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 CULT OF THE MOTHER GODDESS IN BOSNIA

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PostSubject: CULT OF THE MOTHER GODDESS IN BOSNIA   Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:27 am

The "grand" mother Tiamat



One of the oldest myths relating to the genesis is the one recorded with cuneiform on clay tablets from the ancient Sumerian civilization. According to a legend a large water abyss (Apsu) was always present and in it lived daemons and gods, until the intervention of the two deities Anshar and Kishar the grand gods of Babylon were created, among others Anu, Bal and Ea which started the creation of the world as we know it today. Apsu, god of chaos, along with goddess Tiamat "the mother of everything", was strictly opposed to this creative endeavour. Even though Tiamat is considered to be a personification of evil the title of mother is not taken away from her which creates a confusion when it comes to the understanding of this myth. Tiamat is also the guardian of the Tablet of destiny, which additionally confirms that she was a being of great power and position. It is believed that she was a hermaphrodite or a being with two bodies, since legends claimed that she had her male part called Kingu. Thanks to such a specific state Tiamat gave birth to numerous demons' out of which an army against the gods of creation was established. But, despite that Tiamat was defeated by Marduk who created the firmament and the world ocean by gutting her body, while they created humans out of her male part i.e. its blood.
In this myth which is based on the creative intervention of primordial gods, it is easily concluded that the creation of the world and humans from the body of Tiamat and its male counterpart has taken a central place. Tiamat - "the mother of everything" as a symbol that united the male and female principles inside it, represents a universal symbol of genesis and fertility. Without her sacrifice nothing would exist and she deservedly holds the title of "mother of everything". With this myth the human civilization received its first official name for the "grand" mother, the same one which in other cultures is known as Astarta, Izida, Demetra.
The cult of the Grand Mother (Magna Mater) according to the archaeological evidence dates from the beginning of human civilization and as such it became the first mass religious movement on earth. The earliest depictions of the goddess date from the Stone Age where it was depicted on the walls of the caves through symbols of a shield or a triangle, which represents her vagina according to the archaeologists. From that period we also have numerous stone and clay figures of the Grand Mother depicted as a large woman with big breasts and belly as well as pronounced hips.
A lot of religious historians agree the thesis that her cult of fertility probably arose somewhere on the territory of today's Syria, Turkey and Iraq from where it spread throughout the entire Mediterranean. It certainly is supported by an interesting find in southern Anatolia where the archaeologists found numerous miniature statues which depicted the goddess in three life stages: girl or virgin, mother i.e. a woman giving birth to a child or a bull and old lady. In Bosnia and Herzegovina there are several important archaeological localities where traces of Neolithic villages were found as well as life inside them, such as the locality Lug in the outskirts of Goražde where archaeologists, among others, found a couple of sculptures made out of baked clay for which it is believed that they manifest the cult of Grand Mother.
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PostSubject: Re: CULT OF THE MOTHER GODDESS IN BOSNIA   Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:28 am

While in the ancient age of paganism the cult of fertility was celebrated, in monotheism large changes occurred and everything that belonged to paganism was demonised. The cult of Grand Mother was targeted specifically which can be seen through the monotheistic dogma where the patriarchal principal was emphasized according to which the only deity was a male figure. But, when we analyse Islam and Christianity in detail we come to a conclusion that even modern monotheism didn't succeed in its intent to repress the cult of fertility and the belief in Grand Mother.
While in Christianity the idea that god is male is being constantly imposed (i.e. the father), in Islam god has no sexual characteristics. The holy ghost would be the closest thing to what the Grand Mother represented but all sexual characteristics were taken away from it and that in the beginning ensured its intangibility. Even though virgin Marry in later stages became all that which was represented by the Grand Mother, like the Egyptian Izida, she was quite cleverly "pushed" out of genesis and those first important details of religious doctrine. In such an ingenious way her influence was again marginalised to such an extent that she cannot usurp the dominant male principle. But, while the first religion regards Satan as a male, the second one negates it and actually in him sees a female, but again through a masked role of androgyny since here to the dreadful thought that a female principle could represent divinity wanted to be marginalized, and even if it was in the end negative.
Namely, in the Islamic tradition, through various hadith we can find Tiamat in the form of Iblis (Satan) for whom it was believed to be androgynous, a being able to reproduce itself. According to what is presented by hadith, Iblis is a being which is very fertile which causes him (her) to lay three thousand eggs each day out of which demons hatch. If we now disregard the classical monotheistic hatred towards women moulded through some kind of totally ambiguous being, which is a divine opposition, we cannot disregard fertility and the power of reproduction of that being, basically a copy of the key elements from the ancient cult of the Grand Mother. Another fact which is of the utmost importance in illuminating the way to the Grand Mother is contained in the fact that the throne of Iblis, the ruler of dark, is located on an island in the middle of the sea. The element of water which is inseparable from the Grand Mother and the creation of the world and universe is the natural habitat of the being that produces life every day.
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PostSubject: Re: CULT OF THE MOTHER GODDESS IN BOSNIA   Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:29 am

