By Phoenix of Elder Mountain (firstname.lastname@example.org) – I am a Molfarka, Szeptucha (pronounced: Shep-too-hah) or sometimes Szeptunka, a Wind Whisperer and Shaman, so it gives me great pleasure to share and gather other wonderful information of the traditional Whispering and Shamanic Folk Healing rites from various sources and my own experiences as a Dreamer (shaman). Along with my extensive gifts, my ancestral lineages are from my families region of southeastern Poland at the Ukraine border. Most people learn shamanistic cultural ways from researchers, authors and conference circuit people who are wonderful writers and speakers but not life and soulborn initiated shamans.
I don’t really teach people to be shamans, that is impossible for real shamans, I don’t sing shaman songs because there are none, we are speaking of the shaman, not the voice of information of the one who holds a drum in their hand or the ceremonial person who gives their personal wisdom, or the sweat lodge person, or pagan ceremony leader… we are speaking of one who masters silence and has lifelong sicknesses, soul sickness and the wrath of the souls shattered apart in the tradition, to reconfigure death and put the self back together. This is to overcome in order to leave the body naturally (without shamanic plant/drug) in order to reclaimed their own shattered life over lifetimes to return their medicines from the past. And then help others and their sicknesses that effects their mind, emotional body or physical body.
Shamans are very different than Medicine people (shaman practitioners) as shamans were rare on the planet a million years ago and they are rare still rare today The root all shamans is of course a healer but the realms of that reality, goes way beyond normal, even compared to the shamans who are whisperers. My grandmothers were of the ancient shamanic lineage but they too suffered from loss of original medicines. As by birth I am closer to the dreamers, which are the black shamans of Siberia and we all have ancestors who were shamans in our lineage way back, but that doesn’t mean the goal should be shaman, it means the goal should be healing the self if one wishes to attain the origin of self.
Once the Black Madonna was “regulated” by christian religions, the Slavic and Balkan people fell asleep and forgot she was a black shaman, because religion rolled her into the ‘mother goddess’ role, when her roots and origins had nothing to do with children in general, the imprint on our soul was branded and it hurt. To undo such branding of our soul, that hurts just as much to reclaim and remember who we are. The same process of corruption had occurred with Baba Jaga, the grandmother lineage of the winter goddess, who was a much more archaic shaman figure but now imprisoned in the fairy-tales of life. For those who wish to enter deeper into baba jaga here is an article you may wish to read: https://eldermountaindreaming.com/2015/08/23/baba-yaga-the-black-shaman/
Carpathian Shamanism, although given different names explained here, is a long ancestral lineage where Slovak, Poland and Ukraine meet. The root of the Whisperer as a shaman (not witch). Witch and Shaman really only have a few things in common but are very different, the first difference is paganism, the root of witches if a Dionysus cult foundation and that arrived late on the time-line (500 bce) compared to shamans in the non-pagan cultures such as shamans and dreamers. There maybe some similarities in objects or tools, but at the root its not the same. Witch was a derogatory term given to women, all women (shamans, witches, herbalists, midwives, seers, etc) by Christian religious men all over the world.
Mol’farka (and Molfars) are similar to Whisperer which is a folk healer (medicine-healer) and both are still from the past or modern times, all shamans are healers regardless of ancient and modern corruptions of descriptions. Since i have a blending of both (Poland-Ukraine border ancestors), one which switched borders back and forth over the eras, my ancestral heritage is shaman, not witch, and is why whisperers and molfars are connected to this lineage but most are not the depth of it because the era before the sixties did not support the awakenings. They are not exactly the same, but the root is connected through shamanism.
Mol’farka (Molfar) can whisper for the sick all the way to the more shamanic ends of whispering in ceremonial rights of what I can do, called Wind Whisperer, I can slay demons, bind them and send them back to the underworld with consciousness in waking or night dreaming. The traditions of shamans in the Slavic traditions have come from an ancient past of the Boyko (Бойко) which is a Polish and Ukrainian ethnographic group located in the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine and Poland who have hidden in small villages women and men who still practice their folk traditions of shamanism. Although most whisperers, whats left of shamanism is closer to the Eastern Poles.
