It is said the Bruxa de Evora was the teacher and benefactor of both the sorcerous St Cyprian and Pomba Gira Maria Padilha. According to author Maria Helena Farelli, it is likely the Bruxa de Evora (also called Moura Torta and Lagarrona) was alive during the time of Dom Afonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal, and lived in the town of Evora - whose ancient Celtic name, eburos, being the yew tree. According to the Books of St Cyprian, the historian Plinio, and contemporary biographers, the Bruxa de Evora was described as “the witch of the town, who walked with an owl on her back and who played the harp on cold winter nights. She lived like a hermit, always alone in her house, with her chickens and rabbits, with a big hat, skirt and apron, with beaten shoes, mumbling strange prayers. The Witch of Évora had a black cat, called Lusbel (Lucifer). He was gorgeous, bashful, and lascivious…”
Farelli goes on to write…
”according to the legend, the Witch of Évora was Moorish; yes, they said she was Arab or Moorish. She was dark, not white like most Portuguese women. She had come from the hot lands and had Arab friends, but she was raised in Iberia; so she spoke Arabic and Portuguese well, besides Latin. Legend has it that her father and mother died when she was seven; that an old aunt raised her and taught her the magical arts, giving her as talismans seven gold coins from the caliph Omar, an agate stone with Arabic inscriptions and a silver plate with the name of the Prophet. And she taught her to work in pottery: the witch made her clay pots and vases. Some say that she was crazy about rugs and all the money she earned, she spent on them. Legend has it that she read the Koran and wrote; among her belongings was a rich carved copper inkwell. She knew mathematics and, looking at the sky, she recognized the stars; she knew how to read the luck in the sands, in the stars, and how to do spells and healings. She knew the magic of her Muslim ancestors; but, living in the 13th century, she also knew that of the Celts, who for a long time occupied the south of Portugal. Infidel, therefore. Devil worshiper … Enemy of the Church.”
Such a reputation for wicked sorcery made the Bruxa a feared figure, yet also lent her magic an additional aura of power. The spells, charms, talismans, and rituals considered to have been written or worked by her have long been sought after to obtain healing, protection, and success. One such charm, translated by Farelli, runs:
With three they gave you the evil eye,
Three thorns stuck you, envy, trembling and yellowing.
With three I take you out of this affliction,
In the strength of the Witch of Évora
I open the gate where Arcangel and Saint Cyprian live
And I close the Dog's door.