top of page
Logo.jpg

Philosophy

The Scarlet Rose Tradition Stregheria

I hope what you read is informative in some way to you. You may not agree with everything that I say, but that is your prerogative. We all view things differently.

What is being presented here is a form of Stregheria that was taught to me from my mother’s side of the family. This tradition of Stregheria originated with the Walnut Tree witches of Benevento, Italy and then moved to Stornara, Italy after the Church destroyed the tree and tried to keep the people from celebrating their culture. It was brought to the states and was then passed on to my grandmother who continued the tradition with my family.

With that said, I would like to present this philosophy to you so you may have a different perspective of my type of Stregheria in lieu of the current information on Stregheria that is already out there.

We work natural magic – Shamanistic in nature – involving herbal healing, trance states, shape-shifting, and astral journeys. It is simple but demands great discipline. We welcome any questions that you may have.

I realize that there are other lines of Stregheria, and each one has a different way of doing things. We do not claim to be the “official anything.” What I present here is only
ONE form of Stregheria – Nicole Eidsmoe HPS

History

The history of Stregheria could be anybody’s guess. One would have to investigate sorcery and the history of magic to find out. Frankly, it does not concern me. If one is interested in either of the above, I am sure there are ample books out on the market that could answer your questions.
 
Ancient Italy had many factions. There were the Samnites, Sabines, Greek colonies, and the Etruscans, among others. All these cultures left an impression on what later became Italy. To say that Stregheria birthed itself from one faction would be incorrect. Its roots probably dabbled with the earliest of a mix of tribal and magical beliefs. In Italy today, each province has a different dialect, therefore, no doubt each family who was fortunate enough to pass folk-magic down would be equally as diverse.

 

To me Stregheria is a mixture of sorcery, healing, folk and natural magic. It can either incorporate the Gods, Goddesses, demigods, ancestors, or nature spirits alone. I personally work with the whole lot of them!

My suggestion is to read – but remember, books and articles are the author’s perspective, research, and point of view. Nothing is carved in stone – you should reach your own conclusions after studying thoroughly any subject that you find of interest. These are how theories are formed.

Beliefs

Our philosophy, beliefs and ideas are not, nor ever have been compatible with modern day Wicca. Streghe DO NOT believe in a threefold law or a Wiccan Rede. Some of them are Roman Catholic and work within the framework of Saints, Angels, spirits and nature. They believe in “respect, honor, service, loyalty and love.” They are healers and wise people. Although I was also taught Christian magic, I prefer to be a pagan rather than a Christian - my preference. Although the Catholic Church is not my thing, I still respect the Streghe who go to church every Sunday. It’s just what they do. There is also a great deal of Christian mysticism out there if you know where to find it.
 

In the path that I follow, we believe that everything in nature and the universe is alive. The universe has a soul and spirit that is a creative force, in the very fabric of life itself. We believe that our world has also a soul and spirit we call anima mundi (world soul). It is found in the very core of our earth - Terra. Therefore, we believe that the earth is alive with the very essence of that creative force and we are an extension of that invisible creative force - all knowing -externally existent in space and time. The spirits of nature are everywhere. We are just one little part in the grand scheme of things.

 

Aradia (Queen of Witches) was born in Volterra, Italy, on 13 August 1313 (August 13 is Diana’s sacred day) and it was this second coming that stimulated a revival of Italian witchcraft and pre-Christian traditions long driven into hiding by the Church. She learned the Old Ways from her family and taught them to others. She was caught by the Inquisition and burned but not before leaving the manuscript that is allegedly the framework for the testament Aradia or The Gospel of Witches, published in 1899 by folklorist C. G. Leland. No documentation regarding Aradia exists prior to publication, but in 1508, Italian Inquisitor Bernardo Rategno noted that a rapid expansion of witchcraft had occurred one hundred fifty years earlier, corresponding in time with Aradia’s adulthood and teachings.

We believe in the great Watchers (Grigori/Royal Stars) who in times of old taught our ancestors the mysteries of the old ways. To us ALL the Watchers are Angels fallen or not. Just because some believe they disobeyed an order from their general (God) and got court marshaled for it (like the army) does not mean they are evil. Sometimes soldiers have to call their own shots as to what is morally correct even in this day and age. I personally don’t see those “fallen” ones as negative in any way. They came down from their high place to live with the human populace - their decision (And the sons of God co-inhabited with the daughters of man). I personally do pay homage to and work with all of them. They are all our teachers.
 
The philosophy and principles of our line is built around hands on teaching. The teachings were totally oral and were taught within the family – Mother to daughter or son, Aunt to niece or nephew, Uncle to niece or nephew, Father to son or daughter, etc. Although the family Stregha had no specific initiatory rites or grade system (These were the ways of the mystery schools, but not the way of the family Stregha), however, there are levels of teachings (you can’t walk before you crawl).

 

When the child/ren showed a spark of “talent” a teacher (family member) would slowly teach them to respect nature, abide by the laws of their society, keep virtues, and take pride in their heritage and culture. They would get to know the spirits of nature, the power of healing, folklore and eventually magic. They grew their own fruits, herbs, and vegetables and usually had their own gardens.

 

The Stregha works alone unless they choose to join with another to do their magic. Family Streghe DO NOT work naked in their rites with other Streghe or with other family members, NOR do they have orgies. Just because a book tells you so, does not mean it is true. It is just not in the “old fashion” Italian temperament to do so. This is done in modern traditions that work in Covens, not in Stregheria. I know other Stregha and Stregone and they do not work with other Streghe naked. I’m not saying it is wrong; I’m just informing you of my experiences. Once upon a time this may have been true but not so far back as my family have knowledge.