They inhabit the central and the western half of the Carpathians in Ukraine across such regions as the southern Lviv Oblast (Skole, Turka, Drohobych, Sambir and Stary Sambir raions), western Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast (Dolyna and Rozhniativ) and parts of the northeastern Zakarpattia oblast (Mizhhiria), as well as the adjacent areas of southeast Poland and northeast Slovakia.
Parts of Southern Poland at the Ukraine border at one time were Ukrainian lands, and when the lands were divided, some far southern groups of Polish people have Ukrainian ancestral lineages like myself. The term “Ukrainian” replaced the term “Ruthenian” in Eastern Ukraine and became more common among Western Ruthenians/Ukrainians, including Boykos, as well. The name, “Boyko” is thought by some to originate in a pattern of speech, specifically the uses of the affirmative exclamation “bo-ye!”, meaning the only or because it is so.
On the grounds forming Boyko, there are Boykos with Lemkos and Hutsuls in an area that was known as White Croatia and with their dialect, language, folk costumes are almost equal with Dinaric Croatian and it is to be considered as Croatian ethnic group.
To the south or southwest live the Lemkos and to east or southeast live the Hutsuls, the two other highlander ethnic and more indigenous Ukraine people. In regards to both the corruption of ancient cultures from the kingdoms of religious military and pagan traditions, who like the religious took on a more male leadership, despite their destruction it had on the earlier pre-12th century indigenous people. The Molfarka (women) and Molfar (men) (мольфа́р) still exists of course but as I stated, all shamans are rare even in larger populated areas.
A Molfar is a lighter version of shaman, more like a medicine woman or medicine man, which are just called Carpathian Folk Healer. Most Slavs and Balkans call their gifted shamans Folk Healers and the terms can really be thought of as a lesser shaman, even the ones who are called Witch healers. In the more indigenous traditions of the Hutsul cultures or Rusyns etc., they still call themselves folk healers even if they have shaman tendencies. When religions arrived, the shaman name was eventually called witches or folk healer, because most healer shamans were women. That is why the traditions were lost and only left in the smaller Slav and Balkan indigenous villages.
Gifted healing abilities which tend to focus more on faith, combined with nature are much more powerful. This is what the whisperers and folk healers are. When you add personal healing and abilities of seership and herbalist gifts, and the inseparable relations with nature, this created a more supernatural soul healing effects. Shamanic ways still survive in Balkan and Slavic hearts or at least the ones who have the gifts themselves undeveloped. The faith healers of Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia etc. tended to mix both religion and natural holistic gifts together which made their healing for emotional body and mental body issues.
The few people who are born to enter a more advanced path of the shamans destiny, on top of the supernatural healing abilities, also added dreaming abilities to reconnect to the Slavic and Balkan earlier pre-religious shamanic tradition. As the pagans had risen to power which was the same time the religious men were rising to power, both excluded women, which excluded the origin of goddess cultures, which is the core of shamanism. Then with only male shamans, the whole shamanic traditions were corrupted under this influence.
Now that 2012 has come, the patriarchal pagan and religion cultures are on the down turn and the rising origin shamanic (but non drug or plant shamanism), can rise again. The opportunity to explore more self healing to reclaim and step into origin pre-religious traditions and pre-shaman plant traditions. Some of us like myself are doing it already and have 40 years of practice and purity and help those who wish to do shamanism through sobriety. If the new kids on earth find themselves dairy and lactose and wheat intolerant, so too will the true shamans returning be allergic to shamanic plants and shamanic drugs. That is an absolute because their ancient soul will reject them.
