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Rasema - Feminine Slavic Thaumaturgy

Categorized in these topics: Apprenticeship Bosnia Feminine Matrix and Female Culture Refugees

Rasema Sehic is 61. I have known Rasema now for 3 years from my trauma work in Bosnia. When I first met her she was silent and beyond hopelessness. Large boned and very Slavic in her face and body, she would mostly cry making sounds but no words.

I discovered she had lost two husbands and her two sons. Her sons died in the Balkan war conflict. Burying her two sons sent Rasema into her state of hopelessness and despair. The war may have ended years ago but the war still rages on. In the aftermath of a war the tortures and rapes of the soul are in full earnest. The economic conditions only worsen in the aftermath hitting women and children the hardest.

Her first husband served in the army and since he was Muslim he was conscripted to give blood while in Slovenia. Rasema in a very hushed manner stated that it was after that her husband got distressingly ill. The army said it was leukemia but the description of symptoms Rasema describes was more like AIDS. Many stories from other Muslims serving in the former Yugoslav army are the same. As a widow Rasema was left with her daughter and son to face the oncoming Balkan war.

Her second husband was Croatian. Living in the Croatian part of the town during the war, both were not allowed to see her sons and his son. When news reached the parents of their son death from playing roulette with his Croatian cousin whose father hated Rasema and her son his brother's offspring. Upon hearing the news Rasema's husband killed himself.

Perhaps, her son simply did not want to kill someone he might have had coffee with before the war and preferred to die by his own hand or that of his cousin. Or was he trying to make sense of the insane war?

I travel to Bosnia at least 2 to 3 times a year to do trauma treatment and to facilitate psychotherapy training so that the Bosnian women themselves would become self-sustainable economically and to have skills that heal intergenerational trauma. With my trauma treatment and training Rasema began to speak more and learned to mourn and grieve with her heart and soul amongst the Kolo (means circle or to dance) Sumejja women. These Bosnian Muslim women have been in training with me since March 1999.

In January 2004 Rasema came to Olympia for an intensive trauma and training. She felt the beauty of the huge mountains and the rivers which fostered her awe of America. Rasema barely has enough bus fare money to travel to Sarajevo let alone the states. Visiting her daughter in St. Louis was an invitation she could not refuse and when she was invited to do trauma treatment/training in Olympia she was eager and excited.

At my women's kolos/circles in Olympia Rasema taught them how to make strudel (pita) from scratch. Stretching the dough to a transparency to see more of who you are was a metaphor of the heart. At one point Rasema turned to me and stated how she felt like she was the consultant this time and was thrilled with the honor bestowed to her.

In the simplest of acts such as learning to make a Bosnian dish the threading of universal understanding made its completion. Language was not a barrier not because I can converse in my mother tongue but due to the small acts such as women cooking together and bearing witness to each other's stories. The healing of intergenerational trauma can only be done when women are in a kolo/circle together bearing witness.

Rasema's work and training/treatment resulted in knowing that women are the healers for their communities and are the culture healers. I noticed the healing in Rasema and I noticed the healing in the women who met her. Everything was reciprocal.

Feminine Slavic thaumaturgy with its elements of awe, wonder and marvel produced positive and unconditional regard amongst Rasema and the women she met in Olympia. Thaumaturgy is about practicing miracles and the Slavic women are naturals at this. In Bosnia I saw the women cleaning up in the aftermath of the war and making due with nothing. Usually working with their bare hands, the South Slavic women created miracle after miracle despite the one million mines buried in their back yards.


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