“The Old god still speak, yet they should do so through young voices. Every period needs the devil reborn, no complacency or nostalgia, but paradoxically the suffer of this reality can transport vertiginously earlier to a confrontation through the beginnings of who we when were and also who we deserve to truly become.

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” ~Peter Grey in Apocalyptic Witchcraft


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When we think the a strega we may imagine an old crone or possibly an herbalist, probably we think the the infamous Strega Nona from the children books. Or maybe a strega looks like plenty of other witches from european mythology and folklore or perhaps an eccentric social outcast with spells and potions. We might also think that a more modern-day concept of strega together a magician or spiritual healer, perhaps even a politics dissident.

In my very own family, i was often told that my bisnonna (great-grandmother) was a strega. It has taken year to recognize what the truly meant. My search included many questions and also experiences with my very own family and local community and also a visit to the city that Benevento in Italy where she lived; also known as la città delle streghe, the city that witches. Over there is a well-known image the the streghe of Benevento dancing around the well known walnut tree close to Benevento where it is claimed that the rites of the Goddess Diana to be held.

I to be still in the procedure of learning about my genealogical lineage, and will be because that the rest of my life, yet so much I have found out that the streghe were wise people and wortcunners, practitioners of individual catholicism and peasant medicine who supplied prayers, blessings, herbs, food, music, dance, and ritual to heal your families and communities.

I likewise found out that the word strega is often considered a derogatory term provided to disparage and condemn the individual medicine methods of rural and poor people and disempower and further oppress the already marginalized and vulnerable, normally elder women, lot as words witch has been provided for the exact same purpose throughout Europe and also many various other places roughly the world.

The word strega in Italian literally equates as “witch” and also the plural is streghe/witches. Yet what execute we really typical when we speak to ourselves or someone rather a strega?

I don’t ask this question to come up through a quick answer yet as a way to connect in a dialogue through my very own understanding and with that of others. The definition of native is mutable, an altering through time, and transforming to meet the demands of an altering culture. Ns am in ongoing expedition with my understanding of both “strega” and “witch” and have occurred some ideas roughly their meaning. Word interpretations are shaped by the people that use them and also they readjust based on context.

The indigenous strega method something different in Italy than it walk in north America and it has been declared by the Italian diaspora together a method to self-identify with our individual healing lineage from the paesani (paesant) and contadini (farmer) ancestors from southerly Italy. That has additionally been misused and culturally appropriated through the new age witchcraft movement.

One that the reasons for this, ns believe, is not simply misunderstanding, but likewise a absence of words and language around what can be dubbed the “shamanic” practices of southerly Italy and also the Mediterranean world. The word “shaman” has end up being increasingly problematic due to the fact that it has been also displaced and also then misapplied. The beginnings are controversial along with the use of words itself, but it is usually agreed the it was first from the indigenous peoples that Siberia.

the problematic word Shaman: over there is a substantial literature, which cannot be the review here, ~ above the etymology of the word shaman. As far as I have the right to see, there space three key theories around its origin. The very first claims the it originated straight from the Indian term śramaṇa ‘monk’. Others believe in a source from Tungusic saman (samān), which comes from the verb sa- ‘to know’. The 3rd position stop the view that the Indian śramaṇa was obtained into Tungus and also spread indigenous there into the world. The modern-day word creates of Shaman began with Russian in the 17th century. N. D. Mironov and S. M. Shirokogoroff (1924) summary the positions finest as early on as 1924; newly V. Voigt (1984) added his ideas. R. A. Miller and N. Naumann (1994) also provided valuable data, together did G. Kara (1997) in his review of their study.” ~A note on the word Shaman’ in Old Turkic through Peter Zieme

Finding the etymology of words is a procedure of excavation due to the fact that every native we use in our modern tongue has its roots going ago to somewhere that has actually usually been lost and also forgotten. Word meanings come from not just the resource of the sounds and also symbols that type them, however the way that castle culturally converged with neighborhood conditions.

Words move, change, and recreate themselves in different contexts among different peoples. This variables have the right to vastly change the definition of any type of word.

In recent times, words “shaman” has concerned North American English, from wherever it originated, to be superimposed end the spirituality healers and sacred heritages of the indigenous peoples and then has been culturally appropriated through white inhabitants who insurance claim to be “shamans” and go about practicing twisted, out-of-context, stolen, spiritual equipment of heal mimicking those native traditions. Words “shaman” appears to have taken quite a journey and Iam conscious that there is an entire maze the nuances below that whole post might be written about.

