Among the beliefs of the Cantabrians, we find that of the worship of the great protective deities, such as the adoration of the Sun as evidenced by several Cantabrian stelae, as well as the worship of fire. Similarly, worship is carried to a supreme father-deity called Candamo, who was associated with Jupiter (Jupiter Candamo) and solar worship in Roman times, and later with the Christian God.
The beliefs of the Cantabrians
Due to the warlike disposition of the inhabitants of Cantabria, a cult was devoted to a god of war, later identified as the Mars of the Romans, to whom sacrifices of goats, horses, and numerous prisoners were offered, such as the report Strabo, Horace and Silius Italicus. During these massacres, the participants drank the still warm blood of the horses so that the communion would be true, as Horace mentions about the people of the Concanos.
For the ancient inhabitants of Cantabria, these practices had a mystical origin since the animals involved were considered sacred. These rites have sometimes been linked to a variant of a sun god Mars Celtic whose animals would have been its reincarnation.
Human sacrifices among the peoples of the north are also mentioned by Martin de Braga: these sacrifices were a manifestation of repentance and served to predict the future, as among the other peoples of Celts Gallic where they were common. Thus, Strabo says that those who examined the entrails of the sacrificed covered them with fine tunics, then cut off their right hand which they then consecrated to the gods. The prediction of the future was read according to the fall made by the sacrificed.
The fertilizing mother goddess was associated with the Moon and exerted her influence on the periods of sowing and harvesting of crops; this belief persisted in the countryside for a very long time. Archaeologist Joaquín González Echegaray explains that an inscription mentioning a mother goddess was found on a votive altar in the village of Topusko, Croatia; he relates this goddess to the mother goddess of the Cantabrians. This epigram would have been engraved by one or more soldiers belonging to the Roman legions.
Also in Roman times, the cult dedicated to a god of the sea was assimilated to that of the god Neptune: a statuette of this god with characteristics specific to the god of the Cantabrians was discovered in Castro-Urdiales, in the far east. from Cantabria.
The ancient Cantabrians believed in the immortality of the spirit. Thus, cremation was the most frequent funeral rite; only the bodies of those who died in battle were to remain on the battlefield before the vultures eviscerated them, allowing the soul to leave the body and take it to the afterlife where it can then escape. to unite in glory with the souls of the ancestors. An inscription engraved on the stele of Zurita testifies to this practice.
Sacrifice had an important and dual role within the complex Cantabrian society: it responded to the need to conform to divine requirements as well as to the prevalence of the community over the individual. Thus, in a warrior society like that of the Cantabrians, the immolation made it possible to prove the strong determination that inhabited the one who was going to be sacrificed, the act obtaining by this aspect a greater importance. The devotion, practiced by the Cantabrians, came from those singular and whole sacrifices in which the community united its destiny with that of its leader.