Thursday, August 27, 2009

Who is Aradia?

Aradia is the central figure in the book ‘Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches’ written in 1899 by Charles Godfrey Leland. Leland claims that his book, ‘Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches’, was written based on a manuscript he obtained through his ‘witch informant’, who he referred to as Maddalena. The book contains stories and myths as well as spells, rituals, prose-poetry and blessings.

There are varying claims as to whether Aradia was a goddess, daughter of Diana, or whether she was the mortal woman, Aradia di Tuscano born in Tuscany, Italy in 1313. ‘Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches’, includes a story of Aradia’s birth that supports the former theory of Aradia’s origins.

In 1981, Raven Grimassi published ‘The Book of the holy Strega’, in which he supports the theory of Aradia being a mortal who was taught witchcraft by her aunt.
The common story of Aradia is that she taught witchcraft in order to free women of the 14th century from the oppression of the time. She gathered followers and taught a belief system and practices that empowered and released them.

Aradia is sometimes referred to as La Bella Pellegrina (the beautiful pilgrim) or Mistress of the Fairies (in reference to Diana being sometimes called Queen of the Fairies). She has also been linked to the names Erodiade, Herodiade and Herodias.

Some of the words attributed to Aradia have been interpreted as to instruct practitioners of witchcraft to perform their rituals naked and are thought to have been influential in the choice for some modern-day Wiccans to work sky clad. Sexual acts have also been referenced in relation to Aradian teachings and rituals, particularly by Aiden Kelly (co-founder of the New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn), which Leland astutely refers to in the appendix of “Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches’, stating, “They adored forbidden deities and practised forbidden deeds, inspired as much by rebellion against Society as by their own passions."

Another important impact of the stories of Aradia on modern Wicca and many of the associated topics of debate is in the postulation that witchcraft is the ‘Old Religion’, and that modern practices are a survival of ancient pagan beliefs. For this reason, debates on this subject will often include reference to Margaret Murray, an advocate of the theory of modern witchcraft being a revival rather than a reinvention.


greekwitch said...

This is a very interesting subject, whether modern practices are reinvention or revival. Will you post on that subject too? I would like to see where you stand, if you are up to it.
Brightest blessings!

Wendy said...

Aaaah, Georgina - you are tempting a can of worms to be opened there!

In all honesty, my answer is probably pretty boring: I don't have much of an opinion on it one way or the other. Instead, I think it's important to be informed of the different opinions and histories but to take them with a grain of salt as what you do today and tomorrow and being able to live in the present moment are really the important things. Perhaps you could post about your thoughts, though, as I would love to read them also ☺