People who are of the Slavic and Carpathian and have “less religious influence” will be able to allow the more ancestral (prehistory) traditions and even those who had to move around the world and leave their country who are Slavic and Balkan, will find interest in such ancient traditions again and explore them like I did as I was entering adulthood. Because I was born a natural shaman, I, like all real shamans must undo horrific soul sickness with is an ancestral rite, in order to fulfill their destiny.
We don’t really understand he depth of our nature until after our forties but we can try to survive what happens to us as real shamans. When our shift really begins to open the second half of our life, then initiations of the shamanic realities can occur, but one must be free of any illusion causing substance, like alcohol, pot, shamanic plants etc.
This is when most people have to integrate the previous twenty years and bring their life into a much deeper respect for their spiritual path and the deeper understanding of the nature of our ancestral lineages and nature herself. Mother earth and even our souls do not reveal much to us in our twenties and thirties.
There are different names according to the respective cultures, such as in Poland the women shamans are sometimes called witches and also called Szeptuchami, the Polish & Belarus Folk Healers are called Whisperers (which some have undertones of shamanic gifts as well). Like their Ukraine Molfarka, Molfar neighbors, more Polish women are beginning to return to the roots of their ancient practices of healing that existed before the spread modern religion just as the men are returning to Paganism.
A commonality within all of these cultures is that the origin shamanic root base of all these cultures contain whispering. Many of the older women and men still have a devout faith in their Catholic or Christian faith healing traditions, but newer generations like myself do not and this allowed me to explore further without judgment or taboos of shamanism. I knew as a little girl that the religion tradition was not for me, even though
I was very spiritual and that my father had out of body experiences as well as myself – which made me respect all religious, pagans, native americans, and shamanic and goddess cultures equally, not in knowledge but in practices. The more open I was to all traditions of earth, the more I saw at the root of shamanism within them, lost but small gems which were hard to see until I became much more conscious and had much more dedicated awareness, they were all the same at the core.
The rarer Molfar and Szeptuchami are exorcists as well, but again the church took over this tradition and so not many have performed them because people will just go to a priest instead because of the lack of education. A whisperer works with sicknesses of the soul that effect the physical body, and things that effect the physical body are generally the last of the illness to appear. If one has a karmic issue, then the physical body might have isolated issues of sickness of the body without the mental or emotional issues. But even within that, the past life soul issues is basically what has caused the current reincarnations physical issues and this of course is called Karma. The emotional body and the blocks of the mental body cannot be separated and I teach my students that to touch this in another, they must be willing to touch it within themselves and open it up to be a powerful healer, regardless of whether they are fated to be a shaman or a healer.
The depth and mystery of ancient healing in my eyes is a seed within the self that can be nurtured and walked with as a living (healing) art, and why herbalists, ceremonial shamans must be completely dedicated to the devotion of their own path and also make small sacrifices. A shaman must make major sacrifices and doesn’t have a choice. Many wish to be my friend, but too many things will surface if I accept ordinary friendships as a shaman and I can only enter peoples spaces who need healing because of that. So, that is just one of the many sacrifices shamans must make and that is true of Balkan and Slavic shamans.
The Slavic Shaman like the Native American or Aboriginal Indigenous shamans (those whose souls are fated to be shamans) are able to step into and enter the energy of both the earth along with the magical living soul of all humans who wishes to become well. We can pass through the veils and enter the natural forces from the inner spaces in both time (our mundane life) along side the no-time (dreaming or dreamtime), if one is advanced beyond the mental body. A Whisperer who is also is a dreamer, can become one with the natural or nature’s forces and have a real relationship with the consciousness of nature herself if they can pass the life tests and purify karma of their dark past lives. Then a Whisperer or Mol’farka can enter the shamans realms.
Most people are aware of Kupala, or Ivana Kupala, the summer solstice rites. But before paganism, the sacred flower was an initiation rite during this solstice season and it was for women only, not maidens, but women and those mysteries and secrets I carry for my female apprentices. There are many folk legends of weather shamans and magic in shamanism of the Slavic and Balkan traditions, but I do not separate folk lore from shamanism or animism in many traditional Slavic folk magic stories because at the core, most of them are real and true.
