Baba and “tičnica” shrines

Baba and “tičnica” shrines

The word “Baba” refers to lonely rock formations, which reminded our ancestors, Old Believers and natural believers, of ageing hunched women, and in some cases even of old men. In latter cases they called them “dedci”. It seems that the designers of prehistoric sanctuaries were happy if they saw a beautiful “baba” on the chosen hill, either as a confirmation that they had come to the right place, or they used the rock for an altar or sacrificial altar.

People have always been convinced, even more so than today, that the soul does not immediately go to the next world after death, but instead wanders and suffers for a certain period of time. It is not known how long our hillfort builders allowed the souls to stay in the “earthly waiting room”. In order to shorten the suffering of a deceased’s soul, in pre-Christian times, relatives and friends gathered on a special hill, usually near the hillfort, and performed a ritual there in the form of prayer, calling and singing. Here they came into contact with God’s messenger birds, who were carrying out the departure to eternity ordered by God’s will. In order to raise money for them, they sacrificed birds on special altars. The places where our ancestors prayed to God with the help of divine messenger birds (“tice”) were called “tičnice”. These were prehistoric shrines.
Babas, hillforts and “tičnica” shrines determine the life and beliefs of Slovenian Old Believers (pagans) in the pre-Christian period. The ceremonial hill with the “tičnica” shrine is located SE of the municipal centre, near the hamlet of Dolga vas, which is now an integral part of Žužemberk. Locals know it as the “Korenova Tičnica”. The traditional name of this area is “Na pogankah”, which is strongly reminiscent of pre-Christian beliefs. “Holm Tičnica”, after the cessation of the “Tičnica” ritual, has been agriculturally cultivated until today, so the earth traces of the former ritual have been erased.

Among the Slovene local-traditional names, there are many that are connected with Baba. There are over fifty such names and place-name combinations in the index of place name of the Atlas of Slovenia. There are even more traditional names for various lonely rocks, rock formations, water bodies or caves, which are known only to the locals, and knowledge about them is preserved by oral tradition.

The sanctuaries of the natural believers were gathering places of spirits and places of intercession of believers to God, and therefore they were not particularly inviting to human looters, except for the not particularly valuable things offered on the altars. That is why the shrine builders focused more on accessibility rather than on the safety of their churches.


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