Ibiza, the Magic Island
Something else than a Party island
Ibiza, the White Island, the Magic Island, is without doubt a world benchmark for party and electronic music lovers. Every summer, thousands of young people from all over Europe and the planet visit this Mediterranean oasis to enjoy the popular discos, clubs and djs in idyllic beach surroundings. It is part of the phenomenon known as clubbers. However, this cosmopolitan island also contains much more than endless sessions of electronic parties. His landscapes, biodiversity, and culture, World Heritage, hide ancient civilization stories, mystical and enigmatic places, legends and magnetic energies make this island a unique enclave.
Aiboshim, the Island of Bes
It has been said that this Mediterranean island might have been inhabited since 5000 BC. However, the evidences show that it were Phoenicians who populated the island from the 8th century BC and turned it into a strategic maritime location. The island location, in between North Africa and the Pyrenees, facilitated the trade among this merchant civilization, the Iberian Peninsula and the Greek colonies in the South of France. The Greeks called Ibiza and Formentera Pitiusas, “The Islands of the Pine Trees”; a name that is still in use due to the great abundance of pines in these islands.
Phoenicians, from their side, named Ibiza as Aiboshim, "The island of Bes". This Egyptian deity was assimilated by the Phoenicians through their regular contact with the North of Africa. Bes was represented as a small and plump man with a certain demonic appearance. He was the protector god of fertility and dreams, and the guide from the beyond. He also was considered as the divinity of music and dance, and he was associated with the joyful life, drunkenness, sex and debauchery, details that remind us the current fame of the island.
Another peculiar attribute of Bes god was his ability to shoo curses and reptiles away, particularly snakes. Something quite curious considering that there are not snakes in Ibiza and Formentera, in contrast to the neighbour island of Mallorca. Probably, this was the reason which led the Phoenician to think that the island was protected by Bes god. Accordingly, it was believed that the island´s soil possessed protective properties against reptiles. Based on this belief, for centuries many traveller, merchants, and even kings were collecting small amounts of soil from the island to place it around their homes in order to protect themselves. Still today there is who wears around the neck a small bag with Ibiza soil from protection against unwanted energies.
White Island, White Goddess
In the V century BC the Carthaginians conquered Ibossim. During their stay, the island developed from a mere distribution port to produce and export its own goods. They began to exploit the popular salt mines of the island, currency at that time. The island´s population near trebled and they built numerous houses according to the whitewashed Carthaginian tradition. The house walls were covered with lime, indoors in order to disinfect in case of a plague and outdoors to protect the clay. As a result, a landscape of white house’s spread through the island granting to the place the nickname of White Island.
Besides prosperity, the Carthaginians also brought their own gods to the island, in particular the worship to Tanit goddess, a deity that still is remembered and praised. Tanit, the White Goddess or the Mother Goddess, was the divinity of the moon, love, prosperity, fertility and harvest, life and health. This divinity also had the power to protect against poisonous animals, like the Bes god. On the other hand, Tanit was considered the goddess of the death and the underground, and guide of the deceased. The legend says that in order to praise and satisfy this goddess, first-born children from wealthy families were sacrificed through rituals in which they were beheaded and burned.
Land of conquests and pirates
With the arrival of the Romans in 123 BC the island was renamed Ebusus, and Tanit goddess worship continued until later Christianization. After the Romans, the island was invaded and sacked by consecutive civilizations during the centuries V and IX AD. Goth, Visigoth and Byzantine people harmed the splendour of the island which was later recovered after the Arab conquest. The 500 years of Arab stay at the renamed Madina Yabisa influenced in several aspects of the island life, such as the dress code or the house building techniques. In 1,235, the Arabs were expelled by the Catalan troops led by the king Jaime I of Aragon, The Conqueror.
Another legend tells that the Catalans managed to conquer the island due to a dispute between the sheikh and his brother. Both were fighting for a harem woman, the resentful brother wanted to take revenge and revealed to the Christians the existence of a secret underground entrance underneath the fortress. The Catalan and Christian Eivissa replaced Arab mosques by churches that later become havens for the island´s natives to protect themselves against the constant attacks from Turkish and Algerian pirates during the XVI century. In facing this danger, Dalt Vila fortified walls were built over the old medieval ones. This allowed the island development during the later centuries.