The bottom heat is that the word “shaman” when supplied by white civilization in phibìc America to define themselves is a big problem and it has actually been requested, by the indigenous people, that we not do it and I think that’s a valid request that ns personally respect.

So whereby does the leave united state in regard to describing similar, or what could be called shamanic, healing techniques from places such as southerly Italy? words “witch” has actually been work in this path although, prefer shaman, “witch” has taken on interpretations that are misused and misappropriated and also misunderstood both in the present and historically.

The new age use of “witch” has actually become connected with Wicca i beg your pardon is a term used to describe a modern-day religion derived and shaped from the ethics of european paganism mixed with brand-new age spirituality. I’m no an experienced on Wicca so my explanation might be lacking.

“Witch” and our principle of witchcraft also has a somber and also traumatic background from Europe, as well as many other areas in the civilization where, mainly women were executed because of the dominant Christian patriarchal narrative, that proceeds today, and also associates the indigenous healing practices of town herbalists and also wise folks v evil and as a risk to Christian doctrine.There space economic and political the drove the witchcraft hysteria and inquisition in Europe together capitalism declared the labor and also life blood the the peasant class. For more on this I very recommend Sylvia Frederici’s book “Caliban and the Witch.”

The contemporary and historic witchcraft practices of aboriginal Europe have multiple variations, however all were at once a developed of place-based methods and also systems supplied by folk healers to preserve a healthy and also balanced connection with the animate pressures of nature because that which we space inextricably linked.

The renowned idea that Italian witchcraft the resembles new age spirituality or Wicca is no historically or culturally accurate and also does not relate come the actual embodied people healing techniques in southerly Italy or in the areas of Italian Americans. The is mostly speculative to regard any type of pre-Christian spiritual or healing methods in southerly Italy in the very same light as our modern concept of witchcraft.

The prolific cosmological ideas through time in southern Italy were intertwined with the art, ritual, and also social expressions of daily and also seasonal existence and were sent through these means. Any type of pre-Christain legacies that could be taken into consideration witchcraft to be passed from person to person and family come family, adapting to the conditions and needs of every generation. As Christianity took end the folk magic and also pagan worship of the human being converted with them, undoubtedly changed, yet still with simple threads intact. That is quite basic to trace countless Catholic prayers, rituals, seasonal festivals, and also even deities, angels, and saints to equivalent pagan roots. Many of this, at the very least until people came to be literate and also had access to a to press press, was no recorded. The recorded history of southern Italy before Christianity was quite restricted to just those that had access to a scribe and/or were literate.

The true divine lineage of the Italian civilization is a thread the sews its way through our hereditary memories into us from our ancestors and, in mine opinion, is the most accurate source of our background that we have.

Nowadays, the word strega in Italy is not used to identify village or individual healers and is, in fact, thought about a derogatory term at least by older generations. Yet it has been reclaimed and also re-defined by modern Italian American people healers to identify themselves as practitioners of their lineage people ways that incorporate all that is contained therein both inside and also outside the a Catholic context. Yet, there deserve to be no refusal that any type of practice of Italian people medicine and also magic that does not combine the Catholic foundations of the society has gone to the really least extract from them. Otherwise it would leave out several hundred years of the evolution of Italian people traditions and also disregard the shared history of the Italian people.

The techniques that have actually been oft misidentified together witchcraft, and those the were exercised by own bisnonna, room the legacies of “Benedicaria” i m sorry means “blessing way” or might simply be referred to as “the things we do.” Benedicaria is performed by a “bendetta” or “benedetto” which is a person who “blesses.” This a cultural tradition that is passed native generation come generation in Italian American communities yet has, unfortunately, been diluted through time and assimilation.It is one of the precious and sacred social traditions that plenty of Italian american are now revitalizing and also remembering.

As with any indigenous individuals or culture, healing in southerly Italy began with the an initial people who resolve the Italian peninsula which has been identify to go together far back as the paleolithic period. Excavators have been able come track and also record the advancement of lot of variations of facility cultural rituals and also healing techniques that space resonant with totemic, animistic, and also what we now think about shamanic healing practices as well as what has additionally might be dubbed witchcraft.

