Witches’ Caves of Zugarramurdi - Places: A witch’s Travel Guide

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

Witches’ Caves of Zugarramurdi
Places: A witch’s Travel Guide

Cuevas de las Brujas or the Caves of the Witches are an extended, natural tunnel, running some 100 meters within the mountain in the Pyrenees, which is also dotted with smaller galleries of caves known as Sorgin Leze in Basque or “Witches’ Galleries.” A stream flowing within the Witches’ Caves beneath a large natural arch is called “Hell’s Stream.”

These caves and mountains are among the many powerfully identified with the Basque goddess Mari (see DIVINE WITCH: Mari). The cavern was believed to be a rendezvous point for Basque witches. Akelarres were allegedly held beneath the cavern’s arch (see DICTIONARY: Akelarre).

Legends strongly advise that one should never enter Mari’s homes without an invitation or without conducting proper ritual. One should never damage anything in her homes and never, ever, ever take anything away from her homes. Allegedly, her punishment of those who infringe these rules is swift and sure.

Mari’s homes are largely subterranean. Many caves in the Pyrenees are identified with Mari and hence with witches. The Inquisition spent several months stationed in Zugarramurdi, and twelve people convicted of witchcraft by the Inquisition were condemned to die by burning in November 1610. (Five were burned in effigy only as they had already died in prison prior to the verdict.) Others were punished by imprisonment and loss of property.

The caves still bear associations with witchcraft. An annual “Witches Festival” is celebrated here every July. Other mountain caves associated with Mari include Amboto, Azcondo, Aizkorri, and Muru.