Italian Sorcery

The Streghe are becoming worse than the Pagan community when it comes to defining what they do. Frankly (and to be honest here), I never heard the word “Stregoneria or Benedicaria” when I was younger. My family would refer to it as Stregha. I only became familiar with the word Stregheria when I met others. So, I am inclined to believe that Stregha was the “female” practice and when referring to Stregone it was the “male” practice, so in one sense, I really don’t define the two as separate, I believe they are one and the same. Or better yet, it became an “Italian-American” term. Italians had a way of creating their own Italian-American words – if you come from an Italian-American family; you know what I’m talking about.

 

It was when I purchased a computer and began researching that I found the word Stregheria on all the “Italian” sites and came to the conclusion that “well, maybe that’s how they refer to it in Italy.” But I never heard that term from any Italians in my family (Greek or Italian side). What we did really didn’t have a name, but the word Stregha was referred to those who practiced “Witchcraft” (sorcery). This type of sorcery was more used than anything else.

 

Now we have an array of articles and essays informing us of the difference between Stregoneria, Stregheria, Benedicaria, Italian folklore and what have you. Frankly, it makes my head spin. However, Stregheria should not be confused with Stregoneria, which is a quasi-Catholic oriented society found in common Italian folk traditions. Stregheria is a pagan oriented religious system with a magical structure for rituals and spells. The word “Stregheria” is an archaic word for witchcraft that is now applied in place of the word “Stregoneria.” Those wishing to differentiate themselves from Christian Stregoneria, (which usurped and distorted the pre-existing tradition of witchcraft) now use the term Stregheria. The use of the word Stregheria is now reclaimed by those who are not ashamed or fearful of their Italian pagan roots. 

 

Personally, I see this type of sorcery (Stregheria) as a practice; others may see it as a religion. The reason I see Stregheria as a practice is because of the melding of it into Catholicism as with Voodoo/Hoodoo/ Santeria, etc.  However, the Aruba religions still incorporate their “Pagan” elements along with Catholicism, whereas the Sorcery of Stregheria still (for the majority) has deleted most of the Pagan element in their working. That does not mean the Pagan part of it does not exist – it does. It is just not prevalent with the majority of Italians who practice folk magic and sorcery so they feel it doesn’t exist. This is where I feel the problem is. The Pagan part of it is just as spiritual as the Catholic part of it as is with the Aruba religions. 

 

As to “Benedicaria” – although this practice is specifically dealing with Saints, I don’t see that as a separate entity either. It was ALL incorporated into the Stregha practice just as the Saints are incorporated into the Aruba Gods. However, (from my knowledge with others that practice Italian sorcery), I don’t feel in the majority of instances that Italian sorcery is as organized as the Aruba religions – not to say that it wasn’t at one time.  Most of the family Stregha/Stregone I personally know work within a pantheon of Gods but put much more emphasis on Spirits (such as The Watchers/Lasa/Lare). They also emphasize the female principal (the moon) over the male (sun). That is not to say they ALL practice this way, it is just the ones I know and can vouch for. 

 

In my honest opinion, these separations between the cult of the saints, folk magic, and sorcery happened because of the church and its inquisitions. I think if they didn’t occur, there would have been a blending of both Pagan and Christian elements as in the Aruba traditions. As a child when going to church all they did was put fear of damnation into you so I could see the Stregha/Stregone beginning to “separate” the “good” practice (Saints) from the “bad” practice (Sorcery) - But then knowing the Vatican (wanting to wipe out Paganism all together) and Italians as a people, that probably wouldn’t have “openly” happened – we are kind of a stubborn lot.

 

Those who did not care what the church said just kept on doing what they did and keeping it to themselves - Meaning continuing using both the combination of Christian and Pagan elements within their lifestyle.

 

If any Streghe do practice their Pagan faith in Italy, they certainly would not reveal it, especially if they live in small villages where everyone has known them all their life. To admit your anything other than Catholic would probably not be a good idea. And this probably would include revealing any Pagan beliefs to those scholars doing field work as well.

 

Most of our families who did this type of stuff really didn’t know the symbolism behind it all. It was just handed down and we did it. When I started to research it all, I found the symbolism and esoteric meanings behind it which answered the majority of my questions as to why these things were done and when they were done. These old timers lost all that over the ages, they just did what they knew would work. We (their offspring) should not be uninformed enough to do the same. If we are to carry it on, we should be obligated to understand it as well.

Festivals

Let’s be logical here. Prior to the Catholic Church becoming a main presence in Italy, Streghe may have probably followed the religion of the times, which means more than likely they could have been anything from Gnostic to Pagan. Ancient Italy had many settlers from Etruscans, Samnites, Sabines, to the Greeks among others. No doubt each had their own belief system and rites of passage. Stregheria was the practice of sorcery, not a religion. When the Streghe blended in with the Catholic Church, they in turn followed the Catholic holidays. Better to live, then to die and lose their “old ways.” We have even seen this blending amongst those who practice Santeria. As Catholicism incorporated many pagan holidays into theirs, it wasn’t difficult for Pagans to cross over. That did not mean they stopped practicing their old folkloric ways. It was just something they always did, and it was “natural” to them. Although I know a few Streghe who still remain Catholic (because that’s all they know), some of the more contemporary (such as myself) have decided to put Catholicism aside to practice a more natural way without the dogma of the church. I respect both avenues. 
 
So, with that said - most Wiccans and Neo-Pagans today have built their “wheel of the year” based on the ancient festivals of the Celts. If the modern Streghe wishes to use the same system, they have an array of holidays to choose from that the ancient Greco-Romans celebrated. I personally celebrate the following:
 

October 31st
ShadowFest/ All Soul’s Day

 
The original Roman all soul’s day to honor the dead was called Feralia and was celebrated on February 21st. More of a family holiday rather than one of the state, it was celebrated to honor the dead and get rid of evil spirits. To get rid of those unwanted ghosts, the father of the household would walk through the house in the middle of the night barefoot with fava beans in his mouth tossing them over his shoulder towards the door so the unwanted guests would eat them and eventually leave the house.