I underwent the summer solstice traditions of the Slavic Vesta (the Sacred Flower of Immortality) initiations and that has nothing to do with men or marriage. Ancestral lore and legend at the core, if you cast out all the other pagan, or religious parts that are not needed which is about 95%. I have found in the supernatural world pre-cultural 4th century a shamanic reality and because as a dream walker I can access the past, I have seen and experienced the pre-patriarchal reality of our shamanic and dream culture past.
Men and women who are powerful healers, are fated by birth and they may not even know or understand this until their 30s or even 40s when they have some life skills and experiences already. Through many previous lives, soul accumulations of purified karma, a life of purity, and undergoing fated initiations adds to the Ukrainian Mol’farka (and those around the world like them) because for thousand of years as human beings, we have been able to enter the non-physical aspects of diseases or spaces in what is called dreams.
Viking, Medieval and Archaic Pagan magicians attributed these qualities to the gods, but in more archaic and advanced shamanic forms, some Szeptuchami and Molfarka possess the same qualities as their shaman counterparts, who connect to the natural power of nature, and their own more powerful higher souls. Humans don’t seem to understand that waking up spiritually gives us a view into our higher and multiple animism souls. All paganism and religion did was create a middle man between the god and goddess, removing it from our inner god and inner goddess called the higher self, the divine self. This too is part of shamanism.
Shamanism is completely opposite of traditional 12th -15th century magick which is based on controlling the elements or to use spells to control and manifest. Shamanism is the opposite which is about letting go of all control and power and let nature guide and teach. In Slavic shamanism, those who misuse spiritual power find sooner or later that ego, pride, power or being popular or famous in spirituality, has no real place in real mysticism or shamanism.
As an example, I was at a native american gathering in the Pacific Northwest for a peace ceremony, with some very powerful native elders who hosted many nations of tribes. I never really go to any of these things anymore, sine I turned 40 but something strong within me called me to go. I realized what it was, when I arrived, and saw a young Norse man about 35 years old, who worked with the Viking pagan tradition and had been invited to be in the ceremonial with the elders. I was just a visitor to this event and I had walked up to the young man and his girlfriend and said that the Native Americans do not treat their “sacred fires” like the Balkan or Slavic people do and shared with him how to respect their fire since he didn’t know. He was doing an energy healing on his girlfriend and throwing the residue into the fire an hour before the ceremony started.
As an elder, I was very shocked by his disrespect to my helpful information and his girlfriend became very fearful at those moments as she obviously understood that his ego had gotten in the way or that they were not really who they pretended to be. Since in his own country, pagan men rule and not many elder women have power over shamanic ceremony, rare do these older men ever invite grandmother to the power circles to lead the ceremonies. But this was not the case this day and during the ceremony when it was the Viking Pagan man’s turn to do his ritual in front of everyone in the greater circle, he happened to be directly facing me in the outer ring of people.
Since I am not a pagan, but a shaman, mystic and healer, I have never done one spell, nor influenced anything of individuals without their permission, because I carry very high ethics and values, nor do I wish to accrue karma from a whole life of paying karma off, plus I slayed my own ego from many circles of healing and healers I went to and elders I worked with when I was his age and honored them very much. During his 10 minute ceremony, there was a big cracking sound in the fire and it flamed up behind him, the same fire pit I tried to explain to him, and at that precise moment, his sacred bag around his hip fell to the ground. Then about a minute later his sacred Nordic Viking symbol necklace, flew off his body and landed about ten feet away.
