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Witchcraft in Basque Country


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#1 Grimr

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Posted 16 June 2009 - 08:25 PM

I have always found the Witch lore of the Basque people in rural northern Spain/Southern France very intriguing. Since they were so isolated from the Romans and indo-european tribes they have a relatively intact (if not complex!) culture and language heritage. I thought I would share some of the information that I have found.

According to inquisition records dating around the early to mid 1600's, Witchcraft in the Basque regions was more of a handed down Tradition then "devil recruitment" common in the Celtic/brythonic lands during such. It is said that Witchcraft is handed down through families, often initiation taking place in early adolescence by the childs parents.

The Basque witches are reported to "worship" Mari and "The Devil" however those of us who may follow a more "Pagan-oriented" Trad Craft are all to familiar with the image of a Goat with a candle between the horns. it is interesting because the He-Goat was often seen as being the image of the God of the Basque Witches or Sorginak as they are called. In fact the term for Sabbat translates as "meadow of the he-goat."

What else is interesting is that Witches are reported to have been "marked by the devil" with a thorn, this mark would be a badge of the Witch forever.

Toads feature prominently within Basque witch lore, often being the familiar of choice, it has been noted that each Witch on their day of initiation into the witch cult was given a toad familiar and an ungent made from toads (The toad secrets an alkaloid through its skin).


I will post more on this as I am about to run out the door but interesting eh?

Edited by Grimr, 17 June 2009 - 12:01 AM.


#2 Basque Girl

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 10:17 PM

Hello! :wavex:

While a lot of what you have written here is familiar to me, I was hoping you would be so kind as to forward to me where you gathered your information from?

I'm trying to find info on the witchcraft of my heritage (I'm Basque), and am having a helluva time finding anything other than claims of satanism, etc. and things on the Inquistion.

Any help you could provide would be great. :happydance:

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#3 Guest_Magdalena_*

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 10:03 AM

Hi Grimr. My Nan was originally from the `Basque country` she was Spanish, hence my name (she named me), She moved onto `La Linea`My dad was the youngest of her children and the only one born in Wales, hence me being Welsh lol. She predicted the birth of my mum and dads five children correctly and was a very pyschic lady. So I find this thread very interesting and would love to know more. Thank you.

Anita. :0)


#4 Thistle

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 10:54 AM

Hi.

I don't know much about basque witchcraft but I thought I could tell you about a book claimed to be about basque witchcraft or similar. The book is Sorgitzak, Old Forest Craft by Veronica Cummer. It's published by Pendraig Publishing that normally publish trad craft books, but it does seem to have wiccan influences. The author of the book claims that she has gotten the information in the book handed down to her from the gods. Now, I have an alarmklock ringing in my head right there, but i do have the book. I haven't read it all yet and I don't really think it's my style, but nevertheless it might contain some useful information. I don't know if somone has posted about this book before.

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Hear the fire's voice,
Hear the voice of water.
Hear, in the wind, the sobbing of the trees.
It is the breath of the ancestors.
The dead are not gone forever
They are in the paling shadows,
They are in the darkening shadows.
The dead are not beneath the ground,
They are in the rustling tree,
In the murmuring wood,
the flowing water,
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In the lonely place, in the crowd;
The dead are never dead.



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#5 Guest_Magdalena_*

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 11:05 AM

Hi.
Handed down by the Gods? that does set alarm bells ringing. I have read a bit on wiccan not something that held my attention, a bit to extreme for me. I wish I could ask my family, but my dads sister lives in `Australia` his brothers have all died and my dad is in care home with dementia, maybe there is something in the library.

Anita. :0)


#6 Grimr

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 11:23 AM

I have read Sorgitzak and have met the author and found her to be quite lovely - I don't find the concept of traditions handed down by the spirits or the Old 'Unes that far fetched personally, in fact many of the old witches claimed to learn much of their ways through familiar spirits, faery queens, and dead ancestors (or just dead people in general) so the concept of traditionalism passed down via spirit form is quite in keeping with traditonal craft. Andrew Chumbley devotes an entire essay on the concept of inititation via the formal covine, as well as that of the "Lightning Flash" denoted by the Gods and the wisdom granted through divine gnosis.
"Nothing is truly forgotten about the Arte, for within it's own domain - The Circle - the spirits will speak to those with ears to hear." - Andrew D. Chumbley

"And thus the Flesh of Clay was flayed, and from Earth's greenery, a New Flesh made!"

