The mother goddesses and black virgins

During the earliest stages of civilization, if not yet identified the relationship between mate, gestate and give birth, the woman was recognized as having a powerful creative force and engendering overlooking the power of all nature, even life and death. As the “great mother” embodied the human desire for fertility and the hope of overcoming death.  Every culture, every religion of the ancient peoples worshiped a representation of the mother goddess, dispensing agent and fertility, of creation and regeneration of life, something embodied by our ancestors in women and in female animals. It was they who brought life to the world. His magic sign, vulva, was the gateway to life is carved in relief on the rock and in many cultures accompanied the dead to the grave in the form of amulet, with a view to assure the resurrection.

In North Africa, west of the Nile Valley developed a set of ethnic groups indigenous to the Maghreb, the Berber, amazigh or mazigios, who were known by the ancient romans as numidians and medieval europeans as moors. In the current Canary Islands were established as ethnicity Guanche, civilization produced over centuries by the first inhabitants of these territories. The Guanche name of the mother goddess aboriginal was Chaxiraxi, which means “Mother of the Sun” or “that loads the King of the World.” It is another view of Tanit, the goddess mother of the Maghreb and the Mediterranean is one of the many names given to the great goddess of fertility. The feast of Beñesmer guanche (harvest) was devoted to Chaxiraxi.

On the christian side, the cult of the virgin Mary began in the eastern orthodox catholic church after the Council of Ephesus (431 a.C.) proclaimed Mary as “Mother of God.” Although some years earlier, Augustine, bishop of Hippo, had placed in his chapel the image of a black madonna that according to tradition, was inspired by the “rule” or regulation of its community of monks.  For believers guanche, the mazigios converted to christianity as Augustine of Hippo (354-430 a.C.), born in Tagaste, a small city in roman Africa Numidia (present province of Algeria) were the ones who introduced the cult of mother goddess in the christianity through the black virgins.

In an unprecedented move, the guanches initiated the worship of a christian image long before the spanish conquest that occurred between 1402 and 1496. An image of the virgin of the Candelaria appeared between 1390 and 1430 on the beaches of the menceyato Chimisay Güimar on the island of Tenerife. This image was received and adored by the name of Chaxiraxi, the same as the mother goddess worshiped by the natives and one of the major goddesses of the pantheon Guanche. One hypothesis is that the image of the virgin of the Candelaria Tenerife have been carried by monks Mallorcan, who settled for a time on the island and left elements of the christian religion among the guanches, producing a spontaneous religious syncretism. According to the guanches, the goddess Chaxiraxi was transformed, by the grace of the catholic clergy in Maria de la Candelaria. After the conquest of the island, the virgin was declared patroness of the Canary Islands in 1559 by Pope Clement VIII.

In the following years, because the Canaries were a compulsory stop on trips to America, many of their customs were exported to the new continent, among them the veneration of the virgin of Candelaria, whose feast is celebrated on February 2, when in the catholic church traditionally commemorates the purification ceremony (40 days after birth) by a procession with candles which concluded with a visit to the cemetery. Over time, became the patron saint of several cities in the new world as Medellín and Cartagena de Indias in Colombia, Mayagüez in Puerto Rico and Puno in Peru. His feast day is also celebrated in the city of Copiapo in northern Chile, in the city of Moron in Cuba and Mexico.

In the same historical period, America welcomes believers Yoruba from the west coast of Africa. They considered and revered as an orisha Oyá higher, warrior, facilitator of high winds and caretaker of the cemetery. Similarly, before the imposition catholic worship also found protection in syncretism with the virgin of the Candelaria and Teresa of Avila.

In Peru of our time, the virgin of Candelaria is the patron saint of the city of Puno, the feast is associated with the cult to the Pachamama (earth), natural symbol of fertility. The feast of the virgen de la Candelaria or Candelaria mamacha or mom Candi, among the many names assigned to it is a party where religious syncretism is very evident, but what it usually is in almost all christian celebrations. The virgin is black and has the popular nickname of “the brunette.”




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