife places her right hand on the vessel, spreads her fingers and blows through them in the direction of the water uttering:

"I'm not opening my hand (not spreading my fingers), I'm opening N star so that he (or she) can be healthy, clean and bright as a star when it appears in the sky!"

She then dips the tips of her fingers into the water and strokes he diseased across the forehead where according to ancient Bosnian belief the human star is located.

It is interesting to note how many segments of Illyrian tradition have been kept in the magical practice among the Bosnian folk, especially if we analyse the above described ritual in which the star is mentioned. Namely, Illyrians believed that every human has his own star in the sky with which he is connected via the middle of his forehead which is why that place is considered extremely sensitive to negative influence and is always protected with a piece of clothing or hand.

In certain exorcist formulas aimed at annulling the effect of spellbound eyes Did (grandfather), the priest of Bosnian Bogomils is mentioned, which is also called Bilobrk, white moustache or white beard, which was usually the main characteristic of the priests in the church of Bosnia. Namely, they were described as people in white clothes with long white beards, symbol of wisdom:

Bilobrk crosses the blue see to dear god,

from dear god he brings N (name of diseased)

health and happiness and takes away začud and zazor,

veledalin amin.

Besides Bilobrk in a few versions of another formula Sijerma is mentioned, female demon of disease and her nine children which are neutralised in the first part of the formula while in the continuation of the text Sijerma is mentioned by another name i.e. Uročica and through exorcism she banishes from the human body and directs into the high mountains where there is a wasteland and no fertility. This place is known under the name "dark Hawayi":

Sijerma has nine children;

out of nine - eight,

out of eight - seven,

out of seven - six,

out of six - five,

out of five - four,

out of four - three,

out of three - two,

out of two - one,

out of one - none.

Go, Uročice, from the grease into bones,

from bones into flesh,

from flesh into skin,

from skin into hair,

from hair into the high mountain where the rooster doesn't sing,

where the Imam's call can't be heard,

where the sheep doesn't give birth,

where the cow doesn't give birth,

where the mare doesn't give birth.

Go disease across the world like bees on the flowers,

brake and disintegrate.

Three eye colours

Among the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina it is believed since the old days that a man can only have three eye colours: blue, black and green and that's why three coals are thrown into the water from the fire. Besides the classic healing of spellbound eyes among stravarke and Imam's there is a way in which the diseased can be cured by himself. In the vessel with spring water one places a few leaves of rue (ruta) and at dawn, when the roosters first crow, the vessel is taken into the hands and the diseased scales a ladder while carrying it. On every step he takes a sip of water. The procedure of climbing is repeated three times in total. With the rest of the water the diseased washes his face at the end of the ritual. With that it is considered that he has completely freed himself from the negative effect of spellbound eyes.

Stravarka
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