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 BOSNIAN RITUAL WITH THE LEAD - SALIJEVANJE STRAHE

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The magical ritual of melting lead (fear pouring) is an ancient form of shamanistic practice of exorcism known in a large geographical area - literally from Palestine, Lebanon, Syria (sakbeh or rakwi), Algeria, Morocco (khfif), Turkey (kurşun dökme), the Balkans to Germany, Great Britain (melting lead, lead casting) and Scandinavian countries.

In our region, as it is usually presumed, this ritual appears by the arrival of the Ottoman Empire, with a whole set of other magic beliefs, practices and myths. But however, there are indications which tells that this ritual was originally Illyrian and that our ancestors as Roman Empire soldiers expanded it throughout the Middle East, and through Celts it also reached northern Europe.

Following this path from Palestine to Great Britain, we can notice this: in Arab countries, a ritual with lead is practiced in order to get someone free from the effects of malevolent eyes. In beliefs of Turkish people, it is intended for the treatment of fear and spells. In Bosnia the ritual is used for previously mentioned, but also for the attack of the demons, the black magic, and the blockade of human happiness. In the north of the Europe, this situation is quite different; the rite doesn’t have a healing, but exclusively divine aspect. In fact, in the countries of northern Europe, it’s practice for the New Year’s Eve (molybdomancy), which, for example, in Finland is called "uudenvuodentin", people gather, especially girls, and salvage melted lead in water to find out about the future ahead of themselves. Shortly, between this and the "salivanja strahe" there is a certain similarity, but also there is a significant difference. Both ways are aimed to detecting unknown events; through "molybdomancy" girls want to find out their love destiny in the next year. However, in the Bosnian ritual, people who practice rituals through different forms detect the physical and mental disorders of the patient. And that's the point where any similarity ends.

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Although the "salivanje strahe" as a ritual doesn't have Islamic roots, certain parts of that old shamanistic ritual are monotheistic, particualy in the speaking part, and therefore the ritual monitors the pronunciation of certain chapters and prayers in Qur'an. Besides, God's Prophet Muhammad and Hazrati Fatima are called to help, so that only by mentioning their names, evil presented in the form of illness would escape from the ill person. We can confirm the same case with the Bulgarian or Romanian witches who use the ritual of prayer of Our Father, referring to the world of the power of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, or the cross. Any of them has a common usage of longer, or shorter magic formulas known as "basme" and "bajalice" ("bajati" comes from the Turkish word "baymak" – to charm, obsession (for the purpose of healing), cheat. – Abdulah Škaljić.)

To the ill, or possessed person the ritual  has a primarily a cumulative effect, which is confirmed by the statements of all those persons who were submited to it. But also, there are contradictory opinions that slow down its effectiveness, nameing  it as the “placebo effect”, which many "stravarke" demonstratively return with the following arguments; in fact, the ritual is equally effective if it’s done by a person who knows about it and the one who doesn’t know, such as young children. The only reproach is that the water in which the lead is melted, because it is a toxic metal, prefer not to be consumed, drinked, or that it could be poured into a crossroads, or the patient could only washes his face, hands and feet.

In spite of this, individuals tend to consume that water, in small quantities, whose harmfulness in relatioan to the daily consumption of cigarettes to the organism is nevertheless minimal. For instance, in cigarettes, besides lead which can be poisonous in large quantities, is a polonium, a cancer-causing radioactive element.

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Long tradition in Bosnia and Herzegovina

In a not so distant past, every bigger or smaller place, or even every street had at least one  stravarka, which is called  for help at any time of the day. Today, the situation is completely different, and the number of people who deal with this kind of treatment of the human soul has drastically dropped, despite the fact that demand for them, in this modern and stressful times, is the same or even higher than it was before.

There are very few young stravara and  stravaruša which are dealing with this type of work, since as the interest in the treatment of folk medicine is lost, and hence, in itself, imposes a real need to document and segregate this segment of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian tradition in written form for some future generations.

By exploring this interesting field of folklore medicine, I came across the impression that through the history of BiH, at some time interval, in the distance of fifty and a hundred years, individuals were endowed with a supernatural gift, chosen by spiritual forces, whose primary mission was to help and heals the people.

