Sorginak in Combarro

We walk down narrow, pedestrian lanes through the old stone fishing village of Combarro, in the Pontevedro area of Galicia, Spain. We see many life size witches and smaller doll-like versions. The witches faces and dress differ widely. Groups of them congregate outside shops.  At restaurant entrances. What can this mean? Especially in such a catholic dominated country, where thousands of pilgrims walk for days or weeks on the Camino de Santiago.

We have walked backwards in time to the 1700’s. Walked backwards to a time when the sorginak (so-rin-yah) or witches were honored as assistants of goddess Mari in Basque mythology, a forgotten – even lost – mythology. The sorginak are said to have built the local megaliths. They are associated with weather, and these different sized witches sold in numerous shops, are said to bring good luck.

The etymology for sorginak comes from ‘ sor’ or/and ‘sorte’ and implies fortune or ‘to create’. The sorginak tourist souvenirs remind us that long before Christianity (and in these parts, Catholicism), there was an earth based religion that honored the feminine. There was a culture that celebrated sorginaks or witches and saw them as bringing good fortune.

On coming home, I learned that Combarro is known as ‘The Land of Witches’. The Land of Good Fortune. By walking down those cobble stone streets in Combarro, I wonder if the sorginak reached through time to invite me to open to the many layers of history hidden right in front of us; open to reclaiming that witches or sorginak bring good fortune.