Sunlight seeps over this field on El Teide, known to the aboriginal Guanches as Echeyde, where the devil lived, because of its volcanic activity.

Milky Way Meets Devil Mountain—Echeyde (El Teide)

May 01, 2011

Amid the tragedy of tornadoes in Alabama, U.S., and earthquake-tsunami devastation in Japan, it’s easy to lose sight of the beauty that is our Mother Earth.

Photographer Terje Sorgjerd journeyed to El Teide, the Canary Islands, to capture two of his favorite things: the Milky Way and “one of the most amazing mountains I know,” he wrote on his Vimeo page. Between April 4 and 11 he took this time-lapse photography of mountain scenes and juxtaposed them with shots of the Milky Way obtained almost by accident during a Saharan sandstorm.

The combination is especially fitting given its mythical history—the aboriginal Guanches believed that this 12,200-foot-high mountain, Echeyde, held up the sky—and its contemporary place as a home to the Teide Observatories, among the world’s most prominent celestial lookout stations.

Teide is also one of the world’s feistiest volcanoes, which also factors into Guanche legend: Echeyde was as sacred to the Guanches as Mount Olympus was to the ancient Greeks, according to Wikipedia and other sources. Guayota, the devil, lived inside the volcano and kidnapped the god of light and sun, Magec, imprisoning him inside and plunging the world into darkness. The Guanches asked their god Achamán for clemency; Achamán fought and defeated Guayota, Magec was freed, and he plugged the crater with Guayota, where the demon remains locked to this day.

Stone tools and pottery remains have been found inside crevices of the mountain. They are thought to be leftover from rituals that were designed to banish the evil spirits that were thought to live inside.

Sorgjerd’s video, in capturing the majesty of the earth and the stars above, has entranced the world. Have a look, and learn more about what was going through his mind here.