The Book of the Holy Strega by Raven Grimassi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Unknown to many outside of Italy and the Pagan world there was a female holy person in the 14th century named Aradia. In reading her biography one will find her to be like a female counter part to Jesus, or even a Mother Theresa. In the 14th century she wandered the Italian Countryside helping the poor, and healing the sick. Aradia was often persecuted herself by the Catholic clergy. She and her followers were hounded and torn. The Savior herself was imprisoned many times before she fled the country to Serbia or Albania. This is the story of the real Aradia.
There is also a mythological Aradia who was born from the union of the Goddess Diana and her brother Lucifero. Diana, the Italian Lunar Goddess, brought Aradia down to earth to help save the poor. They were enslaved by the rich land owners and often very cruelly treated. Aradia was sent to earth to teach them the ways of herbs, magic and how to poison their oppressor. Italian witch lore is markedly different from Graeco_Roman Mytholgy.
The Author, Raven Grimassi, wrote this book some thirty years. This book is a total overhaul of the original. Raven is a priest in several Wiccan traditions as well as having a family tradition of witchcraft that goes back some five or six generations. His critics have accused him of making the story of Aradia up. He has also been accused of making an Italian form of Wicca. He spent the chapter of his book refuting this and explaining his position. I say no need his book convinced me of he is sincerity and scholarship. In the late 1800's it was American folklorist Charles Leland Godfrey who brought Aradia to world attention. He too was accused of making it up or his information source was accused of making it up to bilk him for money. Of course a careful review of the story will tell you that his informants were speaking the truth as they knew it.
Raven Grimassi launches into a detailed history of witchcraft in general and how the church has maligned it's practice by aligning it with Satan worship. The Devil is a Christian concept and there have been witches around since ancient time that preceded the birth and rise of Christianity. It was through the efforts of the Church inquisitors that things got twisted up. Witches of old used to call upon the the powers of the night, the stars and various goddesses. The one most frequently called upon was "Diana" other Goddesses who were called upon were Hekate and Prosperina. It should be noted that the Italian inquisition was not out to kill witches rather it wanted them to repent. Only if they were part of an organized group would they be burned at the stake.
The name Aradia is thought to be a transmutation of the name Herodias , who was the woman who wanted John the Baptist beheaded. How an Italian Goddess could send a savior with such a name is mysterious. Certain authors believe that ARadia is a corruption of the name Her Diana. The rights of Diana included skyclad gathering under a full moon with dancing eating and drinking. Everyone was equal. The Walnut tree was central and there are woodcuts showing the witches plucking the walnuts. Walnuts are a fruit of Jupiter. It is also said that Walnut trees will not allow anything else to grow near them. People threw stones at Walnut trees an beat them with sticks. this could be used to help fertility There are legends surrounding this concept.
Diana is called Queen of the Fairies and Queen of the Witches. It is thought that when people die they become fairies. Fairies often times take up habitation in trees and sometime souls are born into the world from trees. Diana was believed to have triple forms. Her first form is Diana of course but her second form is that of Hekate and thirdly either Prosperina or Luna. With the introduction of Artemis from Greece it has been thought that Diana was the Roman form of that Lunar Goddess. While both are Lunar Goddess there are several key differences. The most notable is that Artemis was never considered a Goddess of Witchcraft. Diana was! Artemis was a virgin goddess who never took a lover. Diana consorted with other males. Diana took on attributes of Artemis when her statue was brought from Greece to Lake Nemi in Italy. There seems to have been separate worship of Diana in Italy and Greece.
Raven Grimassi thank you for making this book available on Kindle. Information like this needs to be made more accessible. THe book is well researched and there is a sizeable bibliography for further research if you want to probe even further. The footnotes offered rich explanation of concepts and there are books mentioned there for even further research
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