Who is Baba Vanga – her life described in greater details
Baba Vanga was born on 31-Jan-1911 in the town of Strumica – former Yugoslavia, in the family of small farmers. From his father she inherited resilience, love for the underprivileged and sense of justice, while from her mother she took her cheerful character and strict attitude towards neatness and order.
She was born 2 months before the proper time. She was very weak, with her ears stuck to the head and her fingers on both arms and feet stuck together as well. Nobody knew if the child will live, but to give her a chance they put her close to the fireplace, wrapped in ox tripe and unwashed wool hoping the child will survive to the ninth month. One night in March the baby cried and the old ladies that looked after the kid told the troubled mother that the baby was born. There was a custom in the region that if unsure that a baby will live, the baby cannot be named. The next morning again according to the custom, the grandmother of the child went out on the street and asked the first woman that she met, to offer a name for the newly born. The woman suggested Andromaha. During that time many women carried Greek names, but the grandmother did not like it, and she asked a second woman who offered Vangelia (means bringer of good news) for a name. This name was also Greek, but it was so popular that the grandmother accepted it as a Bulgarian name and approved it.
The father – Pande Surchev was still a youngster when he joined the rebels and their movement against the ottoman empire. He was captured by the Turks and send to jail with a life sentence. He was tortured without a hope for survival, but then the Ottoman government had major change in 1908 when the empire was restructured to Constitutional Monarchy. The new government released the prisoners. He returned home, he found out that the rebels are still active and joined them again. Soon after however the rebels disbanded and everybody returned to their homes.
Pande returned to his village but nobody was home. His parents have passed away, and his brother disappeared somewhere. For days he was wondering what to do, when he learned that Strumica municipality is granting abandoned houses and land to whoever want to live there.
They gave him an old house at the edge of the town. Almost all houses were old and shaky and the neighbourhood looked more like a village than part of a town. The streets were narrow, muddy and dirty and at night time completely dark. Yards were very small fenced by hedge – row with animals walking around. At night they would lock the animals on the first floor of the house or living together with them. Everyone in the neighbourhood came from nearby villages to look for better opportunities in town. Mainly the migrants were farmers or small craftsmen and traders. They called the quarter “Svetiko” because all homes were cramped around a church called “ST. Fifteen martyrs”
Newly arrived Pande started living with his new neighbours in peace and mutual respect. He got some land and started to take care of it. He met a woman – cheerful and agile, who looked like a young girl. They liked each other and soon got married. Her name was Paraskeva.
Vangelia or shortly Baba Vanga, was just 3 years old, when her mom died during child birth. A year after that in 1915 the First World War was unleashed and Baba Vanga’s dad was mobilized to go and fight the enemy as a soldier of the Bulgarian army. Baba Vanga was left with her neighbour Asanica – kind and very compassionate Turkish woman. For three years there were no news from Pande, and people had thought that Baba Vanga had become a complete orphan, when one day he returned very malnourished but alive.
He took Baba Vanga to the old house where they resumed living, but it was not easy for the Father. Baba Vanga, already 7 years old, was very thin, blond kid with blue eyes and very wild character. It was obvious the lack of motherly care and strictness.
At that time the First World War ended and Strumica had fallen under Serbian rule. The new authority implemented strict morals and various restrictions. There were a lot of town folks that could not understand the new orders, and started living in fear and anxiety. Pande was one of them, and he was worried what would be Baba Vanga’s life when she grows up.
She was lively, cheerful and communicative child. The other kids were visiting her yard to play games with pleasure. Her favourite game was to make the kids lie on the ground as her patients and she as the doctor would treat them. She would gather some grass and put it on their tummies. After that she asked the kids to swoop the yard as she hated dirtiness. Often she would sit on a small carpet and the kids would come around her to listen to her made up stories.
Years later, when in a mood, Pande liked to tell stories to his other children about Baba Vanga’s “Caretaking” and they all laughed to tears.
Baba Vanga loved everything to be at its place. One day her father decided to go fishing and asked his friend to wait for him for just a minute to take his gear. He was looking everywhere but could not find his staff. Baba Vanga observed the search progress with satisfaction and only later asked her father what is it he looks for, and then she told him that his fishing hooks are pinned to his hat. Another time he had to look for his shoes. He realized it will be tough to maintain the household on his own with a young child and decided to try and marry again. His chances for success were low, as he was poor, also widow and with a kid, but surprisingly he found wife fairly quick.
