The Garunda was a Spanish secret society reported to have
originated from an apparition of the Virgin Mary in the 1490s
to a hermit named Apollinario. At the time Spain was just
emerging. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were pushing
the Moors southward, Columbus had discovered the New
World, and the Jews had been banished from the kingdom.
Apollinario was dedicated to removing all that was not Catholic
from the land, and in the midst of his veneration of the Virgin
Mary, she appeared to him. She told him that the original
Moorish conquest of Spain was an act of divine punishment,
but that now, through Mary’s intercession, the Catholics of
Spain were being given a new chance. The recent defeat of the
Moors was a sign of the future. She now was asking the hermit
to go on a special mission for her.
Apollinario was to gather the patriots and take possession of
the Moorish land. As a sign, she gave to the hermit a button
that she had removed from the clothing of Jesus. Anyone wearing
one like it would be protected from danger and from heresy.
The Garunda was organized as a guerrilla army. Members
joined in the continuing war against the Moors and attacked
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Garunda
the homes of suspected heretics. They killed, looted and
burned, all under the belief that they had the backing of heaven.
In the subsequent peace after the war ended, they were an
embarrassment to the crown, but had become wealthy and powerful
enough that King Ferdinand could not move against
The Garunda settled in as a secret intelligence network. One
target of its spying was the Maranos, Jews who had outwardly
converted to Catholicism, but were secretly adhering to Judaism.
The Garunda aligned with the Inquisition over the next
century and shared any confiscated property and money with
it. It also spread to Spanish territories in South America.
In 1821, the Spanish government finally moved against the
Garunda, found a set of incriminating books, and the following
year executed many of its leaders. The Garunda was effectively
suppressed in Spain, but continued to operate in South America
through the nineteenth century. It is believed to have reemerged
in Spain during the Franco era (1936–75).
Daraul, Akron. A History of Secret Societies. Secaucus, N.J.
Citadel, 1961.