In the country Basque, there is a cult of stones and of the sun. In the valley of Baztan (Navarre) there is a stone which bears the name of ARRIKULUNKA, and, as its name indicates, moves while swinging. Other stones, usually large, are said to have inscriptions. The one located in Zegama (Gipuzkoa), Bergara (Gipuzkoa), Kortezubi (Bizkaye), Arano (Navarre), Sare (Labourd)…
Worship of stones and sun
Here is what is being said for the latter:
“At the top of La Rhune there was a sepulchral stone. She was near the wall of the chapel. Above it was written: "He who turns me over will not repent." The day after Pentecost, some young people arrive to turn it over and read another inscription: “Before I was good and now better”.
In that of Bergara, the inscription said: "return me" and once done we could read: "Now I am well".
Zegama's had the inscriptions: "turn me around" and "I'm fine".
The sun is fundamental for life. For this reason, in many cultures he was deified because one felt subject to him. Its absence (at night) is the time of frightening beings, by day, on the contrary, that of the living.
Balin badut iguzkia, ezkoargiaz ez dut antsia.
If I have the sun, I don't need a candle.
Some customs that still persist today suggest that even in the Basque Country he was Deified. The sun has several names: IGUZKI (Irun in Gipuzkoa), IDUZKI (Aezkoa in Navarre), EGUZKU (Erronkari in Navarre), EKI / EKHI (in Soule) and a more significant one, JAINKOAREN BEGIA “eye of God” (Ataun in Gipuzkoa ).
In Luzaide (Navarre), even today, women offer corn flour cakes in the morning.
Reverence for the sun has manifested itself in many things for a very long time. The pre-historic dolmens are oriented towards the east (ie towards the sunrise). It is the same for houses, graves and the remains they contain. In the case of the house, the climate also has an impact because it is from the north and the setting sun that the cold and the storms can come.
The tributes paid to the moon, as to the sun, are of a feminine character as we can see in that of Zerain (Gipuzkoa):
“Moon, Madam Holy Mother, God bless us; May my good eye do no harm; say so to everything you see ”.
A widely held belief is that the moon (ILARGIA) was the light of the deceased - HIL ARGIA - (light of the dead). It has other meanings: IDARGI, IRETARGI, IRATARGI (in Bizkaye), ILAZKI (in Navarre), ARGIZAGI (in Soule), GOIKOA (in Navarre).
One day of the week, Friday, was dedicated to the moon. It was the day when witches were believed to meet. For this reason, we should not do certain things on Fridays: get married, lead the herd to the mountains, collect honey from bees, etc. For other reasons, the lunar situation was taken into account: rising, falling, new, full etc. Depending on the case, we would chop wood, kill the pig, cut our hair, etc. In case of ignorance, the result could be bad.
The Aezkans, for example, said: "Wood made during the rising moon has a better flame and is lighter than that made during the waning moon."
The lunar phases were also used to measure time. The word "Hil" (death) is used to denote the month.
In the 12th century, the traveler Aymeric Picaud wrote that the Basques called God URCI.
Today this word is no longer used in this sense but we can find some clues which show that URTZI / ORTZI was a God: OSTRIA, ORTZADAR, OSTADAR, ORZAIZKI, OZKORRI, OSKORRI, OSKARBI, OSPEL… In these words in relationship with the sky, we always see
the root or / ost. In fact, using the same word to designate God and heaven indicates that they had deified the latter.
They dedicated a day of the week: ORTZEGUNA / OSTEGUNA, (day of ORTZI), the same for the moon. It would also seem that it was Ortzi who created the thunder and the lightning, as these words can demonstrate: ortziri, ortots, ostroi, ostots, ortzantz,…
Precautions were taken to protect against storms and lightning, usually by lighting blessed candles.
You can find many images of the sun and the moon all over the Basque Country, especially in cemeteries. They can also be found on the lintels and foundations of churches.
We collected many small prayers, Otoitz txikiak, (small prayers) alluding to the sun. We see in them different names and some giving it a masculine character while normally it is considered feminine. These little prayers were said in the evening, when he went to bed.
O Iruzki Saindia, eman zahuzu biziko eta hileko argia! (Luzaide, Navarre)
Oh ! holy sun, give us light to live and die.
Bihar artio Joanes! Zauri Bihar muga onez! (Luzaide, Navarre)
Goodbye Joanes (Jean) comes out tomorrow at the right time.
Adio Iguzki saintua, bihar arte; bihar xauri, egun bezala. Orain eta beti; halabiz. (Banka, Lower Navarre)
Goodbye, holy sun, see you tomorrow; comes out tomorrow, like today. Today and always; so be it !
Eguzkia joan da bere amagana, biar etorriko da denpora ona bada. (Dima, Bizkaye)
The sun has gone to its mother, tomorrow it will come if the weather is good.
Adios, almond, biarartio. (Baztan, Navarre)
Good-bye, mother lord, see you tomorrow.