Other names: Aatxegorri (young red bull), Beigorri, Txaalgorri, Zezengorri
Etymology – “Young Bull”. Aatxe is also referred to as Aatxegorri which means “Young Red Bull”.
There’s a lot of ancient Basque mythology that didn’t survive the arrival of Christianity between the 4th and 12th centuries C.E. Most of what is known and has survived is from the study of place names and the scant historical references of pagan rituals practiced by the Basques.
In Basque mythology, Aatxe is a shape-changing spirit who sometimes takes the form of a fiery red bull or a young man. Aatxe is sometimes identified with another Basque figure known as Etsai. He is also identified with the goddess Mari and may possibly be a manifestation of her will. Though he is more likely just an enforcer and separate. Mari is said to be quick to punish those who lie or cheat and the Aatxe is sent out against those people who have lied, cheated, stolen and have other wise been disrespectful.
There is an old Basque witches song that has the line of: “Yaun Gorril, Yaun Gorril,” which translates into English as “Lord Red, Lord Red.” It’s thought that this line most likely refers to Aatxegorri, showing that he is an important figure in the Basque mythologies and pantheon.
Aatxe comes from the underground world of Euskal Herria. He haunts the caves and gorges of the Pyrenees Mountains, coming out at night, especially during stormy weather, to attack and punish criminals; he also protects people by making them stay home when there’s danger.