(Essay) Three-Fingered Fish Goddess- South Slavic Intangible Oral Memory Traditions by Danica Anderson

Lepenski Vir is a Mesolithic site on the banks of the Danube in Serbia, close to the Iron Gates.  Dusan Boric and Preston Miracle’s work on the Mesolithic and Neolithic sites of Padina and Hajduka Vodenica, Serbia revealed a long residence of Proto-Slavs from 10,000 BCE in the Danube Gorges. [Boric & Miracle, 341-371]

Photo by Suzie Leach

At Lepenski Vir many Fish Goddesses were found reveling in the aquatic lushness of the Danube river gorges. Perhaps, as a tribute to the huge water reservoir, the Fish Goddesses were important relics for burials and a part of the architectural structures consisting of temples not residences. The impressive fact is age of Lepenski Vir dated to the time of Mesolithic-Neolithic transition 6300-5950 BCE.

It is here that the ‘Three fingered Fish Goddess’ is remembered in modern day Orthodox religion. The Serbian Orthodox sign of the cross performed with three fingers is a South Slavic oral memory tradition that originated from Neolithic-Paleolithic. In the Lithic eras, the three fingered salute stood for the truncated tree in the vast forest indicating a crossroads or intersection. [Harding, 42; 62-63] Combining or sharing of iconography such as the crossed circle motif associated with Atlantis and Egyptian oral memory traditions to that of Hindu antiquity, we have the geographical coordinates origin (Indonesia first began this geography) and has to do with the intersection of the equator and the Meridian Zero. [online Atlantean Symbolism]

With Egypt’s great Nile river, and the legend of Atlantis’ located in the middle of a large body of water to that of the great rivers, Danube and Sava in the Balkans we have in our modern life the same ancient monumental hybrid forms of commemorative practice. The Three Fingered Fish Goddess, held on to the intangible oral memory tradition transmission of important navigation skills for or inner ecology and that of the Slavic Moist Mother Earth. What is held in the archeological artifact of the Slavic Three Fingered Fish Goddess; her three fingered hands are held at the mid-section of her body; the equator.

One of the most important insights of the cross and crossing oneself with three finger salute is that we are performing archaic oral memory traditions, what I name as ‘human geography.’ Related to the three fingered Fish Goddess—early Christians did the sign of the fish. In this sense early Christians were not performing a social memory but the sense of a continuous body of wisdom living from generation to all future generations. In doing so, the early Christians portrayed oral memory traditions. The practice of the sign of the cross or three fingered salute acknowledged relations to Aphrodite whose hand pose originated from the three fingered fish Goddess.

Three-finger salute (Serb/три пpcтa or tri prsta)-patronymics is found in South Slavic-Serbian names, with “ic”, “ich,” to refer to little or son of. ‘Patri’ is word origins are for father, tracing the upheaval from the Great Mother Goddess. The Serb Orthodox religion took on the three fingered aspect of the Fish Goddess due to the Pagan-Earth Based Religions of the South Slavs once centered on the Moist Mother Earth, the archetypal feminine. With the early Christians, the removal of the troika- of daughter, mother and grandmother, three fingered salute and sign of the cross became modern day trilogies of the father, son and Holy Spirit instead. The Holy Spirit is the last thread to the Great Mother of what was once a cohesive, endogamous (anthropological marriage with accordance of custom or law) body of wisdom.

We can move through the generations to present day to view how the cultic and performative practices of our ancestors are still held in our cultural situations. It shows the surrender to the evoke the substantive meanings from what their ancestors embedded in daily life acts. A painting by Paja Jovanovic “Takaovo” translates from Serbo-Croatian to ‘Here or done like this’. This indicates the lithic era for the sense of direction to be taken with the three fingered salute or cross. The intangible oral memory traditions began a twisted notion of ‘Here or done like this’ that now is a sign of inciting wars. For instance, the Serb folk Prince Milos Obrenovic in a three finger salute started the second uprising against the Turks- Ottoman Empire with – “Here we are and here you are” to incite a revolt- war. [Online, Three Fingered Salute] “Njegos” prince-bishop-Vladika who was a great poet, and “Karadorde Petrovic” 1768-1817- the first Serbian leader to start the uprising against the Ottoman Empire- is known as the Serbian House of Karadordevic. [Milne] Note how the house became the domain and power of males- father authority figures.

The Montengrin peoples are termed Crni Dorde- Black George for his Montengrin Serb Vasojevici tribe’s dark complexion. The latter indicates the migratory route from middle of Africa, the lineage of our first Mother. The Vasojevici tribe handed down orally for more than thirteen generations their legacies with poems and songs and kolo dances (folk round dances).

Serb folk wisdom states Nema krsta be tri prsta- there is no cross without three fingers. What has occurred in modern day era is the identity of the important meaning behind the three-fingered salute, the human geography, is now a mortuary practice to incite violence. The three finger salute went on with its gynocide and mass murder with Ante Pavelic- once leader in WWII for the Croatian Country that became the infamous Ustashi- Nazi SS arm murdering, Serbs, Muslims, Jews and Romano on a whole scale level. In 1991, the Serbian Renewal Movement political party, Belgrade used the three fingered salute for demands, and was stated by Srdan Serckovic, the vice-president to represent “St. Sava” Serbian patron saint known for teaching literacy and orthodox religion to the masses. The latter is the dominance of the father; patriarchy.

In 2007 Eurovision employed a song contest with Serbian Marija Serifovic given the award in front of Bosnian television viewers. Marija Serifovic upset the Bosnian viewers with her three fingered salute- since most Bosnians are Muslim and was seen as an insult.


Boric, Dusan & Miracle,Preston in Oxford Journal of Archaeology, November 2004, vol. 23, no. 4,  Blackwell Publishing

Esther Harding, MD, MRCP. The Way of All Women: A Psychological Interpretation. (Rider & Company, New South Wales, Australia, 2007), pp. 62-63. Esther Harding, MD, MRCP. Woman’s Mysteries: Ancient and Modern. (Rider & Company, London ,1971), p. 46.

The Atlantean Symbolism of the Egyptian Temple –


Three Finger Salute (Serbian)


Milne Holton, Vasa D. Mihailovich. Songs of Serbian People: from Collections of Vuk Karadzic. (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997).

Collections of Vuk Karadzic. (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997).

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Donna Snyder
Donna Snyder

How did I miss this wonderful way and art. Thank you, Mago Sisters, for constantly educating and edifying me.