In the 60s tourists began to visit Ibiza which brought wealth to the island. In those years, the hippy movement, born in San Francisco, was spreading throughout the world having a great popularity in cities such as London and Amsterdam. This counter-cultural and anti-militarist movement stood up against the capitalist system and the war policy of the moment. They defended an alternative lifestyle more pacific, naturalist and free. These disappointed young people found in places like India and Nepal an ideal refuge for spiritual quests, meditation and drug experimentation.
Ibiza was a peaceful and free oasis discovery for the hippies. The mild weather, the contact with nature, the absence of mass tourism, and the mystic and magic sceneries of the island, attracted to these rebellious young people. The hippies settled down in communes in country houses and began organizing craft markets, events and festivals. The island become popular and intellectuals, artists, writers, painters… and visitors from all around the world were arriving to the island. In spite of the fact that Spain was under a dictatorship, the wealth that the island began to generate thanks to tourism granted relative freedom.
The hippies opened a door in the 60s that brought to the island the development of musical events, festivals and nightclubs in the following decades. During the 70s and 80s the island lived a period of glamour and splendour with large concerts in open sky with artists like Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, Freddy Mercury… However, at the end of the 90s the way of experience music and parties went through a big change. Authorities established a law that forced nightclubs to become closed spaces in order to reduce the noise. This caused the decline of nightclubs to which people went to enjoy shows in open air.
Many of those establishments went to auction and changed owners. It was then when businessmen of this industry in London, where strict regulations were difficult obstacles, found in Ibiza a great opportunity to carry out their events. They began to organize tourist disco packs, whirlwind trips which included flight and party nights. Slowly Ibiza was gaining fame, and relevant people from leisure industry started to settle down in the island. Ibiza became "The party Island" the paradise of electronic music, nightclubs and discos.
Magical places, the influence of Shiva and Scorpio
But the hippies also knew how to explore the magic sites of the island. They discovered certain places with a natural energy ideal for spiritual practices and ancestral rite celebrations. On Benirrás beach, in the north of the island, you can still attend to the drum party to praise the sunsets on summer Sundays. Other chosen corners were Punta Galera or Atlantis for their fascinating beauty and enigmatic charm. Atlantis, as the hippies called this place in reference to the myth of the Atlantis island loss, is officially known as Sa Pedrera of Cala d'Hort. This is an old quarry from where the stones were removed to build part of the Dalt Vila walls in the XVI century. Furthermore, according to a legend these stones were also used for the Egyptian pyramids. The curious diagonal slashes of the rocks create strange stepped structures by where the water from the sea slips through and forms natural pools. Among the walls it can be found small altars, carved drawings and images, many of them Buddhist and Hindu symbols and divinities. Possibly due to the strong influence that these philosophies and Eastern religions had in the hippy movement.
One of the Hindus deities more depicted is the Shiva god. Some people believe that the island is under the influence of this destructor, regenerative and creator god. Shiva destroys everything that is unnecessary in order to regenerate the energies and be able to create something again, so this god could be kind or evil. He is the god of chaos, dominates all the supernatural forces, the esoteric, the magic, what is unclassifiable and dangerous. Shiva also is the protector of the alienated people, those who for different reasons are different and live outside the convention. In line with his irrational and impulsive strength, he also is the god of drunkenness, of the feast, of the sexual pleasure and debauchery. In his regenerator side, he is the one who guides the reflection and self-control of the ascetic people in their life of solitude, sacrifice and self-denial in order to reveal them the truth. As a god of creative knowledge, he instructs the philosophers and teachers, and inspires and protects the artists.
Curiously, many of the descriptive traits of Shiva god are very similar to the characteristics of the Scorpio sign. According to the conclusions of the astrology congress celebrated in Ibiza in 1978, this zodiacal sign rules the Magic Island. Scorpio energies are associated with the mysterious, the esoteric, the seduction and sexuality. As Tanit goddess or Shiva god, they are bipolar forces that symbolize death and life. Scorpio stands for transformation processes, loneliness and isolated reflections which lead to a state of change and metamorphosis to be able to undertake a new beginning. This is the creative capacity that allows you to reinvent yourself, to be reborn again. As occurs in the cycle of the island, the lonely, quiet and introspective winters give way to the explosive summer seasons full of vitality, party and sensuality.