#7 Guest_Magdalena_*

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 11:34 AM

Hi Grimr.
It is not for me to judge either the book or it's author as I do not know of either. The term God or Goddess or any kind of worship I do not adhere to. Spirits, dead ancestors and such is where my mind is open, also history handed down through time. So I shall read the book when I come across it.

Anita :0)


#8 mcdee2005

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Posted 20 March 2010 - 01:28 PM

I found a spanish document which may be of interest to you all concerning the Witches of the Basque region.

I have also had it translated both versions are here for you.

Attached Files


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I shut my eyes in order to see.


#9 Guest_Magdalena_*

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Posted 20 March 2010 - 02:06 PM

Thanks McDee, much appreciated. :0)

#10 Guest_copperhedge_*

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 09:25 AM

Grimr,


This is an area of great interest to me also for many of the reasons that you mention.


There are aspects of the language isolation that also greatly interests me. As you probably know the word for "witch" also roughly translates as "priest/ess" in Basque, which as far as i'm aware, is the only language where this occurs. Rather universally the word "witch" has negative origins in its various languages and equivalents but in Basque there is an association with a Priesthood! Amazing!


Another point of interest, is that genetic archeology has presented some rather compelling evidence that the first inhabitants (first peoples) to live on the British Isles were people that migrated up from the Iberian Peninsula in the paleolithic (with later waves of migration in the neolithic). This also makes it very likely that these people were the megalith builders. People often erroneous refer to themselves as "Celtic" if they have ancestry in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland but there is no hard evidence for this. Many scholars now refer only to those whose ancestors lived on these Isles as "culturally celtic" because the celts that are believed to have invaded this island did not leave much of a genetic footprint. Like most invasions, they likely oppressed the people originally living here and their language and culture became pervasive. However, genetically the people of these Isles, the family's that have always been here, have changed very little genetically since the paleolithic (and therefore share genetic markers with the Basque people). Mainland Europeans have more variations because of geographical proximity I guess. Both the UK, Ireland and the Basque regions had long periods of geographical isolation.


I have been reading through the Basque legends with great fascination. There is much rich mythology and folklore here! However, there is so little written that i have been able to make access to!



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Posted 11 November 2011 - 09:53 AM

I have read Sorgitzak and have met the author and found her to be quite lovely - I don't find the concept of traditions handed down by the spirits or the Old 'Unes that far fetched personally, in fact many of the old witches claimed to learn much of their ways through familiar spirits, faery queens, and dead ancestors (or just dead people in general) so the concept of traditionalism passed down via spirit form is quite in keeping with traditonal craft. Andrew Chumbley devotes an entire essay on the concept of inititation via the formal covine, as well as that of the "Lightning Flash" denoted by the Gods and the wisdom granted through divine gnosis.


deleting content, apologies.

Edited by copperhedge, 18 November 2011 - 10:58 AM.


#12 Jevne

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 12:38 PM

As an old witch once told me actual "witches" are as "rare as hens teeth".


I have been walking in spiritual and occult circles for nearly 20 years seeking others like me but i can count on my hands how many i have found out of THOUSANDS of people. My mentor is most certainly one. Although she would NEVER refer to herself as a witch, which many believe is common to those who actually practice the Craft. They simply don't see themselves as witches and find the word silly. My mentor's maternal line is peppered with "witches", her mother, her auntie (all very elderly now) her grandmother etc. However, she would not refer to herself as a "hereditary witch", she wouldn't even waste time defining herself or making such distinctions. Her grandmother, auntie and mother encouraged and nurtured her gifts and she had the additional benefit of being guided in using them from a very early age because they had also been on a similar journey not because the gift could somehow be taught. However, she always maintains that it is "spirit" that teaches her, "spirit" that bestows her the gifts. Just a few days ago she said to me that, if "spirit" left her, she would have nothing in terms of her Craft (she was explaining to me why she never fakes or contrives her practice...because she would be betraying "spirit" and if they decided to stop engaging with her, that would be that!).


