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Witchcraft in Basque Country


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#21 Aloe

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 04:14 AM

I too do not find this concept so strange. If one interprets it as divine or simply spirit communication, it seems a reasonable explanation to me. Just because one does not believe in divinity doesn't mean the author's method is 500% terrible. Maybe she met an entity that she interpreted as deity and you or I may have interpreted as a spirit. ;)


There's also always that pesky mountain lore about witches being initiated by "the devil" and learning their witchery from him. :grin_witch:

"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

#22 Guest_copperhedge_*

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 07:57 AM

;) And I feel that perhaps some trad witches stand by that lore!

Yes but equally, it could just be a simple case of another Horned God being christianised and becoming known as a devil. The image of a devil will have been so much better known over so many centuries that lore easily incorporates it.

Not everyone of course, but I have read rather more about that connection in my research into trad witchery than anywhere else.

Copperhedge - I've really enjoyed all of your posts on this thread, and nowhere do I feel you came off as snobbish. Perhaps one point where I beg to differ is the identification of the self as "witch" being for newbs and/or "non-real witches." I think attempting to define real and unreal witchery treads upon dangerous territory, like trying to define "real men" and "real women." (The answer in the latter cases is that hey, all women are real women, and all men are real men. There are no fakers. We each have the agency to create our own identities.) You can say that the practice of some witches is not very spirit-involved, which I feel would be valid. From my short time on this board it seems that much of trad craft involves some level of actual mediumship, which many (though by no means all) Pagan and Wiccan witches are incapable of and/or disinterested in. Personally I like the term and do find it empowering - it describes all of what I do, as I am not simply one thing or another. But we all have the wherewithal to create for ourselves our own identities. Perhaps for some it's posturing, but some of us gotta fake it 'til we make it. I wasn't immediately able to sense energy within and without of shield circles when I first started my practice, but that didn't stop me from casting them.

Oh I totally agree! But i guess i'm applying a little post-structuralist/ co-constructionism to my personal experience of the word. I no longer find it a helpful word because of some of the issues that i discuss above and that isn't to say that anyone on this forum (or anywhere else for that matter) who refers to themselves as a "witch" therefore automatically isn't. After all, in joining this website, I have accepted that term for practical reasons myself! In my personal experience many of the people I have met practicing a Traditional Craft type practice and who actually are (rather than those who have just decided it's the new cool thing) don't refer to themselves as a "witch" at all. Some of them maybe once did, but for many it has become such a loaded word and put them in a community with some deeply silly people, so they have stopped using it. I don't think it's a matter of faking it all. Actually, it's pretty hard to fake "Trad Craft", it still boggles me that anyone would want to! It's much easier to fake the energy work in a more ceremonial practice, because you can be an adept ceremonialist without ever connecting to or being aware of energy at all (just move elegantly and learn the right words). But i'm not condemning those people either, it is clearly doing something for them, or they wouldn't do it. I'm just saying that i wouldn't refer to them as "working with energy" when they are actually not. For me "Trad Craft" is about what you actually do, and have the ability to do, not what you are interested in or what you label yourself as. No eltism there or judgement, just my own personal interaction with a term.






#23 spinney

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 08:59 AM

For me "Trad Craft" is about what you actually do, and have the ability to do


Speaking for the forum, this exactly what we feel Traditional Witchcraft is.

No eltism there or judgement, just my own personal interaction with a term.

Good. 'Elitists' are usually laughed of off the forum.


#24 anjeaunot

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 01:52 AM

Much of the knowledge of Basque Witchcraft derives from the writings of Pierre de Lancre, who was appointed by King Henry IV to investigate the Pays de Labourd, a Basque-speaking territory in southwest France.

The Parlement of Bordeaux almost immediately restricted de Lancre’s mandate to investigating witchcraft.

I have relied heavily on H.R. Robbins’ “The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology” for this article.

Unfortunately, I have somehow mislaid Julio Caro Baroja’s “The World of the Witches”. Baroja, himself of Basque origin, was a prominent academic. He discussed meeting people who suggested modern Basques still practiced witchcraft. I cannot remember if he mentioned the Basque words for “witch” or “witchcraft”.