Cult of fertility among the Illyrians

First known inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina were Illyrians, an ancient nation of Indo-European descent, whose presence in our country was confirmed in the 2nd century BC. Written records about them were made by the Greeks and Romans, who lauded the Illyrians warlike nature. Thanks to relatively long geographical isolation the Illyrians managed to preserve their religious tradition which under dominant roman presence and similarity of pagan traditions slowly started to merge with the Roman religion. Such a sequence of events is completely predictable mostly because the Illyrian people didn't build large monuments, inscriptions and temples to gods like the Romans, whose deities were literally omnipresent thanks to their sculptures and holly places. Illyrian temples were usually modest buildings; or they were incorporated with the natural surrounding such as the temple (chapel) of Bindu, god of streams, the most important deity Japod, tribes which inhabited north-western part of Bosnia, especially the part where Bihać is located today, the name itself has some similarity with Bindu.
When we look at the religious tradition of the Illyrians today we cannot disregard Greek, Roman and Celtic influences since these three cultures had a smaller and larger influence in the religious thought and practice. Since the 4th century BC, when the barbarian tribes started to threaten the borders of the Roman empire, until the appearance of Avars and Slavs at the beginning of 7th century, that socio-religious influence entered its final phase and determined the future of the Bosnian folk which is best illustrated by the example of the Bogomil movement. Resistance which the Bosnian people showed towards the church can be equated with the Illyrian rebellion against the Romans or the more recent resistance against the aggression on our country from Serbia, Montenegro and Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina; where the Bosniaks, both militarily overpowered and outnumbered showed superhuman strength and fighting spirit which they inherited from their Illyrian forefathers.
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PostSubject: Re: CULT OF THE MOTHER GODDESS IN BOSNIA   Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:29 am

Sun, moon and earth

On a wider territory of the Illyrians the cult of fertility existed, which was based on the dominant female principle of creation i.e. glorification of the Grand Mother. In close correlation with it, through various elements, there were solar and lunar cults, so called holy trinity which consisted of one male and two female deities - sun god on one side and goddess of earth and moon on the other side. The reason for that is not random which is confirmed by scientific studies according to which one man is required to impregnate hundreds of women. The female was always the more dominant bearer of fertility and life. According to medical data, statistically more male children are born than female, but the mortality rate is higher among male new-born's. In a similar manner, the percentage of mortality among mature men is higher as a result of various risk related situations which men are exposed to because of an increased hormonal activity and adrenaline rush. If we add to this the frequent wars across our planet we come to a conclusion that even nature itself made an effort to ensure a larger percentage of female population.

As we already pointed out, all three cults among the Illyrians were inseparable from each other and that's why the cult of the Grand Mother shouldn't be specifically analysed through mythology and belief tied to female symbology like the classic ones - earth, wheat, water, Moon, since without its symbiosis with the male, usually ithyphallic deity, no reproduction is possible which we can see in the myth of Tiamat and King. Even though the male role in the process of fertilization is far smaller in comparison to the cycle of pregnancy, growth of the seed and birth, it can't be minimised since it is of crucial importance which is confirmed by folk belief which states "the male grants the child strength to grow and exit the mother's womb". The term "strength" has a double meaning and behind it one can find folk meaning for sperm, but anyway, it is easily compared with the sun under whose light and warmth the entire nature grows. That the sun has kept its fatherly epithet among the folk can be seen by a belief which claims that "sun wouldn't shine in the sky if there were no orphans".
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PostSubject: Re: CULT OF THE MOTHER GODDESS IN BOSNIA   Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:30 am

