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 Life and death according to folk belief

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PostSubject: Life and death according to folk belief    Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:25 pm

There are nine types of mothers: the one that kills her child inside the womb (abortion), the one that gives birth and then kills the child, the one that gives birth and then abandons the child, the one that sacrifices her life during childbirth in order for the child to live, etc.

For women who have an abortion or who kill their child after child birth the folk believe that they will suffer great pains in the afterlife and one of the punishments is that she will need to eat the child that she killed every day. Even though this probably was created so that future mothers can be averted from killing their children, in a psychological sense it represents pain and remorse of the mothers that ended their pregnancy. Women were the ones who usually recounted this myth.

A child that dies during childbirth or in the first few months of its life, according to folk belief, turns into a mysterious night bird meknjača (from the Bosnian word medekati - meaning lament, mourn). Meknjača can usually be heard at night with a sound that remainds of a child cry.

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PostSubject: Soul   Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:26 pm

According to Bosnian belief the soul is located inside the human body in the shape of an apple which is identical to the modern representation of a human aura. An apple was customarily carried during visits and was given as a gift to children, or a girlfriend would give it as a gift to her boyfriend and vice versa. Therefore we come to a conclusion that an apple was a symbol of affection, love and positive emotions which is identical to a figurative understanding of the soul in folk statements such as "He's a kind person, he has a soul!"

A soul has a couple of shapes, depending on where it appears; if a witch is in question then it has a shape of a bumblebee, in vampires it is manifested in the shape of a butterfly, a soul of a small child has a shape of a black or white bird meknjača and with the others the soul is in a form of a silhouette with a see through dress.

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PostSubject: Death   Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:27 pm

In Cazin and Velika Kladuša the folk believed that after death, in the afterlife, evil people turn into swine, cows and other animals which reminds us somewhat of the Hindu belief of reincarnation. Actually the belief in vampires and bird meknjača fall into the same category and can be identified with the Hindu belief. However, the root of belief can be found in Bogomils and its dualistic teachings which are permeated with many superstitions of the Bosnian people.

It is interesting to mention a belief on how a ghost or a vampire is created. Namely, even today in Velika Kladuša a special care is taken when the dead person is being carried out of the building that the coffin doesn't hit the door frame or wall of the house. If that happens it is believed that the spirit of the deceased or the deceased himself will return to haunt the house as a vampire. When we analyse the above mentioned belief the key moment is the "awakening" of the deceased which needs to be avoided at all costs and that is the banging of the coffin on the wall or door frame. There is a similar belief about a cat. When someone died in a household with a cat, the cat would be closed off in separate rooms to avoid it crossing the deceased while he is lying somewhere in the house. Allegedly, that can transform a deceased into a vampire. In this belief the key moment is the cat's crossing over the deceased body, when the cat "harasses" the dead body or hurts it with its claws. Therefore it is easy to conclude that a person doesn't die with his/her last breath but after some days, even months. A confirmation of this claim can be found in another folk belief which suggests that inside the room where a person has died and laid, a glass of water should be placed on the same spot every night so that the ghost can drink from it. Why these beliefs even existed in the past can perhaps best be understood by analysing folk belief about the soul. Namely, according to folk belief the soul is wrapped 99 times around each human joints and obviously much time is needed for it to unwind from all of the joints and leave the dead body.
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