The „chosen ones“ („odabrani“) were coming periodically, almost in a silent way, most often in smaller environments, and in different lifetimes, but their real potential for healing and treatments would manifest themselves in a relatively late ages, because due to everyday tasks and duties, such as marriage, birth and care for the family, there was no real possibility that the "chosen ones" would be completely handed over to his work. This resulted in a stereotype that  the most famouse and best stravarke are those in the older ages  who "passed through the menopause".

Of course, another reason for this sequence of events is often hidden in the shift of generations, knowledge accumulated and traditionally inherited (transferred) from a spiritualally endowed predecessor - from the mother-in-law to the daughter-in-law, from the mother to the daughter, from her grandfather to grandson. Only when „teacher“ becouse of serious illness, or its old ages retired, his „student“ could replace him by appropriating his acquired knowledge and all his former "clients".  However, as far as I managed to find out, „student“ rarely succeeded in surpassing his „teacher“, probably because, like his predecessor, his knowledge was not devoted from more mighty power, but learned.

In the spirit of what's told till now, current formulation of the term stravarke, or stravar, would be a woman of an older age, sometimes a man, which has the ability to cure psychosomatic disorders (psychopathology) by subjecting the patient to a shamanistic ritual that contains an admixture of the alchemical procedure.

In spite of the fact that the very form of ritual, melting and pouring of lead, at first glance is quite simple it is actually very complex and content. Holding in a hand a piece of the lead, stravarka performs a ritual circle around the patient's head, or by lightly touching certain places on the body, in order to "connect" the ill (obsessed with evil spirits) person with the metal energy in the ultimate suggestive-magical way. In order to focus as much as possible on the fearsome, stravarka whispers the following exorcism formula: "Oo you fear, flee behind nine mills, behind nine fields, behind nine rocks ...". Then the lead is placed in direct contact with the fire and after that with water too. For the above mentioned reason, the connection with fire and transformation,  beside iron, the lead was always in the consciousness of the Bosnian people, contained an apotropic property, protecting from evil and freed the soul.

The possibility of melting the lead from a solid form is brought into fluid form and vice versa provoked human fascination and supported the idea that magical manipulation can "catch" or "capture" evil spirits and thus defeat them.
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When fear turns out to a lead

To many of us, there is a remembrance of the habit of our old grandmas  that kept at least some pieces of lead in their houses, usually it was kept  in a sewing box „for bad days, may God keep them far away“, to be at hand if someone's child is frightened, falls under the influence of evil eyes, or some of the inmate people suddenly start to suffering from a mental illness.

When it was necessary, the lead would be washed and discreetly referred to stravarka leaving her, or him  to pray over it as such as Yasin prayer, and then the next day would return to her, or him again, this time for a session of treatment.

It is evident that in the past decades there was no child, especially in rural areas, to whom this ritual was not practiced at least once. As soon as the mother of child would notice that her child was frightened, she would have suspected that it had become a victim of a terrible shock or fear that swept its dreams and took away its strength. It was believed that it was necessary to act as soon as possible  in the direction of treatment, primarily because of the fear that fear would not "revive" in the young being and cause it additional complications, or even a death.

In the magazine "Bosanska vila" ( Bosnian Fairy) from 1888, No. 3, under the heading "How to treat fear?", it describes the case of a villager Joka, a wife of Petar Kokotovic, from the village  Racic, whose ill child was not able to find a drug and cure, but to a woman, stravarka,  named Nelka.

-My son Mile, when he was a child, suddenly got sick and he was in such an agony for a whole month, that he could not even close his eyes and sleep during the day or night. As soon as he managed totaly tired to fall asleep, he would suddenly wake with a scream and a cramp.

The worried mother first approached for help to a monk near the Bosanska Krupa, who made him three amulets, with the instruction to burn one with its  smoke and turn it the child around on, and the other to put it in the water he would bathe, and the third one for child carrie around its neck. It was a bit better to Milo, but his condition was getting worse soon. After that, the mother went with a child to an old Orthodox priest to pronounce prayer above the child's head, but none of it had any use.

- To my luck, someone from my neighbors told me to go to an old Bosniak woman, Nelka, stravarka  from Podastrana, and I immediately went to her with my child. As soon as I told her what's the  problem I'm dealin with, at the same moment she took a leaked bullet from a wooden box, put it on a metal spoon and then pour it in the fire.