I then saw the fear in his face, he was trying to stay focused but could not, he looked down (as he had his hands up praying to his gods with his eyes closed) and as he looked forward by the disturbances, he caught my eyes looking at him as he began to look away from the sky in his prayers. I put my hand in the prayer position and bowed and we locked eyes, without any facial expression nor intent except knowing that the youth are not powerful, they are victorious (over their own personal shadow if they work that instead of popularity and ego, which this young man worked from).
The intensity of really pure healers and really powerful shamans are sometimes ostracized in many pagan and socio-religious or socio-spiritual societies still, this happens to them most of their life, but this is for a good reason. Those who are dedicated to such practices will always endure because they are tested over and over again by fate and the shamans, molfarka, whisperers are given much more pain and severe consequences for their actions, much more than other healers or spiritual people.
True ancient paths are rarely attainable to their full extent without severe suffering, and the most difficult are very hard to attain, for a whole life must be dedicated to it. For the true shamans and folk healers, fate is absolutely necessary for advancement in mysticism and spiritual growth and the burning of karma. Who would chose such depth of pain for such a profession willingly? No one but the fated.
Contemporary shamans, plant shamans and most shaman practitioners are trained in schools, or by book writers or online including plant (drug) shamans, and they tend not to encounter those of us who are initiated by fire, rain, thunderstorms, or demons, demonic tests etc and therefor do not respond to the levels of responsibilities in an everyday way of life that whisperer and real shamans do. Believe me when I say, that is a blessing that they do not to suffer such horrific wrathful dismemberment and shadows sides of mysticism and the dark decades of the souls purification of shamans. Power that is grounded, disciplined, 100% sober and free from ego and a life of total dedication requires decades and lifetimes of purification. This shows the magical sides of Slavic shamanism at its best when taken seriously and the path is a do… or die.
The Belarus Whisperers
Babka Yanina, Belarus Whisperer (pictured above): “My husband was seriously ill for a very long time; nothing helped him. The doctors said that they could not do anything for him. I began to whisper in the water and gave him this water to drink – and then he got better. After this people from the neighboring villages and towns came to me and asked me to whisper in the water. Now I am very old and whispering takes a lot of energy. I have to go into the forest to gather strength. That makes me feel better and I can carry on.
Babka Yanina, Belarus Whisperer: “My uncle taught me to whisper. He was a powerful sorcerer. He knew words that you could say to paralyse a snake. I am able to heal tumours, fears, nerves and stammering. I attained my gift when I became blind.”
Babka Nadzeja, Belarus Whisperer: “My mother’s gift was feared because of the times she lived in: the Soviet government did not recognise anything holy. During the war I fought as a partisan against the Nazis, and then worked in the school. People would laugh at me when they found out about my gift but when they asked for help I could not refuse them. Sadly, I could not help my family, Whispers only can help strangers in our family tradition.”
Babka Stasia, Belarus Whisperer: “My Catholic family was very religious, but I lost my mother when I was three and my father when I was seven, and I became an orphan. Most whisperers are Orthodox not Catholic. When I was older my mother-in-law and two old women in my village taught me to whisper, and how to burn threads and use smoke (smudge) to heal people.“
Babka Fiadora, Belarus Whisperer: “I never went to school, not even once. When I was young times were hard, and children had to work. For 12 years I looked after cows in return for food. It was my grandmother who showed me how to use herbs and taught me to whisper. It was all word of mouth, because I can’t read. I only treat people when I know I will be able to help them.”
Babka Katia, Belarus Whisperer: “There was a communist in our village called Misha. One day he mowed the grass near the river and he was bitten by a snake. He became really ill and was close to death. He sent his wife to me, to ask for help. I was scared because he was a Communist. They disliked us believers so much; they mocked us, closed churches and sent priests to Siberia. But I could not say no, so I whispered in the water and he drank it and he got better. I don’t know if Misha ever believed in God but he knew the power of the word.”