From my experience the real initiation and relationship is always with and from "spirit" (or God, Gods, deity, demons, angels, ancestors, fey, Universal Consciousness or whatever we call those in other realms, lets not sweat the labels eh?). For me gnosis always come from this Source. When they communicate with me, it is if they speak to my very cells, not just via my intellectual minds' capacity to conceive of ideas. The communication often comes to me in metaphorical pictures, accompanied with an unspoken sense of the meaning. I can't explain it more fully than that. I would not refer to it as UPG however. I believed and experienced all this from childhood, then confirmed through my mother and later my mentor. It was a long time before i came across writing by Chumbley, Pearson and Jackson etc but by golly did i love reading about Underworld Initiation and contact with "spirit" in a way that resonated with me. Each experience is unique of course, but it was still wonderful to find those descriptions!


Copperhedge,

Your comments are both interesting and, based on what I know abot this board and its members, potentially antagonizing. Of course, everything that you have written here, assumedly has the words "in your opinion" embedded within, but anyway . . .

For example, the first few lines of this post imply that you don't expect to find any "actual" Witches here. Maybe, that is not the message that you wish to convey or the way you wish to convey it, but even from the perspective an "elitist" like myself, the tone is somewhat snobbish. Perhaps, for clarification, you could provide the definition of a Witch that you are subscribing to, so that others can compare and share their perspectives.

The part about Witches not actually referring to themselves as Witches is correct in my experience. It's more descriptive for Others, than defining for me. I think we have had a conversation about this before. What I garnered was that the members here understand the negative historical connoctations, which makes the label all that much more appealing to their rebellious nature. Embracing the word, Witch, is empowering.

I am sure you will find many folks here willing to engage conversation about gnosis and their deep spiritual connection to other realms. My Path is ancestor-based and by choice I don't move much outside of that circle of influence; however, I believe (hope) that your post sparks from further discussions in this regard, especially for the benefit of our new members.

Jevne


#13 Michele

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 12:46 PM

As an old witch once told me actual "witches" are as "rare as hens teeth".


However, she always maintains that it is "spirit" that teaches her, "spirit" that bestows her the gifts. Just a few days ago she said to me that, if "spirit" left her, she would have nothing in terms of her Craft (she was explaining to me why she never fakes or contrives her practice...because she would be betraying "spirit" and if they decided to stop engaging with her, that would be that!).


From my experience the real initiation and relationship is always with and from "spirit" (or God, Gods, deity, demons, angels, ancestors, fey, Universal Consciousness or whatever we call those in other realms, lets not sweat the labels eh?). For me gnosis always come from this Source. When they communicate with me, it is if they speak to my very cells, not just via my intellectual minds' capacity to conceive of ideas. The communication often comes to me in metaphorical pictures, accompanied with an unspoken sense of the meaning. I can't explain it more fully than that...


I believe this a what a friend of mine refers to as the difference between knowing and KNOWING. And it does not translate into English (or any other spoken language). This is one reason why so much is written iin the language of symbols and/or mythology. It is the difference between knowing something on a logical cognizant level and knowing it in every part of your being - not just the cells, becuase they will die and decay with the body, but knowing it in the "soul" or whatever one calls it. I also agree that personal power is not actually personal, but comes from a/the source. There have been some disagreements about that on here, but for me personally any power I have is due to my ability to connect with and manitulate this energy. That does not mean it is there simply for me (or anyone else) to "use" and discard at will, but it is where any power of mine comes from, and if I were to break faith with it, that would be the end of my witchyness. I believe that many people have been able to tap into this "energy" and thereby do spells, but for me magic is a by-product of the path, it is not the path itself.

M


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Posted 11 November 2011 - 03:11 PM

Copperhedge,

Your comments are both interesting and, based on what I know abot this board and its members, potentially antagonizing. Of course, everything that you have written here, assumedly has the words "in your opinion" embedded within, but anyway . . .