Snake - basis of the cult of fertility

The cult of the snake, which was dominant in the entire religious and social concept of our forefathers, represents the core of the cult of fertility for the most part because of the phallus shape of the snake. The Illyrians showed their first forefather as a suckling child wrapped by a snake which offers the child wisdom and magical power, so that he can turn into a snake once he dies. Besides being a totem symbol the snake represented to the Illyrians the largest deity whose spirit permeates the whole of nature and universe. Its role in the cult of the Grand Mother is especially important. Namely, the snake, or in its heavenly form a dragon, is a classic symbol of fertility. In the Bosnian tradition the connection of the snake and the dragon can be tied to the personification of the vegetative cycle which is analogous to the one from the Greco-Roman mythology. The dragon in fact makes a circular journey, he comes out of the water, flies and passes to another location where he enters a pit, hole, disappears inside the earth and then reappears after some time.
The snake has its dualistic nature, it can represent the principle of good but also of evil, which makes it a universal symbol. Also, after her winter sleep the snake sheds its skin which results in the belief that it is a symbol of resurrection and new life. That's why it is present in many legends and folk stories which clearly reflect its power of evil but also of good. According to an ancient legend a long time ago there were three suns in the sky. On one occasion the big dragon swallowed two suns and the third one was saved by a swallow which took it high up in the sky.
Analysing other folk legends the connection between a snake and swallow with the sun cult is obvious, the sun represented a symbol of light and life. The life cycle of these animals is directly tied to the sun, namely, both animals change their life cycle once winter coms and when sun rays recede; the swallow flies south, to warmer areas where she stays until spring, and the snake recedes into the earth for deep hibernation. The return of swallows in spring and the emergence of snakes are considered to be real indicators of spring and the beginning of the period of fertility.

According to legends the swallow struck the snake on its tongue and split it into two, the snake bit the swallow on its tail and also split it into two. The background meaning of both these legends is hidden in the horns, the symbol of fertility, which can be identified in the form of a snakes tongue or swallows tail. Besides that, the snake and the swallow have been seen as the protectors of households since the old ages and that's why they are tabooed, under no circumstances can you destroy a swallow's nest or kill a snake which lives close to a house. They guarantee luck and fertility to each household to which they are connected to.
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PostSubject: Re: CULT OF THE MOTHER GODDESS IN BOSNIA   Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:30 am

Giving birth in nature

Traditional connection of Illyrians with the cult of fertility and the Grand Mother is especially apparent in the process of giving birth in nature, without help of the other person. The pregnant woman was left to her own resources and the help of the goddess whose attention she gained through nature. Dr. Enver Imamović writes in an informative and interesting way in the History of the Bosnian army: "Most old writers describe the Illyrians as brave and resourceful and that seldom women stood behind them in battles. For them, on the other hand, they used to say that they had unusually easy births. When they would feel labour, they would go to a nearby grove and they would give birth there by themselves. They would then bring the child into the village and they would say to their fellow members that they found the child in the woods, and all would be amazed by that fact.
The same trend was present among the Bosnian women throughout the ages who usually gave birth in fields, groves or some ancillary building; it was very common for a woman coming home from a field to carry a baby in her other hand while also carrying a sheaf of wheat or corn. They also had a custom like their forefathers to say that they found a child in the garden, grove or some field.
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PostSubject: Re: CULT OF THE MOTHER GODDESS IN BOSNIA   Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:31 am