Eventually in 835, Pope Gregory changed all Saints Day to Nov. 1st and in the 10th century the church dedicated all souls to the date of Nov. 2nd. The majority of Italians celebrate all souls on this day.

This is the celebration of the regeneration of life. Everything that dies is never “lost,” it continues in our memories and in nature itself. At this time of year, we celebrate our ancestry and our ancestors whose blood flows in our veins. All those souls that have passed over and are at rest are venerated for the contributions they made in life. Their souls came to the material world to experience life on planet earth. Regardless of whether they were famous or not, they left their mark in the etchings of life and deserve to be remembered even though we may have never met them. We pay homage to all of them on this night as well as our own kindred that have crossed the bridge of time and space to the other worlds. While in the Land of Shadows, they renew until ready to be born once more. For them, it is a time of rest. For us, it is a time to celebrate life and be thankful that we knew them.
 

December 19-22
Saturnalia/Winter Solstice


This festival is in honor of the god Saturn. Saturnalia was an agricultural festival celebrating the end of the harvest. The holiday was celebrated by carnivals, gift exchanges, misrule and lots of feasting and fun. All wars ceased, masters waited on slaves, and all business transactions were put on hold. The sickle was Saturn’s symbol.

The Winter Solstice is the birth of light. It is dedicated to the birth of the Sun God (the Light-bearer) and is greeted with all night vigils, dancing and singing in the “new rays.” It is a time of peace, healing and reflection. The Goddess is at rest, and we are still in the process of renewal. We also celebrate motherhood as they renew their commitment to life as the souls of unborn children await their rebirth. The God becomes the dominant force, and his months begin.

February 15

Lupercalia/ Faunalia (The Sun has Returned)

 

Lupercalia, The Festival of Lupercus (Faunus/Pan) marks the puberty of our Lord, Lupercus. The Grigori have set 12 Labors before the Young Wolf God that he must master to prove his worth as the new Sun God, and he has done so. Lupercus is invoked at this time of year to scatter the wolves of the dark winter night. He assists us in releasing the atavistic power within us all. Through Him, we are freed of the constraints of our bodies, and of the harsh winter season. We give thanks that the harsh winter is behind us as we move towards Spring. Lupercus also assisted with the rearing of Romulus and Remus assisting the she-wolf Lupa. He was associated with farmers, harvests, packs of wild animals as well as protector of flocks and fertility. We also honor Faunus, the wild god of the forests.
 

March 19-22
Quinquatrus/Spring Equinox
(Dark and Light are Equal)


It is the spring - a time of regeneration and renewal when the Great Mother (Terra/Gaia) has awakened from her time of sleep and now brings forth her fruits on the vine. We bring out the Cornucopia and with each festival a fruit or vegetable is put in it until it is full.  As this festival was sacred to Minerva, it seems that women were accustomed to consult fortune-tellers and diviners upon this day. It was celebrated by all whose employment was under the protection of the goddess, such as teachers and their pupils. This day was also observed by artisans and artists of every kind, and by poets and painters as Minerva is the patron of arts and crafts. We celebrate our creativity and the return of the young Goddess.

 

May 1

Diana’s Day/The Sacred Union

 

On this day we celebrate the full return of the Goddess from the Realm of Shadows. She has returned to her Hidden Children, bringing with Her the mysteries She has learned. At this time, we also celebrate the God and Goddess, and their delight in each other and as they court, fulfilled by the Sacred Union in which the world is made merry. The Goddess becomes the dominant force, and her months begin. Once again, the world is made fertile. Milk and honey were poured in the fields and livestock were driven between bonfires to ward off evil spirits and assure a plentiful breeding season. This is also a traditional Worker's Day, when businesses shut down and workers have a day to enjoy family, friends, and the bounty they work so hard for. It is a day for Peace and relaxation. The Goddess Flora is also celebrated during this time. Goddess Flora is celebrated for the blooming and blossoming of all flora.


June 19-22
Vestalia/Summer Solstice

Vesta was one of the guardians of the home. Such was Vesta’s importance that she leant her name to the vestibule or entrance of the house and the location of the hearth fire. This hearth fire was the center of all domestic activity, being the primary source of heat and light for the household and the Vesta was its guardian. It is traditional to leave an offering to Vesta on a special plate on a low altar near the hearth.

 

Vesta was also the guardian of the ‘vital force‘ of Rome, its undying flame, tended by her priestesshood the Vestal Virgins. Donkeys were Vesta's chosen animal and were garlanded with violets and loaves of bread headed the processions in honor of the goddess. It is a day of purification of the home and hearth. Her worship was observed in every household along with that of the Penates and the Lares, and her image was sometimes encountered in the household shrine. Women take token to Vesta in ensure their fertility. Apollo is also honored on this day for driving the sun across the sky each day. Families spend the time each hour reconnecting to each other with activities each hour.

 

August 13-15

Nemoralia/Aradia's Day

 

Each year, people pilgrimage to the Grove of Nemi carrying torches and small parchments of paper with written requests for Diana. They tie them in string and leave them near the sacred trees at the grove. Requests and offerings to Diana may include small baked clay or bread statuettes of body parts in need of healing; small clay images of mother and child; tiny sculptures of stags; dance and song; and fruit such as apples. In addition, offerings of garlic are made to the Goddess of the Dark Moon, Hecate.

 

On this day, worshipers form a procession of torches and candles around the waters of Lake Nemi, (Diana's Mirror). Part of the ritual (before the procession) was the washing of hair and dressing it with flowers. It is a day of rest for women and slaves. Hounds are also honored and adorned with blossoms. No one is allowed to hunt and kill animals at this time. Aradia Queen of Witches was born 8/13/1313 so we celebrate her birthday as well this day.