For example, the first few lines of this post imply that you don't expect to find any "actual" Witches here. Maybe, that is not the message that you wish to convey or the way you wish to convey it, but even from the perspective an "elitist" like myself, the tone is somewhat snobbish. Perhaps, for clarification, you could provide the definition of a Witch that you are subscribing to, so that others can compare and share their perspectives.

The part about Witches not actually referring to themselves as Witches is correct in my experience. It's more descriptive for Others, than defining for me. I think we have had a conversation about this before. What I garnered was that the members here understand the negative historical connoctations, which makes the label all that much more appealing to their rebellious nature. Embracing the word, Witch, is empowering.

I am sure you will find many folks here willing to engage conversation about gnosis and their deep spiritual connection to other realms. My Path is ancestor-based and by choice I don't move much outside of that circle of influence; however, I believe (hope) that your post sparks from further discussions in this regard, especially for the benefit of our new members.

Jevne


Well i am certainly not intentionally trying to be antagonsing but neither do I particularly believe that others perception or interpretation of me, is my responsibility. Especially, when i feel i have only phrased my comments in terms of my own personal opinion and/or voicing the subjective opinion of others. I really don't mind if others disagree with me or indeed consider me to be erroneous and misguided. Do we really exist in a world where we all have to agree and use the same terms in exactly the same way? Or can we not respectfully hold different and even opposing views and seeking clarification without getting personal? I hope so.

If you want my honest opinion (and my honest opinion wasn't overtly expressed in my first statement, because quite possibly as a forum open to members worldwide and with 7 billion human beings on the planet, it is statistically possible for there to be a great many actual "witches" on this forum) but honestly? No i wasn't expecting to find many "actual" witches on a forum like this. (but in making that statement please allow for my different definition of "witch")

"Trad Craft" has become envogue in recent years, (as has Wicca bashing) so my assumption was that there would be a fair few people, maybe even the majority, who would not match my definition of a "witch".

Here is where we diverge on meaning, however. i do not believe that whether or not i anticipate finding "actual" witches on a forum like this implies any elitism.

I don't ascribe any greater value or worth to those that do or don't have the abilities that are associated with "witchcraft" (according to my definition). To be honest, i am often bemused by the many who do want to define themselves as witches because in my opinion it has never been and likely will never be an easy life. Some of the beliefs and practices of "witchcraft" pretty much see you meeting a great many diagnostic criteria for the DSM-IV and ICD10! I work in psychiatry and if i described half of what i do, hear and see at work, a great many of my colleagues would think that I was suffering symptoms of mental illness! And that isn't even the half of it, practicing a Craft and being born with abilities makes life very complicated in many areas.

Now as to my definition of a "Trad witch" again, i have my own definition, no more valid than anyone else's, but mine nonetheless. Semantics are incredibly problematic in this respect. But we all have to navigate that problem equally.

For me, the word "witch" is way beyond my capacity to "reclaim" as something positive. Besides, i don't need to for any psychological or self esteem building purposes so there's no value in that kind of thing for me and i'm not an ex-Christian so i don't need to rebel against anything. I only use the term at all because when i first stumbled across occult communities, this was the definition i fitted, in relationship to that community. Words are practical things. Of course they have an etymology and historical usage which often informs modern usage but in terms of spirituality and occult practices one has to simply accept how these words are used. With this in mind i accept the general usage of the word "witch" in the occult and neo-pagan communities, as well as in the wider world and choose not to use it to label myself with that word generally. I use the phrase "witch" only in terms of it's usefully in occasionally helping me communicate with and/or find others like me. So i use and accept the word witch in a few ways 1. as a phrase to describe people like me (those with inherent magical and extrasensory ability, who have the natural ability to communicate with spirit and walk in other worlds and belong to every country, religion and culture of the world since human civilisation began) however, i use this word with great reticence 2.those that follow a particular way of life and ascribe to particular beliefs in an alternative religion and post-christian era 3. a word used by people looking to define themselves with a counter/sub culture movement, be rebellious, kooky, "alternative" and cool.