Bogomil legend about conception and birth

In the Bogomil story about Did Adže, which is found at the north-western part of BiH, the origin of the human species is described in a rather interesting way. The legend contains all necessary elements which allude to disguised performance of love, sexual act, defloration, dwelling underground (inside a womb) and birth itself.
The story spoke about an old man with three sons. The father would go with his sons every day to the field, but would leave one of them behind to make lunch for all of them. The oldest and the middle son had the same thing happen, after they prepared lunch, Did Adže would arrive riding a rooster and he would take their food away. On the third day the youngest son stayed behind, who being aware of past events, came up with an idea on how to fool Did Adže and keep the meal. Fooling Did Adže to hold a bent branch for him the young man quickly tucked the beard of Did Adže into the split of the tree and trapped him.
Beard as the symbol of manhood but also sexual maturity is perfectly treated in the scene when the beards get stuck in the split of the tree which alludes to the ability of penetration. Outsmarting Adža the young man passed the test of manhood, he confirmed his sexual maturity, and with that he gained the ability to have sexual intercourse. This is alluded to by the rest of the story where Did Adže in return for freeing him offers him information about a place with a well in which a dragon dwells. That monster which terrorizes local citizens receives an offering in the form of a virgin so he can open the flood gates and ensure fertility to the land.
Dragon which dwells in the dark depth of the well symbolizes classic fear of loss of virginity which is present in conservative areas, where one doesn't talk about it nor is a daughter briefed about it by her mother. Defloration with which the girl-virgin becomes a woman i.e. a future mother is shrouded in various taboos and archetypal symbols. A dragon searching for a victim, or better to say a victim in flesh and blood, is not randomly chosen if we analyse Bosnian mythology a bit deeper. Namely, according to mythology a dragon can impregnate a woman, but also a cow, and in such a manner cause the birth of a snijet, which is among the Bosnian folk regarded as a baby dragon. The same legend claims that there are no females among the dragons and in order to ensure their survival they are forced to have intercourse with humans, but also certain animals, which overwhelmingly reminiscent of the story from the Old Testament about the fallen angels, which is again a processed story from the old myths of the pagan culture.
In the Romanian mythology the dragon is also represented as a lustful and skilful lover, shaped in the mythological figure called Zbubirol, he possesses pronounced magnetism and if we analyse it further we can see that he without a doubt represents first of all healthy sexuality free of all false morals but also fertility. In a sense legends about dragons can be compared with another symbol of unrestrained sex and fertility, ancient Pan, who according to legends had sexual intercourse with both humans and animals.


In the continuation of the Bogomil legend it is said that the young man is lowered into the well by his two brothers using a spruce basket, where he locates the girl. After the fight and perforation of the dragon with the sword the blood is spilt and the girl is saved. The young man places the girl inside the basket and gives his brothers a sign to pull her out, which they do, but blinded by her beauty, they decide to cover the well with branches and stones in order to prevent their brother to get out. This starts the young man's odyssey through the underworld where thanks to a good deed he acquires the affection of a large eagle (symbol of a soul) by saving his chicks from a snake.
It is of particular importance to mention that this part of the Bogomil story has a lot of similarities with the Nordic myth about the large ash tree which represents the centre of the world. Its roots are located in the underworld, and its crown in the sky where the gods dwell. Between the roots and the crown the world of men is located. A squirrel constantly travels up and down the tree transferring news between the eagle, located on the crown and the snake, located in the root.
In the rest of the Bogomil story we learn that the eagle out of gratitude to the young man offered to help him get out of the underworld. But there too we can see interesting allegories describing birth. Namely, the eagle asks from our hero 40 lambs which he will need to maintain his strength during the trip out of the underworld. Why 40, is best explained by the fact that pregnancy lasts for 40 weeks or 280 days. When the young man managed to find all of the lambs he begins his long gruelling journey on the giant eagles back towards the opening through which he will pass into the world of men. At the end of the journey the story turns into a drama since the hero realizes that he has thrown the last lamb into the eagle's beak. Fearing that the bird will not have enough strength to exit the underground the young man decided to undertake a desperate action - he cut his own leg off (or umbilical cord) and threw it into the eagle's beak. He then fainted from the pain and he woke up lying on a meadow, in the world of men.
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PostSubject: Re: CULT OF THE MOTHER GODDESS IN BOSNIA   Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:32 am

Wheat - the symbol of the Grand Mother

During the Ottoman occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the massive conversion of Bogomils to Islam not much was done to preserve the ancient identity of the Bosnian people, at least in the segment that relates to the cult of the Grand Mother. The ancient religion of nature finds its place in a completely non- Islamic tradition about fairies, various demonic creatures, magical rituals of healing, fertility preservation and invoking prosperity. The conversion from one religious doctrine to another is never complete since Monotheism is a modern version of Dualism which is the successor of even older pagan systems. That is why the Turkish invaders nurtured many other archaic beliefs besides Islam, especially because of the dominant influence of neighbouring Iran and Syria.