Much of the proof for this was found by the renowned archeologist Marija Gimbutas. Historical finds have contained pendants do from ivory, perforated teeth, bones, and shells that were perforated to make necklaces or amulets. Additionally found space figurines and also statuettes the same, similar thing the female form, sometimes dubbed “Venus figurines,” carved in bone and also different species of stone. Others numbers reflected animals and natural aspects or patterns. These all suggest a type of prayer was focused on the symbolism of mother or “Mother Goddess” and also rituals and also many the carvings and artifacts throughout these times are believed to have actually been approaches of forgiveness magic and also healing.

“A number of naturally arising stones and found objects were thought to have actually apotropaic qualities, and were carried in the bag as defense or included into various other amulets. Because that example, arrow or spear points native Paleolithic sites, known as pietre della saetta, were thought to it is in the physical manifestations the lightning, and also to be both the reason of and also a form of protection against strokes. In some areas of southerly Italy, ladies would discover round or kidney-shaped stones that iron-rich clay the rattled from the loose minerals trapped inside. V sympathetic magic, these ended up being known together pietre della gravidanza, or pregnancy stones, and were believed to defend pregnant women and permit them to lug to term successfully. “ ~Witchcraft, healing and also vernacular magic in Italy

By Sabina Magliocco

Magic, an additional tricky word, coming from the Proto-Indo -European root magh-, way to be able or to have actually power

Magic is the practice of bringing our awareness to our partnership with more than our 3-dimensional space-time as complete participants in the forces of nature, the imaginal realm, and also the an essential force that healing, no to manipulate it, but to serve and also interact through the sacred in ourselves and all of life. Magic permits us come embody the mythic and archetypal aspects of the magnificent or multi-dimensional reality that guides our Earthly human work to the benefit of creation.

Italian folk medicine and also indigenous healing is sourced in a magico-religious history that combines regional healing practices with vernacular or folk magic and also the local spiritual techniques of the people. Because the time the Christianity took end Europe, these healing practices have actually been revolutionized from your pagan character and qualities and also intertwined with Italian Catholicism.

As numerous of the modern-day generations of Italian Americans have actually sought to reclaim and also remember their cultural history and also resist further assimilation, these traditions have been resurging in the context of an era whereby witchcraft, as a healing art, is additionally resurging, and although “strega” may have negative connotations in some contexts, it has been reasserted together a an important and explicit word to define the complete spectrum that inherited and reclaimed techniques of Italian folk magic together they have been adjusted in the Italian diaspora in the socio-political moment happening now in the joined States.

Though we might not understand much about how the human being was because that our ancestors we do understand that they to be tasked, like us, v being the life generation that would certainly lead the means for the next. And we, appropriate now, space ancestors and as such our job is to begin.

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The streghe in phibìc America in this generation, space the future ancestors and, as such, our job is come remember and cultivate ours heritage and traditions so the our descendants have a family tree to inherit.

The word “return” is from the Latin “tornare” which means to turn. Us the prefix again- it means to rotate back. And although us can’t go earlier in time, we have the right to turn earlier to call up what was passed on to us and also hold shape it where we room standing in the here and also now. When we seek to fully live and feel and connect to the past, present, and future together a means of coming to be who we room as the evolution expression of all that has come prior to us and and all the is come come we do, in a sense, return. We return back to the raw facets of creation and culture. Us return ago to what is before us and also we make that ours v our hands and also the demands of our times.

Because of this, I think that the reclamation and reappropriation of words “strega” in the context of Italian American individual magic is both authentic and also accurate also in lieu that the reality that it may have an adverse connotations in southerly Italy. That is also a word that is continually being defined, as all words, and also it is our willingness come dialogue v our language and also how us express who we are, whereby we are, and what our context of relationship is to the guiding values of our ancestral lineage.

Resources:

For part really clear and also succinct, and also authentic analysis on Italian individual Healing the publication Italian folk Magic by Mary-Grace Fahrun

On general European witchcraft: Witchcraft Medicine; heal Arts, Shamanic Practices, and also Forbidden Plants through Claudia Müller-Ebeling, Christian Rätsch, and Wolf-Dieter Storl

Image: Salome with the Head of john the Baptist, c. 1609, by the Italian grasp Caravaggio