Slavic Wool leggings

The 1st pair of socks recorded was said to be have been made from animal skins-Greek poet Hesido 8th century BC called piloi made from matted animal hair. The Slavic women weavers to this day gather the wool from the sheep and spin into yarn. The weaving and embroidery continues to have symbolic representations such as flowers.

These lived applications are linked to our human nervous system – especially the Ventral Vagal Nerve- which is the safe and social engagements that halt the sympathetic nervous system’s fright and flight. Actually, gives us another path to follow in our nervous system which is autonomic- done without our consciousness. The Ventral nerve is influenced by the repetitive domestic work and life experiences of movement that comes from social engagement and connection.

Blood & Honey: Secret Herstory of Women

A year after September 11th, 2001, I continued my Kolo Trauma work with the Novi Travnik Kolo Sumejja women despite the hatred swirling in the aftermath of the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York City by an all-male group of terrorists. The town of Ahmica, site of the massacre of 150 Muslims during a morning call to prayer during the Balkan Wars, is about two kilometers away from Novi Travnik. The majority of the few survivors are grandmothers who were tending the cows in nearby fields and were forced simply to watch the slaughter of their families, unable to help.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia was established to try each individual accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity. Reading the transcript of the Ahmica/Vitez war crimes trial is itself a trial. Facing the Muslim women war crimes survivors takes courage and bravery. Hearing and witnessing their stories seemed impossible, as I had to keep my hands in my pockets and not over my ears.

Storied Instructions

At first, I thought the Bosnian women from Ahmica looked like thick, walking birch trees. Their pristine white headscarves over dark dresses with creases resembled the bark of Bosnian birches. There was a hushed silence, and I felt the need to bow to them as they filed into the elementary school classroom in Novi Travnik where I was holding the February 2002 training session.

I stood back to watch the Ahmica women make a flowing entrance, just like the reverence I would give to a great stand of trees or a sacred grove.
The only times I have ever felt this crackle of lighting within me before have been in moments of raw, unadulterated beauty that I have found in my hikes and walks in nature, especially the thick, green forests of Bosnia. I heard the soft whispers of the birds, gurgling mountain streams, and the wind whistling in the boughs of the trees as the Ahmica women walked into the hall, their long dresses and head scarves rustling.

To witness and to hear the whispers of Mother Nature from these Ahmica women—more melodious than the bugles and military parades of dead, patriarchal ceremonies—is to live and breathe female sovereignty. I was experiencing my first female evocation of the White Birch Tree Council.

Dr. Danica Anderson
Social Scientist, Trauma Expert
The Kolo: Women’s Cross-Cultural Collaboration