Stregheria (La Vecchia Religione) also known as the Old Religion, is Italian witchcraft
The tradition began in the mid-14th Century with the teachings of Aradia, the Holy Strega. This was based upon a much earlier system of beliefs, dating back to the pre-Etruscian Italians. It is a worship of the “Source of All Things”, through the personification of the Goddess and God.
There are many things that are similar between Stregheria & Wicca.
Strega uses nature in all of its teachings. Nature is considered the “Great Teacher”. There is a deep history based upon Aradia’s Teachings, as well as a prophecy given to us in the Mythos, which speaks of the coming “Age of Daughter”, when reason will rule.
The Stregan view of the afterlife is that we return to the Realm of Luna as the moon waxes, and return to Earth as the moon wanes. When we are ready, we pass through the Sun to be made into our new bodies for our return to the Stars. We have the Grigori, who are the Watchers and Guardians over our rites. And the Grimas, who keep the traditions pure and continuing. The Lare are the spirits of our ancestors, whom we worship and call upon for help and aid. Family and tradition are of utmost importance, and this is what gives this Tradition its strength and power.
(The reference to the 14th Century is a reference to the teachings of Aradia and to the Stregheria tradition. It is not meant to say that Stregheria is a product of the 14th Century or that all Streghe in Italy follow the same tradition founded by Aradia in the 14th Century. Stregheria in Italy goes back way before pre-christian times and there are many Streghe in Italy and the US who follow traditions that have nothing to do with Aradia de Toscano. Stregheria has many differences from Wicca. Their festa’s for example follow a slightly different mythos from that of Wicca.)
We believe that the Great Spirit, or source of all things is both masculine and feminine in nature.
We believe that all humans have a spark of divine within themselves, the soul.
We also believe that we are actually spiritual beings who are temporarily encased in physical body.
We believe in reincarnation and view it as a process for spiritual liberation from the physical dimension.
We believe in psychic abilities and the supernatural as normal conditions which have been suppressed by the Judaic/Christian culture, but may be restored through the practice of the Old Ways.
We believe in magick as a manifestation of energy that is directed by the mind through various ancient techniques.
We believe in spiritual worlds and spiritual beings.
We believe in the Law of Action and Reaction, and that what we do affects others, and what others do affects us. Therefore we always strive to live in peace with everyone.
We believe in Karma, we believe in responsibility and consequences.
We believe in love, life and harmony as the spiritual foundation of our ways.
We believe in the expression of religious beliefs through rituals and festivals.
We believe in Earth Energy, we acknowledge places and objects of natural power existing upon our planet.
We believe in a positive afterlife and a successful spiritual evolution.
We believe that everything in Nature is of equal importance. Everything is linked and entwined beyond separation.
The Triad Traditions
Most every religion has different “sects” within it. This branching off allows each group to specialize in a particular area, as well as creating a healthy diversity within the tradition. Stregheria or Strega also has branches or sects. Making up the Old Religion are three groups, known as the Triad Traditions. They are known separatley as the Janarra, the Tanarra, and the Fanara. When Aradia first brought the Old Religion to the people of Italy, she taught her followers the secrets of the Earth, the Moon, and the Stars. With the beginning of the persecution of witches in Italy, the Religion split. Each group was entrusted with one section of the mysteries.
They separated. The Fanara, who are the Keepers of the Earth Mysteries, centered in northern Italy. They kept the secrets of ley lines, and other forces of the Earth. The Janarra and Tanarra both occupy central Italy. The Janarra are the Keepers of the Lunar Mysteries. They are entrusted with the mysteries of the lunar energy, and other powers of the Moon. The Tanarra are the keepers of the Stellar Mysteries. They hold the mysteries of stellar forces.
Common to all three traditions are the arts of herbalism, divination, magic, ritual, and other aspects associated with the Old Religion.
Each tradition has one person who is responsible for maintaining the purity of the Tradition, as well as ensuring its continued survival. This leader is called the Grimas. The Grimas allows only new aspects to be added to the Tradition that do not deviate from the original teachings. Each Grimas has a working knowledge of the other traditions. They work together in making decisions which will affect the Old Religion. Basically, it is their job to make sure the Strega religion stays true to its followers.
