There’s something mystical bubbling beneath the earth’s surface on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza. A lush, fertile land floating off the east coast of Spain, for centuries it’s been recognised for the otherworldly magnetic pull that it exerts on some visitors (not to mention passing planes). Consequently, it’s become home to an intoxicating mix of hippies, hedonists and free spirits who feel mysteriously drawn to the island for reasons they can’t explain. Perhaps much of the hype surrounding this bountiful Balearic rock can be put down to hearsay, but there are also hints that some – just some – of the rumour may in fact be rooted in truth.
Cast back to a time before Ibiza was properly on the map – a time before roads and agriculture (and clubs!). The island was a beautiful, untouched paradise waiting patiently to be discovered. A place where the cloudless blue sky blended seamlessly with a shimmering, cerulean sea; a haven of rolling, pine-covered hills that sparkled vivid green in the sunlight. Such was its allure that the universe deemed it a crime to remain unpopulated, and so in around 654BC, the peace-loving people of Carthage (now known as Tunisia) anchored just offshore, and along with a particular knack for trade, brought with them a belief system that lay its chalice at the throne of ancient gods and goddesses.
Among them was the magnificent Goddess Tanit: deity of dance, fertility, creation and destruction; Mother of Gods, Goddess of the Earth; protector of women. A powerful figure of worship among the Carthaginians, she was the goddess who, by representing the moon, brought female harmony to the male sun god, Baal – her cool, lunar exterior the antipode to his ferocious, burning shallows. Consequently, she was revered for her power, her presence and ultimately, her omnipotence, with many dedicating gifts and sacrifices in her name in the hope of benefitting from her all-seeing influence.
That was then, but to this day, many islanders believe that Tanit’s wonderfully potent existence can still be felt all across the island. In some ways that’s clearly visible; her name and image are still peppered on everything from hotels to restaurants and bars, but it’s said that her spirit is most palpable on the south west coast, particularly near Es Vedrà, the rock overlooked by Seven Pines Resort Ibiza, and coincidentally, Ibiza’s most famous natural monument. Reportedly the third most magnetic point on earth, it’s here that people report feeling a manifestation of sorts – especially as the sun disappears beneath the horizon, leaving a pastel-hued residue in the sky – one that sizzles beneath the skin, inciting possibility and excitement.
The passing of the day also makes room for darkness, when it’s time for the moon to take the spotlight in the blackest of inky skies. It’s then too, that Tanit’s reach is at its strongest. A time when the Earth’s satellite has the most poignant influence on people and planet, in the past worshippers would gather in Tanit’s honour to dance, be free and send whispers of longings and desires hopefully into the wind. Even now, the full moon is a special event on the island, each event on the monthly lunar calendar marked with expectation and delight.
This constantly inspiring goddess, now integral to belief systems carried by islanders and those instilled with spirited verve, may have missed her place in common Ibiza storytelling were it not for a fortuitous find back in 1907, when the Ibiza Archaeological Society uncovered a shrine dedicated to Tanit during a dig. There, in Cova d’es Cuieram, they discovered over 600 terracotta figures and other commemorations dedicated to the goddess, and it continues to be a place of sacred worship today, particularly among women, who take pilgrimage to the temple and bestow gifts in return for guidance.
That Tanit is held in prominence by women is no surprise. Many women claim to feel an inexplicable connection to the island’s underlying but discernible femininity, and many allege that their prayers have been answered when they’ve prayed at the goddess’ temple. There’s one story from long ago that stands testament to these tales: in the past, long held traditions that the most valuable land passed down to the men from generation to generation, and back then, that came in the form of farmland located in the middle of island. The coastline meanwhile, was passed to women, largely because it was deemed unsuitable for growing crops and therefore worthless.
One day, as the moon rose at its fullest and most spectacular, a group of women convened, tired of the patriarchal tradition that continued to bind them to outdated rules. They danced in the silvery rays of darkness, dedicating the movement and shimmy of head and limb to the Goddess Tanit, in the process requesting guidance and assistance in changing an archaic law that often forced them into poverty, or worse, marriage. Not long after this momentous event, a trail of hippies began to throng through the island from all across the world, each in search of the escapist freedom it was slowly becoming famous for. They found it, and they stayed.
In the following decades many followed the very same paths, resulting in an explosive tourist boom that suddenly saw coastal land become veritable gold mines. As if from nowhere, the formerly worthless stretches of sand climbed in value; the irons of the past were finally broken. This is quite possibly why you find a higher than average proportion of older, single, wealthy women on the island, each one gently tipping their caps to the goddess.
Some magic is visible – it appears and fades away in the blink of an eye – while some magic can be heard – it’s in the whistle of the bushes as they shiver in the breeze. And some magic can just be felt. It’s that burst of electricity that courses through the air, the prickle of the inexplicable rising into bumps on the skin, the lightning strike down a spine as if from nowhere. Some magic just requires a little faith, and on Ibiza, of that they have plenty. So next time you’re on the island, pay homage to the island’s long-serving goddess with a little memorial of your own – because change springs from the tiniest of seeds.
Contact our Guest Relations Team to arrange guided walks to Tanit’s Cave, or any other Tanit-inspired activity you may wish to partake in. E: email@example.com