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Author Topic: TENERIFE IN LEGENDS  (Read 147 times)
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« on: November 07, 2007, 12:30:25 pm »

                                               Tenerife in Legends 


  For centuries, even after the Spanish conquest, it was believed that the islands were the uppermost peaks of the lost continent of Atlantis of which Plato wrote in his "Timeos and Critias".

Atlantis was a big island, "larger than Libya and Asia together", located beyond the Columns of Hercules (the Strait of Gibraltar). It was the dominion of Poseidon, god of the Sea, and it was inhabited by the Atlants, descendants of its first king Atlas, son of the god and a mortal women.


  Atlantis was immensely wealthy and the Atlants were the most advanced people of the world. In the center of the continent raised the great capital town with the Palace and the Temple of Poseidon. Its scientists transmitted their skills and civilization knowledges to other peoples, with whom they maintained peace.

  Atlants observed their laws of justice, generosity and peace for many generations. But in time they degenerated and became greedy and warlike. Others add that they discovered the secrets of the gods, secrets of cosmic energies and forces which could destroy mankind.

About 11,500 years ago Zeus, king of the gods, punished the Atlants. In the course of a single night volcanoes and tidal waves destroyed the big island in a disaster of cosmic proportions.

According to the legend, only the islands of Azores, Madeira, Canaries and Cape Verde remain from Atlantis. These were the lost continent's highest summits. But its palaces and temples are still to be found in the bottom of the sea, a sea which took its name from Atlantis: the Atlantic Ocean.

"Its steady palaces inhabited by dolphins,
its meadows and gardens carpeted with seaweed..."
(Jacinto Verdaguer - "La Atlántida")
« Last Edit: November 07, 2007, 12:34:47 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2007, 12:36:32 pm »



  A few - it would appear very few - sea explorers reached the Canary Islands during ancient times. The islands lie in the Atlantic Ocean, the so-called "Dark Ocean", into which very few sailors dared to venture. Furthermore, the ocean current called "Canaries Stream" flows in a southwesterly direction before veering to the west to sweep the unwary ocean vessel off to the end of the world, as it was believed during centuries.

Those few Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans who reached the islands and managed to return home to tell their story, surrounded the Canaries in a mist of magic and legend.


  According to the Mediterranean sailors' tales, the Atlantic Ocean was inhabited by all kind of monsters which destroyed the vessels and devored their daring crews. You could find at any moment giant whirlpools, storms caused by angry gods or... the end of the world. Once arrived at the world's edge, which was thought to be a flat disc, the unwise seamen would fall into the abyss.

In the opinion of some historians, there was an economic or militar reason for some of these legends. The Phoenicians, skillful sailors and trademen, knew some Atlantic searoutes along the African and European coast. They were not interested at all in having other people as competitors, so they tried to keep visitors at a distance by means of spreading awful rumours and legends.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2007, 12:42:03 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2007, 12:43:40 pm »


  Hesiod -a Greek poet of the 8th century b.C.- wrote about the legendary Garden of Hesperydes. The story starts with Atlas.

 Atlas was a Giant, titan Japeto's son. The titans were defeated by Zeus, king of the gods, who confined them in the Tartarus -the hell. Atlas had fought the war on his father's side. According to some opinions, Zeus condemned Atlas to support the vault of heavens upon his shoulders. Other maintain that an angry Perseus showed him Medusa's head thus converting him into a high mountain that supported the sky. Be that as it may, Atlas had to hold up the sky beyond the Columns of Hercules -the Strait of Gibraltar.

  Atlas had three daughters, the Hesperydes: Egle, Eritia and Aretusa. The three lived in the most westernly land of the world, some wonderful islands in the Atlantic Ocean, a Garden of Eden where weather was always mild and where golden apples grew on the trees. Goddess Gea (Mother Earth) made sprout those apples as a wedding gift to the king and queen of the gods, Zeus and Hera.


The Hesperydes cultivate the Garden, but a fierce dragon looked after it. It was called Ladon, and it had hundred flame-spewing heads.

Hercules -also called Herakles-, the greatest hero of ancient times, had to perform twelve very difficult tasks, almost impossible to accomplish, the "Twelve Labors of Hercules". Labor number eleven consisted in stealing the Hesperydes' Golden Apples.

  Hercules found Atlas supporting the sky near the Ocean, in the mountains which we call today Atlas (Morocco). Since the Garden of Hesperydes' dragon knew Atlas, Hercules persuaded him to go to the islands and steal the apples, while he stayed as supporter of the sky in his place. Atlas went to the Garden in which he could enter since the dragon recognized him, killed the monster, stole the golden apples and returned to the place where Hercules stayed. Atlas, tired of his task, intended to leave Hercules with the burden upon his shoulders, but the hero managed to cheat him. He passed him the burden again and fled with the apples.


  And the Garden of Hesperydes? Did it lose its Golden Apples forever? No! They ended by returning to the islands, since they were given to goddess Athena, who gave them back to the gardeners, the Hesperydes.