A fourth tradition now also exists, developed by Raven Grimassi Originally a branch of Tanarra, it is known as the Aridian Tradition. It is a blending of the Triad Traditions, and is an attempt to restore the original Religion Aradia brought back to the people long ago.
The Watchers called Grigori are called to guard the ritual circle and to witness the ritual. Strega also recognizes a third person, Aradia. She came to be known as the Holy Strega, a spiritual teacher and wise woman. 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 Covenant of Aradia
Observe the times of the Treguenda, for therein is the foundation of the powers of Stregheria.
When good is done to you, then do good to another. If someone wishes to repay you for a kindness and then bind them to go out of their way to help three others, then this shall clear the debt.
Do not use the arts of Stregheria to appear powerful among others. Do not lower the standards of the Art and thereby bring contempt upon the Old ways.
Do not take the life of anything unless it is to preserve life, yours or another’s.
Do not give your word of honour lightly, for you are bound by your words and by your oaths.
Do not accept any authority over you unless it is of the Gods. Instead, cooperate with others but do not be a slave and always preserve your honour. Give respect to others and expect respect in return.
Teach all who appear worthy and aid the continuance of the Old Religion.
Do not belittle another’s religious beliefs, but simply state your own truths. Strive to be at peace with those who differ.
Do not purposely cause harm to another, unless it is to prevent true harm to yourself or another.
Strive to be compassionate to others, and to be aware of the hearts and minds of those around you.
Be true to your own understanding and turn away from those things which oppose the good in you, or are harmful to you. Hold reverence to all within Nature. Destroy nothing, scar nothing, waste nothing and live in harmony with Nature, for the ways of Nature are our own ways.
Remain open in your heart and in your mind to the Great Ones who created all that is, and to your brothers and sisters alike.
Whenever you have need of anything, once in the month when the Moon is full, then shall you come together at some deserted place, or where there are woods, and give worship to She who is Queen of all Witches. Come all together inside a circle, and secrets that are as yet unknown shall be revealed.
And your mind must be free and also your spirit and as a sign that you are truly free, you shall be naked in your rites. And you shall rejoice, and sing; making music and love. For this is the essence of spirit, and the knowledge of joy.
Be true to your own beliefs, and keep to the Ways, beyond all obstacles. For ours is the key to the mysteries and the cycle of rebirth, which opens the way to the Womb of Enlightenment.
I am the spirit of witches all, and this is joy and peace and harmony. In life does the Queen of all witches reveal the knowledge of Spirit? And from death does the Queen deliver you to peace and renewal.
When I shall have departed from this world, in memory of me make cakes of grain, wine, and honey. These shall you shape like the Moon, and then partake of wine and cakes, all in my memory. For I have been sent to you by the Spirits of Old, and I have come that you might be delivered from all slavery. I am the daughter of the Sun and the Moon, and even though I have been born into this world, my Race is of the Stars.
Give offerings all too She who is our Mother. For She is the beauty of the Greenwood, and the light of the Moon among the Stars, and the mystery which gives life, and always calls us to come together in Her name. Let Her worship be the ways within your heart, for all acts of love and pleasure gain favour with the Goddess.
But to all who seek her, know that you’re seeking and desire will reward you not, until you realize the secret. Because if that which you seek is not found within your inner self, you will never find it from without. For she has been with you since you entered into the ways, and she is that which waits at your journey’s end.
Gifts of Aradia
In the fourteenth century, Aradia taught that the traditional powers of a witch would belong to any who followed in the ways of the Old Religion. Aradia called these powers “Gifts”; she also stressed the point that these powers were the benefits of adhering to the Old Ways, and not the reason for becoming a witch.
