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Aradia, Or the Gospel of the Witches

By Leland, Charles G.

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Book Id: WPLBN0000021681
Format Type: PDF eBook
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Reproduction Date: 2005
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Title: Aradia, Or the Gospel of the Witches  
Author: Leland, Charles G.
Language: English
Subject: Literature, Literature & thought, Writing.
Collections: Classic Literature Collection
Publication Date:
Publisher: World Ebook Library


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Leland, C. G. (n.d.). Aradia, Or the Gospel of the Witches. Retrieved from

If the reader has ever met with the works of the learned folk-lorist G. Pitre, or the articles contributed by Lady Vere De Vere to the Italian Rivista, or that of J. H. Andrews to Folk-Lore, [1] he will be aware that there are in Italy great numbers of strege, fortune-tellers or witches, who divine by cards, perform strange ceremonies in which spirits are supposed to be invoked, make and sell amulets, and, in fact, comport themselves generally as their reputed kind are wont to do, be they Black Voodoos in America or sorceresses anywhere. But the Italian strega or sorceress is in certain respects a different character from these. In most cases she comes of a family in which her calling or art has been practised for many gen erations. I have no doubt that there are in stances in which the ancestry remounts to mediæval, Roman, or it may be Etruscan times. The result has naturally been the accumulation in such families of much tradition. But in North ern Italy, as its literature indicates, though there [1. March, 1897: Neapolitan Witchcraft.] has been some slight gathering of fairy tales and popular superstitions by scholars, there has never existed the least interest as regarded the strange lore of the witches, nor any suspicion that it embraced an incredible quantity of old Roman minor myths and legends, such as Ovid has recorded, but of which much escaped him and all other Latin writers. [1] This ignorance was greatly aided by the wizards themselves, in making a profound secret of all their traditions, urged thereto by fear of the priests. In fact, the latter all unconsciously actually contributed immensely to the preservation of such lore, since the charm of the forbidden is very great, and witchcraft, like the truffle, grows best and has its raciest flavour when most deeply hidden. However this may be, both priest and wizard are vanishing now with incredible rapidity-it has even struck a French writer that a Franciscan in a railway carriage is a strange anomaly-and a few more years of newspapers and bicycles (Heaven knows what it [1. Thus we may imagine what the case would have been as regards German fairy-tales if nothing bad survived to a future day except the collections of Grimm and Musæus. The world would fall into the belief that these constituted all the works of the kind which had ever existed, when, in fact they form only a small part of the whole. And folklore was unknown to classic authors: there is really no evidence in any ancient Latin writer that he gathered traditions and the like among the vulgar, as men collect at present. They all made books entirely out of books-there being still a few left of the same sort of literati.] will be when flying-machines appear!) will probably cause an evanishment of all. However, they die slowly, and even yet there are old people in the Romagna of the North who know the Etruscan names of the Twelve Gods, and invocations to Bacchus, Jupiter, and Venus, Mercury, and the Lares or ancestral spirits, and in the cities are women who prepare strange amulets, over which they mutter spells, all known in the old Roman time, and who can astonish even the learned by their legends of Latin gods, mingled with lore which may be found in Cato or Theocritus. With one of these I became intimately acquainted in 1886, and have ever since employed her specially to collect among her sisters of the hidden spell in many places all the traditions of the olden time known to them. It is true that I have drawn from other sources, but this woman by long practice has perfectly learned what few understand, or just what I want, and how to extract it from those of her kind.

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