Tanka Georgieva was one of the most beautiful girls in town. She would step on a chair to braid her long hair. She was a fiancé to a Bulgarian military officer, but the circumstances broke the marriage, and to avoid the big shame Tanka’s parents quickly arranged a marriage with Pande. Although initially unhappy from this twist of fate, Tanka later discovered that Pande was a good and hard-working man. She was good housewife and caring mother.
Days of happiness and success followed. Pande was a good farmer and caretaker and his property slowly grew and reached 10 acre. He started hiring people during harvest season and people treated him with respect.
Alas the happiness was short lived. The loudest political patrons of the new authority could not forgive Pande his rebellious past. One day they arrested him and took all his land. This happened at harvest time. From success the family plunged into harsh misery that remained for many years to come.
When Pande came back home from the police station, all beat up and tortured, he started to look for work so he can support his family, which has grown with one member. In 1922 Tanka gave birth to a boy, that was named Vasil. Pande became a Sheppard in a nearby village. He remained a servant and a poor man to the rest of his life.
The wife Tanka remained home with both children Baba Vanga and Vasil, and young Baba Vanga only 11 years old had to help a lot in the household. She was looking after her little brother and kept inventing different games for both of them. There was a game however that strongly disturbed her parents. She would put an item outside of the house somewhere, then she would get back to the house and with her eyes closed would try to get to the item, as if she was blind. She kept playing this game despite the warnings and threats of her parents.
In 1923 the family moved to “Novo Selo” where Pande’s brother lived. Kostadin became wealthy over the years, got married, but had no kids. When he learned how poor his brother’s family is, he invited them to come and live with him.
As the oldest child Baba Vanga, had the responsibility to walk the Donkey every day to the sheep pens, in order to bring back the milk. One summer day, Baba Vanga was heading back to the village accompanied by two cousins of hers. The three girls decided to go to a nearby water source named by the villagers “Hanskata cheshma” . Out of nowhere, without anybody noticing, severe storm unleashed. Sky darkened, and the horrifying wind was crushing trees, uprooting the tiny ones. Lumps of earth and tiny trees were thrown far in the field. A pillar made of dust branches leaves and lumps mixed into a terrific whirlwind hit the three girls and pulled Baba Vanga 2 kilometers away in the field. How long the storm continued, no one remembers, but when they went looking for Baba Vanga, they found her under a pile of dust stones and branches driven mad with fear. Worse than the fear however was the unspeakable pain she felt in her eyes, completely unable to open them. When they brought her home, everyone was trying to reduce her pain. They washed her eyes, with water and then with herbal mix, they tried applying salve but nothing provided Baba Vanga with relief. As the day passed, her eyes filled with blood and later they turned white.
The desperate father decided to bring the family back to “Strumica” and to look for a doctor. In “Novo Selo” they stayed for a short period of time – around 3 months, as they did not feel so good there and it felt as if they arrived there only for Baba Vanga to have this tragedy.
The news about Baba Vanga’s misfortune quickly spread in the neighbourhood. All day long visitors were stopping by to provide support and to offer various herbs and salves that they thought might help. In reality they did this out of compassion because nobody really knew a remedy for such a condition.
They brought Baba Vanga to a doctor, who concluded that the infection is spreading and if they wanted to save her eyes, surgeries were necessary. A lot of money was needed…Two surgeries were done. For the first Pande found money, second surgery was done for free, out of compassion towards Baba Vanga’s poverty status. Both surgeries were unfortunately unsuccessful. The doctor recommended a third surgery to be done in “Belgrad” and Pande agreed. They scheduled the date and informed that this surgery will cost 5000 dinara, a huge amount at the time.
The father was devastated as he had no way to collect this much money. He was very poor and his neighbours were not that different, so nobody could help him. He asked for help his late wife’s mother. Long ago she promised that Baba Vanga will inherit some of her land. Pande asked if she can sell this land and use the money to complete the surgery. Unfortunately after his first wife died, the relationship with her mother turned bad, and she decisively refused to help.
Then Pande started selling whatever he could. He sold the sewing machine left from his first wife, sold the only sheep that they had, and there was nothing else of value. At the end he barely collected half of the necessary amount for the surgery. Day before the scheduled date, Pande sent Baba Vanga along with a neighbour who was heading to Belgrad to visit his son. He really wanted to accompany her and be with her in this hard moment, but he did not want to spend any extra money as he was already so short.