September 19-22
Cornucopia/Autumn Equinox (Dark and Light are Equal)


The harvest is near completion, and we gather in celebration. It is a time of thanksgiving, and we give thanks to the gods for the wonderful things we have in our lives. This is the second harvest.
 
This is harvest home, when we eat the fruits of our labor. The Cornucopia is full, and we are thankful for what we receive and what the Mother has bestowed upon us. We say adieu to our Mother who must once again take her time of rest. The Myth of the descent of the Goddess is dramatized. It is a time of initiations and the learning of the greater mysteries. We look to the completion of our personal goals.

The Watchers

To MOST scholars, the Watchers were a group of “fallen” Angels from the Book of Enoch who went against God’s orders by teaching humanity the “forbidden arts” – hence, they fell from their high place in heaven to live amongst the human population. In case you’re wondering what the “forbidden arts” were – they constituted an array of arts and sciences including sorcery, witchcraft and shockingly how to abort a baby.

 

Here are some of the Watchers and what they taught:

 

1. Semyaza, Shemyaza, Semjaza, Semiaza, Samyaza, Shemhazai
"Taught enchantments and root-cuttings."

2. Azazel, Azazyel, Azaziel
"Taught men to make swords, knives, shields, breastplates, the fabrication of mirrors and the workmanship of bracelets and ornaments, the use of paint, the beautifying of the eyebrows, the use of stones of every valuable and select kind, and of all sorts of dyes, so that the world became altered."     "Taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals of the earth and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of costly stones, and all coloring tinctures."

3. Amazarak
"Taught all the sorcerers, and dividers of roots."

4. Armers, Armeros, Armaros
"Taught the solution of sorcery."  "Taught the resolving of enchantments."

5. Barkayal, Baraqijal, Baraqel
"Taught the observers of the stars."   "Taught astrology."

6. Kokabel, Kawkabel, Kakabel
"Taught the science of the constellations."

7. Ezeqeel, Ezekeel
"Taught the knowledge of the clouds."

8. Araqiel, Arakiel
"Taught the signs of the earth."

9. Shamsiel, Shamshiel
"Taught the signs of the sun."

10. Sariel,, Suriel, Zerachiel, Saraquel, Asardel
"Taught the motion of the moon."   "Taught the course of the moon."

11. Tamiel, Tumiel, Kasdaye, Kasyade, Kasdeja

“Taught abortion in the womb, cure serpent bites, removal of possession”

 

Now the next question you’re probably asking is how would Angels know anything about these subjects and why in heavens name (no pun intended) would Angels know how to abort a baby? Many scholars needless to say won’t even tackle this subject, because if they did, they would have to question why Angels would have known such knowledge in their heavenly society in the first place. 

 

In the dictionary of Angels, the word Angel from the Hebrew Malakh is said to derive from the Sanskrit angiras meaning a divine spirit or courier from the Persian angaros. Therefore, it basically means a divine messenger who is the go between God and the human population. Before Christianity had a chance to put a damper on the word Demon, both Angel and Demon were considered interchangeable.

 

The Watchers in general were created to do exactly what their names implied – to watch. Their job was to oversee the development of humankind, however, somewhere along the way; they became infatuated with human women and ended up having sexual relations with them. Apparently this was a no-no in their society as the Watchers were not to mingle their blood with these human women. None the less, in doing so, they created a hybrid offspring known as the Nephilim (half human/half angel).

 

The Nephilim, like their fathers the Watchers grew to be very tall in stature. In many other legends, these children were the offspring of a god and a human - one of them being the Babylonian Gilgamesh. All this occurred before the flood and stories similar to this can be found in myths and legends from all around the world.

 

In the Book of Enoch, the story goes that 200 of these Watchers came down from their high place (a plateau on a mountain peak) and actually began teaching the humans the forbidden arts of agriculture, meteorology, smith craft, as well as astronomy/astrology, sorcery, herbology amongst other things. Apparently, they were there to just oversee our progress, but not divulge anything that might excel their growth both mentally or socially. I guess, keep them ignorant and subservient was the goal. They were NOT to be “as the gods.”

 

Whatever changed these Watchers thoughts, I suppose we will never know, but their decision and the pact they made with each other to go through with these teachings, changed humanity forever. It literally (even in biblical terms) made us as gods. In going forth with this decision both leaders of the 200 Watchers, one named Azazel and the other Semyaza were punished severely. The others were reportedly “banished to earth” to live with the women they choose as mates.

 

There are many versions to this story – some say that it was the sons of Seth who co-inhabited with the daughters of Cain – therefore, making the bloodlines of the sorcerers the descendants of Cain. Whoever they were and whatever human species they were made them very unique in stature and in physical appearance.

 

In Andrew Collins book, “From the Ashes of Angels, he had a drawing made from the description of one of these Watchers described from the Book of Enoch. The drawing is quite remarkable as the Angel ends up looking more like a Shaman than what we would depict an Angel to look like.

 

We are programmed to think of “Angels” with the description that society is so used to seeing these beings, and that is of course looking like humans, but with wings. But this is not necessarily the case – so could Angels be something totally different than what we think they are?

 

As a technologically advanced (so we think) modern civilization, we tend to believe that our ancestors were primitive. Logic states that if it’s old, it was not too advanced. When we look at the astonishing accomplishments that were made from these “primitives,” can we consciously agree with scholars that ancient humanity was THAT primitive?  Of course not – look at the megalithic stone sites that even today scholars have no clue how they got there. All they have are theories – some of them pretty ridiculous I might add.

 

Not to mention the 7 wonders of the world and other temples that even today we look at in awe and can’t duplicate. So, were the Watchers an advanced species of humanoid with knowledge way beyond our comprehension? Did they exist or people like them exist in a time when homo-sapiens were not supposed to exist? In the book Forbidden Archeology Richard Thompson may have some startling information concerning this along with the Sumerian Epic of Creation called the Enuma Elish.

