Book Announcement - Gods, Spirits and the Pyrenean Complex

Gods, Spirits and the Pyrenean Complex

Martin Locker

Anticipated Late 2018

Despite separating France and Spain, two of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, the Pyrenees has preserved a certain mystique as a wild, sparsely populated mountain range, where legends and traditions continue unabated by modernity. Unlike their Alpine counterpart, the Pyrenees contain rugged, broken terrain that holds a savage beauty, and has some of the earliest evidence of human occupation in Europe. This enduring prehistoric presence, coupled with the unique Basque culture, Roman and Iberian occupations, and the relative isolation of many communities, has culminated in one of the Pyrenees containing a varied series of rural traditions, many of which relate to witchcraft, pre-Christian practises and herb-lore.

The aim of this book is to explore the archaeological and folkloric evidence for these practises, tracing their possible evolution from prehistoric cults, the introduction of Classical and Iberian deities, and the synthesis of these traditions with Christian praxis which culminated in the infamous Basque witch trials of the 17th century. Pagan and Christian practises linked to rural life, witchcraft, divination and luck bringing/cursing will be explored, as will select pre-Christian cults. The book initially will provide a chronological history of the region from Prehistory to the 20th century, taking into account the influences of the Roman, Iberian and Basque pantheons in the development of Pyrenean religious culture. It will then use this historical outline to frame the proceeding chapters, which will investigate various folkloric, archaic and malefic elements of Pyrenean traditions and practises.

An appendix will also be included, which will outline the principle archaeological sites mentioned in the book, as well as a brief compendium of herb-lore gathered from the book’s research. The latter may indicate a direction for a future volume, should the data be sufficient.

Martin Locker has over a decade of experience in archaeology, both academic and field, and gained his doctorate in Medieval archaeology from University College London in 2013. He has published a variety of papers in books and journals, organised several academic conferences (including some with the Folkore Society), and excavated around Europe. He now lives and works in the Pyrenees as a freelance archaeologist, editor, tour manager and writer, and his various research interests in folklore and archaeology prompted him to found the Perennial Pyrenees project (https://perennialpyrenees.com) in mid-2017. This is his first book with Atramentous Press.

Carolyn Hamilton