... Aradia was born in 1313 in Volterra, Italy...
Aradia was a child of the Spirit, and even in her youth she heard the voices that only the ancients once knew. In the early hours of the dawn she walked among the Alban hills hear Lake Nemi. One day, after having journeyed far into the hills, she grew tired and took her rest beneath the shade of a large tree. As she centred her thoughts within her mind, a voice spoke to her saying:
“Look well into the skies, and know that you are chosen.”
Aradia gazed upward, the skies darkened, and the voice whispered to her the words “Moon shadow.” Something within her awoke and she understood the path that lay ahead of her. Looking about from the hillside, she saw the beauty of Creation and the equality of all things. An understanding of the inner workings of Nature awoke within her and with this enlightenment she opened up her heart and mind to the vastness of all she perceived.
Then Aradia beheld the oppression of the peasant people, knew their sorrows and was greatly moved with compassion.
In the time of Aradia, many peasant slaves had escaped into the hills and forests. These people gathered into bands of outlaws in order to survive. Aradia sought them out, living with them for a period of time in the woodland camps near Lake Nemi. There she listened to the plight of her people.
Many suffered persecution from the Church because they worshipped in the Old Ways.Others were made slaves by evil Lords who held power in the land. Among these outlaws Aradia came to know many Witches who were also in hiding.
In time Aradia went down into the villages and towns in order to give hope to the people. She taught them saying:
“Blessed be the free. Blessed be they who rejoice in truth and love, and seek not to maintain evil and misguided teachings. Know that the spirit is upon you all, and that spirit is love. Love punishes not, neither a day nor an eternity. Do not lend yourselves to teachings of fear and restriction. Blessed be the free in spirit for their kingdom is of both worlds. They are the Children of the Earth who neither hate nor teach hate, fear nor teach fear, restrict nor teach restriction.These same are the Children of Spirit.”
Aradia gathered disciples and taught them the inner mysteries of the Old Ways; the inner mysteries of the Old Ways that their ancestors once embraced. She revealed the true nature of the name Aradia, taken in honour of the ancient mythological daughter of Diana.
Many people knew Aradia in her home town of Volterra, and in Benevento, before she took this name. Her fame soon spread to all regions of Italy; people came to listen to the words of Aradia and to join her as followers. She taught them the doctrine of reincarnation, and about the old gods. Aradia revealed the secrets of the Earth and the knowledge of ancient teachings.
Because of her fame, she fell into disfavour with the Church, and the priests plotted against her. Soldiers were sent to arrest her for heresy, and she was placed inside a prison. There, Aradia suffered humiliation and torture. The officials feared her popularity among the peasants and desired to sentence her to death.
When morning arrived on the day the priests were to meet, they ordered Aradia brought before them, but she was not found in her cell. A search began for her, but she could not be located anywhere in the region. Later, in the south of Rome, Aradia appeared again and continued to teach.The people were amazed because they believed she had been killed or imprisoned for life. Hearing the news of her appearance in Rome the soldiers came to retrieve her. But none questioned by the soldiers claimed to know anything about Aradia. After the soldiers departed, the priests sent spies to dwell among the peasants in hopes of discovering her whereabouts.
In that same month some people discovered Aradia sitting with her disciples and instructing them. Aradia saw that they were joyful to encounter her, and she stood to them saying:
“Blessed be the free in spirit and they who love without profit. For love is the greatest attainment. It is the gift of the spirit’s blessing. Therefore never betray a love, nor deceive one. Love each other and care for each other, and for each thing, with the heart and soul of a poet.
Strive to see the world as does the artist. Go, seek, and capture the beauty which is there. And take care that you hurt not even one that is among you. But love, and live, to the fullest, in awareness and compassion to the minds and hearts and souls of everyone around you. Live in peace.”
Many people began to question one another concerning Aradia. Her disciples came to her and said, “My Lady, some say you are a prophetess, and some say you are a Magus. What shall we tell them?” Aradia picked up a handful of earth, and looking at the crowd, she said:
“I am the Daughter of the Sun and the Moon. I am the Earth. I am the love of freedom which is the love of the gods. And whosoever shall believe in me, the same shall be a child of the Mother and Father who dwell in all things.”