These are the powers:
To bring success in love
To bless and consecrate
To speak with spirits
To know of hidden things
To call forth spirits
To know the Voice of the Wind
To possess the knowledge of transformation
To possess the knowledge of divination
To know and understand secret signs
To cure disease
To bring forth beauty
To have influence over wild beasts
To know the secrets of the hands
The Strega Wheel of the Year
The Strega Wheel of the Year turns as the Wiccan does, it is written; “Aradia teaches us that Nature is the Great Teacher, and that by participating in the seasonal festivals, we come to know the higher ways of the Spirit.” The celebrations are similar to the Wiccan Sabbats. These celebrations are called Treguendas. There are eight Treguendas which make up the year. Four major rites occur in October, February, May and August. These are the Spiritual Festivals. Four minor festivals occur on the spring and Autumnal Equinoxes, and the summer and Winter Solstices. These are agricultural festivals.
ShadowFest — La Festa Dell’ Ombra — October 31
Shadow Fest marks both the beginning and ending of our year. On November Eve, we mark the time when our Lady descends into the Underworld seeking to understand the Mystery of Death. She meets Dis, the Lord of the Underworld. She is angry with him, for he has taken away those things that she loved. He tells her it is not he, who does this, but age and fate which rob her of these things. He simply tries to make the time until they are reborn more pleasant. Eventually, he wins her heart. They come together in Holy Union, and share their mysteries with each other.
Winter Solstice — La Festa dell’ Inverno — December 21/22
Goddess gives birth to the new Sun God, the child of the Holy Union of Shadow Fest. The Watchers, known to the Streghe as the Grigori, come to see this new child, but are surprised to see Janus there presenting his new-born child. It is here that we see Dis and Janus are the two faces of the Great God. The Grigori then proceed to the world of man, bringing the new Lord of the Sun. Lupercus, the Sun, once again begins his growth.
Lupercus — Festa di Lupercus — February 2
The Festival of Lupercus marks the puberty of our Lord, Lupercus. The Grigori have set “twelve labours” before the young Wolf God that he must master to prove his worth as the new Sun God. Lupercus proves his worth by completing the tasks. Lupercus is invoked at this time of year to scatter the wolves of the dark winter night. Assisting us in releasing the atavistic power within us all. Through him, we are free of the constraints of our bodies, and of the winter season.
Spring Equinox — Equinozio della Primavera — March 21/22
The Vernal Equinox celebrates the beginning of the Goddess’ ascent from the “Realm of Shadows”. Longing for her children and the light of the Sun, She emerges. As She returns, the Earth awakens, and her children rejoice. This is a time of great fertility. It is also the time that the God Lupercus is slain in a hunting accident. Yet he rises the next day as the new Sun God, taking on the persona of Janus. His brother, Cern, takes rule of the Waxing Year on Earth and will, with the regenerative growth of his antlers, become the Horned God of summer.
Tana’s Day — La Giornata di Tana — May Eve/May 1
Celebration for the full return of the Goddess from the Realm of Shadows. She has returned to her hidden children, bringing with her the Mysteries she has learned. We also celebrate God and Goddess, and their delight in each other. They court, and the world is made merry. Goddess becomes the dominant force, and the Goddess months begin.
Summer Solstice — La Festa dell’ Estate — June 21/22
Summer Solstice marks the marriage of God and Goddess. From this union comes the bounty of the Harvest Tide. This is a time of growth and life. At this time we do works to heal the Earth. This is also a time when the Elemental forces are abound in great number. We honour the fata, the elementals, and other spirits of Nature. (For the witch and the fata are of a similar nature…)
Cornucopia — La Festa Di Cornucopia — August Eve
The celebration of anticipation of plenty. This is the time of the First Harvest. God is preparing to sacrifice himself so that the world can continue. Even as we begin our harvest, we plant the seeds of rebirth. For those seeds which are planted now and nurtured over the cold winter will become the strong plants of spring.
Autumn Equinox — Equinozo di Autunno — September 21/22
Time of the full harvest. The bounty of the harvest is due to God’s sacrifice of himself. Janus now dies and departs to the Underworld. The Lord of Light has now become the Lord of Shadows. He now becomes the Hooded One, and after this Treguenda, we too become hooded in our rites until the Goddess begins her Ascent again at Primavera. Our God Cern is killed in another hunting accident, and Lupercus again takes rule of the Waning Year. Grieving for her lost lover, Goddess descends into the Realm of Shadows, seeking him. In celebratation we feast upon the bounty of the harvest. We count our blessings and prepare for the upcoming winter.
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