Monday, April 25, 2011

Aradia's Gifts

So, I promised I'd start blogging about the Craft. I'll start with something traditional, some selections from Aradia, o il Vangelo delle Streghe. [Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches].

According to an Italian legend, Aradia is the daughter of Diana and her brother Lucifer. Aradia was said to be an avatar of Diana sent to earth to teach people the ways of Witchcraft to free them from slavery and degradation.

The folklorist Charles Godfrey Leland collected a series of documents from an informant he named Maddalena concerning the survival of an ancient practice of Witchcraft (or Strega) among certain hidden sects throughout Tuscany. He published these as Aradia.

The Gifts of Aradia

In the fourteenth century, Aradia was said to have taught that the traditional powers of a witch would belong to any who followed in the ways of the Old Religion [la Vecchia Religione]. Aradia called these powers "Gifts", she also stressed the point that these powers were the benefits of adhering to the Old Ways, and not the reason for becoming a witch.

These are the powers:

To bring success in love
To bless and consecrate
To speak with spirits
To know of hidden things
To call forth spirits
To know the Voice of the Wind
To possess the knowledge of transformation
To possess the knowledge of divination
To know and understand secret signs
To cure disease
To bring forth beauty
To have influence over whild beasts
To know the secrets of the hands

The Covenant of Aradia

To obtain the powers of the Strega there were certain rules that needed to be followed. They are as follows.

Observe the times of the Treguenda, for therein is the foundation of the powers of Stregheria.

When good is done to you, then do good to another. If someone wishes to repay you for a kindness, then bind them to go out of their way to help three others, then this shall clear the debt.

Do not use the arts of Stregheria to appear powerful among others. Do not lower the standards of the Art and thereby bring contempt upon the Old ways.

Do not take the life of anything unless it is to preserve life, yours or another's.

Do not give your word of honour lightly, for you are bound by your words and by your oaths.

Do not accept any authority over you unless it is of the Gods. Instead, cooperate with others but do not be a slave and always preserve your honour. Give respect to others and expect respect in return.

Teach all who appear worthy and aid the continuance of the Old Religion.

Do not belittle another's religious beliefs, but simply state your own truths. Strive to be at peace with those who differ.

Do not purposely cause harm to another, unless it is to prevent true harm to yourself or another.

Strive to be compassionate to others, and to be aware of the hearts and minds of those around you.

Be true to your own understanding and turn away from those things which oppose the good in you, or are harmful to you. Hold reverence to all within Nature. Destroy nothing, scar nothing, waste nothing, live in harmony with Nature, for the ways of Nature are our own ways.

Remain open in your heart and in your mind to the Great Ones who created all that is, and to your brothers and sisters alike.

The Charge of Aradia

In addition to the above instructions, Aradia offered this piece of advice, which has evolved into the modern Wiccan Charge of the Goddess.

Whenever you have need of anything, once in the month when the Moon is full, then shall you come together at some deserted place, or where there are woods, and give worship to She who is Queen of all Witches. Come all together inside a circle, and secrets that are as yet unknown shall be revealed.

And your mind must be free and also your spirit and as a sign that you are truly free, you shall be naked in your rites. And you shall rejoice, and sing; making music and love. For this is the essence of spirit, and the knowledge of joy.

Be true to your own beliefs, and keep to the Ways, beyond all obstacles. For ours is the key to the mysteries and the cycle of rebirth, which opens the way to the Womb of Enlightenment.

I am the spirit of witches all, and this is joy and peace and harmony. In life does the Queen of all witches reveal the knowledge of Spirit. And from death does the Queen deliver you to peace and renewal.

When I shall have departed from this world, in memory of me make cakes of grain, wine, and honey. These shall you shape like the Moon, and then partake of wine and cakes, all in my memory. For I have been sent to you by the Spirits of Old, and I have come that you might be delivered from all slavery. I am the daughter of the Sun and the Moon, and even though I have been born into this world, my Race is of the Stars.

Give offerings all to She who is our Mother. For She is the beauty of the GreenWood, and the light of the Moon among the Stars, and the mystery which gives life, and always calls us to come together in Her name. Let Her worship be the ways within your heart, for all acts of love and pleasure gain favor with the Goddess.

But to all who seek her, know that your seeking and desire will reward you not, until you realize the secret. Because if that which you seek is not found within your inner self, you will never find it from without. For she has been with you since you entered into the ways, and she is that which awaits at your journey's end.

Free Strega texts and information online
Aradia, or The Gospel of the Witches by Charles Godfrey Leland
Etruscan Roman Remains by Charles Godfrey Leland by Raven Grimassi