 

Our pre-history is somewhat of a mystery on the surface; nevertheless, what ties us together is our DNA and our blood. We seem to forget that whatever is in us still has a memory way down to the cellular level.

 

Whatever they were and whatever we are is within every one of us, yes even the answer to that age old “mystery of life and the universe” everyone seems to crave. That is why our ancient ancestors always called the world “Maya” (illusion) and why physicists are becoming more and more “meta-physicists” to find an answer to these questions.

 

In the scheme of things, we are more than human; we are co-creators and a universe unto ourselves with the answers to long lost questions that are truly not lost!

Diana & Lucifer

The Sacred Marriage of Diana and Lucifer

 

The Tuscan legend of Aradia, daughter of the moon goddess Diana who was dispatched to earth to establish witchcraft and teach it to witches, was published by the American folklorist, Charles Godfrey Leland, in 1889. Leland said the legend had been passed on to him by a hereditary Etruscan witch named Maddalena. Godfrey said the name Aradia is a corruption of Herodias, or Queen Herodias, the wife of Herod, with whom Diana came to be identified by the 11th century.

 

Leland went to Tuscany in northern Italy in the 1880s. There he met a “sorceress” named Maddalena, whom he employed to collect from her witch “sisters” old spells and traditions. In 1886, he heard about a manuscript that supposedly set down the old tenets of witchcraft. He told Maddelana to find it. A year later, she gave him a document in her own handwriting, an alleged copy of this manuscript.

 

Leland translated it into English and published it as Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches. He was struck by the references to Diana and Lucifer and offered it as evidence of witchcraft as an old religion. In his preface, he acknowledged drawing from other, unspecified sources.

 

Aradia recounts the story of Diana’s daughter and of Diana’s rise to become Queen of the Witches. Diana is created first among all beings and divides herself into light and darkness. She retains the darkness and makes the light into Lucifer (whose name means “light-bearer”), her brother and son. She falls in love with him and seduces him by changing herself into a cat. Their daughter from that union, Aradia, is destined to become “the Messiah of witches.” Aradia lives for a while in heaven and then is sent to earth by Diana to teach the arts of witchcraft, especially poisoning and malevolent acts against “oppressors.”

 

When Aradia’s task is finished, Diana recalls her daughter to heaven and gives her the power to grant the desires of the meritorious witches who invoke Aradia. Such requests include success in love, and the power to bless friends and curse enemies.

 

In the beginning was Diana, primordial Spirit of Darkness. She divided the world into complementary opposites: yin and yang, male and female, light and darkness. The light half evolved into her brother, Lucifer. Diana desired him, wishing to unite and merge, but Lucifer wanted light to remain completely distinct from darkness. Diana pursued him but he resisted.

Lucifer slept with his favourite cat. Diana switched places with her and so she seduced her brother, in the guise of a black cat. From this union, the world’s first witch was conceived: Aradia, Messiah of Witches. Diana sent her daughter to Earth with the mission of teaching witchcraft, the sacred arts of Diana, Queen of Witches. That’s the first coming of Aradia the Messiah according to the mysterious grimoire, Aradia or The Gospel of the Witches. Aradia returned for a second coming, too.

 

This Aradia was born in Volterra, Italy, on 13 August 1313 (13 August is Diana’s sacred day) and stimulated a revival of Italian witchcraft and pre-Christian traditions long driven into hiding by the Church. She learned the Old Ways from her family and taught them to others. She was caught by the Inquisition and burned but not before leaving the manuscript that is allegedly the framework for the testament Aradia or The Gospel of Witches, published in 1899 by folklorist C. G. Leland. No documentation regarding either Aradia exists prior to publication, but in 1508, Italian Inquisitor Bernardo Rategno noted that a rapid expansion of witchcraft had occurred one hundred fifty years earlier, corresponding in time with Aradia’s second coming.

 

The story of Diana as Creator of the World, Mother of Witchcraft, does not correspond with anything from classical mythology, although that proves nothing. Many myths and deities are known from but one single source. This could be another instance of a lone survival of an ancient myth, or it could be an attempt to defame witches.

 

The name Lucifer (“light-bringer”) predates Christianity and was a title given to various Roman deities, female and male. It was originally intended as benevolent, but during the medieval period when Aradia was allegedly written, Lucifer was exclusively identified with Satan, the proud handsome fallen angel. Inquisitors branded Diana as the bride of Lucifer in order to damn and defame her and her devotees. (Alternatively, some think Lucifer has also been defamed. See: Peacock Angel.)

Italian Folklore

Depending on the folklorist, folklore can be defined in different ways; however, to make it less complicated, let’s just say that folklore represents the culture and traditions of various people around the world. It represents their belief systems, their music and dance, their healing practices, tales/ stories, art, and many other aspects of life past and present.

   

Folk religion is the co-existence of folk beliefs and a major religion of today.  For example, Santeria is a folk religion in that it combines its gods or Orishas with the Catholic Saints. Most if not all Santeros consider themselves devout Catholics, yet they practice divination, initiations, and rituals to their ancient gods (Orishas).

 

Folk religion is not limited to some Aruba faiths, it can also be found in Asia, the Middle East and in other European cultures. So, with that said, let us explore the folklore and folk religion of Stregoneria.

Tarantella

Tarantella, Tarantism, and The Legend and Dance of the Ancient Spider

 

The “dance” is about as old as humanity itself. We find evidence of this on cave walls of man adorning animal headpieces while dancing. It has carried itself over to modern times and although our reason for dancing may have changed, the desire for dance has never left us. Today there are many forms of dance that individuals practice both for pleasure and for spiritual awakening. 

 

One form of spiritual dance is called “trance dance.” Trance dance has been practiced for thousands of years and can be found in many lands. The reason for trance dance was to enter an altered state and commune with nature, the gods or to heal. Through trance dance, the dancer entered another world – a world between worlds and in this state was able to “see” things a bit more clearly. It was another form of prayer, probably one of the original ways man prayed.