When the neighbour, a well-dressed gentleman brought Baba Vanga to the doctor, it seemed as if a rich man is trying to get rid of their poor relative. The doctor who was going to do the surgery, next day, had the same impression. When he saw the amount of money that the neighbour presented he got mad of his cheapness and pulled Baba Vanga into a room and told her “Girl the money that your father send is half of what is needed, that is why I will perform half a surgery. When you bring all that I asked for, I will do a proper surgery”. Hopefully those words came out of anger
When Baba Vanga went home, she was able to see very slightly. The doctor told her that she will need strong food, tidy and peaceful environment. Of course those recommendations remained only a wish, because the life of the family was as poor as always. In 1924 another child was born, a boy that they called Tome. Pande left again for the nearby villages to look for work. The Wife worked as much as she can on the field, and Baba Vanga was taking care of the kids and the household.
Soon the bad quality of live brought a heavy outcome. Another cataract on her eyes developed. New surgery was completely out of the question and Baba Vanga went blind again, this time permanently.
The desperation was complete. Night after night Baba Vanga was crying and praying to God to bring back her sight, but no miracle happened. Months have passed and Baba Vanga could not forgive herself that she was a burden to the family and did not know what to do.
One day a neighbour told Pande, about a school for the blind in the nearby town of “Zemun”. At least there she won’t starve, as the school had good reputation. In 1925 she was accepted. At the time she was 15. When she realized that she will be leaving she could not sleep from the expectation. She was facing an unknown future, and no one could tell her how long she will stay at this home for the blind. The thought that she won’t see her family again made her cry.
The next day Baba Vanga had to say goodbye to her family and the house. Small and thin, she was silently “observing” the coming morning. Of course she could only listen, as this is how she was able to perceive the world. People with normal vision do not realize how many sounds are mixing around them. Cat running through the grass, wind blowing the brunches of the plum tree, and the sun sending warm rays on her face. This picture Baba Vanga would remember her whole life.
At the school for the blind, everything was new and interesting. They gave the new student her uniform right away. It consisted of brown skirt and blue blouse accompanied by beautiful beige shoes. They cut professionally Baba Vanga’s blond hair. She was perplexed but also very happy. At the times when Baba Vanga was alone, she was touching her new uniform and felt like a queen, because for a first time in her life she had good looking clothes.
The discipline in the school was distinct. Until noon the students were having various classes. They were thought The Braille system of reading. One of the subjects in the school was music. The new student -Baba Vanga,h had very good ear for music, and she quickly learned how to play the piano. Music reminded her of home in Novo Selo, of her childhood and family. She wished they had more music classes.
In the afternoon the school program was focused on practical skills. They taught the female students how to take care of the household. Cooking, cleaning, knitting, may seem practically easy, but that is not the case If you are blind. The blind girls were trained how to “see with their hands” and to develop sensitive and flexible fingers. Baba Vanga learned everything with ease, and there was not a single teacher to be unhappy with her performance.
Quickly three years passed. Baba Vanga had her 18th birthday. She had very tidy appearance, and her thin face glowed with calmness and fulfilment. For some time now there was something else. Among the students in the school there was a boy by the name Dimitar, from “Giato” village. Whenever she heard his voice, her heart would tremble and her face would blush. The boy felt the same for her, and they were very happy when together. One day Dimitar told her that he loves her, and offered her marriage. His parents were wealthy and they had no problem taking care of both of them.
All day Baba Vanga imagined how she would look in a wedding dress. She was so happy. She sent message to her father awaiting his blessing. Days of eager anticipation followed.
One day Baba Vanga received the so waited word from “Strumica” and her father. Alas instead of a blessing Vanga received grim news. In 1926 her stepmom Tanka have given birth to a baby girl that they called Lubka. 2 years later, when giving birth to a 4th child, Tanka passed away. Instead of blessing baba Vanga received a cry for help, asking her to abandon her happiness and go take care of the orphaned siblings.
Baba Vanga said farewell to her first love, and to her marriage that could have given her a better life. The way back was hard, as Baba Vanga was realizing that those 3 years in the school for the blind, were the best years in her life, and they won’t return. From this point onwards, for a very long time, Vanga’s life was marked by ruthless poverty and a lot of suffering. These conditions however unlocked her limitless spiritual power, that would help her overcome all difficulties in her path.
Back at home Baba Vanga was struck by the terrifying misery. The children – all very little, were dirty and heavily malnourished. Her brother Vasil was 6, Tome was 4, and the youngest Lubka was 2. Baba Vanga had to adopt the role of a mother. When she got back, her father went to work right away.
Around that time, a huge earthquake occurred, in the “Chirpan” region. From the strong shaking, the old and unstable house of Baba Vanga’s family fell to rubble. Pande’s children became homeless. Few days after, Pande built a small and shaky contraption out of reed plants and mud. It had only one room, with a little hallway. Later he added a small kitchen, where he set the fireplace.
