Strega or Stregheria is the Craft of the Italian Witches known as La Vecchia Religione. The Old Religion first began to form around the beliefs of the early pre-etruscan Italians. The mystery teachings and magickal practices were further developed and refined by the Etruscans, who appeared in Italy around 1000 BC. During the witch hunts of the 14th century, Northern Italy persecuted solitaries and groups, while Southern Italy left solitaires alone. These practitioners, who used Moon Lore, Symbolisms, Herbs and Spirits to work their magick, were the healers, herbalists, midwives and counselors of their village, and were allowed to survive.
In the latter part of the fourteenth century, a wise woman who called herself Aradia, claimed she was present to bring about a revival of the Old Religion. From her arose three separate traditions, the fanarra, the tanarra, and the janarra, which were originally one. Collectively, they are known as the Triad Tradition.
All three traditions still had in common their original workings of divination, working with herbs, rituals and magic, but with the split of the traditions each group enhanced their workings with their knowledge of the Mysteries. The three traditions are:
The Fanarra: Keepers of the Earth Mysteries. Fana and Fanus are the Goddess of Wildlife and God of Forests This tradition is centered in Northern Italy.
The Janarra: Keepers of the Lunar Mysteries. Jana and Janus are the Goddess of the Moon and God of the Sun. This tradition is centered in Central Italy.
The Tanarra: Keepers of the Stellar Mysteries. Tana and Tanus are the Goddess of all Goddesses and God of all Gods (They are also the universal aspect of the Goddess and God in Italian Witchcraft).
The Aridian: A fourth tradition today which originated in North America as a branch of The Tanarra.
In 1899, folklorist Charles Leland published a book entitled, "Aradia, Gospel of the Witches". He had met a woman, named Maddalena, in 1886, who claimed to be a witch, and had knowledge of Italian pre-Christian practices. She supposedly gave him a book she had written,"The Vangel", which contained sacred writings of the region she was from, Tuscany. Strega, known as hereditary witchcraft, is passed on from generation to generation via oral and written teachings.
Strega accepts the duality of both a female and male God, known by different names in different traditions. Stregheria also recognizes a spiritual teacher and wise woman, Aradia, known as the Holy Strega. The message of Aradia, called the Covenant, offered her followers the path to freedom and personal empowerment. Aradia also taught that the traditional powers of a Witch would belong to any who adhered to the way of the Old Religion. Aradia called these Gifts and Beliefs. The Charge of Aradia is the message she left her followers.
The Tools of a Strega are likened to armor and weapons, as she is considered to be a spiritual warrior. The magickal focus is largely upon spells, omens and natural objects. These are used in amulets, talismans and charm bags. Nature is viewed as the manifestation of spiritual forces. Magick is the art of understanding the interplay between these forces and the ways in which they can be influenced. Ritual circles are seldom used for spell casting or other works of magick.
The Primary Tools used by the Strega are the Wand, The Spirit Bowl or shell, The Chalice (cup) or Grail, The Spirit Blade (Sword), The Pentacle and The Nanta Bag. The Nanta Bag is designed to keep its wearer in harmony with the forces of nature. It also serves as a carrier for the tools.
Artume: (Artumes, Aritimi) The Etruscan Goddess of death and night. Also the personification of growth in Nature. Comparable to the Greek Goddess Artemis.
Astrea: Goddess of purity and justice. Her festival is celebrated on the 8th of December.
Carmen (Carmina) Goddess of casting spells and of enchantments.
Diana: Traditionally the Goddess of all Witches in Italy. Goddess of the wildwood, lady of the beasts, Moon Goddess, Patroness of outcasts, thieves, slaves and the oppressed. Triple Goddess; Lunar Virgin, Mother of Creatures, and Huntress or Destroyer. Festivals: May 26th - 31st and Aug 13th (invoked to protect the harvest against storms) and 15th.
Egeria: Etruscan Goddess of fountains, and possessing the gift of prophecy.
Felicitas: Etruscan Goddess of fire and fertility.
Fortuna: Goddess of fate. She rules oracles, fortune, fate, luck and chance. Protectress of women married only once.
Menrva (Menerva) Goddess of wisdom and the arts. She is part of the triad with Tinia and Uni.
Nox: Goddess of the night, Sister of Umbria. She rules the darkness and everything within it.
Pertunda: Goddess of sexual love and pleasure.
Umbria (Umbrea) Goddess of shadows, darkness and things that are kept hidden or secrete; Sister of Nox.
Uni: The most ancient name for the Goddess of Witchcraft, also the supreme Goddess of the Etruscan pantheon. She is the Goddess of the cosmos. Part of a triad with Tinia (her husband) and the Goddess Menrva.
Vanth: Etruscan Goddess of death.
Vesta: Goddess of hearth and fire.
Vitumnus: Etruscan Goddess who gives life to the fetus.
Zirna: Etruscan moon Goddess.
Actaeon: Stag god of the forest.
Aita: Etruscan god of the underworld.
Ani: The Etruscan sky god who lives in the highest Heaven in the North.
Anteros: God of passion and sexual unions.
Aplu: The Etruscan god of thunder and lightening.
Belchans: Etruscan god of fire.
Cautha (Cath): The Etruscan sun god.
Comus: God of feast and drink and "the pleasures of the night".
Corvus: The Gods messenger, the "Trickster"; Raven Dianus (Kern, Cern) Nature god of fertility, Stag, consort of Diana.
Laran: Etruscan god of war.
Tagni: The most ancient name for the god of Witchcraft.
Tinia (Tina, Tin) The Etruscans supreme sky god, the creator of all things, he inhabits the Northern part of the sky.
Veive: The Etruscan god of revenge.
Virbius: God of outcasts and outlaws. Guardian of sanctuaries.