Es Vedrá and The Silence Triangle Enigmas
Very near Atlantis, in the southwest of Ibiza, Es Vedrá islet is raised from the sea along with Es Vedranell, a smaller islet. This enigmatic rock, about 400 meters of height and column-shaped, hides numerous caves and underground caverns which go into great depth. According to the native traditional lore, this islet is a stone guard that emerged from the Mediterranean waters to protect the island. This is just an example of numerous and intriguing enigmas and legends that Es Vedrá has generated over time. In this line, many scholars agree that this rock accumulates a large magnetic energy similar to the one found in places such as Stonehenge, Easter Islands, or Egyptian pyramids. Moreover, Es Vedrá together with the south west coast of Mallorca and the Ifach Crag in Alicante form "The Silence Triangle", an area where has been detected similar effects occurred in the Bermuda Triangle: doves become disoriented, plane and boat radars stop working, and even the compasses are affected.
But the legend goes much further and tells stories about paranormal phenomena such as bright beings apparitions, unexplained sounds, and even UFO sightings. The first stories about these phenomena date back to the second half of the XIX century when Father Francisco Palau, founder of the Carmelite, was retired in Es Vedrá. His writings narrate how he saw in different occasions "ladies of light" and "celestial beings". Later, many other witnesses appear: fishermen who said have seen strange objects floating while they were sailing, local people who observed mysterious lights going out and into the water, or swimmers and divers, as the underwater hunting champion Jose Amengual, who attested to have heard intense " metal noises" which made fishes to change direction, an unusual fact according to the experts.
But without a doubt one of the most extraordinary events is the well-known "Manises Case". November 1979 a plane that was flying from Mallorca to Tenerife was chased by several red lights which threatened to crash with the plane. The pilots had to carry out an emergency landing at Valencia airport for fear of a possible accident. Many of the passengers identified these lights like UFOS. Scientists could not offer any logical explanation of these events.
A possible answer to all these mysterious facts may be found in the geological maps of tectonic terrestrial plates. In this area of the Western Mediterranean is located the boundaries of two large tectonic plates, the African and the Eurasian. Between both of them is the Meso-Mediterranean or Alborán microplate. The relationship between these three plates and other smaller ones creates a complex mosaic where the different pieces still have not found their definitive place. Currently, experts continue investigating these tectonic movements trying to unravel another enigma that surrounds this magic island.
The edge of the double-sided
Many connoisseurs of the island say that his energy hides the two ends, a force that can trap you or rejects you, makes you grow or destroys you, loves you or hates you, gives you extraordinary experiences both good and bad ones. Myth or reality, what is clear is that every summer this island attracts hundreds of tourists in search of the party and natural beauty. Visitors that while generate wealth and popularity thanks to the freedom to experience endless evenings of fun and party; they also cause deterioration and a questionable reputation associated with dark episodes derived from the excess.
Young people eager for freedom and fun come to the island with the intention to spend a few days of holiday without rest. Many of them come from the United Kingdom, where whirlwind trips to Ibiza are sold with great success. In order to be able to endure nights partying and days of sun and beach, these young people need to consume substances that help them keep going. Alcohol and drugs have always been part of the parties, but in a moment of passion given by absolute freedom could be lethal. This is proved by the high rate of poisonings and mortality of young tourists in Ibiza. Many of them are British young people who find their last trip using excessive amounts of drugs, having a dead drug mix, jumping from balconies or falling from a cliff as a consequence of drug delusions.
Another of the destructive aspects derived from the island popularity is the environmental degradation caused by tourism. Every summer the island goes from hosting around 150 thousand residents to welcoming more than 2 million visitors. The fragility and natural beauty of the island resent having to cope with problems as the sudden increase of waste, the scarcity and pollution of water, the degradation of the cost, the loss of biodiversity or the deterioration of cultural heritage. They are the negative consequences from the spell of this island of legend. An island of singular beauty which deserves cares, consideration, and respect. An island that will embrace you or refuse you, but will never leave you indifferent. A white, magic, enigmatic island. A unique island.