Vanga was born in Strumica, then in the Ottoman Empire, later consecutively in Kingdom of Bulgaria, Kingdom of Yugoslavia, again in Bulgaria, SFR Yugoslavia and today in the Republic of Macedonia. During the second Bulgarian annexation of the region (1941-1944) she moved to Petrich, (then and now in Bulgaria). She was a premature baby who suffered from health complications. In accordance with local tradition, the baby was not given a name until it was deemed likely to survive. When the baby first cried out, a midwife went into the street and asked a stranger for a name. The stranger proposed Andromaha (Andromache), but this was rejected as “too Greek”, so the second stranger’s proposal, Vangelia (Vangelis, Greek: Βαγγελία, short for Ευαγγελία, “herald of the good news”, from the components ευ- meaning “good” and άγγελος which means “messenger”), was accepted – also a Greek name, but popular in the region.
In her childhood, Vangelia was an ordinary girl. Her father was conscripted into the Bulgarian Army during World War I, and her mother died when Vanga was quite young, which meant the girl depended on the neighbors for a long time. Vanga was intelligent, with blue eyes and blond hair. Her inclinations started to show up when she herself thought out games and loved playing “healing” – she prescribed some herbs to her friends, who pretended to be ill. Her father, being a widower, eventually married a good woman, thus providing a stepmother to his daughter.
A turning point in her life was a storm which lifted Vanga up and threw her in the field (this claim has not been verified with meteorological records or other accounts from that time). She was found after a long search – very frightened, and her eyes were covered with sand and dust, so she couldn’t open them because of the pain. No healing gave results. There was money only for a partial operation, so her eyesight was failing.
In 1925 Vanga was brought to a school for the blind in the city of Zemun (Serbia), where she spent three years, and was taught to read Braille, play the piano, as well as do knitting, cooking, and cleaning. After the death of her stepmother she had to go back home, in order to take care of her younger siblings. Her family was very poor, and she had to work all day.
In 1939 Vanga caught pleurisy, although she had been quite healthy in the previous years. The doctor’s opinion was that she would soon die but she recovered quickly.
Gr Petrich kushtata na baba Vanga v grada.jpg
During World War II Vanga attracted more believers – a number of people visited her, hoping to get a hint about whether their relatives were alive, or seeking for the place where they died. On 8 April 1942 the Bulgarian king Boris III visited her.
On 10 May 1942 Vanga married Dimitar Gushterov, a man from a village near Petrich, who had come asking for the killers of his brother, but had to promise her not to seek revenge. Shortly before marriage, Dimitar and Vanga moved to Petrich, where she soon became well-known. Dimitar was later conscripted in Bulgarian Army and had to spend some time in then Bulgaria annexed Northern Greece. He got another illness in 1947, fell into alcoholism, and eventually died on 1 April 1962.
Vanga died on 11 August 1996. Her funeral attracted large crowds, including many dignitaries.
Fulfilling Vanga’s last will and testament, her Petrich house has turned into a museum, which opened its doors on 5 May 2008
Vanga was illiterate or semi-literate. She did not write any books herself. Her speech was difficult to distinguish and she spoke a heavy dialect – recent TV recordings used subtitles for the Bulgarian audience. What she said or allegedly said had been captured by staff members. Later numerous esoteric books on Vanga’s life and predictions were written.
Vanga claimed that her extraordinary abilities had something to do with the presence of invisible creatures, but she couldn’t clearly explain their origin. She said that those creatures gave her information about people, which she could not transmit to them, because distance and time didn’t matter. According to Vanga, the life of everyone standing in front of her, was like a film to her, from birth till death. But changing “what was written on the generation” was beyond her power.
She is said to have foretold the break-up of the Soviet Union, the Chernobyl disaster, Boris Yeltsin’s electoral victory, the date of Stalin’s death, the sinking of the Russian submarine Kursk, the September 11 attacks and Topalov’s victory in the world chess tournament.
Vanga attempted prophesies of newborn or unborn children. She said that she was “seeing” and “talking” to people, who had died hundreds of years ago. Vanga talked about the future, although she did not like to. In her words, in 200 years man will make contact with brothers in mind from other worlds. She said that many aliens have been living on the earth for years. They came from the planet, which in their language is called Vamfim, and is the third planet from the Earth.
Followers of Vanga believe that she knew the precise date of her own death, and shortly before that she had said that a 10-year-old blind girl living in France was to inherit her gift, and that people would soon hear about her.
According to the Russian newspaper Pravda Vanga has predicted that a World War III will start in 2010.
Apart from prophesying, Vanga was believed to be a healer, but only through herbal medicines. According to her, people had to heal themselves only with herbs from the country they live in. She prescribed washing with an infusion of herbs and spices, claiming some beneficial effect on the skin. Vanga did not oppose mainstream medicine, although she thought that taking too much medicines is bad, because “they close the doors, through which nature restores the balance in the body with herbs.”
Vanga was widely known to be close to the government of Todor Zhivkov and, on several occasions, she appeared on public TV with him and other high officials of the Communist Party. It has been alleged that Vanga used data gathered by the secret services to win the trust of her visitors. To date, this is yet to be investigated.
Skeptics accuse her of speaking too ambiguously – suggesting that any cryptic thought can apply to a future historical event, sooner or later.
Vanga is known to have been rude to people whom she considered bad and sinful. The guilty person’s deeds were usually exposed by her in detail before she sent him or her away.
Believers think that sometimes Vanga intentionally hid information, especially bad news, from the people concerned. This is attributed to her philanthropy, and is confirmed by her relatives to have caused her discomfort after the visitor left. Vanga said that she is not allowed to reveal certain facts to anybody.