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Monday, February 25, 2008

Basque traditional religion (1)

500 years of Inquisition have left few remains to be picked up in the more illustrated 20th century by scholars, ironically some of them Christian priests.

Still we know something.

Basque religion is (as still shatters our souls in ways no other faith can) first and foremost a dualist-monotheistic religion focused on fertility. We know of only two gods: Mari and Sugaar (aka Maju), representing the female and male halves of such unique, yet dual cosmological principle.

Basque religion is an Earth-centered (ctonic) religion, where the sky is just a passage for the Goddess and God to travel and shepherd their herds of clouds and other metereological phenomena. They dwell in caves, in the most outstanding peaks sometimes. It's believed that whole ill-known realm lies underground. There, along with the dual Divinity, many magical criatures like lamiak (nymphs), iratxoak (imps) and jentilak (giants), along with the dead ancestors may live.

Izena duen guztia izan omen da. All that has a name may exist. Izena izana. The name [is] the existence.

Basque religion used to be celebrated specially on friday nights, the day of the akelarre (sabbat). It was a common practice still in the 15th century if we are to believe the inquisitors. Avellaneda was a skeptic: he did not believe in witches, so he went to the Pyrenees to find out what were all those rumors about. The locals welcomed him and made him participant of their celebration. Possibly under the effects of stramonium (or some other drug of similar type), Avellaneda flied and saw things that he would otherwise never have believed in. Back to Logroño he initiated one of the worst witch-hunts ever.

The case is that their "god" could not make such "miracles" and he was jealous.

It's said that certain witch apprentice had to recite the following enchantment to arrive to the akelarre: under the clouds, over the thorns. But he recited it wrongly: under the thorns, over the clouds, with disastrous effects. Same with Avellaneda.

But there were many other witch-hunts. And eventually the old religion went underground and vanished. Legend says that in other times lamiak were very common, being found almost in every stream, taking care of their long hair with their golden combs. Why did they disappear? The myth also has an answer: because of chapel building. In every holy spot the Christians built a chapel, one after the other, until all the mountains were Christianized, by grade or force.

And mythos in Greek means thread: Ariadne's thread.

You can follow the thread or get lost in the Labyrinth of Christian deceit.


jhangora_ki_baal said...

did the Basques make any temples?

Maju said...

If you mean temples as buildings to gather people in for pray, only under the influence of foreign reigions, like the Greco-Roman and later Judeo-Christian ones.

Now, if you mean sacralizing places with emotive religiously meaningful works, they did since the Paleolithic.

Basque traditonal religion was surely celebrated in the open all the time - and that's what records say.

Lamiak don't enter temples, you know.

jhangora_ki_baal said...

Who are Lamiak and how would I keep track of the comments I've made on ur blog?

Maju said...

At least if you have a blogger account, you can keep track of them via email by clicking on the appropiate box when posting a comment.

Lamiak are nymph-like criatures. For more details, please check Wikipedia, where there is a good article since years ago (or wait till I feel like posting about them, or learn Basque/Spanish/French and buy a book on them). :P

But basically they are nymphs with bird-like feet and golden combs. Like nearly all Basque genies they are neutral or benevolent, but can get very angry when their combs are stolen.

Some households have lamiak in their heraldric schuteons and some places like Lamiako (formerly a swamp) borrow their names from them.

jhangora_ki_baal said...

Oh no it is very irritating to have so many emails just from blog u think I follow just ur blog....I remember I posted some stories {copy,pasted ofcourse}on BBF ...When u write about Lamiak please include Jentils too...I think they might be memories of Neanderthals..Maybe

Maju said...



Jhangora said...

I am serious....I also read an article on the internet which said Neanderthals became Basques...