For seventeen years, I bore witness to the Bosnian women war crimes and war survivors. In my clinical informed Kolo (Slavic Folk Circle and/or Round Dance) Trauma practices I realized I encountered the purest Orphic doctrine. Dionysus myths of the dismembered god live on in Thrace of old now the geographic regions of Greece and former Yugoslavia. The process is called, “Transmigration of Souls,” an apt description of my journeys to Bosnia in the aftermath of war.
Memorial Day for me is commemorating our ancient mothers. These artifacts standing together remind me of the empowerment and great balancing of life with female solidarity lost to us today. This is for all the mothers, daughters who died under the patriarchy.
Ossuaries are oral memory practices assuring rest, peace, and respect;—all sanctuary properties associated with the domovi for South Slavs. Patterned after the megalithic dolmens, ossuaries are modern-era icons of megalithic dolmens containing the bleached bones of departed ancestors. Within the Serbian Orthodox memorial liturgies, the practice for bleaching bones is evident in the memorial cycle.
The ‘G’ words, gender and the Goddess, are being rendered passé and many women prefer not to hear of or be associated with them. Recently, the media used the Goddess Isis’ name and bestowed it upon a terrorist group. However, this desecration of the sacred and the maligning of the Goddess is nothing new in the media. For instance, in 2004, the Roman Catholic fanatic Riordan, education master for the state of California, “during a public appearance at a Santa Barbara library, told a young girl that her first name, Isis, meant ‘stupid, dirty girl.’ He later apologized and said he was joking” (Peter Nicholas, 2004).
When I read the Roman Catholic Riordan’s remark about the Goddess Isis’ name my immediate reaction was how his remarks display an aggression against the Goddess and all those females who mirror the Goddess yet have no understanding or knowledge of Her. All the media attention on ISIS, an ultraviolent terrorist group, reveals an ignorance of the Goddess Isis’ prehistory and spirituality. The ignorance of Isis has led to the demonization of the Goddess. The misuse of the Goddess Isis as the name of a terrorist group engaged in gynocide (mass murder of females) and mistreatment of anyone of the female gender further condones violence against women.
A review of Blood & Honey Icons: Biosemiotics & Bioculinary by Danica Anderson
I bought this book to support work with survivors of the Balkan conflicts of the late 20th Century. For my money I got a multifaceted lesson on healing practices useful for victims of violence anywhere, including the El Paso/Juárez region, where I live. The horrors of femicide, narco wars, and military violence in Juárez are known throughout the world.
The author, Danica Anderson, is a forensic psychotherapist and a fellow with the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. Anderson has worked in Bosnia since March 1999, as well as in Africa for the International Criminal Court, India with tsunami survivors, Sri Lanka with civil war survivors, Haiti with victims of terror, and the U.S.A with members of the military.
Anderson’s experience as the child of immigrants mirrors the life of many here, with families still surrounded by the culture of the country left behind. Her father, a rural man, and her mother, who had been interred in a World War II prison camp, immigrated to the United States as refugees. Although born here, Anderson did not learn English until second grade, and was then called upon to interpret for her elders. She thus shared in the traumas of refugees in the South Slavic community in Chicago. Ethnic traditions were also inculcated into her heart, particularly kolo circle dances and the songs previously sung by women working the fields and at the hearth. Continue reading
During my childhood on the North side of Chicago, I took to Serbian folk dancing (kolos) with a passion exposing me to female humanities and the social structure and symbolism of past and present South Slavic societies. I am founder and CEO of Kolo: Women’s Cross Cultural Collaboration, which works with women who have been affected by war crimes and women who are war survivors. I am attached to the International Criminal Court in the capacity of Psycho-Social Victims Gender expert and this has led me to Chad, Congo, and Uganda and it has brought me face-to-face with catastrophic war and the issues surrounding violence. As a social scientist, I spent a year in Afghanistan.
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Lepenski Vir is a Mesolithic site on the banks of the Danube in Serbia, close to the Iron Gates. Dusan Boric and Preston Miracle’s work on the Mesolithic and Neolithic sites of Padina and Hajduka Vodenica, Serbia revealed a long residence of Proto-Slavs from 10,000 BCE in the Danube Gorges. [Boric & Miracle, 341-371]
At Lepenski Vir many Fish Goddesses were found reveling in the aquatic lushness of the Danube river gorges. Perhaps, as a tribute to the huge water reservoir, the Fish Goddesses were important relics for burials and a part of the architectural structures consisting of temples not residences. The impressive fact is age of Lepenski Vir dated to the time of Mesolithic-Neolithic transition 6300-5950 BCE.