They moved in very quickly as they had almost nothing. Even here Baba Vanga brought beauty and order. She put the big chest from her stepmom in a good visible spot, she placed mats on the mud floor, and knit a cover for the bed. In front of the shack they fenced a small yard, and she planted beautiful flowers at the entrance.
In this little house Baba Vanga and her sister Lubka, lived alone for the years to come, as their brothers despite being so young, went to work as shepherds and servants.
People from the nearby villages and town, spread the word that Baba Vanga can knit well, and often they would bring thread so she can knit by request. They did not pay her money, but would bring some food or would leave her some small things or thread. From the thread Baba Vanga made clothes for her siblings, but didn’t do anything for herself, as she was not leaving the house anyways. People that knew how poor Baba Vanga’s family is, were donating the clothes of women that passed away, so Baba Vanga can wear them.
Baba Vanga learned how to weave too. She showed Lubka, how to connect the threads, and she was working until late at night. It was common for Baba Vanga to cry out of desperation late at night. During the day she would not show signs of sorrow, to avoid being pitied by the neighbours and scaring Lubka at the same time, but at night she would let her emotions flow and relief her heavy burden.
In the morning they were getting up very early, as Baba Vanga always said that there is much to be done. She hated to be idle, and did not like idle people around her. She wanted everywhere to be tidy and presentable. There was a schedule. Monday was dedicated for the laundry, Tuesday – sweeping the floor and the yard, Wednesday was for patching up the clothes. Vanga taught Lubka how to sew and was strict with her expectations. She would touch the patch, and if she didn’t like the stitchery, she would rip the patch and ask Lubka to do it again. Often Lubka cried as the clothes for fixing were always a lot, and she wanted to play with the other kids, but Baba Vanga was firm, everything had to be done right. Thursday was the day for bread baking. Friday, they went to the river to dig red looking clay, and after that, paint the house with this free material. Saturday they were gathering nettle and dock for food. Sunday was church day – it was usually Sunday afternoon when the women from the nearby villages visited Baba Vanga to pick the items that she knitted for them. They would gather in the small yard to chat. Baba Vanga was very social, with strong sense of humour, and everybody loved talking to her.
There was an interesting custom in “Struma” region. The night before “Gergiov Den” (Bulgarian holiday) the young women were placing notes inside a clay jar, and in the morning they were “reading” their fortune. Usually they left the clay jar in Baba Vanga’s yard under a dark red rose, that looked like a little tree. Maybe out of compassion because she was blind, Baba Vanga was most often selected to be the oracle that would interpret the fortunes. It was very interesting that whatever Baba Vanga predicted, later was becoming a fact. Everyone was very astonished, but no one yet suspected that Baba Vanga had a gift. On another holiday, the unmarried women would go to the river and place branches together resembling a bridge. The belief was, that during the night a dream will come that will show the girl who is going to be her future husband. In the morning no one was able to surprise Baba Vanga. She was able to describe the dream, before the person who dreamt it was able to tell anyone.
Those Customs unfortunately were a brief and rear joy. Baba Vanga could not afford to relax, because the poverty was never giving them a break. She had to work non-stop. Often, very often they ended up hungry. They were eating mainly wild cabbage, corn bread and very diluted yogurt, many days they didn’t have even that. One day they told her father Pande that they have no more flour. The very few coins that they had, Baba Vanga was keeping for extremely hard moments. Pande went to meet a wealthy old time friend and asked if he can spare some flour. The friend said that he has a small sack that he can give Pande if he pays. Pande took it and send it through a traveling merchant to Baba Vanga. There was big excitement at home. Baba Vanga made bread right away, and they ate it as it was still hot. 30 minutes later, both sisters got sick and started throwing out. The frightened neighbours sent a message to Pande who was in the nearby village. When he came home to tend to his children, he checked the flour and realized that his old time friend had sold him a poisonous weed that grows alongside the wheat.
At the edge of town, close to “Trakiana” river, Pande had a small garden with 6 cherry trees. When the cherries were ready for picking, Pande was selling them to traveling merchants. When some of the kids asked for something, Pande was always promising that when they sell the cherries, he will buy what is needed. The money from the sale however were so little that the promise was always passed on for the next year.
One year they planted tobacco. They worked from dawn, to dusk and when they harvest it, they were paid so little, that the only thing Pande was able to get was a new water pitcher, that he filled with “boza” (specific Bulgarian non-alcoholic drink with a sweet taste)
In 1943 Lubka became a student. She was the best student and the poorest one. Baba Vanga was very happy with her interest in learning, because even though briefly, she was exposed to education in the school of the blind, and she knew how much quality in life the education could bring. Baba Vanga was strict with her siblings, but she could not convince her brothers to go to school. They couldn’t do it anyways as they were working, but the older brother Vasil told her, that even if he had time, he does not want to go to school.
