Church of the Guanche People, the religion that seeks to recover the ancient Canarian cults

A couple of years ago the recovery in Iceland of the Nordic pagan religion was in the news. An association called asatruarfelagid The construction of a temple for it began where they could once again worship Odin, Freya, Thor and all the other gods of Asgard.

They even created a priestly caste, gathering two and a half thousand followers. But this unusual initiative is not as original as many think.

Here in Spain, without going any further, we have a much earlier example with the call Church of the Guanche People.

The neopaganism is a movement that since the fifties of the 20th century rescues from oblivion old pre-christian beliefsoften associating them with fashion trends such as ecology, indigenism, the occult, esotericism, etc.

When what is recreated is an ancient faith, it is usually classified as pagan reconstructionism and the spectrum available covers various times, places and cultures of the world: from Celtic druidism and Egyptian Kemetism to the aforementioned Scandinavian asatru, passing through the classical polytheism of Greece and Rome, the romuva Y dievitruba of Lithuania and Latvia, the tengrinism of the steppes or even the jentiltasuna Basque, among others.

Also in America some pre-Hispanic indigenous rites are resumed. Another different line is the one that practices cults not associated with a tradition concrete cultural, case of witchcraft, wicca and other currents new age similar, but it is not what interests us in this article.

Symbol of Tanit, adopted by the Church of the Guanche People/Image: IPG

The Church of the Guanche People would be framed, then, in that pagan reconstructionism, since, according to the Guadameño Arguma Anez´ Ram n Yghaesen (Eduardo García, their leader), “One of its main objectives is to rescue and update the religion of our ancestors, which includes their divinities, rituals and values, adapting them to the needs of today’s canaries”.

The claim of the guanche civilization and, in that sense, it is significant that this faith is linked to the MPAIAC (Movement for Self-Determination and Independence of the Canary Islands), the separatist organization founded by Antonio Cubillo in 1964 to attempt the secession of the Canary Islands.

Two were born from her. terrorist gangsFAG (Guanche Armed Forces) and DAC (Canary Islands Armed Detachments), which in the following decade carried out some attacks with fatalities (and which played an indirect role in the terrible accident at Los Rodeos), until in 1979 the movement it renounced the armed struggle, expelled Cubillo, and dissolved itself.

Neo-druids celebrating the summer solstice at Stonehenge/Photo: Andrew Dunn on Wikimedia Commons

The motherland (by country) or Canarian nation, its foundation in “a historical, social, ethnic and territorial unity”would be based, among other things, on recovering what the historian and archaeologist Joshua David Ramos Martin describe how «the symbolic space taken from their ancestors by the European invasion and the consequent evangelization»which would have replaced the ancestral religion with the Christianity.

Following this idea, what is proposed is a return to the cult of chaxiraxiSustainer of Heaven, Guanche name for the Universal Mother Goddess (syncretically assimilated to the Virgin of the Candelaria) that has to regenerate Humanity (he was the divinity of fertility) and whose devotion has equivalents in other neopagan reconstructions such as those mentioned above, hence he uses borrowed iconography of them; in that sense, the symbol of the IPG is a pictogram of the punic goddess Tanit.

And it is that, in reality, the reliable reconstruction of the ancient Guanche faith is not easy because it did not leave written texts, so that the only sources available they correspond to the archaeological record, to secondary references and to folklore.

This deficiency is usually saved with a voluntarist attitude, since its objective is not historicist but spiritual (at least in theory, since we have already seen its original connection with Canarian nationalism). That is why established rituals focus on the calendrical celebrations and in social ceremoniesalways with a sporadic character.

Regarding the lunar almanac, the chronological system of what is called the New Guanche Era began with the founding of the IPG in 2001, when the first Achu n Magek (summer solstice), while the aforementioned social rites are baptisms, burials and weddings (the first post-conquest Guanche marriage took place in 2002 on the Guaza mountain, traditionally considered sacred by the aborigines, and was an event attended by mass media and a hundred onlookers).

The critics raised by the paraphernalia used in those betrothals, more the result of imagination than of historical credibility, they were harsh on the part of the researchers; Néstor Verona wrote that with “This symbolic act emptied the ceremony of content for the IPG and turned it simply into a reconstruction of a more or less invented ritual, similar to those carried out by cultural associations, like folklore performances”.

This led the Church to ban part of its external packaging, keeping only those objects that were beyond any doubt and causing an internal polarization among supporters of Guanchism as a tool. politics nationalist and those who seek to limit it to what spiritual; in his studio Nationalism and religion in the Canary Islands: a first approximationZebensui López Trujillo and Josué David Ramos Martín add a third tendency, the ethnicistWhat “exaltation of the pre-colonial past”.

Chaxiraxi aside, the pantheon of this faith is completed with other divinitiesin the case of Magec or Sun Goddess, Achuguayu or Moon God, Achamán-Akorán-Baal-Ammón or Rain God and Chayuga or God of Nature, apart from complementary figures such as the spirits of the ancestors.

The mountain of Guaza/Photo: public domain on Wikimedia Commons

The cult develops through a hierarchical structure headed by a Guadameñoa kind of high priest (man or woman) who, aided by a council of amusnausy and a group of faykanes (a curia) form the Great Tagoro of the Mother Goddesswhich directs the kankus (priests), maguadas (priestesses) and iboibos (funeral officiants).

For the moment, that search for lost identity does not gather more than a few few hundred followersalthough with an upward trend.

Of course you never know what the future will bring; The Maradonian Church, which worships Argentine soccer player Diego Armando Maradona, began as a joke among friends and today has nearly a quarter of a million declared devotees.


Sources

The Church of the Guanche People: methodological considerations (Joshua David Ramos Martin)/Church of the Guanche People (Nestor Verona and Alfonso Garcia)/Religion and anthropology (Brian Morris)/Church of the Guanche People (official site)