The goddess Mari

Among the mythological figures linked to the land (lur) and with more presence in the country Basque, stands out MARI, located above the other geniuses. It is known by several names such as MAYA, LEZEKO-ANDRE and LOANA-GORRI. Depending on the region, the name is linked to the mountain or the place it is supposed to inhabit. For example, BASKO-MARI (Husband of the forest), ARALARKO DAMEA (the Lady of ARALAR) or ANBOTOKO SORGIÑA (the witch of ANBOTO).

goddess husband

The goddess Mari

She lives underground, in the caves or caverns of great mountains, surrounded by riches, occasionally moving outside through the peaks and other subterranean conduits. Once outside, she moves through the air, visiting her various abodes in various places in the mountains. Basque.

Being a female, Mari can be noticed in various ways: one of the most common is that of being a very beautiful and very elegant woman. In its underground dwellings, it is common for it to show part of its animal-shaped limbs (goat's or bird's foot) or that its entire face is zoomorphic (young bull, mare, etc.). On the other hand, outdoors, when traveling in the air, it is seen surrounded by fire in the form of a reddish cloud or gust of wind.

Mari lives underground, connected with the surface through precipices, wells and caves. It is said that one day a priest from Mugiro (Navarre) was going to celebrate a mass in the same territory as Mari. If Mari was there during mass, he did not hail in the place all year round. But Mari was not always a source of fear, people often sought her for advice and she always answered correctly.
Once, in the forge of Iraeta (Gipuzkoa), unable to start his forge, the blacksmith goes to the cave of Mari in Anboto. After explaining her problems to him she solved the problem leaving the blacksmith very satisfied.

She is assured to be the queen of the remains of the spirits, being reattached with MAJU (also identified as HERENSUGE or SUGAAR (the male serpent) who is her companion and generating storms when they meet. They also have two children. daughters who in some places have sons (Mikelats and Atarrabi).

One of Mari's main occupations is the time she devotes to the propagation of storms against which it is necessary to make offerings (sheep or other animal, coins, etc.) which will make it possible to avoid these catastrophes. In addition, it is possible to invoke her to obtain favors and, including, to visit her in her dwelling, always respecting certain rules and behaviors. Death legends, it emerges that Mari is implacable with the liars, the proud, the thieves and with those who do not practice mutual aid and solidarity between humans, punishing them with various formulas.

One of the most famous deities is the AKER (goat) and in particular the AKERBELTZ (black goat). One of its abilities was to influence the cattle placed under its protection for good. He acquired a great reputation within witchcraft, for his presidency and his worship in the “Akelarre” celebrated in various regions of the Basque Country. The best known of the ceremonies remains that of the witches cave in Zugarramurdi (Labourd) because of the equally famous “witch trial”.

The typical genius with an underground character in the form of a snake, with one or more heads, is called Herensuge, Sugaar or Sugoi (pronounce Herenshougué, shougar, Sugoï).

It feeds on animals and humans, appearing surrounded by flames. As we said above, he is the companion of Mari. There are several versions of the death of Herensuge. In Labourd, it is said that he was killed by Gaston De Belzunce but the most widespread version is that which locates the death of Herensuge in the old sanctuary of San Miguel de Aralar. He succumbed to blows from San Miguel, following a request from Teodisio de Goñi.

It is said that after this event, a church rose above the cave from which Herensuge emerged. There is still a small window on the right side of the main altar which is said to lead to the interior of the cave. People put on their heads, reciting a creed, for the cure of the headaches.

There are a whole host of geniuses who come in animal forms like ZEZENGORRI (red bull) and BEIGORRY (red cow), dedicated to guarding caves and other semi-mysterious surroundings.