In Strumica, an Esperanto club was created and a lot of poor children started visiting. Vasil and Tome signed up and started going regularly. Presumably they were learning Esperanto, but later it turned out that this was illegal Communist club, and what they were actually studying was Marks communist literature. Lubka was often asked to deliver different books to various people. Both sons of the former rebel Pande naturally found their way into this club.
The years past 1934 were marked by deeper and inhumane misery enforced by humiliation and suffering. Baba Vanga was the most exhausted and at the same time the strongest in the family. She never allowed herself to complain or to lose her spirit. She was support not only to her siblings, but also to her Father, who was often depressed and filled with desperation. Baba Vanga encouraged him by telling him that better days are coming.
Often in his sorrow, Pande dreamt of becoming a treasure hunter. Once Baba Vanga told him that she knows where some antiques are buried and she described the location. It was in an abandoned village a bit far from “Strumica” .There was a river and a forest nearby. Between the river and the forest there was a sizable rock, and the treasure was buried underneath. Pande was very surprised by what Baba Vanga told him and started laughing, but then he thought about it, and recalled that indeed such location exists. The name of the village was “Raqnci” and it was abandoned as long ago there was a plague there. He asked Baba Vanga, how does she know those things, and she told him that she dreamt about it. One day Pande offered that they go to this village and check for the treasure. They went by foot. Lubka remembers that Baba Vanga was walking very confidently as if she knew the area very well. When they reached the place, it looked exactly as Baba Vanga described it. Pande said that one day he will return to dig under the rock, but then he fell and broke his arm and that is how he lost his chance for finding the treasure. Later they built an artificial lake there and even if there was a treasure it was completely lost.
Soon after this treasure prophesy, Pande lost one of the sheeps he was taking care of. He came home very angry because he believed that he will get fired, as he had no money to compensate for the lost animal. Baba Vanga told him: “Don’t be angry. Your sheep is with Atanas from “Monosnitovo” village.
Pande was very surprised of what he heard, as he did not know of such person, and neither should have Baba Vanga. Quite concerned he asked her, how she came up with this explanation. She said that she dreamt about it. Baba Vanga was always saying that she dreamt things, which in turn came to be true and real. Possibly those were her first signs of clairvoyance. Pande went to the village Baba Vanga told him about, and found his sheep in the herd of the discussed Atanas.
At the end of every year, the municipality prepared a list with people in financial need, and small funds were released to support those people. Whole week in advance Lubka and Baba Vanga took post to wait for those funds. The clerks were very sad to see the two sisters waiting there. Baba Vanga was bare feet and from the cold her feet were red. “Why don’t you stay home where is warm, when you have no shoes to put” one woman asked. But at home it was rarely warm. They had no wood. When possible they gathered pine cones, but they burned fast and did not provide much heat. The room was most often frigid and since it was made out of reed, the wind was dancing in the middle of the room.
Despite that Baba Vanga was healthy, however in 1939 that unfortunately changed. She developed effusive pleurisy. Around 8 months she was between life and death. She lost so much weight that when It was sunny, it was Lubka to carry her out as a child. When her condition got really bad, they called a doctor from a nearby facility. When she entered, she looked around in disgust, and asked Lubka to lift Baba Vanga’s blanket. From the prolonged immobility Baba Vanga’s whole body was in sores and her skin was decaying. The doctor sent her assistant to bring some disinfectant and powder from the medical facility. Doctor walked out the room and told Lubka that her sister is very sick and will soon die.
This news spread quickly in the neighbourhood, and a priest was summoned to give her the last sacrament. The next day one of the workers at the tobacco monopoly, started donations campaign among the poor workers.
Two days after, Lubka went to take water from the well, which was quite far from their house. When she returned, she dropped the jag from surprise. Baba Vanga, who everyone expected to die soon, was out of bed, in the yard sweeping around. You could hardly tell that she was sick, only her colour was still pale. When she heard Lubka’s voice she told her “come on hurry up, start cleaning. We got to sweep everything because soon a lot of people will start coming here”.
1939 was a year of political volatilities. The recent government was aligning the country policy with this of Nazi Germany, and this caused a lot of protests and riots among the population. A lot of arrests happened. Pande also got arrested as he spoke to the people against the government and their direction, claiming that this will be devastating for the nation. At the time he was 53, and again he got beaten and tortured in prison. When he returned home, he looked like a derailed old man. Before he could fully recover, he was again looking for work to feed his family.