Babka Vanda, Belarus Whisperer: Her eyes like shiny buttons, hair tucked beneath a headscarf, dressed in a floral-print blouse, told photographer Siarhiej Leskiec a story about her grandmother. She was thought to be a witch, Babka Vanda said, and the local priest had forbidden her from treating people—until, that is, he was bitten by an adder. She whispered words into the wind, and he was cured. She eventually passed that power, to heal through whispers, to Babka Vanda.
The Hungarian Lidercz and Táltos – Shamanistic remnants in Hungarian folklore
I wanted to add this last part, the Hungarian Lidercz, because comparative methods used in analyzing ethnographic data of Hungarian folktales, reveal some features of Hungarian folklore which are remnants of the older shamanistic beliefs. Táltos are remnants of Hungary’s pre-Christian shamanic pre-pagan culture, but are only in folklore today.
I read from a book translated from Hungarian to English, really described more paganism than it did shamanism. The Táltos is a woman in Hungarian mythology which means shaman, from the book “Magyar mitológia” Hungarian Mythology from 1854, a táltos is in direct contact with celestials and animism souls during the pre-natal period before incarnation. Once born, the Táltos has a special mission in life to help the souls of other members of her society and this a standard for all female shamans of Balkan and Slavic ancestral lineages. and it is by fate of her birth that she carries the shaman power.
All women who are destined to be shamans, are apprentices to life or elder shamans in their 20s, 30s and 40s and its not until they enter their 50s would they even dare to call themselves a shaman. This was true then and its true now. For real shamans the initiation processes are deadly and cause great grief and pain in childhood, adult years and even into elder stages. Understanding the differences between karmic purification pain and shamanic pain is an extraordinary difficult thing to do unless you have lived it and are still alive by elder.
There is a reason most of the cultural shamanism of Balkan and Slavic traditions are rarer and this is because these traditions were held by women and of course as women were pushed out by religious corruptions and pagan leadership of men, so too were their shamanic traditions. Only in the more or most remote areas and mostly hush hush do these traditions survive.
Some information about the Hungarian shamanic traditions were maintained from the deep past, possibly borrowed from Turkic peoples with whom Hungarians used to live together before having wandered to the Pannonian Basin; and maybe is an effect of Eastern influence thereafter (Cuman immigration).
Places where these remnants exist, like many Slavic and Balkan shamanism as well…
1. refrains of certain folk songs accompanying some customs;
2. certain motifs of folktales, e.g. sky-reaching tree, which was a specific belief among several Uralic peoples, having some resemblances to the world tree concept, but it was also related to the shaman’s tree and had some other peculiarities as well.
There are also people who filled in similar roles to those performed by shamans among other peoples: such as fortune-tellers, weather magic, finding lost objects, seers and herbal healers, but those too were later pagan traditions (except for herbal healers). These people can be related to shamanism (contrasted to the cunning folk of non-shamanistic cultures), because the former are recorded to go through similar experiences to expansion of consciousness, really are not those of many shamans.
The folk and oral traditions of those born with surplus amount of bones or teeth, illnesses and sicknesses of distortion and perception distortions (seeing things that are not there by normal people), dismemberment by a mythological, supernatural and celestial beings, recovering with enlarged increased capabilities, struggles with other shamans etc are all related features can be recognized in several examples of shamanism in Siberia. This is true of all shamans.
As Hungarian language belongs to the Uralic family, we can expect to find them among Uralic peoples. Some of them maintained shamanism until the modern times, especially the isolated location of Nganasan people enabled that shamanism was a living phenomenon among them even in the beginning of 20th century, the last notable Nganasan shaman’s work could be recorded on film in the 1970s. The original location of the Proto-Uralic peoples (and its extent) is debated.
The combined results of several sciences suggest that this area was north of Central Ural Mountains and on lower and middle parts of Ob River. This approach combined ecological, namely phytogeographical and paleobotanic (including palynological) data together with linguistic (phytonymic and comparative) considerations: the distribution of various tree species in Siberia and Eastern Europe (changing in time) was matched against the distribution of the respective tree-names in various Uralic languages (filtered with comparative methods, so that only names of Proto-Uralic or Proto-Finno-Ugric relevance be taken into account).”
