Akerbeltz (billy black goat) is a spirit in the folk mythology of the Basque people. It lives inside the land and it has many elves as servants. In Christianity, Akerbeltz is the live image of the demon. Priests, witches and seers think that he does all type of sexual abuses in the covens he organised.
Nowayadays, instead, it is said that Akerbeltz was an ancient deity which was the animals' protector. The billy goat was also adorated in other European countries and not only in the Basque Country. Some beliefs about this mythological creature have lasted until nowadays.
During history and in other mythologies
Pierre de Lancrek, an inquisitor who went looking for women from Labourd and Lower Navarre who were supposed to be witches, wrote a book called "Tableu de I´Inostance", there, he wrote a testimony of a supposed witch: "Akerbeltz has a man's face, big and terrifying". Another witch also said that he had two faces, one in front and the other one in the back.
In words of other inquisitors, Akerbeltz was similar to an enormous dog or to a big ox which is incorrect or lies. This last case could be related to the myth of the Aatxe (another creature of the Basque mythology). As men who look for witches said, Aker gave a parody of the catholic mass to his followers, and during the mass, they offer him eggs, bread and money.
In the mass explained before, Aker gave a parody sermon, and after that speech, he organised a lunch with his witches and elves. In that lunch it was served human-meat and his horns functioned as gigantic candles. To continue with the celebration, Aker and his followers danced together with the sound of a tabor. And finally, the witches made their spells.
Folklorists say that Akerbeltz was similar to some ancient deities such as Dionysus, in terms of excesses, and Pan, in terms of sexual abuses.
Jose Miguel Barandiaran, who investigated and compiled the Basque culture, said that the picture of Akerbeltz was similar to Mari (another spirit from the Basque mythology) because they had some characteristics in common.
There were some other beliefs which say that he was the animals' and houses' protector, and he had the power for treating the animals. He was also the life image of the fertility. And as he was black, many people from the Basque Country had had a black billy-goat in their stable in order to protect the rest of the animals.