Cosimo, Inc. Aradia : Gospel of the Witches. Charles Leland. Its accuracy is disputed by some, while others consider it a vital resource for studying and understanding Italian witch folklore of the 19th century. What is certain is that this classic has become a foundational document of modern Wicca and neopaganism.
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This classic of neo-Paganism is one of the few books which purports to be an actual sacred text of traditional witchcraft, in particular that of the Tuscan region of Italy. Charles Leland was an American expatriate journalist, folklorist, and author. He based this book on material which he received from a woman named Maddelena, who had assisted him in collecting regional Italian folklore.
On New Years day, she handed over to him a document in her own handwriting, the Vangel , which is the core of this book. Maddelena then reportedly went missing, and never contacted Leland again. The authenticity of Aradia has always been in question. Ronald Hutton, in his scholarly study of the roots of neo-Paganism, The Triumph of the Moon Oxford University Press, , presents three divergent theories about Aradia: first, that is a genuine text of an underground Italian Goddess religion, second, that Maddelena wrote it based on her family tradition, or third, that Charles Leland forged it based on his extensive knowledge of folklore.
Each of these theories has pros and cons: it may be that the second and third are closest to the truth. Whatever the source of this material, it has had a profound impact on the emergence of neo-Paganism, and is required reading for anyone interested in the subject.
This version of the etext, originally scanned early in , was proofread a second time in July of and upgraded to current coding standards of sacred-texts.
Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches
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Aradia: Gospel of the Witches
Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches is a book composed by the American folklorist Charles Godfrey Leland that was published in It contains what he believed was the religious text of a group of pagan witches in Tuscany , Italy that documented their beliefs and rituals, although various historians and folklorists have disputed the existence of such a group. In the 20th century, the book was very influential in the development of the contemporary Pagan religion of Wicca. The text is a composite. Some of it is Leland's translation into English of an original Italian manuscript , the Vangelo gospel. Leland reported receiving the manuscript from his primary informant on Italian witchcraft beliefs, a woman Leland referred to as "Maddalena" and whom he called his "witch informant" in Italy. The rest of the material comes from Leland's research on Italian folklore and traditions, including other related material from Maddalena.
If the reader has ever met with the works of the learned folk-lorist G. Andrews to Folk-Lore  , 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 generations. The result has naturally been the accumulation in such families of much tradition. But in Northern Italy, as its literature indicates, though there 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 .