Then, in a quiet voice, she spoke, but I did not manage to understand anything except the words "Euzubillah, you will be better and healed". When the lead in the spoon melted, she poured a bit of water in the copper bowl, brought it near the forehead of my son, and with the other hand she took the spoon with a lead and poured it into that water. As soon as the hot lead touched the surface of the water, there was a very sizzling effect and the lead drops to the bottom of the bowl.

Nelka pulled him out of the water with a spoon, and, focusing to it she was looking at it  for a few moments, then she was silent and at the end said:- "Here, I see your son was frightened by some animal with horne immediately after you gave birth, or when it was very small."

At that moment, I remembered that one of our goats came to the doorstep and wandered into the house when my son Mile was born. When I looked better into a piece of lead that Nelka held in her hand,  I could clearly see and recognized the figure of the goat.

„ You know“, told me Nelka, -„ if someones child is scared of something, that shows me in a form in which lead is melted, but this knowledge and this skill can not be known to everyone, only to whom it is given by the angels".

After that, Nelka dissolved the lead twice more and poured it into a bowl of water (above the breast and legs of my son) and when she finished she said,- "Listen, dear, the cause of your child's disease is that goat, so it's not good that it remains alive, slaughter it ".

Then, she came accross with that water on my son's right cheek and big finger on left foot and then left cheek and a big finger of the right foot, right hand and left leg, left hand and right leg, and took the rest of the water out and spiled it under some tree outside.

As soon as I came home I told my husband to slaughter that goat and from that day my son was completely healed. So, if wasn't that woman stravarka Nelka, my child would not be alive today. May God bless her!
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In his anthological work on the life and customs of the Bosniak people, Antun Hangi emphasized the traditional practice of folk medicine. Hangi states: "Our Bosniaks, and especially the elderly women, gladly treat magical formulas and prophesy fate using grains of beans, annul the negative influences of the evil eyes and the demon attacks, perform a ritual with lead ..."

Some of the older women, whom the author mentions in his text, are known in the Bosnian people under the common name stravar or stravaruše (probably the most authentic exponents of folklore medicine) whose knowledge and practice best present the former shamanism.

Antun Hangi, in the continuation of the text, briefly describes what kind of skill a well-known stravaruša has: "A woman who knows how to heal with magical formulas and "strahu salijevati " especially if she is "sevapli ", has luck on her side, because she can save many people with God's commandments from spells or fears, and she can also help make a girl or a man marry.

The name stravarka, made up of the notion of "strava" or linguistically more correct "straha“, since there is no bosnian word "strav", but „ strah“ or fear. It suggestrs that the main requirement for a woman (person) to engage in a sprititual/magic medicine practice is mastering the skill of melting lead, through which she actually gets an „izun“ or a permission to do her work. And the proof that she possesses and „izun“ is „sevapli“ or the luck on the side.

Before devoting more in detail to the explanation of obtaining a shamanistic treatment, it is necessary to clarify the magic of the melting process of lead and its role in the historical and mythological sense.

The skill of solid metal melting is in correlation with the medieval custom of deep respect for blacksmiths and their craftsmanship, an occupation that has been considered by exalted or sacred skill since ancient times. We find the examples of divine blacksmiths in many mythologies, especially in Greek and Scandinavian, where blacksmiths made fossilized weapons to overcome evil.

Likewise, the melting of a piece of lead and its pouring into cold water is a minimalistic representation of the old and noble skill, which without any doubt, puts the stravarke and stravare into the position of mythical blacksmith, but also warriors whose ability to suppress lead through melting and ouster on the transformation of forms represents a symbolic victory over the evil of the health of disease.
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Divine license for treatment


Successful dealing with healing has never been possible by anyone. Since ancient times, this was considered a privileged interest of individuals of a skillful mind and spirit. Although there are several registered conditions for dealing with this shamanistic practice, the first and most important concern is the permission (izun) or mystical initiation in the secret of treatment. Izun is literally the transmission of miraculous therapeutic power from a teacher to a student or from a higher power to a future stravara. Modern terminology izun is a license for magical healing practice.

In the only known public interview given by the stravarka from the Potur Mahala (Travnik) called Hadinica, she states that her kind of occupation (stravarstvo) begins to extinct because there are no young women who would like to learn, and there are very few of those who would be able to do it, says Hadžinica, and further explains the predispositions that are very strict: one who is already experienced in the ritual gives the permission to the student. A woman must be pious, appropriately dressed and possibly well-educated, especially in the Islamic spirit. She does not have to have a pilgrimage to Mecca, but it would be desirable.