A spy from the Church approached and asked: “Lady, we know that you are a holy one: tell us of the God from which your power comes.”
Though men shall call upon many gods, there is but One, which is the many. A man in his life is called by many names. Some may know him as Father, or a friend. To some he may be an enemy or a brother, and to another a cousin. Yet is he still not one?”
Another spy asked her: “The priests tell us that God is male, and that women must submit to men. What do you say?”
“Does not even Nature show you, in all ways, that all is equal? In all flora and fauna, there is male and female. Who among you can truly say which is more important? One cannot be without the other.”
After this a disciple asked: “Lady, if all you speak is so, why then do the priests not tell us?”
“The priests tell what they have been told. It is with they who are above the priests that the truth is known, and hidden. There are many greedy and power-hungry men who profit from the Church. It is better for them to control with false teachings that restrict and threaten independence from the priesthood.”
The spies returned to the priests and reported what they had heard. The priests were angry and spread lies concerning Aradia’s teachings, claiming they were evil.
After Aradia and her disciples had left the area the soldiers returned again, seeking to arrest her. On the road they surrounded Aradia and her followers, taking her into custody. As they travelled back to Rome a band of outlaws approached them. The leader was a slave whom Aradia had converted to moon worship in the cult of Diana. A fight resulted in which Aradia was freed and taken by the outlaws to a hiding place.
The outlaws escorted Aradia and her followers to their camp in the forest. There she chose twelve of her disciples, six male and six female, and took them into a clearing in order to instruct them.
Aradia spoke to them:
“With you I now re~establish the Old Religion.
Know that there are others who still worship in the ways of their ancestors. Seek them out and tell them the Mother is with Child, and they will understand my meaning. Seek out also they who will come to follow us."
The disciples asked her:“Who is this Child? Tell us of her.”
“The infant is the Child of Mother Earth. She shall be known as that which is reason and wisdom. She shall come to the world and deliver all people of all nations from the rule of kings, and of authorities. In this Age of the Daughter, great changes shall occur such as the world has never known. This shall be a time of renewal.”
Her disciples asked her: “When shall this occur?”
She told them:
“The dawning of the Age will be signalled by the Will of the Daughter. Her words will be heard among the words of men. Then women shall walk in the ways of men, and the law shall know no difference. When this occurs the Age has begun. And my prophet shall then restore my teachings, making ready the dawn of the Age for she who will come. And in the year of this prophet’s birth there shall be a sign for which all witches may rejoice. For this year shall be the rebirth of the Old Religion.”
Aradia spoke further:
“Yet before this time there shall be death among our people. The time is near when my followers shall be taken before the courts. And they shall persecute you. But the Age of the Son shall draw to an end, giving way to the Age of the Daughter.
“You have heard the priests tell you of hell and of damnation. But I say to you, believe not in such things. For the spirit of the Great One is love, and love damns not, but blesses. For a Father’s and Mother’s love does not forget the child, nor does it put one child away and keep the other.”
All that day Aradia instructed her disciples and answered their questions. She taught them the secrets of magick and the knowledge of ritual. Aradia and her disciples went again out into the villages and towns in order for her to heal the sick and teach the Old Religion, even though they feared for their safety.
Soldiers, accompanied by several priests, came to arrest her. Realizing she was trapped, Aradia looked upon them sternly, saying:
“I rebuke you, and cast you out from the people because you teach punishment and shame to those who would free themselves from the slavery of the Church. These symbols and apparel of authority which you bear serve only to hide the nakedness in which we are all equal. You say that you serve your God, but you serve only your own fears and restrictions.”
The soldiers seized her, even though many people tried to protect her. Her disciples fled to avoid being captured themselves. In the town of Benevento they took refuge among the followers of Aradia already living there. Aradia was put into prison and was condemned for heresy and treason. While in prison a certain guard was very moved by her beauty and charm. Aradia allowed him to come to her as a lover. On the eve of her execution, Aradia persuaded him to take her into the courtyard, so she could pray out in the open.