The Polish Whisperers
Folk Healers of Eastern Poland by Marek Kępa
An elderly lady is wearing clothes that wouldn’t seem out of place in a peasant scene from a late 19th-century painting. She’s holding her hand over the head of a young woman as she utters a strange chant, one that’s hard to understand. Yet one can discern some of it. A little later she pours hot wax into a pot of cold water and presents the solidified contents, stating that getting rid of them will ease her guest’s problems. Then the elder puts a piece of cloth on the young woman’s head and burns a small amount of raw flax fibre on top of it – a procedure that’s equally spectacular as it is risk-free. Shortly afterwards, she says she’s done and wishes her guest good health.
The above isn’t an episode taken from some oneiric fantasy story. It actually happened, as documented in a film clip entitled Szeptunka z Podlasia (editor’s translation: The Whisperer from Podlasie). Filmed just a few years back by Paweł Kołaczkowski and Kaja Palusińska, this healing séance performed by the now-deceased Paraskiewa Artemiuk, a whisperer or folk healer who lived in Poland’s eastern region of Podlasie, is surprisingly an event from the 21st century.
Szeptucha (pronounced: Shep-too-hah) or sometimes szeptunka, which translates as ‘whisperer’ or ‘one who whispers’, is a term used to describe traditional Polish woman-healers practicing predominantly in Podlasie, and less noted in other parts of the country, e.g. Roztocze and Podkarpacie. Their story is closely linked to Poland’s eastern frontier, an area influenced by mysticism and, in its central part, by the Belarusian language. Due to the peculiar healing rituals the whisperers perform, they are sometimes compared to shamans and the really powerful ones are shamans but the tradition of folk peasant cultures just call them whisperers.
But it ought to be said that the ‘magic’ they allegedly use is meant to be ‘white’ not ‘black’, aimed to do good, not wrong. Most importantly, and this is how the healers got their name, they pray for the health of their patients, whispering and otherwise uttering various Christian prayers of Orthodox provenance. These are delivered in a peculiar mix of Polish, Belarussian and Old Church Slavonic, which makes it hard for someone not privy to this composite dialect to understand them. Here’s an example of a whisperer’s healing prayer (translated by some learned soul) taken from a Polish Radio broadcast entitled Whisperers:
Evil ghost! Don’t wake the man up, don’t crush his bones, don’t dry up his blood, don’t touch the veins…From veins, from body, bones and eyes, from legs and hands and from urinary tracts take off herpes, psoriasis, stains and growths…
It is believed that the ability to heal through whispering is a gift from God, a gift whose origin can be traced all the way back to Jesus, himself a healer who used words. But even though the whisperers are devout Orthodox believers, they do have pre-Christian folk chants in their medicinal repertoire. Moreover, they perform bizarre ceremonial actions during their séances, like the already-mentioned burning of flax and pouring of wax into water. Among the practice’s classic therapies, you can also find rubbing an ill body with a glass filled with wood ashes and neatly wrapped in a napkin.
Due to these near-pagan rituals, the Orthodox Church doesn’t approve of whispering, but not in a particularly stringent manner: for example, a prominent whisperer is known to have been admitted to a church choir.
When He entered Capernaum a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, ‘Lord, my servant is lying at home paralysed, in terrible agony!’ ‘I will come and heal him,’ He told him. ‘Lord’ the centurion replied, ‘I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. But only say the word, and my servant will be cured (…)’. Hearing this, Jesus was amazed and said to those following Him, ‘I assure you: I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith! (…) Then Jesus told the centurion, ‘Go.