In Turkey, the initiation ritual is called „predavanje ruke“, which is similar or identical to the Bosnian way of introducing helpers into the world of professional spiritual practice. The old and sick stravaruša, when feels that she has no more power or strength, she usually passes on her props to her daughter or to her daughter-in-law, (a metal spoon, a bowl and pieces of lead), she looks them in their eyes and says: „Here, my daughter-in-law, I can no longer do it, you carrie it on with my blessing“. Such a procedure is an ancient rule on occasions when the stravarka before her death, wants to free herself from mystical power she possesses and gifts it to another person.

Among the religious doctors, it is always categorically advocated that without permission there is no work or success. From all that was written, one could conclude that the treatment mission is never accidental, and that it is the result of the choice by the spiritual force, incomprehnseble for us, the people. This force both demonstrates its power and existance through the body and the mind of the stravar.

Almasa Čizmić, a well-known stravarka from the small place of Međurječje (Rudo), on one occasion, spoke about the importance of the permit, saying that her gift of helping people was a divine will:

-There are women who practice this ritual, but God has not appointed them for it. My grandmother once told me; when you do your first ritual with lead, if you dream the same scene that night, then it's a sign that you have a spiritual permission to heal. And if you do not, then do not deceive the people in vain.

There are also cases known to people, when a person literally becomes a healer overnight, always after the intervention of a higher force in sleep. During this event, a gift of knowledge has been telepathically transferred to the sleeping room, which must never be misused. Most well-known spiritual doctors or shamans argue that the ability to cure was gained after dreaming Hazaret Fatima,
three girls - fairies or one of the holy spirits (svetih duhova), known under a common name „Dobri“.

In the continuation of her remark, Almasa's "stubborn" woman discovered that through her practice, she had a dream with a mysterious man dressed in green clothes:

- God sends you to do it. I dreamed this dream when I did a ritual with lead to one sick girl. In this dream, a mysterious man dressed in green clothes appeared to me, and he told me: "Almasa, you started to "salijevati strahu". Add, he tells me, prayer the "el hakija", and whoever you do will be fine. And so, whatever I do, it's good.

One of the rare stravara Arif K., whom I managed to get in touch with and talk, confessed that noone gave him the permission to work, but was simply driven by an inexplicable desire to deal with this ritual.

-I was just a child, about 15-16 years old, and I watched out local stravarka performing a ritual for my dying mother. I heard her whispering prayers Falaq i Nas, and tells a short exorcist formulas when pouring molten lead into water. It is believed that if you remember the magic text said by shaman during the ritual, the gift of healing will accumulate in you. Soon after, I tried the ritual at home, and that's how it all began. I even dreamed the dream where I was doing it. Maybe it was a work permit, I do not know. After a year or two, I dreamed of a kilometar-long row of people walking on the sea surface, and I lead them. I've remembered that dream, but I did not know the meaning of it. And then all the sudden it comes to me, they are all the people I am going to help through life.

There are also different versions of the introduction into the world of treatment. Stravarka Fikreta Beganović from Sarajevo described her initiation as follows:

-I was born in Priboj 62 years ago. My late grandmother Murija was a special woman, she was dealing with "salivanje strahe“ and thus helped people. I did not know anything about it. I was not overly interesed in it. And then, the sign from heaven came. I was 7 years old, it was the month of Ramadan, 27th night, the night known as the time when desires are coming true. I looked to the sky and saw the stars move, the sky opens. I saw the paradise. Then I got the power I did not use or knew how to use.

According to the quotation of the stravarka Ćanka from Velika Kladuša (died in the last decade of the last century), an unknown man and a woman dressed in completely white clothes came to her room one night and woke her up by pulling her to her big toe. During the encounter with them, she got the knowledge of the treatment and work permit, and she was intensively dealing with the treatment until her death.

A different initiation took place for Emina Hadzihasanovic, who told the journalist from Dana magazine as follows:

- I dreamed that I would die. And this house where I was, in my dream, was set on a big hill. And in that dream I am asking for someone to pray the Yasin prayer for me, and I did not find anyone. And then I lie on my bed ready to die. I begin to pray the Yasin prayer and the three parts („mubin“) and then I die. When I woke up in the morning, I knew what I had dreamed of and what it was, and then I went to hodža (Islamic priest) in Vratnik and I told him my dream. He says: „ It's good that you've dreamed that, if you're going to do „ saljevanje strahe“.