As i said none of the actually magical/gifted other world walkers and spirit communicators i know really refer to themselves as "witches". It is my opinion that with the resurgence of occultism and interest in magic and occult religion over the past century or so a fair few of these such people dabbled in these communities and toyed with such labels. In my experience most of these people have subsequently gone back underground and don't really interact with such communities anymore. They certainly aren't many of them publishing books, for example.


It is absolutely the right of this (or any other) community to be self regulating....far be it from me to challenge your beliefs and terminology. I can see that it would not be welcomed and that is entirely this communities prerogative. I wondered if i would find like minded people here was all, and i couldn't know that without actually putting a toe in the water. But i won't hang around "antagonsing" anyone and appearing troll like.


Edited by copperhedge, 18 November 2011 - 11:01 AM.


#15 Marabet

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 03:46 PM

I believe this a what a friend of mine refers to as the difference between knowing and KNOWING. And it does not translate into English (or any other spoken language). This is one reason why so much is written iin the language of symbols and/or mythology. It is the difference between knowing something on a logical cognizant level and knowing it in every part of your being - not just the cells, becuase they will die and decay with the body, but knowing it in the "soul" or whatever one calls it. I also agree that personal power is not actually personal, but comes from a/the source. There have been some disagreements about that on here, but for me personally any power I have is due to my ability to connect with and manitulate this energy. That does not mean it is there simply for me (or anyone else) to "use" and discard at will, but it is where any power of mine comes from, and if I were to break faith with it, that would be the end of my witchyness. I believe that many people have been able to tap into this "energy" and thereby do spells, but for me magic is a by-product of the path, it is not the path itself.

M


This. As always, Michele, you express how I feel about things so much better than I ever could.


As for "witch" many people I have come across use it simply for lack of a better term. In this day and age where we are pressured to label or name ourselves even in our own minds it's no surprise more and more people adopt this term because they can't think of another to adopt. I wouldn't say we could judge who is truly a "witch" and who isn't by who uses the term and who opts out of it. However I think it speaks volumes as to how it is used.



I ran to a tower where the church bells chime
I hoped that they would clear my mind
They left a ringing in my ear
But that drum's still beating loud and clear

{Florence + The Machine 'Drumming Song'}

#16 Guest_copperhedge_*

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 04:02 PM

This. As always, Michele, you express how I feel about things so much better than I ever could.


As for "witch" many people I have come across use it simply for lack of a better term. In this day and age where we are pressured to label or name ourselves even in our own minds it's no surprise more and more people adopt this term because they can't think of another to adopt. I wouldn't say we could judge who is truly a "witch" and who isn't by who uses the term and who opts out of it. However I think it speaks volumes as to how it is used.




Well semantics and definitions of "witches" aside. Basque Witchcraft is still incredibly fascinating and i look forward to hearing Grimr on where he has got to in his exploration of the topic! (if they ever come back on the forum that is?).




#17 Jevne

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 05:17 PM

Copperhedge,

Thank you for clarifying your thoughts and perspectives for the benefit of all. Much obliged.

Jevne


#18 Michele

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 11:23 PM

Well semantics and definitions of "witches" aside. Basque Witchcraft is still incredibly fascinating and i look forward to hearing Grimr on where he has got to in his exploration of the topic! (if they ever come back on the forum that is?).


If I remember correctly Grim was logged on last night.

M


#19 Aloe

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 11:28 PM

If I remember correctly Grim was logged on last night.

M


Yep, you remember correct.

"The people who live in the Ozark country of Missouri and Arkansas were, until very recently, the most deliberately unprogressive people in the United States. Descended from pioneers who came West from the Southern Appalachians at the beginning of the nineteenth century, they made little contact with the outer world for more than a hundred years. They seem like foreigners to the average urban American, but nearly all of them come of British stock, and many families have lived in America since colonial days. Their material heirlooms are few, but like all isolated illiterates they have clung to the old songs and obsolete sayings and outworn customs of their ancestors." Ozark Magic and Folklore

#20 Jevne

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 11:48 PM

Yep, you remember correct.


Yup, he was sneaking around somewheres. He is really busy right now. :)

J