So the donkey stuff again…

‘Laughing Donkey’ by Wendy from Wake Forest, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

So I was asked to clarify about the donkey stuff in my first blog post (‘The oldest guide to the Camino’) — specifically about how it’s done!  I mean, really?  That’s what you want to know?  Well, in lieu of finding and posting a video to something that would probably get me fired should my search history become public, I’ll try to explain it plainly without being too graphic and getting you all bothered or excited.  Afterall, you’re walking on a spiritual journey, seeking peace and enlightenment, and probably don’t have too many changes of underwear with you.

The twelfth-century Pilgrim’s Guide suggests that the people of Vizcaya and Alava (now two provinces in the Spanish self-governing region of Euskadi/País Vasco/Basque Country) and those of Navarra have penetrative sex with their animals, perform oral sex upon them, and put chastity belts on them to stop others from doing likewise:

In some places, like Vizcaya and Alava, when they get warmed up, the men and women show off their private parts to each other. The Navarrese also have sex with their farm animals. And it’s said that they put a lock on the backsides of their mules and horses so that nobody except themselves can have at them. Moreover, they kiss lasciviously the vaginas of women and of mules.[1]

The author is really laying it on (pun intended), with the belt bit.  Not only do they engage in bestiality, but they’re jealous too.  Remember, jealousy is one of the seven deadly sins (although bestiality isn’t). 

The chastity belt is one of the much-exaggerated rumours connected with medieval sexuality, and this is probably one of the earliest references to them.  The idea, which was only really described by much later writers, is that a woman’s ability to have sex or masturbate (which was believed would cause mental illness) would be restricted by means of locked contraption that looks like a cross between a climbing harness and a leather and metal nappy.  If you don’t have the key to her heart, at least you can padlock the rest.  Of course this means that we have to presume that your average farmer in Vizcaya or Alava was worried that his neighbour would break in and romance the cutest mule in his stable, winning her over with carrots and apples, before suggesting a romp in the hay and performing cunnilingus on her.

Equally shocking — and I can only take the author’s word on this — the Basques and Navarrese apparently also kiss the vaginas of human women!  I know, I know, ‘how disgusting!’ I hear you say.  But in fairness, the Pilgrim’s Guide’s is reporting second-hand (‘it is said’), and since I am currently living in Navarra I am obliged to say that I believe such practices have generally been phased out.

[1] Denis Murphy’s very readable translation of the Pilgrim’s Guide (perhaps the most accessible translation in English on the internet), can be found here:  The quotation is taken from ‘Chapter VII. The lands and peoples along the Camino de Santiago’:

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