Two other guards overlooked the courtyard as she prayed. After she finished, a storm gathered and the guard told Aradia to return to her cell. As she complied, the storm crashed over them with great fury. An earthquake shook the ground and the buildings fell, stone by stone. When calm returned at last, only a few people were found alive. Word spread far and wide that Aradia had perished.
Seven days later, Aradia appeared in the camp of the forest outlaws; everyone was amazed to see her because it was reported that she had died. Aradia would not speak to them concerning this, and she gathered together those disciples who still followed her and left the forest. They journeyed into the hills near Nemi. When they had settled for the night, Aradia came to them and said:
“The time is now marked, and I shall remain with you for but a short while longer.”
Aradia marked a circle upon the ground, spanning nine paces from the centre. She gathered her disciples into the circle and formally instructed them. Following this, Aradia addressed them:
“When you have need of anything, gather then in secret when the moon is full and worship the spirit of the Queen of all Witches. Gather yourself within the circle of the arts, and secrets that are as yet unknown shall be revealed. And as a sign that you are truly free, you shall be naked in your rites. For such is the essence of spirit and joy upon the earth. And your law shall be love unto all. Be true to your own beliefs. Keep to your ways beyond all obstacles. For ours is the key to the mysteries and the cycle of rebirth, which opens the door unto the womb of enlightenment. I am the Spirit of all Witches, which 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 unto peace and renew your life again.”
Aradia next taught her disciples about the secrets of the circle. She spoke of the gods and the Old Ones, known as the Grigori (Watchers). She taught them all types of enchantments, signs in the sky, and of the seasons.
When Aradia had revealed these things to her disciples, she told them:
“In memory of me you shall eat cakes of grain, wine salt and honey. These shall you shape like the crescent of the moon. Then shall you bless them in my name and partake of them upon your sacred gatherings.
As of old, you shall hold sacred the first day of May and of August and also the eve of November, which is the time of Shadows. Of February shall you observe its second day. Also shall you observe the Solstices of midsummer and midwinter and the Equinoxes of Spring and Autumn. To all who observe these sacred times will the Queen of Heaven give the power.
And you shall enjoy success in love.
And you shall have power to bless and to consecrate.
And you shall know the tongue of the spirits, obtain knowledge of hidden things, and raise forth the spirits from beyond the void.
You shall understand the Voice of the Wind, and the knowledge of the changing of forms.
To you shall the future be known and secret signs revealed.
And you shall have power to cure disease and bring forth beauty.
Wild beasts shall know you and cause you no harm.
Know that the power is gained through knowledge and the knowledge is gained through understanding.
Know therefore that you must obtain the balance. Everything which lives is of male and female essence. Do not exalt the one without the other. Come to know both as to be complete.
Blessed be the free in spirit. When you hate, or despair, or do not understand it is because you are not in balance with yourself or your surroundings. I do not speak of masculine and feminine, but of elements and causes and forces. Seek first the balance, then you will understand, and understanding you will overcome what you must.”
Aradia stood in the midst of her disciples and spoke:
“My purpose is firmly set forth, and to you I now give the Power. In my name shall you go forth and teach the ways of freedom and magic.”
Aradia let her garments fall, fully revealing herself to her disciples. She took one of them by the hand and brought him beside her upon the ground. There upon the sacred earth, beneath the star-filled night, they were joined in love. After this, each disciple was joined to the other. In this way the power passed in love among the followers of Aradia.
It was early morning when the disciples gathered again to hear Aradia speak. She said to them:
“With you I now establish a covenant, between you and me and likewise to all who shall come to follow in the ways.”
Aradia then placed a scroll into the hands of the disciples upon which were written thirteen laws. She also gave them the nine sacred scrolls that she had written. This was the foundation of all the teachings that she had come into this life to teach.
Aradia spoke again to her disciples:
“Soon you shall go forth among they who dwell outside of the Ways. And you shall meet ignorance, fear, and misunderstanding. Therefore, protect yourselves in all ways.
And you shall come upon many who truly seek to be one with the nature of all things. Teach all whom you find sincere and truly worthy. Yet take care that you do not become judgemental.
Keep your own manner of being separate, and do not expect everyone to be a likeness of yourself. Show love and warmth to all persons, for if you do not then many shall turn away from you. How then shall you serve the ways?
