The website of Georgi Bonchev

For more than 10 years one of my favourite activity was to write in several different blogs (mostly in Bulgarian).

Due to lack of free time I stopped working on my blogs in 2020.

I present here one of my materials written in English.

The controversial Bulgarian prophet Baba Vanga

Baba Vanga (Grandmother Vanga) was a bulgarian clairvoyant well known in Russia and in her own country Bulgaria. In recent years I noticed a lot of articles about her in western news sites as well. Vanga is even called the Nostradamus of the Balkans. According to some the blind prophet foretold 9/11, the 2004 tsunami, the Fukushima disaster and the birth of ISIS. But did she? Let's find out.

Let me start with some bio. Baba Vanga (31 January 1911 – 11 August 1996), born Vangeliya Pandeva Dimitrova, known after her marriage as Vangelia Gushterova, was a blind mystic, clairvoyant, and herbalist, who spent most of her life in the city of Petrich or in Rupite village in the southern mountains of Bulgaria. She was born in Strumica, then in the Ottoman Empire, present day Republic of Macedonia. In her childhood, Vangelia was an ordinary child with brown eyes and blonde hair. According to her own testimony, a turning point in her life occurred when a 'tornado' allegedly lifted her into the air and threw her in a nearby field. She was found after a long search. Witnesses described her as very frightened, and her eyes were covered with sand and dust, she was unable to open them because of the pain. She gradually lost sight.

During World War II, Vanga attracted believers with her ability to heal and soothsay – a number of people visited her, hoping to get a hint about whether their relatives were alive. On 8 April 1942 even the Bulgarian tzar Boris III visited her. In 1942 Vanga married Dimitar Gushterov, a bulgarian soldier who had come asking for the killers of his brother but had to promise her not to seek revenge. He got ill in 1947, fell into alcoholism, and eventually died on 1 April 1962.

She continued to be visited by both important persons and commoners after World War Two. Bulgarian politicians and leaders from different Soviet Republics, even Leonid Brezhnev, sought her counsel. Vanga died on 11 August 1996 from breast cancer.

You can read more about her life in this Wikipedia article.

Baba Vanga's house in Rupite:

Nowadays there is a church dedicated to Baba Vanga. The Church of St Petka was constructed at a site chosen by Baba Vanga in 1992. It should be noted that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church do not approve this temple claiming it is in conflict with canons. Orthodox Church is even harsher toward Vanga herself. In 2011 some priests proclaimed Peter Deunov for a false preacher and Baba Vanga for nothing more that a sorceress. (Note: Peter Deunov is another popular bulgarian from the past, philosopher and spiritual teacher). Nikolay, the well known metropolitan of Plovdiv (quite controversial figure himself) even claimed Vanga was a satanic phenomen.

But was her phenomen at all? It is very hard to say. There are a lot of believers who will fiercely defend her (I put priests in the "believers" as they believe in her powers, they just deny they are from God). There are a lot of sceptics too (myself included). Unfortunately as always after so many years it is hard to separate facts from fiction but let's try to do it anyway.

I had my first doubts about Vanga as a young teenager. It was 1994 and Bulgarian national football team was very successful in 15th FIFA World Cup, held in the the United States. I heard on TV that Vanga had predicted who would reach the final. She said two countries beginning with the letter "B" would be in the final match. At that stage there were only two countries with "B" as a first letter still in the competition - Bulgaria and Brazil. So everyone expected Bulgaria to reach the final. It did not happen. The final match was Brazil vs Italy (Brazil won).

Two years latter Vanga died and the story seemed over. But few years after that I noticed something strange - more and more articles about Vanga started to appear. They were about never heard before predictions of Vanga. Soon I started to notice a pattern. They claimed a lot of past events were predicted by Vanga but almost none of the future predicted events ever came true. I noticed the same pattern in english articles too. Here is an example:

Here are 13 predictions that Baba Vanga made for 2016 and the future

"She is called the Nostradamus of the Balkans, and with good reason. Baba, Vanga, the blind Bulgarian clairvoyant, who died 20 years ago, is believed to have predicted the rise of the ISIS, the fall of the twin towers, the 2004 Tsunami, and the global warming, among a host of other events."

Barack Obama will be the last president of the US: Baba Vanga had predicted that the 44th US president would be an African American, but she had also added that he would be the last one.

Europe will cease to exist: According to Baba Vanga, the continent will cease to exist by 2016, and all that would remain will be empty spaces and wasteland, nearly devoid of any form of life.

Well, it is now 2017 and we know Obama was not the last president of USA and as I live in Europe I can asure you it is still very populated and lively. So what about all those global predictions? Once I talked with someone who have written a book about Baba Vanga and she told me most of the things we see as Vanga's predictions have never been told by her. It is all "fake news".

This is the reason why I stopped to pay attention to any news about Vanga. Still that does not answer the question about her supposed supernatural powers. Were they real? Ordinary people who visited Vanga in the past might give us more accurate picture about her. Unfortunately I haven't met (online and offline) a lot of such people as they are from an older generation. Most of the stories that I have heard are second hand accounts. They are not very convincing.