H.R. Robbins stated when discussing witchcraft in the Pays de Labourd: “Apparently this heresy had been introduced into Labourd from Bearn at the end of the fifteenth century (since the Basque words for witchcraft were borrowed from Romance languages):” (p 299)

The Spanish Inquisition had argued in 1494 “that if the sabbat [Spanish, aquelarre = field of the goat] were true, the witches or jorguinas were apostates. (Robbins p 476)

Secular courts held trials for witchcraft in Navarre in 1526 and 1527 and in Biscay in 1528.

Secular judges reacted quickly to a panic in Navarre in 1610. They burned the victims to preempt interference from the Spanish Inquisition.

Forty witches had been burned in the Pays de Labourd, Bearn, which adjoins the Spanish frontier in 1576.

De Lancre boasted that he had burned 600 witches before his tenure expired in 1610. He had concluded that every one of the 30 000 inhabitants of the Pays de Labourd was a witch – including priests!

De Lancre had already burned three priests before the Bishop of Bordeaux intervened to rescue five other priests from jail. (p41)

We need not detain ourselves with the claims of the Basque speaking witches interrogated by de Lance.

Robbins shrewdly observed: “Under torture, many confessions, very likely suggested by de Lancre were recorded (and translated into French). (p41)

De Lancre’s objectivity is an issue. He wrote “questioning about what a witch has done is merely a trick to trap him into confession.” (p40)

I don’t doubt that de Lancre was unbalanced. He claimed that on one occasion, when he was sound asleep, “a black mass was celebrated in his bedroom.” (p41)

Edited by anjeaunot, 05 December 2011 - 10:55 AM.


#25 Mountain Witch

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 02:39 AM

Unfortunately, I have somehow mislaid Julio Caro Baroja’s “The World of the Witches”. Baroja, himself of Basque origin, was a prominent academic. He discussed meeting people who suggested modern Basques still practiced witchcraft. I cannot remember if he mentioned the Basque words for “witch” or “witchcraft”.


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#26 Mountain Witch

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 03:20 AM

He does. On page 150,

"The most familiar and popular figure amongst the Basques is the sorguiña, the witch. (The word is found in Spanish, too.)"

In the prior paragraph, he gives the construction of the word sorguin (which I presume is the male equivalent) ... sor is the equivalent of "fate" and guin is a suffix used to describe someone who does or makes something. So a sorguin would be someone who "makes fate".

For purposes of action nothing is more useful than narrowness of thought combined with energy of will.
~ Henri Frederic Amiel

You can access my blog and get autographed copies of my books through my website


#27 anjeaunot

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 11:05 AM

He does. On page 150,

"The most familiar and popular figure amongst the Basques is the sorguiña, the witch. (The word is found in Spanish, too.)"

In the prior paragraph, he gives the construction of the word sorguin (which I presume is the male equivalent) ... sor is the equivalent of "fate" and guin is a suffix used to describe someone who does or makes something. So a sorguin would be someone who "makes fate".


Thank you, Mountain Witch. The Spanish word jorguina was used for a witch. It is very close to the Basque word sorguina.

Perhaps Robbins was correct when he said that the Basque tongue had no word for witch, and borrowed it from the Romance languages?

It is certainly true that witches can "make fate".


#28 melusine

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 04:10 PM

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.

 

 

I came across this thread while trying to find any links between the Sorginak, which is the Basque word for witch and also the word used for a priest or priestess of Mari, and The Sorgitzak .  The book is said by the author to be information and knowledge channeled to the author as well as other members of her coven.  It makes no claims to be related to any part of the Basque culture or its witchcraft or pre-Christian beliefs.   Interestingly though i have found a few parallels between the two and came across an old post on the author's livejournal account in which she had started to find connections between what was passed to her from the spirits and gods of the Sorgitzak and the Sorginak.  She claims that neither she nor the other witches who channeled this information had any prior knowledge of the Basque people or the practices and beliefs of the Sorginak.  For her finding this information was one of those "whoa moments." 

 

I've just ordered both her books of Sorgitzak and have started to read the first.  I like it very much.  I'm reading with a healthy balance of an open mind as well as skepticism.

I will say more on this later... my two year old has decided to start climbing on me now...