The Guanche people were the indigenous inhabitants of the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago located off the northwest coast of Africa. Before the Spanish conquest in the 15th century, the Guanches led a simple, pastoral lifestyle, and their culture was rich with beliefs, mythology, and rituals.

Deities and Their Personalities

  • Achamán: The supreme god in the Guanche pantheon, Achamán was considered the father of all other gods and the creator of the universe, the earth, and humans. Achamán was typically depicted as a benevolent and omnipotent deity, responsible for maintaining harmony and balance in the world.

  • Chaxiraxi: Often referred to as the "Sun Mother," Chaxiraxi was the primary goddess in the Guanche religion, and she represented fertility and motherhood. As the wife of Achamán, she assisted him in the creation of life and was believed to protect the Guanche people and their crops from harm.

  • Guayota: The personification of evil, Guayota was the primary antagonist in the Guanche mythological narrative. Described as a monstrous and malevolent figure, he was believed to reside within the Teide volcano on the island of Tenerife, from where he plotted chaos and destruction.

  • Magec: The god of the sun and light, Magec was an essential figure in Guanche mythology, as the sun played a crucial role in the agricultural cycles of the Canary Islands. Magec was considered a benevolent deity, bringing warmth and light to the people.

  • Idafe: Associated with the sacred mountain Roque Idafe on La Palma, Idafe was the deity responsible for maintaining the balance between the earth and sky. He was believed to hold up the heavens, preventing them from collapsing and causing destruction.

Mythological Creatures and Heroes

  • Tibicenas: These demonic creatures were considered the minions of Guayota. Described as large, black dogs with red eyes, they were believed to dwell in caves and emerge at night to terrorize the Guanche people and their livestock.

  • Gara and Jonay: A popular Guanche legend tells the story of Gara and Jonay, two star-crossed lovers from different islands who were tragically separated by fate. Gara, a princess from Gomera, fell in love with Jonay, a noble warrior from Tenerife. However, their love was deemed forbidden due to an ancient prophecy. In despair, the couple fled to the mountains and eventually perished together, their tragic tale symbolizing the hardships faced by the Guanche people.

Unique Beliefs

  • Sacred Mountains: The Guanches believed that the mountains held spiritual power, serving as the dwelling places of the gods and goddesses. Many rituals and ceremonies were conducted on these mountains to pay homage to the deities and seek their protection and favor.

  • Mencey: The Guanches followed a system of tribal rule, led by a mencey, or king, who was believed to have a divine connection to the gods. The mencey was responsible for maintaining the spiritual well-being of his people and ensuring that the necessary rituals and offerings were performed to appease the gods.

  • Cave Burials: The Guanche people practiced cave burials, interring their dead in natural or man-made caves. They believed that these caves served as gateways to the afterlife, allowing the deceased to transition into the realm of the gods. The caves were often adorned with intricate paintings and symbols, reflecting the Guanche people's beliefs and respect for their ancestors.

  • Rituals of Propitiation: The Guanche people held various rituals and ceremonies to propitiate the deities, ensure good harvests, and protect their communities. These rituals often involved offerings of livestock, grains, and other agricultural products. In times of crisis, such as drought or volcanic eruptions, the Guanches would intensify their ritualistic practices, seeking the intervention of the gods to restore balance and harmony.

  • Divination: The Guanches believed in the practice of divination, consulting oracles and interpreting natural phenomena to predict the future and gain insights into the will of the gods. Divination played a vital role in decision-making, as the Guanche people sought divine guidance in matters of war, agriculture, and community affairs.

  • Sacred Trees: Trees held a special significance in the Guanche culture, symbolizing the connection between the earth and the heavens. The most revered tree was the Garoé, or "sacred water tree," located on the island of El Hierro. The Guanches believed that the Garoé captured water from the clouds and provided life-giving sustenance to the island's inhabitants. Rituals and ceremonies were conducted around the tree, paying homage to its life-sustaining powers.