The Ancient Basque Gods/Goddess

Lurra (the Earth) or Ama lurra (the Mother earth) is main goddess in the legends of the Basque Country. She is the shelter and dwelling for all creatures; the Creator of the whole Nature. She guarantees life to the plants and animals and she gives humans the necessary food and dwelling. The Earth is a giant hull, an infinite hull, where the souls of the dead and most of the Sun and The Moon are Ama Lurra´s daughters. Every day, after completing their journey across the sky, they take shelter inside their Mother.

The main character in the Basque Mythology, Mari, hasabusic relation with the earth. According to the old legends, she could be the personification of Ama Lurra; she lives underground, in the caves.

The Sun or Eguzki Amandrea (the Mother Sun) is also an important goddess for the Basque Mythology because she gives us heart and light and because life on earth depends on her: a good or bad weather, and a rich or poor harvest. Apart from that, she has a big power over the underground spirits because she sends them back under the ground at dawn. Some spirits and wizards lose their powers and gifts when touched by her sunbeams. That is the reason for placing an Eguzkilore (carlina acaulis, a plant that symbolizes the Sun, with a physical resemblance to its typical image) nailed on the front door of the country houses, to scare off the wicked spirits.

Summing up, the Gods/Goddesses we have analyzed show us how the ancient Basques saw the universe. The Earth was in the center of its graphic representation; it was the basis for life and its dwelling; Ortzi (the Sky), Eguzkia (the Sun), and Ilargia (the Moon) were around her. Every day, the Sun and the Moon come out the earth, from the underground and, after crossing the Sky, returned to her. mari, on the other hand, is a spiritual personification of Nature and all the natural phenomena. The Basque worshipped all the elements of the universe: the earth, the sky, the sun, the moon and nature.

Ortzi or Ostri are both used to name in basque the Sky or the firmament above the clouds, where the Sun, the Moon and the stars appear. It is similar to the Scandinavian God Thor and, probably, an influence, a God brought by the Celts.

The Moon or Ilargi Amandrea (the Mother Moon) is also Ama Lurra´s daughter; she was of great importance for the ancient Basques because she was considered to be God´s face while the Sun was considered to be God´s eye. It seems that the Moon lights the souls of the dead. In fact, according to some opinions, the basque word for Moon, Ilargia, would mean “the light of the dead”.

From that day on, humans followed her orders and they were not threatened again by Evil.

Humans thanked for her light but it was not enough to against Evil. So, once again, humans pleaded for more light and for something that could overcome the darkness. Then, Ama Lurra gave birth to another daughter, the Sun; and, that is how the daylight was born. From that day on, during the daytime, no wicked spirit threatened humans again. But, when the Sun sets on the west, the night started. Evil, then, come out of its refuge and continued threatening humans. So, humans pleaded Ama Lurra for something to fight against Evil at night; and, then, Ama Lurra created the Eguzkilore (carlina acaulis, a plant that symbolizes the sun, with a physical resemblance to its typical image). And, Ama Lurra ordered humans not to leave their front door in order to protect themselves from Evil.

According to the tradition, when the Earth was immersed in the darkness, humans begged Ama Lurra for help to fight the spirits that threatened them. Ama Lurra attended to their requests and gave birth to her daughter the Moon.