(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

A Basque God associated with the Witches of that area. It is thought that the name comes from the old Roman god Janus. In pre-Latin times Janus (a variation of Dianus) was a sun god, and he had a feminine counterpart Jana (Diana), a moon goddess. As the Roman Janus, he was the two-faced god of doors and entrances, his statue being placed in doorways.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century, Pierre de Lancre (1553-1631), a witch trial judge who boasted of burning 600 victims, went to the Basque-speaking Pays de Labourd, Béarn, France. This is in the southwest of Guienne, adjoining the Spanish border. De Lancre was commissioned by Henri IV and went to investigate reports of witchcraft there. He quickly determined that the whole population of 30,000 were witches, including all the priests. He found that the people all celebrated the old sabbats, and that the priests themselves joined in, sometimes allowing their churches to be used for pagan rites. According to de Lancre, sabbats were held in the public square at Bordeaux, and at some of them, more than 100,000 people attended. It was not uncommon to have 2,000 children at these meetings, he said. Through the use of torture, de Lancre learned many more details about the local population.

Among the details de Lancre unearthed was that the Basque people referred to their god as Janicot. They had a rhyme, which went like this: In nomine patrica, Aragueaco petrica Gastellaco Janicot, Equidae ipordian pot.

This can be translated as "In the name of the Father, the father of Aragon, Janicot of Castile, give me a kiss on the backside." The Basque word for God is Jaincoa. As the Roman god Janus was two-faced, similarly was the god figure at a sabbat sometimes depicted as having a second face (a mask) on his posterior, which the worshipers kissed in the osculum infame, as a sign of homage. Doreen Valiente suggests that there's a remnant or memory of that homage that still lingers today in the popular expression "kiss my ass." She goes on to say that to kneel and kiss the "devil's" posterior was an act of homage by his worshipers, shocking as it may have seemed to the Christian chroniclers.

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
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Baron, C.; Sultan, B.; Balme, M.; Sarr, B.; Traore, S.; Lebel, T.; Janicot, S.; Dingkuhn, M.
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