During the summer Pande tripped, fell and broke his arm. There was a cut as well, and unfortunately it got infected. Slowly the infection spread to the point where his whole body was affected. At all times he was surrounded by Baba Vanga and Lubka, taking care of him. At some point there was a mild improvement that gave them hope, but Lubka was hearing how Baba Vanga was crying all night, as if she knew that soon their father will pass away, leaving them complete orphans with no protection in this world. In September Pande’s condition got really bad, and both his sons joined baba Vanga and Lubka trying to help their father. After all this time, they were all together at last, but soon the hunger pressed them hard. Every morning both brothers went out to look for work. Vasil waited in front of the municipality building hoping that someone will take him as longshoreman. Tome worked in a butcher shop, cleaning guts all day, not for money, but for scraps of food. Often both brothers came home empty handed.
One day when they were at the very bottom with no food at all, Pande remembered an old friend of his, and send Lubka and Tome to ask him to lend them some money.
“I can’t give money like that”, the “good” friend Hristo Tudjarov said. “tomorrow you will go to my field and will gather the remaining cotton, then I will pay you”
Early in the morning Tome and Lubka went to the field and started picking cotton. It was October and a cold one. From the chilling strong wind, their hands cracked and got bluish. At the end, they returned to Hristo, who over the years became a rich man, and delivered him the small sack with cotton they’ve collected. He threw in Tome’s feet 2 levs and said that Lubka is too young to get paid…he shut the door at their faces. Snow started falling. On the way back both children were crying from pain and humiliation and their tears were soaking into the piece of bread they managed to buy with the earned money.
In the beginning of November, Pande felt that he is leaving this world, and he called all his children to his bed and told them. “Kids, I am dying and you will be left alone. Be honest and hardworking and listen to Baba Vanga, she will take care of you”. 8th of November 1940 Pande passed away at the age of 54. The children cleaned Pande’s body and put clothes on him, but had no money for a funeral. A whole day and a night they spend with the corpse in the room. The next day, one of their neighbours who was a sexton in the church, told the priest about their tragedy. The priest immediately made arrangements, and Pande was buried in the catholic cemetery for free. After the funeral, when he saw how poor and miserable the kids look, he gave them some of the church money, so they can buy some bread.
Very heavy days followed. It was only Baba Vanga’s spirit and strong character that prevented her brothers and sister to fall into complete dark desperation. She was carrying the heaviest burden, but regardless, she was inspiring her siblings to be strong, and to hope that better days are coming.
One day, a platoon of troops arrived at their door. Among them was Dimitar Gushterov, a 23 years old man from “Krandgilitza” village. He wanted to talk privately to Baba Vanga, because he had a pain in his heart. His brother was murdered close to “Sklave” village. He was a pig merchant and had business in the area. Baba Vanga came out of the house and before he was able to tell her anything she called him by name and said:
“I know why you are here. You want me to tell you who killed your brother. Maybe I will tell you after some time, but you have to promise me that you will not avenge him, because it is not necessary. You will be alive and you will witness their end”
Dimitar was so amazed from what happened. He had no idea, how she knew his name or how she knew about the pain in his heart. Few times after that Dimitar came to visit Baba Vanga, and they talked for a long time. Soon after, Baba Vanga told her sister Lubka, that Dimitar wants her for wife, and she agrees. She told Lubka that they are moving to live in the town of Petrich.
At the time both brothers were away. Vasil was drafted as a soldier, while Tome was dispatched against his will to work in Germany.
On 22nd April Dimitar Gushterov arrived with cart loaded with freshly cut smelly hay, covered with tilt, for comfort . He was well dressed and excited. The news spread quickly and neighbours and everyone who knew Baba Vanga started gathering to say goodbye. Some were telling her that she is making a mistake for leaving her home, but she did not listen to them. All that she was leaving behind were sad memories, misery and excessive poverty. Baba Vanga’s dowry was symbolic. She had a red scarf knit by herself and a couple of copper pots, this were all the belongings she had. They put a lock on the door and left the place for good.
They travelled with the cart on uneven road towards “Petrich”. They traveled in silence, a bit sad for leaving “Strumica”. They arrived in Petrich in the evening, and stopped in front of a small house, that previously was used as a warehouse and no one lived there. The house looked as if any second it will crumble on the heads of its new inhabitants. In front, there was a big messy yard. Curious eyes from nearby houses were checking Baba Vanga. Her reputation as clairvoyant had already spread around and people were checking her top to bottom. They were wondering how a blind woman can be a good house wife and take care of the household, they even were asking that out loud. Baba Vanga paid no attention to those comments.