Among the Bosniaks of that time, which converted to Islam and to belief in one God which is interwoven with pagan oral tradition on which it is based, and it is particularly manifested through folk poetry where they describe encounters of faeries, ancient forces of nature, and Bosniak heroes like Mujo Hrnjica. An amulet made out of nine grains of wheat which according to folk tradition Mujo Hrnjica carried with him fully corresponds with the old Bosnian cult of faeries, especially the Mountain fairy, which is a socially accepted predecessor of the ancient cult of the Grand Mother. The tradition itself represents the Mountain fairy in the role of a mother since she willingly "adopts" two boys, Mujo and Halil, regardless of the fact that their biological mother is still alive and present. The fairy shows maternal feelings and care which is particularly demonstrated in that part of the legend where she uses her breast milk to feed Mujo, giving him a part of her magical powers on purpose and making a half-mythical creature out of him. Certain legends claim that the amulet with nine grains of wheat were carried by Mujo since he was told to do so by the mountain fairy which additionally supports the thesis of direct connection of the Mountain fairy with the Grand Mother, the ancient goddess of the Illyrian tribes, to which all ancient cultures dedicated wheat as a cult mark. Herodotus in one of his descriptions of the Illyrians mentions that Illyrian women bring wheat straw as a sacrifice to one of their goddesses. The same ritual was done by the Celts towards their goddess Brigid.

When we analyse the belief about wheat throughout the past we will notice that it is also pronounced among the Bosnian people. Wheat was considered a sanctity since it stems from heaven just like the bees and sheep. Bread, milk and honey as three products of these holly gifts constitute the staple of human diet but also offering to gods. Tradition moulded in a distinct Bosnian prophecy speaks about the disappearance of these three heavenly gifts before judgement day. That the belief in the prophylactic power of the seed of wheat is not only a thing of the past is evident by the following examples. During WWII and enemy shelling the livestock was usually killed, mostly sheep's grazing, which represented a great loss during the scarce wartime period. According to the saying of Fata Bajrić from Bihać her grandfather placed three seeds of wheat on each sheep as magical protection and miraculously none of the sheep's got hurt which was not the case for his neighbour's sheep's.
During the last aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina undertaken by Serbia and Montenegro (1992-1995) many defenders of our country had a small bundle sown in by their mothers in their uniforms which contained nine kernels of wheat wanting to protect them from enemies. Acting just like the Mountain faery acted towards her "adopted" son Mujo Hrnjica again demonstrated a deep connection of the Bosnian people with their ancient roots. In both cases it is noticeable that the ancient belief in the power of wheat among the Bosnian people is activated in especially dire situations or better to say during war times.

Women were, which is quite logical, always more connected with the Grand Mother since the element of that cult can be found in numerous female love formulas but also those intended for healing. Help during marriage and healing are among the main features of power of the Grand Mother which is confirmed by the following basma:
Hey N. all the girls, women and widows
are crows, magpies and foxes,
and only I am a Mountain faery to you.".

During a healing ritual of the stomach the stravarka utters the following: "I'm preparing this medicine in the name of the Mountain faery, sister, mother.".
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PostSubject: Re: CULT OF THE MOTHER GODDESS IN BOSNIA   Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:34 am

Doorstep - the altar of the Grand Mother

It is known that people during the Palaeolithic era used caves as natural shelters and places to raise a family. Exactly because of that fundamental value certain archaeologists named the caves Earth's uterus from which the human species sprung up but also the cult of the Grand Mother, which is today evident through various archaeological findings. The border between the outside world and sunlight, as well as the inside of the cave and darkness represented a holly, magical place for those living in the Palaeolithic era. Crossing over one of them could mean exposure to danger and to others protection against it. And then when the human species abandoned caves and began building houses and settlements , in the collective consciousness the religious importance of the entrance was still present, which presented a special part of the house which separated the outside world from the inside world.  

