When you turn off the highway to head toward Melnik, there is an ancient volcanic crater. It is the one-time home of Baba Vanga, a Bulgarian clairvoyant who convinced many that she possessed paranormal abilities. It’s an interesting place, housing an entire compound of buildings and volcanic hot springs. Vanga’s house is preserved there, and an Orthodox shrine stands guard over her grave.
Even the most jaded Bulgarian will state with firm conviction that Vanga was no hoax – that her powers were real, at least to some degree. To this day, there are posters of her on the walls of homes in Blagoevgrad, and other Macedonian villages. I don’t know whether the invisible creatures, whom she said gave her information about people and events, were figments of her imagination or spirits. It doesn’t matter; people came to her to prophesy about their newborn, or unborn, children.
Vanga is the epitome of the Bulgarian mindset. Part Orthodox traditionalism, part pagan mysticism – she bridges the gap between the ancient Thracian traditions which still hold sway in the Balkans, and the newer (if you call a few hundred years) traditions of the Orthodox faith. Vanga always gave glory to God for her powers, powers that are admittedly at odds with the tenants of most Christian faiths. It’s an interesting dichotomy.
Vanga’s disciples believe she knew the precise date of her own death. They claim that she prophesied the arrival of her successor before she passed, a 10-year-old blind girl living in France who was to inherit her gift.