It is here that the ‘Three fingered Fish Goddess’ is remembered in modern day Orthodox religion. The Serbian Orthodox sign of the cross performed with three fingers is a South Slavic oral memory tradition that originated from Neolithic-Paleolithic. In the Lithic eras, the three fingered salute stood for the truncated tree in the vast forest indicating a crossroads or intersection. [Harding, 42; 62-63] Combining or sharing of iconography such as the crossed circle motif associated with Atlantis and Egyptian oral memory traditions to that of Hindu antiquity, we have the geographical coordinates origin (Indonesia first began this geography) and has to do with the intersection of the equator and the Meridian Zero. [online Atlantean Symbolism]
With Egypt’s great Nile river, and the legend of Atlantis’ located in the middle of a large body of water to that of the great rivers, Danube and Sava in the Balkans we have in our modern life the same ancient monumental hybrid forms of commemorative practice. The Three Fingered Fish Goddess, held on to the intangible oral memory tradition transmission of important navigation skills for or inner ecology and that of the Slavic Moist Mother Earth. What is held in the archeological artifact of the Slavic Three Fingered Fish Goddess; her three fingered hands are held at the mid-section of her body; the equator.
One of the most important insights of the cross and crossing oneself with three finger salute is that we are performing archaic oral memory traditions, what I name as ‘human geography.’ Related to the three fingered Fish Goddess—early Christians did the sign of the fish. In this sense early Christians were not performing a social memory but the sense of a continuous body of wisdom living from generation to all future generations. In doing so, the early Christians portrayed oral memory traditions. The practice of the sign of the cross or three fingered salute acknowledged relations to Aphrodite whose hand pose originated from the three fingered fish Goddess.
Three-finger salute (Serb/три пpcтa or tri prsta)-patronymics is found in South Slavic-Serbian names, with “ic”, “ich,” to refer to little or son of. ‘Patri’ is word origins are for father, tracing the upheaval from the Great Mother Goddess. The Serb Orthodox religion took on the three fingered aspect of the Fish Goddess due to the Pagan-Earth Based Religions of the South Slavs once centered on the Moist Mother Earth, the archetypal feminine. With the early Christians, the removal of the troika- of daughter, mother and grandmother, three fingered salute and sign of the cross became modern day trilogies of the father, son and Holy Spirit instead. The Holy Spirit is the last thread to the Great Mother of what was once a cohesive, endogamous (anthropological marriage with accordance of custom or law) body of wisdom.
We can move through the generations to present day to view how the cultic and performative practices of our ancestors are still held in our cultural situations. It shows the surrender to the evoke the substantive meanings from what their ancestors embedded in daily life acts. A painting by Paja Jovanovic “Takaovo” translates from Serbo-Croatian to ‘Here or done like this’. This indicates the lithic era for the sense of direction to be taken with the three fingered salute or cross. The intangible oral memory traditions began a twisted notion of ‘Here or done like this’ that now is a sign of inciting wars. For instance, the Serb folk Prince Milos Obrenovic in a three finger salute started the second uprising against the Turks- Ottoman Empire with – “Here we are and here you are” to incite a revolt- war. [Online, Three Fingered Salute] “Njegos” prince-bishop-Vladika who was a great poet, and “Karadorde Petrovic” 1768-1817- the first Serbian leader to start the uprising against the Ottoman Empire- is known as the Serbian House of Karadordevic. [Milne] Note how the house became the domain and power of males- father authority figures.
The Montengrin peoples are termed Crni Dorde- Black George for his Montengrin Serb Vasojevici tribe’s dark complexion. The latter indicates the migratory route from middle of Africa, the lineage of our first Mother. The Vasojevici tribe handed down orally for more than thirteen generations their legacies with poems and songs and kolo dances (folk round dances).
Serb folk wisdom states Nema krsta be tri prsta- there is no cross without three fingers. What has occurred in modern day era is the identity of the important meaning behind the three-fingered salute, the human geography, is now a mortuary practice to incite violence. The three finger salute went on with its gynocide and mass murder with Ante Pavelic- once leader in WWII for the Croatian Country that became the infamous Ustashi- Nazi SS arm murdering, Serbs, Muslims, Jews and Romano on a whole scale level. In 1991, the Serbian Renewal Movement political party, Belgrade used the three fingered salute for demands, and was stated by Srdan Serckovic, the vice-president to represent “St. Sava” Serbian patron saint known for teaching literacy and orthodox religion to the masses. The latter is the dominance of the father; patriarchy.
In 2007 Eurovision employed a song contest with Serbian Marija Serifovic given the award in front of Bosnian television viewers. Marija Serifovic upset the Bosnian viewers with her three fingered salute- since most Bosnians are Muslim and was seen as an insult.
Boric, Dusan & Miracle,Preston in Oxford Journal of Archaeology, November 2004, vol. 23, no. 4, Blackwell Publishing
Esther Harding, MD, MRCP. The Way of All Women: A Psychological Interpretation. (Rider & Company, New South Wales, Australia, 2007), pp. 62-63. Esther Harding, MD, MRCP. Woman’s Mysteries: Ancient and Modern. (Rider & Company, London ,1971), p. 46.
The Atlantean Symbolism of the Egyptian Temple –
Three Finger Salute (Serbian)
Milne Holton, Vasa D. Mihailovich. Songs of Serbian People: from Collections of Vuk Karadzic. (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997).
Collections of Vuk Karadzic. (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997).