This is the story of the Akelarre festival in Petralanda.
Akelarre of Petralanda
Two brothers, with different opinions, were discussing. One said that the most important thing is to fulfill the duties of the church while the second thought that the main thing was travel. As they did not agree, the one who had planned the trip took the road and the other went to church.
In the evening, the traveler, who intended to settle in a distant region, climbed an oak tree to spend the night there as best as possible and safe from nocturnal beasts. He snuggled up and, exhausted by the day he had just spent, soon fell into a deep sleep. Suddenly, he woke up with a start because of a din and discovered a group of completely naked women, dancing in a circle at the foot of the tree, around a stake.
When they had had enough of dancing and jumping, they joined around the fire and one said to the others:
The king's daughter is very ill and no one is able to detect the cause. Yet his recovery is very simple. All she would have to do is eat a piece of host that she dropped the last time she received communion and which is in the mouth of a toad.
"And where is this toad?" asked the youngest, full of curiosity.
– Below a stone on the floor of the church, at the foot of the holy water.
The witches thus continued their entertainment for quite a while, then, as dawn approached, left. At this moment, our occasional spy discreetly descended from his tree and took the path to the church indicated by the women. He found the column of holy water, the stone on the ground and the toad with a piece of host in its mouth. He took it off carefully, wrapped it in a clean handkerchief and ran towards the king's palace.
When he arrived at the palace saying that he was coming to heal the king's daughter, everyone looked at him with great skepticism, especially since many surgeons, physicists and charlatans from distant horizons had made the same proposals. .
It cost nothing, they let him in all the same and, finding himself facing the patient, he placed the host on her tongue, saying:
– Eat this blessed bread and you will see that you will immediately recover your health!
It was so. The princess swallowed this piece of host and at the same time regained her health as if by magic before the immense joy of the occupants of the palace and more particularly that of her father, the king. The latter, so happy with this event, promised the young man a mountain of money. Our traveler returned to his village and that now he was rich, his brother wanted to know the cause of this sudden and resounding fortune.
Hearing of the feast of the akelarre (literally: field of the goat. meeting place of witches) which had been held in Petralanda, he said to himself:
- I too have to go there without wasting time, let's see if I have the same luck!
Without hesitation, he took the path to Petralanda and climbed the same oak as his brother had done before. When night fell, the witches did not take long to arrive but, unlike the first time, they did not dance, were not happy, did not undress but gathered very concerned.
The one who seemed to lead the group said without preamble:
“The king's daughter was healed, and if she was, that means someone knew our secret.
– But how is that possible? inquired one of the younger ones.
– Very easy: because we have a spy in our akelarre!.
- Ohhh! said the others in chorus, full of astonishment.
"We have to find out and give him what he deserves!" accused the first.
The witches hastened to search behind every tuft of grass, every pebble or tree in the area. They soon found our man, trembling with fear, on top of the oak tree. They all climbed up to the branch on which he was huddled, threw him to the ground unceremoniously. Once on the ground, they hounded him, hitting him on the back of the neck, scratching him, punching him and kicking him until the first light of day. Their departure put an end to his torture. Hours later, a muleteer found the poor man at the foot of the tree in Petralanda, half disengaged, half disfigured, barely able to articulate a few words.