akelarre – witches’ sabbath
A dictionary of Spanish history and culture
Akelarre is the Basque name for a witches’ Sabbath and ultimately for “meadow of the he-goat”. (“aker” = macho cabrío; “larre” = campo). It was believed that these meetings were presided over by the Devil inthe form of a black he-goat. In Spanish this became aquelarre and is now used to describe any meeting of witches.
The most famous supposed alkelarres were those prosecuted by the Spanish Inquisition tribunal of Logroño in 1610, during which witch-hunt was organised in Zugarramurdi, Navarra which ended in the burning at the stake of 12 supposed witches (5 of them symbolically, as tortures had killed them earlier). This may have led to the popularisation of the term akelarre in Basque or Spanish.
Goya, in his dark, final years painted a series of works known as the Black Paintings, including the The Great He-Goat or Witches’ Sabbath (El aquelarre).
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