Since the Illyrian times the house, i.e. hearth and home were under the protection of the snake, Ctonic and totem animal, which presented the main segment of the cult of fertility since it connects male (sun) and female principle. The belief in the snake-protector of the house is still present today in the belief among the people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Unlike the hearth the doorstep as a symbol for entrance i.e. exit into the world of magical symbology always represented the female reproductive organ and as such it was dedicated to the goddess of life i.e. the Grand Mother. Describing certain Bosnian beliefs about the doorstep we come to very interesting data which supports the theory about its cult background and symbology about fertility. The first data that directed me towards that conclusion I have found during the analysis of the rituals of love magic, which were practiced by Bosnian women throughout the ages, and whose primary purpose was to secure love which will lead to marriage and birth. Items used in these rituals were usually placed in the immediate vicinity of the doorstep either at the beginning or end of the ritual, behind the house door, whether it was ćeremid (hollow roof tiles), broom, axe; they were also buried under the doorstep itself like the plant milogled (lat. Asarum europaeum), locks of hair, nails, dirt taken from footprints, etc. And in those rituals with separated items, such as two half of a sugar cube, the items would be fitted on the entrance door in order for the man whose love she wanted can pass between the items. As soon as he would pass between them the woman would take the two parts of the item and would put them back together. The idea that the magical ritual is undertaken in the immediate vicinity of the doorstep stems from the wish to secure intervention of the goddess herself who should use her powers to help the woman's intent to ensure that she becomes a wife and a mother.
It is no coincidence that the folk statement speaks about the foundation or three angles of the house being on the woman's back and only one on the man's, this emphasises that the home is where the woman is dominant. This statement is strangely reminiscent of the mythological belief about the earth being on the back of the bull Tur, an animal-symbol of the Syrian goddess Mother Ishtar or Astarta. The analogy between the woman and the earth is quite obvious among the Bosnian folk and it is especially stressed through the symbology of the number 40. According to belief the earth every 40 years "cleans" itself from humans through great wars or natural disasters. Pregnancy among the Bosnian folk is considered a very beneficial state for the entire organism since the woman after birth, 40 weeks after birth, cleans herself from everything bad and in such a way improves her health.

Let's, however return to the doorstep and its symbology and meaning through folklore. The bride in the north-western part of Bosnia, so called Cazinska krajina (Cazin's frontier), places her handkerchief over the doorstep and kisses it before she enters her husband's household for the first time, showing in such a manner her respect towards her new home. Then she enters the house, carrying her handkerchief, she then approaches the hearth and throws the handkerchief into the fire to symbolise that she has left bachelorhood and that she has entered the period of active fertility and reproduction. The act of bending down to kiss the doorstep should be seen as an act of showing respect towards the Grand Mother, from which she is asking for the blessing of fertility. Besides that, the bride as the future mother wants to gain favour from the goddess by this act, since the goddess should in the future help her female children realise her motherhood just like she did. This connection is evident in the rituals of love magic.  

The doorstep besides the hearth was always the holiest place inside the house which is confirmed by numerous taboos connected to it, especially the one that claims that it shouldn't be stepped on by feet since by doing that "you destroy your home". Under the term destroy the home, fertility is implied. Direct connection of the doorstep and fertility is manifested through a ban imposed on women sitting on the doorstep with the explanation that she will have "a difficult childbirth". This means that she is risking being punished with difficult childbirth by the Grand Mother because of the sacrilege that she is doing.

One is subject to the danger of ograme (attack of evil spirits), according to folk belief, if one doesn't wash oneself after an intimate act and walks over the doorstep. Analysing the presented we get a feeling that a man is not subject to any taboos after the sexual act or dangers while he is inside his home, but as soon as he goes outside he risks becoming a target of evil spiritual beings. Leaving the house and crossing the doorstep the protection of the Grand Mother disappears, the protector of fertility and family, since the human body which has remnants of vaginal secrete and sperm alarms demons, eternal enemies of mankind and new life, which has a negative effect causing spiritual and physical pain to humans.
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PostSubject: Re: CULT OF THE MOTHER GODDESS IN BOSNIA   Today at 5:19 pm

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