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ARADIA: Gospel of the Witches Paperback – April 3, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Leland was born to Charles Leland, a commission merchant, and Charlotte Godfrey August 15, 1824 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Shortly after his birth, Leland's nurse took the child to the family attic and performed a ritual on him involving a Bible, a key, a knife, lighted candles, money and salt to ensure a long life as a "scholar and a wizard", a fact which Leland's biographers have commented upon as foreshadowing his interest in folk traditions and magic. Leland worked in journalism, travelled extensively, and became interested in folklore and folk linguistics, publishing books and articles on American and European languages and folk traditions. By the end of his life shortly after the turn of the century, Leland had worked in a wide variety of trades, achieved recognition as the author of the comic Hans Breitmann’s Ballads, fought in two conflicts, and had written what was to become a primary source text for Neopaganism half a century later, Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 108 pages
  • Publisher: ezReads LLC (April 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1615340246
  • ISBN-13: 978-1615340248
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,441,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Pagan Vixen on April 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
I would like to make a few corrections of people's assumptions. Everyone who reviewed this book made these assumptions which are grossly incorrect. 1) Lucifer(latin for light-bearer) is mentioned only once in the Bible, Isaiah 14:12 where it is used to refer to the king of Babylon. In Aradia the title of Light Bearer or Dawn Bringer is used to refer to the God Dianus who was Diana's other half/soulmate in Etruscan Mythology. 2)Aradia was never meant to be "a forerunner to Wicca". It was a scholarly work by Charles Leland documenting the vestiges of witchcraft in Northern Italy. Against popular opinion Wicca does NOT mean "practicer of the Celtic paths" it has become the title of a religion (thanks to Gerald Gardner...who apparently wasn't able to determine the meanings of "simple words"). If you claim to follow the Old Ways you should at least understand that *all* Old Ways are worthy of respect, even the Italian ones.

Obviously, Aradia greatly influenced the creators of the modern Wicca religion. It is the first time the Charge appeared in print. (It was later taken by Gardner for his covens and rewritten by Doreen Valiente.) There is a lot of negative magick in this book. Then again, it is thought that Maddalena either belonged to a group of witches who were called "Malandanti" (evil witches) or she was purposely feeding Leland false information. However, the roots of the witchcraft are evident. They were descendants of Etruria, still living in the ancestral homeland of Tuscany. They were still worshipping their ancient Goddess of Light, Diana and Her other half, Dianus called Lucifer or Light Bringer.

I highly recommend this book for historical purposes.
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Vincent M. Silenzio on December 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
The controversies surrounding Leland's book aside, this edition, which includes several essays as well as side-by-side translations of the origianl texts, is an invaluable resource. No matter what its faults, "Aradia" remains an important link in the chain of neopaganism in the past century. This expanded edition will remain an important reference work for folklorists and ethnographers, and for Wiccans, Witches, and neopagans whose traditions have been heavily influenced by this work.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 8, 1998
Format: Paperback
First published over 100 years ago this little book probablywould have vanished into obscurity like Leland's other works if ithadn't been one of Gerald Gardner's sources for building up his Wiccan traditions. While Leland claims to be presenting us with an authentic ancient, or at least medieval, treatise on the religion of the "strege" or Italian gypsy/witches, the text's validity is questionable. Leland claims to have obtained the manuscript from an Italian witch named Madellana who was the most recent witch in a long family line of witches. Critics have challenged the vailidity of the text & even Leland admits his manuscript is in Madellana's own handwritting. However, he attributes this to the fact that she had commited to paper what was a mostly oral tradition & not to the idea that she intentionally decieved him. Aradia contains little material that is recognizable as typical Wiccan doctrine but behind the corrupted Latin invocations & spells lie the inspiration behind "The Charge Of The Goddess". There are no mention of familar elements such as the pentagram & the word "Wicca" is never used. However, we find traces of what would become the ritual of "drawing down the moon" & the idea that meetings, or esbats, should be determined by a lunar calander & meetings were preferably held on nights of the full moon. We also encounter the requirement of ritual nudity.
Besides the invocations, spells & rituals Aradia also offers a fair portion of witch mythology or witch-lore. There is the standard mother/moon goddess & father/sun god story. They differ from typcial Wiccan myth in the fact that their union produces a divine daughter instead of a divine son.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Elderbear VINE VOICE on April 13, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a turn-of-the century work of folklore recording. Charles Leland set out to record as much about Strega, the Italian witchcraft tradition. As is typical of many other folk traditions in western culture, it incorporates many aspects of the Judeo-Christian tradition. This book impacted contemporary Wicca in one powerful way: it presented the basis for the first portion of "The Charge of the Goddess." Leland also put forward the claim, echoed by Gerald Gardner, that strega, the Old Religion, had its roots in ancient, pre-Christian religions.
Modern Wiccans will find this view of magic and craft interesting. Some practices, such as "forcing" deities to do the bidding of mortals, seem to be radically less prevalent now. Although some Wiccan traditions (Reclaiming, for one) espouse political activism, the violent class-war material presented here also will seem out of place.
An interesting bit of reading, showcasing a very different view of the world than most currently Wiccans share. More important reading than the latest "tradition" of the day to hit the shelves. A more scholarly, expanded edition has recently been published. I look forward to reading it and seeing what light it casts on this material.
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