As you have believed, let it be done for you.’ And his servant was cured that very moment.But even though the whisperers’ faith is profound, it has its limitations. They believe that their prayers and rituals can treat only a handful of illnesses. For example, the full paralysis described in the biblical quotation, and other serious conditions, is out of their reach. This is probably because they were influenced by the restrictive religions of woman’s power, but those days are gone now in other parts of the world where Polish women have the freedom to go all the way in their shamanic gifts.
So what are the conditions the whisperers believe they can treat? First off, there is przewianie or ‘the chills’ – shivers or even physical pain caused by a cold wind. Róża or ‘rose’ is a reddening of the skin, also a rash, though it oughtn’t be confused with similar official skin diseases like Erysipelas. Przestrach or ‘fright’ is a kind of agitation caused by an abrupt, unpleasant event.Urok which stands for ‘charm’, is when someone is, as the name implies, under the influence of a bad charm cast by somebody else. Finally there’s nerw-kołtun or the ‘nerve-plait’, a complex notion, explained in the following quote taken from an article published in Białostocki Medyk (Białystok Medic), the journal of the Medical University of Białystok, by ethnologist and whisperers expert Małgorzata Anna Charyton:
This complex conviction encompasses traditional folk psychology modernised by the whisperers. (…) I’ve portrayed the plait – a folk illness that’s caused by the activation of an idle being existing within the human body. Historically, that being was called a ‘gościec’ [ed: guestlin]. Today the whisperers relate the disease-causing mechanism of irritation to nervousness, anxiety. The syndromes of this strange condition are said to include insomnia, abdominal pains and a general weakness of the body.
Even if these descriptions don’t seem convincing from a medical standpoint, one should remember that the whisperers intention is to bring good into the world. They believe their gift is an obligation – since they’ve received it gratis from up above, they should share it with others here on Earth free of charge too. They haven’t invented all of this as a scam to obtain money.
In fact, a whisperer might even feel offended if you offered her payment for her services. Customarily, people leave something sweet on the table in the visiting room, or a coin, which will without doubt be spent at the local Orthodox Church to purchase a candle.
People from all around Poland come to the whisperers for help. There’s no shortage of patients, mostly those who can’t find a solution to their problem through official healthcare. You don’t visit a whisperer, for instance, with a twisted ankle – even if you did, they’d just tell you to go to a regular doctor instead. When a whisperer sees she can’t be of help, she doesn’t hesitate to say so.
Nowadays however, the number of people you can turn to for this kind of help is decreasing but Poles in other countries have the freedom to grow their practices without any blocks. There are only about a dozen or so whisperers left in the villages of Podlasie, and nearly all of them are of advanced age. The previously-mentioned Mrs. Paraskiewa Artemiuk has passed away since the filming of Szeptunka z Podlasia.
Also, the whisperers’ primary mission has become obsolete. They used to provide local healthcare to their communities in times when many of their members couldn’t afford a doctor. Today, it’s much easier to get regular medical care than in the old days, so people often choose it over going to a folk healer.
A whisperer\ can heal with nothing
more than a prayer and a light soul.
You took ashes from the oven, mixed
them with water, making a ball,
over the sore body part, while at it
she would pray quietly.
Video: In English
Videos in Polish:
Recently Molfar/Molfarka culture was brought back into the mainstream again when it was popularized by Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky’s book “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors” published in 1911 and the subsequent film released in 1964 and hopefully the rest of the Slavic, Balkan and Eastern European cultures will also return.
If you share please use original link here. Blessings, Phoenix
Sources: All photos of the Babka’s of Belarus taken by Siarhiej Leskiec at the https://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2016/aug/29/the-last-whisperers-of-belarus-in-pictures; Artwork of Wardruna by David D’Andrea with added words by me of what Wardruna means; Photo of Ukraine woman from http://www.facebook.com/TretiPivni, additional copy at Wiki and Ukrainian websites translated; Marek Kępa via https://culture.pl; In Belarus, the Ancient Tradition of Healing Whispers Slowly Disappears A centuries-old practice with little place in the modern world by Anika Burgess for Atlas Obscura.