I never did it, I said to him, but, if that is it, I can start now. Then I come here, and there was this woman, she could barely move, she went to see many doctors but none helped. She says: „ I dreamed about you tonight, you were „saljevala strahu“. I laughed and said „ I never did that for anyone“. – „ Well, you will do it for me, I swear“. – „ If that's the case, then I sure will“. She went down my stair on her knees. I took a spoon and started to melt the lead. When I poured a melted lead in the water for the third time, she suddenly shook, lifted her feet and began to walk. She lived there for three or four years, and then died. And I've been „ saljevala strahu“ ever since.

Nevertheless, it must also be understood that the title of stravarka does not come exclusively through mystical events or through passin on the izun, but sometimes it comes spontaneously and is guided by the pure curiosity, which, from time to time, shapes the professional from the beginner. The real example is the stravarka Fatima Avdic from Tuzla, she was published in „ Magična Zona“ magazine, under the title „ Olovo sve kaže“.

- I learned a ritual with lead in my early youth, from my grandmother. When I was a child, I was always around her, I wanted to see what kind of a shape she will come up with her lead, and what was boiling in the cold water. I've been working alone for seventeen years and until now I have not had any objections for my work, I have only recived praise.

In order to avoid confusion, it must be clarified that the mentioned ritual is not only performed by women, but also by men, with equal success, and among the famous stravari was the famous „hadžija“ from Visoko Omer Softić, to whome, at the time, were sent patients with strange diagnosis by the local doctors, as he had revealed to the public. Also, practice with melting lead is common among many „hodže“-healers, and dervishes like Enver Imamović.

At the end of this chapter, it is worth of mentioning that this kind of treatment in Bosnia, is not only practiced by stravarke, but also by hijab women. Their treatment methods are alomst identical to the practice of stravarke, with the remark that individual hijab women have a richer knowledge and therefore, can be very successful in their work.

One of them, who wanted to remain completely anonymous, trusted me with the secret of successful healing:

- You have to send many prayers to dear Allah and enjoy it completely, sometimes the tears will flow down your face, because you completely surrender yourself to it. Untill you come to such a state, to enjoy yourself so much in what you do, whether it is a „salivanje strahe“, neutralizing the influence of evil eyes, treating a stomach, or anything else, it will never be a complete success. You have to surender to prayer and hard work, nothing good can be done in a hurry. Everything needs to be done slowly and thoroughly, and with God's help it will be good!.
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Fighting the evil

Without any doubt, the person dealing with the ritual of melting the lead must have a safe hand, so that the person would not pour the hot lead on a part of the patient's body, and thus causing him physical injuries. Apart from the possibility of external injuries, there are also those hidden dangers that can be considered as very unpleasant side effects of dealing with this kind of folk medicine.

While eliminating the negative energy from the patient, the stravaruša is exposed to direct danger, as negative energy se „catches“" and "paste" during that time. Signs of such an effect are the appearance of uncontrolled yawning, sometimes accompanied by eye tearing. Therefore, as soon as the patient leaves her house, she needs to submit herself to the treatment of the “cleansing” which she usually performs, in the simplest variant, by removing all the clothes from her, and pull the metal key through every piece of her clothing that she wore.

Others, however, have the habit of grabbing the edges of thir skirts or dresses with their hands, and shaking them, literally shaking, saying a special exorcist formula, or in a circle carrying a burning match around their clothes.

In case that the stravarka is not able to solve the accumulated negative energy, it is claimed, that she can get sick from what she was trying to heal on others. The first symptoms are: chest tightness, heart problems (arrhythmia), severe breathing, permanent headaches, insomnia, hallucinations, etc.

In the book "Zapisi i Hamajlije" (Ahmed Bosnić, Arka Press, Sarajevo, 1997), the author, in conversation with probably the most famous Bosnian hafiz, Esad M.Čančara, who is a very good connoisseur of the spiritual world, he mentioned in one part of the interview, the ritual of the "saljevanje strahe.“ He believes that the ritual procedure of pouring the melted lead in a bowl of water, literally „bombarding that spiritual being in the human body, and negatively affection the whole organism.“ The ritual is considered successfully completed only if the lead is shred into many pieces, as this means „ that the evil spirit is scattered. He no longer has a spine, he can no longer be assembled, he is ruined for all time. Destroyed!

