In the Ottoman Empire, in 1911, a baby girl was born into a poverty-stricken household. From her humble beginnings, she would grow to become one of the most sought out prophets of her time, providing counsel to major political figures and comfort to the commoners. By the time of her death, she would become legendary the world over for her accurate predictions of wide-scale events and her ability to speak with the dead. This is the story of Baba Vanga, the Balkan Nostradamus.
Baba (“Granny”) Vanga was born on October 3, 1911 in Strumica, a village in the Ottoman Empire in Macedonia. Her father, Pando Surchev, was an Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Activist enlisted in the Bulgarian Army during World War I. Vanga was born a premature child with health complications, and was not initially expected to live. As was custom in the area, the naming of the child was reserved until such time as it was evident that she would survive. When the midwife saw that the baby girl was growing healthier, she took to the streets of Strumica, excitedly asking for the townspeople to recommend a name for the baby. It was at that time that the child was given the name Vangeliya Pandeva Surchev, or Vanga for short. Her mother, Paraskeva, died shortly after Vanga’s birth, and with her father still away in the war, much of her early childhood was spent being raised by neighbors and family friends.
After the war had ended, the town of Strumica was ceded to the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, or Yugoslavia, and Pando was arrested by Yugoslav authorities for his revolutionary activism. As a part of his punishment, all of the family’s property was confiscated by the government, leaving Pando to raise his daughter in poverty. He married shortly after his imprisonment, giving Vanga a stepmother, Tanka.
It was in 1923, when Vanga was 12, that a horrific incident occurred which would change her life forever. On a journey into town with her cousins, a great tornado swept through the fields, carrying Vanga into the air and dropping her several meters away. Her cousins ran back to the village and to Tanka, yelling frantically that Vanga had been taken away by the tornado and that they could not find her. The members of Vanga’s family, along with the villagers, took to the fields looking for Vanga. After a long search, she was finally located far into the fields. Her eyes were filled and covered with dirt and sand, leaving her in pain and preventing her from being able to open them. Her father brought her to the town to be seen by a medical specialist, who advised that he may be able to repair Vanga’s eyes through surgery. Though making an immense effort to pawn off belongings and generate the funds, Pando and Tanka were only able to raise enough money to heal the injuries done to Vanga’s face and eyes. Her sight, however, had been lost forever.
In 1925, Vanga was taken to Zemun, Yugoslavia, to live in a special school for the blind. In her 3 years there, she learned to read Bulgarian in Braille, to play piano, and to knit, cook, and clean. It was also during this time that Vanga began to realize her gift for “second sight”. Per her own testimony, her time at the school was the first that she was able to see the dead in her visions. In 1928, her stepmother, Tanka, passed away, and her father came to bring her back to Strumica to help care for her siblings.
Vanga’s special abilities were not at first well received by the people in her village, and rumors circulated that she had been touched by the Devil. However, by the time that World War II had begun to ensue, and Bulgaria took control of the town of Strumica, Vanga had gained many followers and believers in her abilities to predict the future and speak to the dead. People would travel from afar to visit Vanga and seek her advice and counsel. One man, Dimitar Gushterov, a Bulgarian soldier, sought out Vanga asking her to reveal who had killed his brother, promising not to take revenge. On May 10, 1942, Vanga married this man, and became Vangeliya Pandeva Gushterova. The two moved to Petrich, Bulgaria, Dimitar’s hometown, where Vanga would live out the remainder of her life. Following the war, Dimitar fell prey to illness and alcoholism, and died in 1962.
During her time in Petrich, news of Vanga’s abilities spread like wildfire, and as she aged, she took on the name Baba Vanga. Many commoners lined up to visit Baba Vanga and to speak to her about their futures and their loved ones. Dignitaries from all over the region visited her for strategic counsel.
