A curious sight in the Cathar village of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert interested me greatly; a sunflower nailed to a front door was something Id never witnessed before, and sparked a great degree of intrigue. After extensive research I discovered that these were called 'Eguzkilore'.
Derived from an ancient tradition, the custom is scarcely mentioned or explained in texts, however it appears to have come from the Basque region, and is deeply rooted in French and Spanish folklore. 'Eguzki' (sun) and 'lore' (flower), (literally 'Sunflower' in Basque language), are actually dried silver thistles, and are traditionally believed to bring good fortune to the house which they adorn. In folklore it is believed that the Eguzkilore represents the sun and its power, which includes protecting a house during the hours of darkness, and warding off evil spirits, devils and witches. This tradition appears to be born out of Basque paganism, which existed in the Western Pyrenees before the arrival of Christianity in the region.
It is wonderful to see this old custom, which is clearly deeply rooted in Pyrenees tradition, survived today through the people of Saint Guillem la Desert.