Aradia (goddess)

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Aradia is one of the principal figures in the American folklorist Charles Leland’s 1899 work Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches, which he believed to be a genuine religious text used by a group of pagan witches in Tuscany, a claim that has subsequently been disputed by other folklorists and historians.[1] In the gospel, Aradia is portrayed as the messianic daughter of the goddess Diana and the god Lucifer, who was sent to Earth in order to teach the oppressed peasants how to perform witchcraft to use against the Roman Catholic Church and the upper classes.

The folklorist Sabina Magliocco has theorised that prior to being used in Leland's gospel, Aradia was originally a supernatural figure in Italian folklore, who was later merged with other folkloric figures such as the sa Rejusta of Sardinia.[2] A different claim has been made by the Neopagan Witch, Raven Grimassi, who claims that Aradia was once a real figure named Aradia di Toscano, who led a group of Diana-worshipping witches in Early Modern Italy.[3]

Since the publication of Leland's gospel, Aradia has become "arguably one of the central figures of the modern pagan witchcraft revival" and as such has featured in various forms of Wicca, including Gardnerianism and Stregheria, as an actual deity.[4]

Contents

History

Folkloric Origins

The primary proponent of the theory that Aradia was initially a figure in Italian folklore has been the Italian-American folklorist Sabina Magliocco. She believed that the name "Aradia" was probably derived from "Erodiade", which was the Mediaeval Italian pronunciation of the name Herodias. Herodias herself was a figure in the New Testament, where she brought about the execution of John the Baptist, and she was subsequently viewed as a negative figure in Christian Europe. By the 9th century, Herodias had been equated with the Roman goddess Diana in Christian understanding, as was noted in the Canon Episcopi, and it was claimed 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.[5]

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