Friday, May 21, 2010
Italian Witchcraft by Raven grimassi
When the word witch craft is mentioned most people assicate it with Celtic symbols and Northern European Culture. Raven Grimassi does research which clearly shows that many of the motifs present in modern day witchcraft were present in the the old religion of Southern Europe. Many of these motifs found their way into North European witchcraft via the Roman occupation of Europe. The pentagram was present in the old southern religion which predates North European witch craft.
Two great occultists spent a good deal of time in Italy and were obviously influenced the Stregheria, Italian witchcraft. The first was Aleister Crowley. He spent a good deal of time there and his place of residence had the motif of the hiorned god cavorting with the Goddess. When he left it was washed over.
Another occultist was Gerald Gardner the founder of Modern Wicca. Now Grimassi has also been initiated into Wicca so he is not so negative of Gardner as some would expect him to be. But Gardner did spend time in Italy and he did learn from some Strega< italian witches. Many of the Rituals in Modern Gardnerian Wicca are present in Stregheria.
THe Center of Italian Witchcraft is Lake Nemi in Italy where the Temple of Diana still stands. Diana was the main Goddess of the Strega. When they do their rituals they have a male and female candle like Wicca and the Goddess in called Tana and the God is called Tanous. Like the Wiccans the worshipper will come together during the Sabbats ansd full moon in order to honor the Deities an ussually they will do so skyclad without any clothes. As in Wicca it is the woman who draws down the moon with the male priest there is assistance.
While Wiccans observe the 8 Sabbats the Stregas do things a little bit differently. THese holdiays are called the Treguenda. Shadow fest like Samhain is the day to honor the dead. THere is Saturnalia which celebrates the rebirth of the God. Then there is Lupercalia in which the wolf clan would dress up slaughter a lamb and smear the blood on the two priests. Later it would be cleaned with bloood and people dresed in Wolfskin would go throught the town lightly whipping women. To get whipped meant to ensure fertility. This happens in Early February. ANopther Holiday that happens on January 6 is the celebrating of Befana. Stiocking are filled gifts and there is a procesion in the streets where gifts are exchanged. In the end a pinata of Befana is torn apart and goodies are distributed. At the end the effigy of Befana is set alight.
The life and biorth of the God is different as well. THe stag God is the one who gets killed by the Wolf God but in the end both get killed. THere is also the legend of descent. THe Goddes Tna desecend to plumb the mysteries of death. After progressing each level she is forced to disrobe. When she comes before Dis she is naked and Dis falls in love with her. But she refuses his love. In the end she is farced to accept death and reamin with Dis. But in Spring the Stag King is reborn.
Among Italian Witches there ware two groups on called Benedanti and the other the Maledanti. The Beneadanti would fight thebad Meledanti with certain Herbs. This was nmeant to save the crops.
The coming of Christianity meant the almost extimination of the old religion which was based on the old Etruscan Religion. A practice that never really dies out. In any case Catholicism oppressed the peasants of the Italian countryside. A savior appeared in the form of Aradia. She went about teaching the old ways and found refuge in the outlaw camps. THe inquisition caught up with her but she used her femeinine charms to woo the guards into freeing her.She eventually left Italy. She was taught the ways of the Stregha by her aunt.
Italain witch craft first became noticed by the scholar Chalres Leland who with the help of Madelena uncovered many of the mysteries and became part of the community. He wrote several book on the subject.
This is an excellent book packed with information. I advise buying your own copy because there is so much good stuff. If you loan it from the library take good notes. You'll regret not having done so. Not only does Mr> Grimassi give a great historical background but he also give you practical advise on how to do the rituals and other magical practices. No review can do this justice.
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