Baba Vanga’s predictions over the years have become nothing short of astounding. In The Weiser Field Guide to the Paranormal by Judith Joyce, she is credited as having accurately predicted the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Chernobyl Disaster of 1986, the date of Joseph Stalin’s death, and the sinking of the Russian submarine, the Kursk. She was once visited by a member of President Boris Yeltsin’s cabinet, during which she accurately predicted his coming electoral victory, and warned him of his heart condition. In 1976, Yugoslav actress and singer Silvana Armenulic came to visit Baba Vanga, who refused to turn around and look at her. It is reported that Baba Vanga stated, “I do not want to speak with you. Not now. Go and come back in 3 months.” Then, after some thought, and as Armenulic was turning to leave, Vanga continued, “Wait. In fact, you will not be able to come. Go, go. If you can come back in 3 months, do so.” Armenulic died two months later in a car crash with her sister. In 1989, Vanga accurately predicted the great tsunami of Sumatra, Indonesia, which would take place in 2004 and would take the lives of over 230,000 people.
A huge wave will cover a big coast covered with people and towns. And everything will disappear beneath the water.-Baba Vanga, on the tsunami in Sumatra, Indonesia
It was also in 1989 that Baba Vanga made some startling predictions regarding the United States. In one of her visions, she stated, “The American Brethren will fall after being attacked by steel birds. The wolves will be howling in a bush, and innocent blood will be gushing.” This vision would become widely discussed once again 12 years later, following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. In another case, Vanga is quoted as saying, “The 44th President of the United States will be an African American man”, foreseeing the election of President Barack Obama. Recently, and most startlingly, a close confidant of Baba Vanga’s had described visions that had been told her prior to Vanga’s death, but that did not make sense at the time. She reported that Vanga once stated that the 45th President of the United stated would be a “messianic personality” who would be faced with a crisis that eventually “brings the country down”. A direct quote, misunderstood by the confidant in the moment, stated, “The corona will be all over us.” This specific statement lay buried in potential confusion for years, as the word “корона” (“corona”) in Bulgarian translates to “crown”. However, with the recent outbreaks of COVID-19 the world over, this statement, as well as the former, has begun to take on a new and chilling definition.
In her later years, Baba Vanga’s abilities were studied closely by many scientific experts in an effort to either understand or debunk their existence. In the late 1950’s, the Bulgarian government commissioned psychiatrists Nicola Shipkovensky and Georgi Lozanov to test the “blind mystic” – a study outlined in the 1977 documentary Fenomen, by director Nevena Tosheva. An approximate 20 years later, Dr. Yuriy Negribetzkiy, an academic and doctor in the field of energetic and informational science with the International Academy of Science – a doctor who had dedicated much of his life to the study of clairvoyance – performed his own study with Baba Vanga. In these instances, Vanga’s predictions were recorded and studied over a period of time. Both studies found her predictions to be 75-80% accurate. Still, many sceptics of Baba Vanga’s abilities exist to this day. As the direct verbiage of Vanga’s predictions has never been well documented in audio, visual, or written media, many claim that the wording in her predictions had been later changed to fit an event after its occurrence, or that more recent predictions may not have been made at all, and are instead a hoax propagated by Baba Vanga’s followers.
Vangeliya Pandeva Gushterova passed away on August 11, 1996 from breast cancer at the age of 84. Per her last wishes, her home in Petrich was converted to a museum in her honor, and in one of her last visions, she predicted that a 10-year-old girl from France would inherit her gifts upon her coming death, soon to become very well known. In 2013, Channel One Russia commissioned a 24-part biographical series entitled Vangelia – a beautiful testament to the life of Baba Vanga, which can be currently found on YouTube featuring English subtitles. What do you make of Baba Vanga and her special talents? Are you a believer? Or do you need more evidence? Drop a comment below and tell me your thoughts. And stay tuned for another entry in The K Files.
If you have an unsolved mystery of the past or present that you would like see covered on The K Files, please feel free to send me a note at [email protected]. Follow me on Twitter @SpookySaraKay. Stay curious, fellow truth-seekers.