Know that your first allegiance is to the God and Goddess, your second allegiance is to the Old Ways, and the third is to Witches all.
If you serve yourself then you do not serve. When you serve your own self-importance you are out of balance with Nature.
For in Nature all things are equal. Nothing is more important than any other thing.
And yet, all living things have the right to do what they must to survive. This is to the disadvantage of other living things,which becomes the essence for survival.
Who can speak against the order of things?
Therefore, live your life as you must, according to the laws which I have given you.
Enjoy each day and long not for the next.The only certainty is now.
Do not become bitter or cold at the seeming harshness and unfairness of life, for love has the power to overcome all things.
Nothing lasts forever and nothing remains the same, for everything is even now moving toward that which it will become.
Therefore I tell you to observe the cycles of everything,within you and outside you.”
It was her practice to teach her disciples in this manner. As the time for instruction was almost completed one of the disciples asked Aradia to speak again of the coming Age.
Aradia told them:
“The Age of the Daughter is the final Age to dawn upon Earth.The first Age was that of the Mother, when all people worshipped the Great Goddess.The second Age was that of the Father and the third Age is the Son. Under the Mother there arose all goddesses and their cults. With the Age of the Father arose the gods which came to then dominate the female cults.
It was then that the warrior cults began to rule the world. The dawning of the Son brought love and compassion to the world. From this Age arose the Christ spirit, but men clung to their stern Father God. Now when the Age of the Daughter shall come, then shall reason be restored and the world shall be in balance. To herald the coming of the Daughter, and to keep it remembered upon the earth, every two hundred years there shall arise a prophet. This prophet shall be a great teacher, and shall give life to the Old Religion. When the Age of the Daughter draws near, there shall be an awakening in the awareness of women, and their will shall be asserted. Laws will then change and women shall walk in the ways of men. And there shall be a time when the last of the laws which persecute and suppress us shall be removed. In that year all of Stregheria shall rejoice.
When the Age of the Daughter begins to replace that of the Son, then shall my prophet appear. And many shall call this one the Silent Prophet. At this time there shall come many changes. Changes shall occur in the earth which the people of that time have never seen before.
And there will be great renewal and upheaval. When the Age of the Daughter replaces that of the Son, than shall she appear who is to establish reason. And she will be thirty-six at this time. And she will come in Power, for the Silent Prophet will have established the way. As this Age progresses, great trial and tribulation shall befall the people of all nations. And out of the ashes shall arise the new world of reason. People shall no longer be ruled by governments. Nor shall one people oppress another. There shall be no rulers, but only teachers and counsellors. No one shall possess power over another, nor shall anyone restrict or control any other person. The earth shall be of one people and they will all live under the emanating rays of love, peace and reason.”
All that day and into the evening Aradia spoke of future events. The next day Her disciples departed as instructed, in pairs of male and female to teach others the Gospel of Aradia. She had bid them farewell and directed them to go out into all the towns and villages.
In the days that followed, the fame of Aradia and her wisdom and beauty went forth over all the land. People began to worship her, calling her The Beautiful Pilgrim. There were those who said she was the Goddess in human form.
Her disciples travelled with a heavy heart because Aradia had spoken of the darkness of the times to come.They carried with them the thought of the many centuries that were to pass before the promised Age would dawn.
After travelling from village to village, the disciples returned to the town of Benevento. There they gathered the covens of Aradia which she had favoured. The disciples taught them each the final words that Aradia had spoken and they shared the knowledge of the sacred scrolls with them. The followers of Aradia formed into Clans, and a covenant was established to secure the teachings of Aradia for the future.The Laws of the Covenant of Aradia were established at this time in order to unite the Clans in the Old Ways.
These groups then departed to distant places, fearing further persecution by the enemies of Aradia. However, there remained those followers who would not depart. Aradia was not seen again by the people of that region. But her followers remembered her teachings, and gathered and celebrated as the Holy One had bid them, even as they do to this very day.
Here ends the Gospel of the Holy Strega
"What appears to be the borrowing from another tradition, is really just the re-uniting of many different things which all have a common origin."
~ Doreen Valiente