 

Trance dance is another name for spirit dancing. It is going within, to reach the higher self. Each person is his or her own universe equipped with a co-creator inside. If we can reach this divine being within, then we can tap into something quite remarkable. However, in order to do this, one must surrender to the spirit within. Meaning, you must surrender the ego, and let spirit take over. Many are fearful to let go of the ego and the outer self because society tells us the ego is important. It is not.  It gets in the way and makes us separate from the rest of humanity. It denies us from being of service to each other and realizing that we all belong to the family of human. 

 

Every ethnic group has their own “dance.” To the Italians, it is the Tarantella. The Tarantella is a spirit dance. If you have ever been to an Italian wedding, it would not be complete without the Tarantella. It is one of the most popular dances and can even be heard at non-ethnic weddings as well. It is a lively dance performed mainly by women with handkerchief in hand. I have seen many Italian women dance this, both young and old (including myself), and it does invoke the spirit of each woman.

 

As with every legend, there is always more than one version, therefore the Tarantella has more than one story of creation. Here I will give the most popular version. It is said that during the 15 and 17the centuries the town of Taranto in southern Italy was stricken with an epidemic called tarantism.  Apparently, the victims being bitten by the poisonous tarantula spider were only peasant women. 

 

Once the spider chose its victim (the tarantata) they would then enter a trance state. The only cure was for the tarantata to go into a wild dance.  Both the tarantata and the musicians playing their guitars, mandolins and tambourines, would experiment on the beat of the music to find the proper rhythm. As the musicians played their tune, the tarantata would move with different gestures according to the music. Once the music was in sync with the gestures a cure was inevitable, and the dancer was purified of all poisons. 

 

The word “Tarantella itself means “little spider.” It was originally called pizzica tarantula – pizzica meaning bite – “bite of the spider.” Some refer this to the bite of love – a time when a woman represses her feelings and desires when she reaches puberty. I guess in the old days they didn’t think of taking cold showers… At any rate, in order to eradicate those repressed erotic desires, or release the feelings of unrequited love, abuse or depression, the women danced if off - again a dance of purification and release.

 

Not too long ago, I finished reading Ernesto De Martino’s “The Land of Remorse (A study of Southern Italian Tarantism). First published in 1961 by Il Saggiatore, Milan as La Terra del Rimorso – it tells of De Martino’s experience in Apulia, Italy with the phenomenon known as Tarantism. This book is an anthropological study of symbology, history, economic conditions, music, and psychology of tarantism.

 

To many Italians, we know the Tarantella as a wedding dance or its origins as the “dance of the spider,” but the book goes way beyond the dance within a social perspective.

 

It is suspected that the phenomenon developed in the Middle Ages, however it is believed that its origins go back to the ecstatic dances of Dionysus. In a nutshell, it boiled down to either individuals who (working in the fields), got bitten by a snake, spider or scorpion. In order to release the poison, they went into a three day “detox” by dancing the tarantella.

 

There were many interesting things that caught my eye. One of them though talked about the “argia.” I quote “Just as with the Apulian taranta, the Sardinian argia is a mythical animal that we would seek in vain to reduce to a definite natural species, precisely because as in the case of the taranta – it is a symbolic logic, and not a naturalistic one, that governs the formation of her image.” The mythical argia of the Sardinians is made up of three distinct species: maiden, wife, and widow; the treatment of the poisoned victims differs according to the type of argia that has bitten.”  In other words, they will take on one of these aspects while they are being exorcised during the 3-day period (or more).

 

The widow argia will apply the color black and take on the funeral lament, while the mother will mimic pregnancy, etc. I found it interesting as it does resemble the aspect of “maiden, mother and crone.”

 

Of course, the book is a lot more intricate than this one aspect, but it seems that its pagan origins are still present in Southern Italy – despite the church’s integration.

 

In many parts of the world, including Greece, North Africa, Spain and Southern Italy, many women who experienced illness sought a cure through dance and music. We are no different today than our ancestors. Music does do wonders for the soul and trance dancing is another way to connect with the soul. It does not matter whether you are male or female; music touches all of us in different ways. 

 

Release yourself to music and let the ancient wind speak to you……….

 

For a better understanding on the subject read The Land of Remorse by Ernesto De Martino.

The Walnut Tree of Benevento

The Walnut Tree of Benevento and the Walnut Witches

 

It seems uncanny that almost every ancient culture had a sacred tree. Trees themselves are as old as time and their essence are filled with the memories of our ancient planet. They have many things to reveal to us, we have but to listen.

 

These ancient concepts of trees were considered World Trees or Axis Mundi (world axis) in which above it stood the North Star “Polaris.” The world tree was always placed in the center of the world and was believed to be the soul of the world. It was called Anima Mundi. From this tree all life emanated. Upon this tree are the fruits of life and the lessons to be learned as we eat of each of life’s experiences.

 

The ancient Essenes believed that man was the center of the Tree of Life. The branches represented the cosmic Father and all that exist in the universe where the roots represented the Mother and all the earthly forces. Man was in the center of all this. If man could understand and commune with any and all of these forces, he was one step closer to the universe around him.

 

In folklore certain trees were gathering places for meetings or sacred ritual.  Some other cultures met at a particular place where they considered sacred.  For example, the Druids had their oak in which they cut the mistletoe, the Norse the Yggdrasill ash tree, there is the Bodhi tree where the Buddha sat under to find enlightenment, and the Greeks had the Omphalos (navel of the Great Mother) which to them was located at Delphi. These are but a few sacred trees or places ancients adopted as a center point of spiritual emanation.

 

In folklore no one truly knows if these trees existed in the physical world. What we do know is that our planet has a core center and the ancient Shaman belief in animism still exists today. To these ancient peoples everything in existence is alive with spirit especially the world tree. 

