It is interesting to situate the question of witches in this world of beliefs. The word witch, (SORGIN), has two aspects:
– The witch as a mythological being, who has specific powers and who appears in many stories.
– The one who has made pacts with the devil, and who, in addition to participating in the Akelarre, causes “eye pain” (begizko) and curses.
The mythological being: this testimony from Ataun (Gipuzkoa).
“A resident of Ataun, Inixio Tirrio, was in bidania de criado for at least 80 years. It was said that he did not believe in witches and thought that what was said about them was nonsense. One day as he was returning home from work, gravelling around the neighborhood, he came across a group of witches who carried him away saying:
“Yes, we exist, less awkward, we are all here”.
Since that day, Inixio Tirrio never again said that there were no witches”.
The second case, that of the person, was the one who became famous for his disgrace. The persecution of witches widespread throughout Europe had a particular repercussion in Basque. The evils attached to the witches were invented and when they confessed, it was the consequence of the torture that had been inflicted on them.
In these questions we were mixing two things:
– On the one hand, they were attributed things read in the books on witchcraft and innocent people were made to confess through torture.
– On the other hand, the facts reported by people could be a cause of accusation or the accusers were children.
Nor can we leave aside the possible continuity of ancient rites, perhaps of a primitive religion that Christianity was unable to eradicate and which were able to maintain itself fairly late. There were many victims among the governesses of priests, SERORAK. They were widows or celibates who officiated in churches and in certain religious celebrations.
There have been many judgments and the case of Zugarramurdi (Navarre) is the best known. Others will follow, even more deadly. In Auritz-Burgete (Navarre), for example, a few witches were burned in 1525. Two years later, in the same region, At Aezkoa, Zaraitzu and Erronkari, the inquisitor Avellaneda had 70 more executed in the same way. All these trials have spread mistrust and terror everywhere.
Those who think it was an attack on the country are not rare, especially in Navarre whose trials came just after the conquest by Castile.
In Zugarramurdi are the famous caves in which the witches met in the Akelarre (Akelarre – goat moor – is the name given to the upwind in the middle of these caves). It was not the only meeting place and there were many: Fikozelaia in Sare (Labourd), Mount Artegaña in Altzai (Soule), Mount Petiriberro in Aezkoa (Navarre), Mount Jaizkibel (Gipuzkoa), Erpelanda in Muxika (Bizkaye), Abadelaueta in Etxagurren (Alaba), Eiheralarre (Lower Navarre).
The case of the witches of Zugarramurdi acquired notoriety thanks to the summary trial launched by the inquisition against them in Logroño in 1610. The inquisitor Alvarado, ecclesiastical judge, spent a few months in the village, naturally with the help of interpreters, and found 300 people "involved" in witchcraft. He took the most suspicious ones to Logroño. Following the trial, 18 were released for admitting wrongdoing and repenting. 7 were burned because they did not recognize the indictment and a few died as a result of the torture inflicted.
Maria de Zozaia was the best known among these witches, likewise Graciana Barrenetxe, Miguel Goiburu, Martin Bizkar, Joanes Etxalar, Maria Ttipia, Maria Etxaleku, Maria Iriart, Maria Iuretegia etc…