Fameliars & Friends
Ibiza is an island full of secrets, superstitions and old stories whose origins are profoundly tied with pagan beliefs. The most popular creatures in the legends of Ibiza are the Barruguet, the Familiar or Fameliar, and the Follet.
The stories tell us how these creatures can be helpful and useful sometimes, and at other times malicious little devils.
The Barruguet has very special features. They are quarrelsome little demons, many times confused with the Punic god Bes due to their small physiognomy and long beard. This little rascal likes to play jokes on housewives and servants. Not unlike a poltergeist, Barruguets like to steal and hide things around the house. According to the stories, the only way to tame these tricksters is to feed them a slice of bread with cheese, otherwise they will take their revenge! If you are able to domesticate one, they can be of great help at home. Legend says they can be captured on the night of Holy Thursday to Good Friday beneath Sa Taberna bridge near San Juan.
Another fabulous creature is the Familiar or Fameliar (it can be found written both ways). These have to be kept inside a dark bottle to bring good luck to the home. If you do let it out its bottle, you have to activate its imagination, you might have some trouble if you don’t! The Familiar’s motto (and the only thing they know how to say apparently) is “feina o menjar” which means “work or food”, the little spirit wants to be fed or given work to do. But, beware! There is a catch, the Familiars are very hard workers and great eaters. If you leave your Familiar at a job, you might come back to find he has eaten your whole garden or all your furniture. Some stories tell us the trick is to give them an impossible job to finish like asking them to grab a fart with its hand (that’s Ibicenco humour for you!)
The Familiars live below the old Roman bridge in Santa Eulalia. There, according to ancient lore, on the night of San Juan on the 23rd of June, if there is a full moon in the sky, you have to pick a special/mythical type of grass or flower that only grows at midnight and last minutes before it dies, put this into a dark bottle and you have captured a Familiar. Recently, in the renewed Passeig de S’Alamera in Santa Eulalia, three little statues representing these fantastic creatures have been placed. There are more of these statues around the river area.
Another mythical creature from the Ibiza legends is the Follet. It is the least known of the three and can be confused with some strange type of genie, who has similar supernatural powers and a great sense of obedience. The idea is that if you own a Follet you don’t have to ever worry again in your life. Your Follet can make you invisible or look like someone else, or it can even make you fly and travel at the speed of the wind. The expression “te Follet” (has Follet) has remained in the Ibicenco language to talk about someone, normally a child, who is incapable to stay still. You should keep your Follet nice and comfortable in a hairy pouch (hair on the inside of course).
If you’d like to learn more about these creatures and other interesting stories and legends from Ibiza, I recommend the Diccionario de Secretos de Ibiza (Dictionary of Secrets from Ibiza) by Mariano Planells.