Charles Leland was an American expatriate journalist, folklorist, and author. He based this book on material which he received from a woman named Maddelena, who had assisted him in collecting regional Italian folklore. On New Years day, she handed over to him a document in her own handwriting, the Vangel, which is the core of this book. Maddelena then reportedly went missing, and never contacted Leland again. The authenticity of Aradia has always been in question.
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Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches After the eleven-year search, Leland writes that he was unsurprised by the contents of the Vangelo. It was largely what he was expecting, with the exception that he did not predict passages in "prose-poetry". They adored forbidden deities and practised forbidden deeds, inspired as much by rebellion against Society as by their own passions.
He organised the material to be included into fifteen chapters, and added a brief preface and an appendix. The published version also included footnotes and, in many places, the original Italian that Leland had translated.
Major characters in the myths include the Roman goddess Diana , a sun god called Lucifer , the Biblical Cain as a lunar figure , and the messianic Aradia. The witchcraft of "The Gospel of the Witches" is both a method for casting spells and an anti-hierarchical "counter-religion" to the Catholic church. The goddess is wearing a crescent moon crown. Entire chapters of Aradia are devoted to rituals and magic spells. The narrative material makes up less of the text, and is composed of short stories and legends about the birth of the witchcraft religion and the actions of their gods.
Leland summarises the mythic material in the book in its appendix, writing "Diana is Queen of the Witches; an associate of Herodias Aradia in her relations to sorcery; that she bore a child to her brother the Sun here Lucifer ; that as a moon-goddess she is in some relation to Cain, who dwells as prisoner in the moon, and that the witches of old were people oppressed by feudal lands, the former revenging themselves in every way, and holding orgies to Diana which the Church represented as being the worship of Satan ".
After giving birth to Lucifer, Diana seduces him while in the form of a cat, eventually giving birth to Aradia, their daughter. Diana demonstrates the power of her witchcraft by creating "the heavens, the stars and the rain", becoming "Queen of the Witches".
Chapter I presents the original witches as slaves that escaped from their masters, beginning new lives as "thieves and evil folk". Diana sends her daughter Aradia to them to teach these former serfs witchcraft, the power of which they can use to "destroy the evil race of oppressors ".
Leland was struck by this cosmogony : "In all other Scriptures of all races, it is the male This section, while predominantly made up of spells and rituals, is also the source of most of the myths and folktales contained in the text. At the end of Chapter I is the text in which Aradia gives instructions to her followers on how to practice witchcraft. The themes in these additional chapters vary in some details from the first ten, and Leland included them partly to "[confirm] the fact that the worship of Diana existed for a long time contemporary with Christianity ".
Leland explains its inclusion by a note that Diana, as portrayed in Aradia, is worshipped by outlaws, and Laverna was the Roman goddess of thievery. In several places Leland provides the Italian he was translating.
According to Mario Pazzaglini, author of the translation, the Italian contains misspellings, missing words, and grammatical errors, and is in a standardised Italian rather than the local dialect one might expect.
There is no cohesive narrative even in the sections that Leland attributes to the Vangelo. Clifton , since the text shows no signs of being "massaged Aradia has proved the most controversial.
Leland wrote that "the witches even yet form a fragmentary secret society or sect, that they call it that of the Old Religion, and that there are in the Romagna entire villages in which the people are completely heathen".
The entire document was forged by Leland. Hutton himself is a sceptic, not only of the existence of the religion that Aradia claims to represent,  but also of the existence of Maddalena, arguing that it is more likely that Leland created the entire story than that Leland could be so easily "duped" by an Italian fortune-teller. The History and Development of a Legend.
Parts of the speech appeared in an early version of Gardnerian Wicca ritual. Valiente subsequently rewrote the passage in both prose and verse, retaining the "traditional" Aradia lines. Historian Ruth Martin states that it was a common practice for witches of Italy to be "naked with their hair loose around their shoulders" while reciting conjurations.
Clifton suggests that modern claims of revealing an Italian pagan witchcraft tradition, for example those of Leo Martello and Raven Grimassi , must be "match[ed] against", and compared with the claims in Aradia. He differs from Leland in many ways, particularly in portraying her as a witch who lived and taught in 14th-century Italy, rather than a goddess.
Therefore it cannot effectively be used to discredit other writings or views on Italian witchcraft, nor is it a representative ethnographic foundation against which other writings or views "must" be compared. The Aradia material is, unfortunately, a disputed text with problems of its own when compared to the usually accepted folklore, folk traditions, and folk magic practices of Italy. He agrees with Valiente that the major objection of Neopagans to this material is its "inclusion of negative stereotypes related to witches and witchcraft", and suggests that comparisons between this material and religious witchcraft are "regarded as an insult by many neo-pagans".
Aradia: Gospel of the Witches
Start your review of Aradia: Gospel of the Witches Write a review Jul 28, Steve Cran added it In Northern Italy there are vestiges of an ancient faith that maybe still practiced by the common people. It is a vestige left over from the ancient Etruscan religion. The Etruscans lived in Tuscany, Italy. The main Goddess for the practitioners of this faith is the Goddess Diana. She is the Goddess of the moon, queen of the fairies and protector of the down trodden.
Aradia Or the Gospel of the Witches
Charles Leland based this book on material which he received from a woman named Maddelena, who had assisted him in collecting regional Italian folklore. On New Years day, she handed over to him a document in her own handwriting, the Vangel, which is the core of this book. Maddelena then reportedly went missing, and never contacted Leland again. The authenticity of Aradia has always been in question. Ronald Hutton, in his scholarly study of the roots of neo-Paganism, The Triumph of the Moon, presents three divergent theories about Aradia: first, that is a genuine text of an underground Italian Goddess religion, second, that Maddelena wrote it based on her family tradition, or third, that Charles Leland forged it based on his extensive knowledge of folklore. Each of these theories has pros and cons: it may be that the second and third are closest to the truth.
Folklore[ edit ] The Italian form of the name Herodias is Erodiade. It appears that Herodias, the wife of Herod Antipas , in Christian mythology of the Early Middle Ages , came to be seen as a spirit condemned to wander the sky forever due to her part in the death of John the Baptist , permitted only to rest in treetops between midnight and dawn. By the High Middle Ages , this figure seems to have become attached to the train of nymphs of Diana , now also seen as a host of spirits flying through the night across the Italian countryside. Other names attached to the night flight of Herodias included Minerva and Noctiluca. It became notable as a paragraph of canon law dealing with witchcraft by the 12th century. Regino reports that there were groups of women who believed that they could go on night journeys where they would fly across the sky to meet Diana and her train.