However, the respected hafiz notes that, due to the described dramatic epilogue of those who engage in this exorcist ritual, they must be extremely moral persons, clean souls and bodies „ in order to deal with this kind of work and remain healthy.“ Otherwise, he thinks that they will be left to become victims of the same Jinns, or become obsessed.

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Mystical aspects of the ritual

While the izun or permission to engage in spiritual work is an intimate experience of the Bosnian shaman, about which the environment knows very little or nothing, their lucky hand („sevapli or nafakali ruka“) is a kind of trademar and the best recommendation.

A person dealing with folk medicine, such as "želudičarki", "bajarki" or "stravarki" (sometimes all this knowledge is contained in the work of one person) should have a lucky hand, so that the healing effort would have a positive result. On this basis, a saying was made "k'o rukom odnešeno", when it comes to healing from a disease or the elimination of evil. For example, one woman tells the other woman what to do in order to stop the headache :„My dear, just take this, drink it, and the headache will be gone „ k'o rukom odnešena!“.

A more detailed analysis leads to the conclusion that such persons are actually with exceptional energy potential, whose gratitude and positive energy is used to help others. On the way to confirming this, I recalled one sentence, which was said to me in late 2008 by the stravarka Bilka from Stijena (Cazin), saying that ever since she knows for herself as if she was “nafakali”, (lucky) luck was coming from the earth and falling from the sky down on her. A very good association would be to say that stravaruša with the “lucky hand” is identical to a bioenergetic, who has a high potential of bioenergy in himself.

Some details related to the ritual with lead are truly magical, mystic and breathtaking. Talking to Ms. Safia, stravarka from Podzvizda (Velika Kladuša) 7-8 years ago, I discovered that sometimes lead from the spoon just disappears when melting in the fire. Simply - it evaporates, it’s gone ?!

-At first, I thought that the spoon accidentally, with my carelessness, overturned and poured the lead into the ashes, but as much as I tried to find it in the ashes - there was nothing there? Then a voice in my sleep told me that I shouldn’t worry about it, because an angel took the lead. This then turned out to be a reliable sign that, to whom I will perform the ritual, he will be better and healed. Sometimes only half of the lead disappears, and sometimes everything," she concluded with a smile.

In addition to this extremely harmless situation, there are also those less favorable that obviously come from the opposing side. As she entrusted me in a further conversation, the melted lead can allegedly, lit up in a spoon, which is an act of the evil demonstrating its power and strength. Safija says that she is not afraid of it, and she understands it like this :"Fire means that this person was a victim of a black magic, made for quarrel and discord, that I then and extinguish and thus neutralise.

But not everything is always so simple, the angry Jinns are resisting, they do not want to surrender without fighting, they sometimes extinguish the fire in the stove and also can attack the patient and stravarka through the lead. The melted lead in contact with the surface of the water bursts into pieces, in smaller and larger pieces, trying to hit the face and especially the eyes.

Therefore, the patient, as a measure of protection and caution, must be covered on the head with a red cloth. For the purpose of self-defense against the flares of evil, Safija placed a piece of wood (tisovina) in her headband, covered with a scarf, it is a well-known method of sending evil spirits away.

She told me another interesting thing; in her neighborhood lives an old woman who was once engaged in black magic for money. Whenever she was in contact with her while she was doing the lead ritual or praying with a bowl of water, some unexplained feeling was making her leave the house. As a real Zodiac Aries I am interested in a lot, but I only ask her one question: “ -Will the one who makes the black magic get the well-deserved punishment when she is taken off from the victim?" She replies affirmatively. "He will not die of it, she says, but indeed, he will feel great pain and restlessness!”.

Perhaps one of the most credible indicators that the lead ritual is under the direction of a higher force, is a convincing belief that the "straha", or the healing process can be recived by the patient – after which he heals – but can also be rejected, and therefore not helpeful. The old rule is that the lead ritual will not be of any help if the stravaruša tells the patient how much money she needs for her efforts.
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How is the ritual helpful?

According to a lot of stravarki with whom I had the opportunity to converse, a clear indicator that someone has fear inside them, in other words, their phobia or evil had awoken in their psyche, is if they dream of a horse attacking them or any other animal. This warning must not be ignored under any circumstance and an expert should be called to aid with the exorcism. Also, women who get excited very easily and tend to breakdown and cry as well as children who twitch in their sleep and complain about pain underneath their ribs should practice the ritual with lead in order for the problems to go away.