Here is a quick example. Once I talked with someone who claimed Baba Vanga predicted to his parents that their only son would spent some time in the prison. He really spent some time behind bars and he was firm believer in Vanga (almost as a fanatic). I did not get a lot of info from him. I don't know when he learned about this prediction. Did his parents tell him about that before or after he has been in prison? Did this man learn about the prediction before going to prison? In this case is this a self-fulfilled prophecy? He might lived all his life without too much of a care. Good or bad behavior was not important, prison was ahead no matter what. So maybe he chose the bad but funny way of life. Or maybe his parents told him about the prophecy after he got out of prison? Maybe they just wanted to calm him and it is all a lie made up by them - "you are not guity, this was your fate that cannot be changed, Vanga told us so." I am not claiming that any of this is the real explanation about this case, I am just showing that I still haven't found the smoking gun witness account. The one that will prove Baba Vanga was a real clairvoyant.

Still there are some very interesting stories from ordinary people written in reliable sources. I read about two such cases in the memoirs of Petko Venedikov.

Petko Venedikov (1905-1995) was a very famous and respected bulgarian lawyer, a professor of Roman and civil law, known for his writings on property law, family law, civil process. Not many people know that he was very interested in supernatural as well. He participated in a lot of spiritual seances. This is the part about Baba Vanga that I find interesting:

"There was a lot of talk about famous Vanga from Petrich. I have heard a lot of things about her. But undoubtedly the first credible story was told by my colegue Peter Gerganov, a young lawyer and zealous communist party member. He had visited Vanga twice for a criminal case. First time Vanga said that his client would be sent to prison but for how long she could not tell then. On the day before the trial she said he would be sentenced to two years. This was court verdict as well.
The other case I heard one evening at the office of the late lawyer Komitski. I was already retired and he invited me after work to go to him because he had a jug of good wine. A working woman, forty-five years old, came in the office. Komitski introduced her as a former communist guerilla, now head of a department in "Malchika" factory. She told us the story that follows. After the victory (over the old regime) she and a friend of her passed through Petrich. They have heard a lot about Vanga and they decided to talk to her. Why not? They called her home and Vanga said: "Come in, but leave your guns outside." Vanga told the woman about her family, parents, brothers, sisters, etc. Also Vanga said something like that: "When you were going to a meeting with Tano Tsolov (another guerilla) you slipped into the river ... Since then there is a scar on the handle of your gun." Then Vanga told her: "In your village there is a large tree. On so-and-so feet away a rifle is buried. This rifle belonged to (name withheld) who was killed at (name withheld)." The woman then told us that when they came out she checked her gun and there really was a scar. Then they went to her village and they found the buried riffle."

These two cases are very interesting and I will come to them again later in this article. There are more things about Vanga in the memoirs of Petko Venedikov.

"Two or three years ago when Perestroika started in Russia professor Shipkovenski made a film about Vanga. It showed conversations between Vanga and some people. I noticed that at the beginning Vanga was uncertain about family members of the people and gave some false answers but slowly her answers became more accurate. [ ... ] There were three psychiatrists and two psychologists in the film. To my surprise, they claimed Vanga is a fraud. She used the reactions to the false answers to understand what answer people expect at the end. It was quite absurd. I know that there are magicians in circus who can "read minds" in this way. Tricksters talk to the people and observe their expressions and body language so they can find the correct answer. But none of this was true in the case of Vanga. She is blind."

Today a lot of serious scientists from Bulgaria and Russia continue to doubt Vanga's paranormal abilities. At the end of 2016 I read an article about the russian academician Evgeny Alexandrov and Vanga. This is part of the article:

"Everything is known for Vanga. She was a blind sad woman. But she also was an excellent businesswoman who once managed to turn one of the most backward and obscure places in Bulgaria into a center of pilgrimage for people from all over the world. Do you know who most prayed for her? Taxi drivers, waiters in restaurants and cafes, hoteliers - people who earn good money from the work of the "clairvoyant", said the academician.
According to him, these people (taxi drivers, waiters and so on) were communicating with visitors and then they were giving all the information to Vanga. Then Baba Vanga was telling the same information to her astonished visitors. Alexandrov revealed that there were such "psychics" in Russia too.
Is that all? Was it all just a clever scam? We may never know. Still maybe there is something more that can be added to the story of Baba Vanga, something that is dark and sinister.

There are a lot of rumours, speculations and claims that "Baba Vanga" was actually a project of the bulgarian secret service known as Committee for State Security (ДС). It was a very powerful organization. According to some it did not disband after the fall of the communist regime but transformed and went underground. A lot of people in Bulgaria beleive that today ДС still rules the country behind the scenes. The secret archive of ДС is not fully declassified to this day and it is a source of great controversy. The agency is often incriminated with the ill-famed murder of dissident writer Georgi Markov using a "Bulgarian umbrella" on London's Waterloo Bridge in 1978 and was formerly accused of the 1981 attempt on Pope John Paul II's life. So it was (is?) a very powerful organization that can do with ease something like a large scale social control project. According to this conspiracy theory secret agents used Vanga to spy on people who visited her. They would often tell her things that they wouldn't normally tell anyone else. Conection between ДС and Vanga can be a good explanation for the incredible cases from Petko Venedikov's memoirs. Maybe Vanga knew in advance what will be the prison sentence of the accused man, agents have told her. And maybe "the buried rifle" is just a legend created by the secret service. This story was told by an ex-guerilla and as a devoted supporter of the regime she would tell everything that agents wanted from her. Still I don't say that this is how thing happened but it is a possible scenario.

So is it Baba Vanga a real prophet at the end? Hard to tell. Maybe we will know much more about her one day when all secret archives are declassified. When this finally happens (if ever) we will know much more about another strange events from the past too. Like what the military found in 1990 when they dug deep into the so called "Hole of Tsarichina".

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