 

Regardless of the existence of these trees, folklore tells us that for Witches there were many geographical locations where local cunning folk gathered.  For the German hex-wives the Blocksbuer or Venusbergs was a traditional meeting place. Sweden had Blocula Peak while the Scots favored Eildon Hills.  The Italians had none other than the famous Walnut tree in Benevento.

 

The Walnut Witches of Benevento have become somewhat of an enigma. There is not too much said about them or explored about them, so I decided to take a giant leap and explore the symbolism of the Walnut tree and the reason behind this being a gathering place for Streghe.

 

It is said that the Streghe would gather under this tree on the full moon to worship the Goddess Diana. The Streghe would go into their altered states and astrally travel through the air with their Goddess. The tree itself was said to have magical properties.

 

The walnut, whose Roman name is also known as Juglans regia means in Latin the royal acorn of Jupiter. Jupiter was the head honcho of the Roman Gods equal to Zeus in the Greek pantheon. The walnut was also associated with Jupiter’s wife, Juno. Juno was the Goddess of marriage and protected women during childbirth. She was present at all marriage ceremonies, therefore instead of throwing rice at the newlyweds, it was said that walnuts were thrown instead. I’m so glad they switched, aren’t you? Can you imagine getting hit in the head with a shower of walnuts?

 

The walnut shell in itself looks like a human brain and it is interesting to note that in Afghanistani, the word for walnut is charmarghz (four brains).  The walnut also represents longevity and abundance and was used as a talisman for the home by hanging it in the kitchen.

 

Celebrating the full moon under the walnut tree held great significance and symbolism to the Stregha. The connection of the “brain” to altered states may give the walnut tree an Axis Mundi (world axis: line or stem through the earth's center connecting its surface to the underworld and the heavens and around which the universe revolves) to those that partook of the ritual. Although the moon was considered masculine in some cultures, it was also considered female to many more.

 

Perhaps the essence of the tree itself was a place where the Stregha were able to reach the deepest mysteries of the mind, and as with any gathering place, those mysteries extended to other worldly realms.

 

The moon as we know controls the tides of the oceans, and ebb and flow of the female menstrual cycle. To the ancients in whom cultures were more matriarchal, man was awed at the fact that women bled each month, but did not die. The miracle of birth and the connection to the moon is a women’s mystery even today. In the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun,” Diane Lane remarks that the literal Italian translation to a woman giving birth was Chiara de la Luna, meaning by the light of the moon – a beautiful expression of the birth of a child.

 

According to The Symbolical Language of Art and Mythology by Richard Payne Knight, the Egyptians celebrated the moon under the symbolism of the cat perhaps because it is nocturnal and able to see better at night. In Aradia, Gospel of the Witches, Diana transforms into a cat in order to seduce her brother Lucifer, the sun.

 

Statistically some of these walnut trees grow as high as 60 to 85 feet tall with a circumference of the trunk being around 3 feet.

 

Today in Benevento Italy a liquor called “Stregha” is still sold and distributed around the world. It is said to be made of 70 secret herbs, including saffron, which gives it a yellow color. It was originally sold as “Alberti Medical Elixir” back in the 1860’s by Giuseppe Alberti. The bottle shows a picture of Witches dancing around a tree.

 

So, if you ever want to feel connected to ancient lore, may I suggest one evening you sit under a tree near you, sip a little Stregha liquor and gaze at the moon – who knows what may happen!

A Hermetic Mystery

Diana, Lucifer and Aradia – A Hermetic Mystery?

 

Those who have read Charles G. Leland’s “Aradia, Gospel of the Witches” find that the story tells of a female messiah who comes to earth to teach the secrets of Witchcraft. The teachings within this book are rather compelling, especially the new translation by Mario Pazzaglini.

 

However, the controversy on whether there actually was an individual named Aradia is an enigma as history does not reveal her in any shape or form. But what if hypothetically Aradia was never a person, but a metaphor for something else? Who or what would Aradia actually be, what would be her purpose and how would she teach the mysteries of Witchcraft to us? 

 

In perusing the web one day, I came across a site that deciphered the text (in their own way) of the Emerald Tablets. I then went through my notes and found the entire text. One sentence of it made me think about the story of Diana and Lucifer of Leland’s Vangelo – the chapter of How Diana Made the Stars and the Rain. I then looked at the entire tablet and compared it to parts of the Vangelo in my own way.  

 

Of course, this is my own epiphany (I usually get those on occasion). Others may interpret this in another way or not at all.

 

The Emerald tablet reads as follows:

Its father is the sun, its mother the moon. The wind has borne it; its nurse is the earth. This one thing is the father of all things in the universe.

 

Its power is perfect, after it has been united with the earth. Separate earth from fire, the subtle from the dense, with gentle heat and much devotion.

 

In great measure, it ascends from earth to heaven, descends again toward earth, and receives the force of the things above and below. Thus, you will possess the glory of the world; all obscurity shall flee away from thee.

This is the force of all force; it will overcome everything subtle and penetrate everything solid. In this manner, the world was created, but the map of this road is hidden.

 

For this reason, I am called "Hiram Telat Machasot"- one in essence, but three in aspect. In this trinity is the wisdom of the whole world. And so, I have been called: Hermes thrice greatest, having the three parts of the philosophy of the world.    (The Emerald Tablet)

I decided to then break it down and compare it to the Chapter in the Vangelo called How Diana made the stars and the Rain. This is what I came up with...

Its father is the sun, its mother the moon.

The wind has borne it, its nurse is the earth.

This one thing is the father of all things in the universe.

Its power is perfect, after it has been united with the earth.

(The Emerald Tablet)

From the Vangelo: Diana was the first created before all creation; in her were all things; out of herself, the first darkness, she divided herself; into darkness and light she was divided. Lucifer, her brother and son, herself and her other half, was the light…..“they told her that to rise she must fall: to become the chief of goddesses she must become a mortal” (manifestation).