Even though each stravaruša has it's own individual opinion about the reach of this ritual, majority of them agree that it helps with the following hardships:

Black magic
Demon attacks/possessions
Fear
Evil eyes
Anxiety
Difficult breathing/chest pain
Inexplicable pain
Pain in the arms and legs
Sharp pain around the heart
Skin diseases
Lack of apetite
Impotence on a psychic level
Sudden appearance of strife in marriage

In the addition to the aforementioned, the ritual also treats „vilenine“- psychological anomie, (insanity), stuttering that is present among young children caused by fear, if a student cannot pass the school year, when it comes to passing exams, if someone has black magic casted upon them for permanent failure in all areas of life, or if a young person fails to get married.

BOSNIAN  RITUAL  WITH  THE LEAD - SALIJEVANJE STRAHE Fatka_11

Fatka Hasanovic who comes from Banovici, one of the oldest recorded stravarki in Bosnia and Herzegovina, stated that she treats certain diseases which are caused by the negative effects of evil spirits with prayers and salijevanjem olova. “Smolanice“, “sapunice“, “lišajevi“, “čirevi“, “uroci“, “našice“, “krajčica“, fear, female infertility. Her well-known youtube statement: At eight o'clock, wash your clothes and at three o'clock in the afternoon it should be dry!, - is a very good example of folk ideas that have been passed on in the oral form for centuries as a way of living in harmony with nature.

BOSNIAN  RITUAL  WITH  THE LEAD - SALIJEVANJE STRAHE Fatka10

Fatka warns that you should never leave your washed laundry to dry overnight because, according to her, if you do that, and only if the laundry is wet, darkness will impregnate it (clothes), and it will mix and enter the rest of the wardrobe and then finally Jinn's and the devil will enter the person wearing the clothes. According to the testimony of a cute and charming old lady a direct meeting with the supernatural beings is called “našice“, which is very similar to the term “mašice“. The negative effects of “našice“ on an individual is demonstrated through the established practice. The person being targeted will suddenly awake from sleep, always before midnight, completely dazed and confused and after that the person will have troubles with insomnia, the appearance of unexplained fear, etc.

Despite the fact that „salijevanje strahe“ is recommended every three months or at least once a year for every individual, for preventive purposes, so that the fear of problems and future wouldn't instill into the consciousness of the person, there are certain categories where this ritual is avoided or banned.

The old Bosniak women warn that the ritual should not be performed on pregnant women, because of the sudden shock upon firing the lead they might get scared and miscarry, and also it should not be performed on young children who have yet learned to speak. To them it is exclusively prescribed to quench coals in a bowl of water in order to get rid of spells and fears. To children who are old enough to walk and talk, traditionally, melted lead is poured over some piece of clothing like pajamas.To those older than twelve the same rituals for adults could be practiced.

If a child fears something, wakes up suddenly from sleep, nervously rolls their eyes, loses apetite, is pale and dejected, cries all the time, it is assumed that the child has been affected by something negative, if the treatment isn't done on time, a great fear can awake inside them.

Guided by this knowledge and curiosity stravaruša at the very begining of the treatment takes a piece of lead, puts it on a spoon and then onto fire and says in a low voice:

I am the one who decided to melt the lead,
know fear and destroy fear
or discover some other cause
what troubles this child?


In Velika Kladuša, the ritual with lead intended for children is traditionally called “salivanje zrna“, because for this type of ritual a grain of lead that was fired from a rifle was used. In the absence of the aforementioned stravaruša would take a couple of pieces of lead and pull them through a rifle pipe, this would come to terms of the precondition for the exorcism. While the pieces of led are melting on the spoon above the fire stravaruša would utter the prayer of Fatiha and Ihlas above the bowl of water and while pouring the melted lead with a determined voice she would say:

Begone fear,
father's tool chases you away!


(here it alludes to the father's penis as a powerful apotropejon).

After collecting the pieces of lead from the bottom of the bowl and interpreting what she sees in their forms, stravarka would put them back on the spoon and on live coal or ember. On this occasion, for the second treatment, she would switch the order of the prayers so this time she would pray to Ihlas first and then followed by Fatiha. Third and final time she would pray like she did in the first treatment. While the lead, thrown for the third time, is laying on the bottom of the bowl stravarka would not take it out until she puts out three coals with water while chanting:

Euzubilahi mineššejtanir...