They entered into a dark and dirty hallway. There were two rooms, one that was turned into a bedroom and the other one, Baba Vanga later used to meet her many visitors.
“There was a third additional room” Lubka remembers “ that we used as a kitchen, bedroom and generally everything. There was a bed made out of lumber that was placed on 4 gas tin-plates. There was no blanket, and for pillow there was a sack filled with corn leaves”
The described bed, was used by grandma Magdalena – Dimitar’s mother, who slept there with the three kids of Dimitar’s murdered brother, and two other kids from his other brothers. Everywhere it was filthy.
Simply put, Baba Vanga replaced one lifestyle of misery, with another no less miserable and difficult.
On 10th of May 1942 Baba Vanga got married to Dimitar Gushterov. It was not easy. Grandma Magdalena was not pleased with Baba Vanga. When she saw her, the first thing she said was “My son, some luck you’ve had” Maybe she was hoping that her son will bring home some strong redneck girl, that can take care of them all. In the house, besides grandma Magdalena and the 5 kids of Dimitar’s brothers, there was also the wife of the murdered brother, who was sick with tuberculosis and was fading away. Magdalena was already 70 years old and could do almost nothing.
Baba Vanga swallowed the insults, and soon showed what she is capable of. With her strong spirit, misery could not scare her, after all that is all she ever knew. Baba Vanga and Lubka started transforming the house. They scrubbed, cleaned, painted and very soon, the house looked tidy and welcoming. In this war time years it was very difficult to achieve coziness, but Baba Vanga did it, with basically nothing. From simple cloth she made curtains, and Lubka beautifully traversed them. From painted pack-thread they made covers for the beds.
Baba Vanga forbid the villagers to gather in her yard and to trade there. She cleaned and arranged the yard, everywhere her touch of a skilled and capable wife was present.
Then, towards the end of the war, in “Strumica” Region rebel squads started forming, and many young man joined in order to fight against the retreating German army. Lubka and Vasil, secretly agreed to enlist together. Vasil was 22 years old. Baba Vanga was very sad of this decision Vasil made. With tears pouring out of her eyes she was begging him: “Please don’t go. You will be killed at the age of 23”
But her brother told her that he does not believe her, and the very same day, he and Lubka went to “Strumica” where they found Tome. The next day three of them joined the communist guerilla movement.
On 8th of October 1944, Vasil who was currently a commander of a sapper squad, received orders to blow up a bridge near village “Furka”, as it was expected that units from the German army will retreat from there. Vasil successfully completed his task and blew the bridge, but did not notice that when he was getting matches out of his pocket, to light the dynamite, he dropped his ID card. German troops arrived to investigate and found the ID piece. They arrested a lumberjack that was working near the bridge and he confessed that he saw the man from the picture to lurk around. They arrested everybody from the village and locked them inside the church. Vasil was arrested with everyone else. The Germans issued an order that they will burn everyone alive if they don’t betray the person who blew up the bridge. The people knew that Vasil is the one, but they said nothing. Seeing no escape, Vasil stepped up and said “ It was me” . They recognized him from the previously found ID. He was pushed out of the church, and in front of everybody, tortured and executed as an example for the rest. 8th 0f October was Vasil’s birthday. He just made 23, when he was killed…
In 1947 after Baba Vanga’s husband built the new house, he got very sick. Ever since he came back from Greece he wasn’t feeling well, but right after he finished the house – apparently he got exhausted and that additionally contributed to his sickness. He also had strong stomach pains, and a friend of his advised him to drink a little bit of Rakia (traditional Bulgarian grape brandy) as it will relieve the pain. At first he drank very little, but over time he got addicted to the alcohol, and his life changed dramatically. He closed himself, for whole nights he stayed alone in his room, and he just drank. Most probably he had his own personal drama, but he didn’t want to share it with nobody. Both doctors and Baba Vanga were constantly talking to him to stop this destructive life, as he is going to kill himself if he continues to do that. Baba Vanga walked in the house like a shadow – she had a so much pain in her heart, that she cried for hours at night. Later she shared with her sister that she knew that there is no salvation for her husband. She kept this sad fact only to herself, and she was praying for the miracle to happen. At the same time hundreds of people kept coming every week to see Baba Vanga so she can read on them. She was compassionately listening to their tragic stories, she was giving them advices, as well as providing some with cures for their diseases. Still no one even suspected what kind of problem Baba Vanga had on her shoulders.