My comments: From the primordial void came the sun, Lucifer and his consort Diana the moon – the Mother and Father (the ego and higher self).  The wind is the pneuma, the breath of life.

 

From this union something fascinating occurred – the earth was born – Aradia (the material plane). Brought into manifestation by “IT” the Universal Consciousness known as The ALL.

 

As the Earth (Aradia) has many things to teach her children just by listening to her voice (the wind). She brings to us the mysteries of the cosmic forces (all the planets) and the energies of both the Sun and Moon (her parents).  Her alter ego Venus brings us illumination for she rises and sets with her Father, so her Mother (the Moon) is known.

 

The Moon in the Tibetan Wheel of life represents liberation. On the opposite side of the wheel, it is the Buddha who points towards the moon suggesting that as the individual follows the path, they will transcend the “Ocean of Samsara” and therefore reach a state of enlightenment. Samsara is the cycle of rebirth, sickness, old age and finally death.

 

In the book called the Kybalion, by Three Initiates, the All is purely mental.  It is not an anthropomorphic god that has manifested, but an entity that is not tangible in the human sense. It is simply Consciousness on a larger scale. The All has always existed – it is eternal outside of time and space.  Perhaps it is this All that set-in motion the singularity that set forth the Big Bang. What is consciousness other than being “aware?”

 

In ancient times, the Sun, Moon, Venus and the Earth were of great importance to many cultures. The Hermetics and Gnostics believed that in order for man to manifest in his primal nature, he had to descend through and from the 7 planetary spheres making him resonate with each of its intelligence.

Separate earth from fire, the subtle from the dense, with gentle heat and much devotion.                    (The Emerald Tablet)

From the Vangelo: “But Lucifer, the light, fled from her, and would not yield to her wishes: he was the light which flies into the most distant parts of the heaven, the mouse which flies before the cat.”

My comments:  Of course, the fire is the spirit and the moon consciousness – the awareness of matter – the body (ego and the higher self). The union of spirit and matter has always been an enigma to most. We often get lost in material things forgetting our way back to the Mother and Father from whence we came - separating our spiritual from our material is a dilemma now a days. We want to be spiritual, but we need the material comforts of everyday life. We get engrossed in our “technology” as most humans have done and forget about the simple things in life and how simplicity can bring us closer to spirit. Many times, I have witnessed unethical behavior simply because they say what they do is part of their spirituality. It is not. Our carnal nature is one thing; our spiritual nature is something else. 

 

Understanding our egotistical desires opposed from our soul’s journey is of great importance. In other words, finding the destiny of our higher self is something totally different from our everyday mundane desires.

In great measure, it ascends from earth to heaven, descends again toward earth, and receives the force of the things above and below. Thus, you will possess the glory of the world; all obscurity shall flee away from thee.            (The Emerald Tablet)

From the Vangelo: “And in the ages, in the course of time, when the world was made, Diana went on earth, as did Lucifer who had fallen…”

My comments: Both the Ego and the higher self have now become one. In the Vangelo, Diana now teaches Witchcraft and sorcery (the forbidden arts of heaven). She teaches the arts that can penetrate the veil from one world to another. In this state we are as gods receiving all the gifts of heaven and earth (as above, so below).

This is the force of all force, it will overcome everything subtle, and penetrate everything solid. In this manner, the world was created, but the map of this road is hidden.    (The Emerald Tablet)

In the Vangelo: “So Diana with her wiles of Witchcraft so charmed him that he yielded to her love. This was the first fascination; she hummed the song, it was as the buzzing of bees, a spinning wheel spinning life. She spun the lives of all men; all things were spun from the wheel of Diana – Lucifer turned the wheel.”

My comments: Each person has their own destiny (map) to fulfill on planet earth. This hidden map is for each individual to discover. It is an ancient song and we each have our own tune or piece of it.

For this reason, I am called "Hiram Telat Machasot"- one in essence, but three in aspects. In this trinity is the wisdom of the whole world. And so, I have been called: Hermes thrice greatest, having the three parts of the philosophy of the world.   (The Emerald Tablet)

From the Vangelo: “…..and for three days there was a great rain; the mice became stars. And having made the heaven and the stars and the rain, Diana became Queen of the Witches…..”

My comments: In Hermetic philosophy Hermes has always been considered the thrice greatest. In Witchcraft the three has always been a sacred number and Diana has been considered triformis along with her counterpart Hecate. In Druidism, the three rays are prominent, and the trinity is probably as ancient as the world itself.

 

In Dion Fortune’s book “Esoteric Orders and their Work,” and in the Golden Dawn teachings – there were three ancient philosophies that migrated to three areas of the world. Fortune called them the three rays. In esoteric teachings, the original group of people from Atlantis were called the Manu. Prior to the destruction of Atlantis all three schools of thought met at the Temple of the Sun in order to share knowledge. When the destruction occurred – these three schools of thought migrated to three areas of the world – thus spreading ancient teachings. The first migration went to Asia and parts of Europe. The second crossed central Europe to the uplands of Asia known as the Himalayas. The third went to Egypt and the Middle East spreading esoteric knowledge to these three areas of the world. 

 

When the Watchers brought knowledge to man, it was probably even older than their own culture. Much was lost, but because man has curiosity, drive and desire, I feel knowledge is never lost; you just have to know where to find it.  As manifested beings we are given the Earth herself as a teacher (Aradia). We are given the love of Venus to pursue the knowledge, the creativity and enlightenment of Lucifer to strive for it and the curiosity and emotion of the moon to seek those mysteries. As a matter of fact, all the planets have given us something in order to “know” what our ancestors did.  That will never leave man – it is imbedded in our DNA.

 

Again, these thoughts are my own ramblings of course.  Hope it has brought a little “light” your way.

bottom of page