Then she would wipe the baby's forehead with her damp fingers and with her wet palms she would run across the baby's arms and legs and the rest she would take outside and spill on some tree or a dog. The bowl would be turned upside, layed on the ground and left overnight in order for evil not to come back inside the child.

It is informative to mention that the ritual can be performed on several different way, it is not necessary for the patient to be present. According to stravarka Safija, the ritual can be performed just by stating the name of the patient, using their picture or an article of clothing.
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For health and happiness!


The ritual for the adults was performed in a slightly different way, it had a lot more content. Even though tap water could be used it was preferred to use water gathered from one or even three water sources. According to her the patient or someone from the family will go at dusk. When the person arrives at the water source the patient, or someone else who came to speak for him, will say: I salute you water and your guardians!, and before they pour in some water they will also say: Good evening, holy water!

After pouring in the water into some bottle or suitable container the person must go home without looking back or saying any words. It is also advised to hide the bottle with water in order to prevent someone seeing it and weakening the magical powers of the water. The bottle of water is put next to the bed of the patient, near their head, and in the morning he or she will, right after waking up, greet the water with these words: Good morning, holy water!

During the day the patient will visit stravarušu with the bottle of water which then she will, along with a couple of pieces of lead, pull through a crown. Then she will start to chant prayers and formulas for the exorcism.

At the very beginning she will say:

Dear God, I pray above this water and melt this lead for __(name of the patient)
so that with your power and help I free him from evil and sickness!


In case of the patient being possessed by an evil spirit or is under the influence of magic, stravaruša will pour lead nine times while praying bit by bit, from chapter to chapter, the prayer Yasin. In some milder cases, such as the case of fear not being present for a long time in a man caused by evil eyes, it is enough to chant a shorter prayer an uneven amount of times. They are always chanted with a whisper in the original Arab language because, according to Bosnian shamans, that is the holy language.

The formulas for exorcism that stravaruše repeat during the ritual are no less interesting. While putting a spoon filled with lead over a flame, they would in a quiet voice speak the well known chant (basma) across all of Bosnia and Herzegovina:


Dear Hazrat Fatima,
my dear mother,
tell you father Mohammed
that the patient needs help
day and night!



Immediately following that with a whisper they would chant the magic formula which is actually a mixture of words from the prayer Ihlas and some other prayes of an unknown origin:

Ehum vehum
ćuli lehum,
ćuli sali
salallahu kulhuvelahu.


Right after that come the prayers from Quran, the shorter and more well-known ones such as Fatiha, Ihlas, Falak i Nas. In the end stravarka chants the formula which decreases and negates the powers evil:

From nine spellbound eyes
and nine diseases on Melina
(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 Melina there is no longer
any magical attacks,
no more spellbound eyes,
no more disease,
no more fear,
with my oath and god's will!
Veledalin amin.


Of course this is just one of the iterations of what is chanted through a whisper, it all depends on the stravarka. Likewise, while pouring liquid lead into a bowl of water each and every one of them chants a different formula similar to this one with the emphasized tone on the exorcism:

Be gone, fear,
from the bones under the skin,
from the skin onto the hair,
from the hair into the black sea!


Here we stumble upon many different version. These are some of them:

On health and happiness!

or

In the hill let fear go away and health,
in the heart, happiness and progress!


Usually in this moment stravaruša would look through the window in the direction of some large hill or the sky, in order to bring success to the ritual with that gesture. I think this is no accidental act, especially because in both exorcism formulas we spot the words happiness and health, which call upon the divine force of healing. Now the deceased stravarka Ajša from Drmaljeva (Velika Kladuša) revealed to me that at the end of the ritual when the water from the bowl is transfered to a bottle a prayer Rahman is chanted above it and the prayer Fatiha follows right after which is known as a universal duas. At the end of everything she would add the following prayer:

Dear God, spare some for this patient from two medicaments, one whichever it be.
Dear God, I beg you many times. Hear these prayers, amin, amin, amin!


The patient would wash their face with that water for three mornings and take a bath in a tub or a resort with the rest of it. He would collect the filthy water in a container and pour it out in the nearest river or crossing while chanting:

May this fear separate
itself from me
and go far away;
where dogs don't bark,
cats don't meow,
roosters don't crow.
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