Dimitar Gushterov was “treating” himself with Rakia for 12 years, until he fell down on a bed. They took him in hospital as he developed cirrhosis on his liver, and his body started to fill with water. Baba Vanga insisted to stay with Mitko for close to a week. One day one of the doctors told Baba Vanga’s sister that he wanted to tell her something. Baba Vanga told her that she should save her words, as she knows very well that the end of her husband is approaching. She just wanted to go home with him. Over those six months of his sickness Baba Vanga was always around her husband – as if she wanted to pass on him some of her strength so he recovers. Or maybe this was one constant farewell with her loved one with whom she lived for 20 years.
Lyubka: “When Mitko was already in his agony, Baba Vanga was always right beside him, and tears were constantly coming out of her blind eyes. She was whispering something quietly – I don’t know if she was praying for his life to be saved, or she was saying goodbye. Mitko passed away on April 1st, 1962 when he was 42. We started to prepare the funeral and its ceremony – Baba Vanga was sleeping for long hours. She slept till the moment of the funeral. Later she told me that she has walked with Mitko to the designated place where his soul had to go. On the next morning I went out to tell all visitors that Baba Vanga buried her husband yesterday, and that she won’t be accepting people today. She heard me and said: “No, don’t tell them to go, I will accept all of them – they need me.”
At one point, Baba Vanga was incapable of dealing with the thousands of people that were visiting her each month. This is when she sought the help from the Government. On October 3rd, 1967 Baba Vanga was officially employed by the Government. They hired people to organize the visits, as well as providing security and comfort for Baba Vanga. A special service bureau was established that was booking the appointments for the prophetess. All those Government activities unofficially recognized Baba Vanga for her phenomenal skills.
Who was Baba Vanga and what type of person she was – story told by Krasimira Stoyanova, Baba Vanga’s nephew?
There was nothing unusual in the lifestyle of Baba Vanga – she lived a very ordinary life, like most people. She lived in a full harmony with mother nature as being part of it. She could read the messages of everything surrounding her- animals, plants, space, even the rocks, because according to Baba Vanga everything lives and there is no “lifeless nature” – everything subordinates one superior organization and intelligence.
“I can’t sleep at night. How can I – when I go to bed all of the people’s tragedies that I’ve heard during the day come through my mind again. There is so much pain in this world. There is something else – when it is quiet at night, I hear the cosmic sounds as well. I hear how the cosmic bells ring every hour and how everything that’s alive reflect this rhythm. This is why the flower knows when to open up, or the rooster never makes a mistake what time he has to crow. How can I sleep? If I could tell you everything that I see – a miracle would have happen. The world’s secrets that I know but I am not allowed to tell them, are so many that they can fill up a big dam.”
The little house of Baba Vanga “remembers” many tears and people’s tragedies. But the biggest tragedy is that of its landlord – Baba Vanga who is accumulating all of this pain in her heart and is giving back hope and cure whenever she can. In the middle of the living room – where Baba Vanga had accepted her visitors, there is a big table that is full with gifts given to the prophetess from her visitors, as well as countless of sugar cubes wrapped up in paper. Sugar is one of the many mysterious around Baba Vanga, as she asks her visitors to bring her some sugar, that has stayed at their home for at least a couple of days. When the visitor enters the room, she takes his sugar, starts to touch it for a couple of seconds, and then she starts the reading. Why sugar? What is stored in those little crystals, so Baba Vanga can tell with such a striking accuracy details of someone’s life. Even Baba Vanga can’t answer this question. She told me once that in her first years of reading, she had to have a burning candle infront of her. “Because I am blind, I could have had an accident with the candle, and the voice told me to switch to sugar, as it is clean.”
Behind the big table is where usually Baba Vanga sits. Typically she is so exhausted and pale, that she barely breaths. Sometimes she doesn’t have strength even to talk. I have heard her sometimes whispering something like: “Dear God, was I the greatest sinner, so you punished me with this heavy cross? You gave me so much, but you also want from me so much?” Then she would stand up slowly from the chair on which she sat for more than three hours straight, she would take off her upper clothing, and will slowly head to her bedroom, where she would relax for a bit. But as it was mentioned above, Baba Vanga rarely sleeps. She lies down for a while, stays quiet, and very often she would knit so she can truly get some rest. She loved knitting, as this was one of the few things that helped her relax. She used to be a very skilful knitter. She was doing it very fast, and the clothes she would knit would reflex her inspiration. She had numerous models that she made up herself. She had knitted hundreds of vests, sweaters, skirts, etc. Very happy from what she produced, many of her things were given as gifts to random friends and visitors, and she was as happy as a small child when people loved her gifts.
Baba Vanga Books
On this link you can see the most popular Bulgarian books written on Baba Vanga – http://books.balkanatolia.com
Under “search” simply copy and paste “Баба Ванга” – Baba Vanga in Cyrilic alphabet.