  Concerning Ladon, the watch-dragon killed by Atlas... it lives on in their children, the dragon-trees. According to the legend, the blood flowing from the dragon's wounds fell all over the Garden of Hesperydes. A dragon tree sprouted from each blood drop. Dragon trees -dracaena drago- have massive trunks from which raise a bunch of twisted branches, Ladon's hundred heads. When a piece of bark or a branch are broken, the tree "bleed" a dark-red sap called "dragon-tree blood", which can be used with medical purposes. Dragon trees grow slowly, but they can live for several centuries. There is a specimen at Icod de los Vinos -Tenerife- which is called the "Thousand-year old Dragon Tree".

The Guanches, Canarian natives, revered the places where these trees grew as specially meaningful and full of energies. Today, several superstitions of the Canarian folklore are still refered to a dragon tree, growing lonely at the edge of a crag or a cliff.

  When the traveler approaches the Canaries by sea, he can glimpse the misty form of the Teide floating over the clouds many miles before arriving at the islands. When we imagine how it looked when the volcano has been in eruption, we shall understand how the legend was born of a fierce fire-spewing dragon who watched over a wonderful Garden where the Golden Apples grew...
« Last Edit: November 07, 2007, 01:15:12 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2007, 01:17:43 pm »


  Homer, the great poet of Ancient Greece, tells about the Elysian Fields in his "Odyssey". Pindar also wrote about the "Islands of the Blest", and Virgil mentions them in the epic poem Aeneid.

  The Elysian Fields are at the ends of the world. The souls of heros and virtuous people go there after death.
"Men lead there an easier life than any where else in the world, for in Elysium there falls not rain, nor hail, nor snow, but Oceanus breathes ever with a West wind that sings softly from the sea, and gives fresh life to all men...."
(Homer, Odissey, book III).

The Elysium was governed by Rhadamanthus, son of Zeus and Europa and brother of Minos, King of Crete.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2007, 01:18:47 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2007, 01:20:26 pm »


  The Canaries are seven islands... but an eigth isle is still searched! It is the ghost island, the mysterious one, the island of San Borondón. San Borondón is the Canarian name of Saint Brendan or Saint Brandan of Clonfert (480-576 d.C.), an Irish monk who plays the lead in one of the most famous legends of the Celtic culture: the voyage of Saint Brendan or Brandan to the Promised Land of the Saints, the Islands of Happiness and Fortune.

  The Irish poem tells that Brendan was a monk of Tralee, County Kerry. He was ordained priest in the year 512 d.C.. He sailed with 14 other monks on a small vessel which went far away in the Atlantic Ocean. The legend tells about their adventures, how they took with them along their voyage three other monks, their encounter with fire-hurling demons, with floating crystal columns, with monstruous creatures as large as an island.


  Brendan and his fellow travellers landed on island where they found trees and other sort of vegetation. They said mass, and suddenly the island started to sail. It was a gigantic sea creature and they were on its back. After many vicissitudes Brendan managed to go back to Ireland.

  Many base on this legend the affirmation that Irish sailors reached possibly in the High Middle Ages the shores of North America or Newfoundland, Iceland and other Atlantic isles.

  When the Canaries were conquered throughout the 15th century, stories were insistently told about an eigth island which sometimes was seen to the West of La Palma, El Hierro and La Gomera. When sailors tried to reach it and approached to its shores, mountains and valleys, the island was covered by mist and vanished. The island was obviously identified as mythical Saint Brendan's whale-island, and was called "San Borondón" in the Canary Islands.
People believed firmly in its existence, and there were even detailed accounts from an odd sailor or two who swore that they had landed on the island and explored it before the land had sunk again into the Ocean. In some international treaties signed by the Kingdom of Castille it was stated, concerning the Canary Islands, the Castilian sovereignty over *the islands of Canaria, already discovered or to be discovered*; just in case... The island was called "Aprositus", the Inaccesible, and in other versions of the legend is named "Antilia" or "Island of the Seven Cities", cities which were supposed to have been founded by seven legendary bishops.
  The archives of the 18th century inform about official inquiries by the authorities of El Hierro, where tens of witnesses declared having seen the bewitched island from the summits of El Hierro's mountains. An expedition in search of the island sailed from Santa Cruz de Tenerife as a result of this inquiry.

  The persistence of this legend in the islands' folklore is amazing. San Borondón is still alive in the islands' people imagination. There is probably no one islander of Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera or El Hierro who sometime has not looked from the mountains of his island into the sea, searching the lost island of San Borondón in the western horizon where the sun sinks in the cobalt-blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

"Let the Guanche drums resound
and the conch shells blow,
for the mysterious island
is appearing in the midst of the waves;
here comes San Borondón,
showing up in the mist
like a queen
with the surf as suite..."

"San Borondón", Cabrera/Santamaría
« Last Edit: November 07, 2007, 01:24:11 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
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