Monday, July 16, 2012

Day 16 - Mythology

Last week we had a conference on the topic of popular mythology in Galicia. Galicia, located in the north western part of the country has historical influences from parts of the world that did not influence the majority of the peninsula. Much of this influence is Celtic and as such, many of the mythological stories come from that area of the world.
One aspect of this mythology that was discussed was the idea of the “Moura.” A moura, is a beautiful enchantress who tempts individuals with the promise of treasures. The word is thought to be derived from MOR – rock and MORS MORTIS – dead as well as OURO - gold. The Mouras are thought to live beneath large tomb-like rocks and they also thought to guard treasures of gold.

This is a legend that is prolific in both Galicia and Portugal and has many different variations. In some the Moura will turn into a snake, in others she remains a woman. In a few cases she is an older woman but in most she is young. She has been portrayed as a pregnant mother, a washerwoman and a princess.

Another legend is the Santa Compaña, which is a procession of the dead which occurs after midnight. The spirits travel through the villages and visit the houses in which people will soon pass away. This is a story that was prolific in the time before electric lights and has faded in popularity since, although there are still people who reference the Santa Compaña when they see people traveling by night.

If you like mythology, folklore and other legends, the stories from the Galego culture are quite fascinating in that they incorporate many Celtic aspects as well as later Catholic influences. It is quite unlike folklore from other parts of Spain.

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