The practice of Stregheria is an ancient Italian form of witchcraft meaning “witch religion” and is also known as “La Vecchia Religione.”
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Where Did Italian Witchcraft Originate?
Italian witchcraft is also known as “Stregheria” meaning translates to the religion of witches. It is a blanket term for any type of spell work performed by witches who were in opposition to religion during ancient times. It is said to be one of the original types of European witchcraft, first heard about in archaic writings. Roman poet Horace back in 30 BCE was one of the first to mention the “witch region” which we know as current-day Italy. Horace noted that these people worshiped a goddess named Diana and worked from a grimoire called Libros Carminum, the Book of Chants. He seemed to think warmly of the witches he referenced but also cryptically mentioned that they were able to “draw the moon from the sky.”
One author named J.B. Andrews wrote of witches from the Neapolitan area (Naples), who were split up into multiple different groups based on their talents. Groups were split up by the practice of either sea or earth magic, as well as some sort of astrological magic not further described. The witches practiced at night and they practiced many different types of magic including the arts of healing, making potions, using knot magic, and crafting protection amulets. Part of their rituals was to exchange blood from their arm veins and also that new joiners were marked under their left thigh. The witches told Andrews their rituals and traditions were passed down from the matriarchs of the families to their daughters.
Stregheria Regional Practices
Stregheria Italiana has differing practices depending on which part of the country the people practicing live. Northern Italian Stregheria practices stemmed from an archaic Etruscan religion. Witches from the middle of the country use a mix of Italian pagan magic and antiquated magic. Those down south practice a variety of different types of rustic witchcraft. The most untouched and close to original practices of Italian Stregheria Magic is still going on in Sicily. It is an island so their practices remain more true to form and untouched by modern influence. The biggest outside impact to Stregheria is from the Spanish occupation. This ancient religion traces back not only to Italy but also to Neolithic religions.
In current times Stregheria is a hodgepodge of different Gothic and Tuscan elements including saints/idol worship, and peasant religion homage. It is reasoned that the practice of honoring saints during the Inquisition was used mainly as a prop to block from what was really going on for many witches at the time, the worship of the goddess Diana and other gods or goddesses from the old religion. When the Catholic religion became the mainstream religion of the time the Virgin Mary was used to represent the Goddess Diana. Persephone and Osiris were portrayed in Jesus’ resurrection.
Although the panic and punishment of witchcraft that was going on during this time were not as bad as other European countries, many still chose to hide their personal practices. The ancient practices and religion of Stregheria never went away or died out. It was in practice the entire time. Hidden in plain sight. Because the knowledge of Stregheria was supposed to remain secret there is an enormous wealth of information taught and passed down through the generations.
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Aradia was a teacher also referred to as “The Holy Strega.” From Tuscan legend she was said to have been taught by her aunt, one day she comes into a spiritual awakening and accepted she had to work against the common spiritual teachings. The word “moon shadow” comes to her and she begins her metaphysical teachings. She collected other Italian witchcraft practitioners, convicts, and out-liers to the cities and secretly preached and taught her gospel. These teachings came to be known as the Triad clans, and this is where the Stregheria rituals come from.
Stregheria Wheel Of The Year
The teacher Aradia says that “nature is the great teacher” so in honor of that practitioners of Italian witchcraft. They celebrate the seasons with festivals, as known as “the higher ways of the spirit.” These festivals are called Treguendas. There are 8 Treguendas in a year. The Four major holidays are in the months of February, May, August, and October. These are the spiritual festivals. The 4 minor holidays are during Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, as well as the Summer and Winter solstices. These are agricultural celebrations.
ShadowFest – La Festa dell’ Ombra – October 31 (ShadowFest is the start and end of the Stregheria year)
Winter Solstice – La Festa dell’ Inverno – December 21-22
Lupercus – Fest di Lupercus – February 2
Spring Equinox – Equinozio della Primavera – March 21-22
Tana’s Day – La Giornata di Tana – May Eve – May 1
Summer Solstice – La Festa dell’ Estate – June 21 – 22
Cornucopia – La Festa Di Cornucopia – August Eve
Autumn Equinox – Equinozo di Autunno – September 21 – 22
Common Questions Regarding Stregheria:
Stregoneria vs Stregheria
Stregoneria or Stregoneria Italiana
Is an Italian word that translates to mean “witch” in current times. It was defined by an Italian dictionary in 1970 to mean: a magical practice intended to produce harm or illness.
Is defined as “witch religion” and has no negative attachments or meanings.
What Is Different About Stregheria Compared To Other Wiccan Religions?
Stregheria follows a different doctrine than Wicca. This means the sabbats on the wheel of the year are philosophically different. Italian witchcraft practices are built around the idea of “adding but not removing” aspects from their customs. Stregheria also has a strong ancestral influence from the honoring of entities called “Lare.”
Does Italian Witchcraft Also Practice Destructive Magic?
Yes, this is an ancient practice with origins in what some refer to as “war magic.” War magic is a defensive form of magic making it negative in theory. Even though it is commonly used as a protection or defense mechanism. This is magic used in retaliation from psychic attacks on people practicing the Old Religion. Stregheria practices also include magical binding as a precautionary tactic against outside influences. This act is not done with intention of harm but if harm is intended it will more than protect against it.
Do You Have To Be A Born Into This Practice?
No, it is not a requirement to practice that you be born in Stregheria to practice it. Traditionally many of those who worshiped and practiced this form of witchcraft were born into it and essentially considered to be “blood witches.” Though there were many allowances made for spouses or outsiders who were interested, to engage in and learn the Stregheria rituals.
Is Being Italian A Requirement To Practice?
No, this is a path welcome to all. Keep in mind that it was derived from Italian Culture and that plays a major part in the customs and rituals performed if you wish to go forward to initiate and learn these traditions.
What Gods and Goddesses Do They Worship?
Following in African traditions, traditional practitioners of Stregheria worship different gods than that of the Romans. They do share some deities with the Latins and the Etruscans. The most recognizable goddess they follow is that of Diana. Although there are some Stregheria practitioners that worship the Roman gods, this is not common and a break tradition.
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For more information on Stregheria check out the books linked below:
Italian Folk Magic: Rue’s Kitchen Witchery By Weiser Books
Italian Witchcraft: The Old Religion of Southern Europe By Llewellyn Publications
Stregheria By Books on Demand
The Cimaruta: And Other Magical Charms From Old Italy By CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform