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  • Italian Witchcraft

    I have had several requests to post something specific on Italian Witchcraft. No one can speak for Italian Witchcraft as a whole because there are many regional differences. Therefore I will share what I know and believe to be true from my own training and experience, which I feel is a fair compromise.

    In general, the northern systems appear to have Etruscan influence. The central appear to have Roman influence. The southern systems appear to have Spanish influence. The Sciliian systems appear to have Greek influences.

    To begin the discussion, I will start with the word trail.

    The Italian word that translates into the English word Witch is Strega (female) or Stregone (male). The popular thinking is that the word is derived from strix or strigae. Both of these have a connection to the owl figure. In ancient Roman lore, the strix is a supernatural being (typically female) who can take on human form and the form of an owl. However, as a pracitioner of Italian Witchcraft, I look at the word strigare which means to extract or untangle. This seems in keeping with the earliest word used in Western Literature to denote a Witch, and that word was the Greek word pharmakis. This word indicates a knowledge of plants, specifically their chemical properties (which have to be extracted).

    The Italian word for Witchcraft is Stregheria or Stregoneria. The former refers to Witchcraft as a religion and the latter is its sorcery aspect. In ancient Roman writings we find the theme of Witches worshipping a triformis goddess composed of Hecate, Diana, and Proserpina (a Roman form of Persephone).

    Lucan writes of a dialogue wherein a Witch proclaims: "Persephone, who is the third and lowest aspect of our goddess Hecate" (BC. 6:700-01). Ovid, in his work Metamorphoses, quotes the Witch Medea who says: "I pray only that the three-formed Goddess will help me and come to give her blessings to our immense enterprise". Ovid also presents the hero Jason making an oath to Medea in which he says: " I will be true by the sacred rites of the three-fold goddess."

    In Horace's writings related to Witchcraft we find these words:

    (Epode 5) “... Night and Diana, who command silence when secret mysteries are performed, now aid me; now turn your vengeance and influence against my enemies’ house ...”

    (Epode 17) “Now already I yield to your mighty art, and suppliant beseech you by the realms of Proserpina, and by the powers of Diana..."

    Italian Witchcraft has a long historical and literary tradition stretching from ancient Roman times, up into the Renaissance era, through the 19th century, and into modern times.

    Francesco Guazzo, an Italian Ambrosian monk who grew up in the region of Tuscany, gives us a snapshot of 17th century beliefs in his book Compendium Maleficarum, which was written at the request of the Archbishop of Milan (Frederico Borromeo) and published in 1608.

    Guazzo describes in great detail the believed structure of the Italian Witch sect (as well as many other European systems). In chapters twelve and eighteen, Guazzo indicates that witches gather in circles drawn upon the ground with beech twigs, and work with spirits of earth, air, fire, and water (among others).

    Guazzo notes in chapter ten that witches adhere to certain laws within their society. In chapter six, Guazzo states: "The infection of witchcraft is often spread through a sort of contagion to children by their fallen parents...and it is one among many sure and certain proofs against those who are charged and accused of witchcraft, if it be found that their parents before them were guilty of this crime. There are daily examples of this inherited taint in children..."

    Guazzo states that Witches "read from a black book during their religious rites" and he notes a religious demeanor among witches in chapter eleven, where he writes: "For witches observe various silences, measuring, vigils, mutterings, figures and fires, as if they were some expiatory religious rite".

    Guazzo's depiction of witchcraft seems to indicate a rather structured and organized cult, and is consistent with accounts from Italian witch trial transcripts dating from 1310-1647.

    Folklorist Lady de Vere also describes a structured witch cult in an article she wrote in 1894: "...the community of Italian witches is regulated by laws, traditions, and customs of the most secret kind, possessing special recipes for sorcery" (La Rivista of Rome, June 1894). Folklorist J.B. Andrews later added: "The Neapolitans have an occult religion and government in witchcraft, and the camorra; some apply to them to obtain what official organizations cannot or will not do. As occasionally happens in similar cases, the Camorra fears and yields to the witches, the temporal to the spiritual" (Folk-Lore; Transactions of the Folk-Lore Society, March 1897).

    Andrews goes on to say that the Witches of Naples are divided into "special departments of the art." He lists two as adepts in the art of earth and sea magick. Later in the article it is implied that a third specialty may exist related to the stars. Andrews also tells us that Neapolitan Witches perform knot magick, create medicinal herbal potions, construct protective amulets, and engage in the arts of healing.

    Andrews concludes his article with information he collected while interviewing Italian Witches. When asked what books these Witches gathered their information from, they replied their knowledge was entirely traditional, and is "given by the mother to the daughter." The Witches also tell Andrews that blood is exchanged from a vein in the arm, and the new member is given a mark under the left thigh. Although the moon is not specifically mentioned, the Witches do report to Andrews that such ceremonies are performed at midnight.

    Hmm..because this is running long, I will make it part one of a longer thread to follow later. And, I suppose that dragging the writings of Charles Leland into this is unavoidable.

    Best regards - Raven
    Last edited by raven grimassi; February 23rd, 2005, 11:23 PM.
    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy...(from Hamlet).

  • #2
    thanks so much for this info... I have really been interested in italian witchcraft, but i haven't found many good online resources, so i was really confused. I have been planning on getting your book, but just haven't gotten around to it yet. I'll be looking forward to reading the next part of this, and to reading your book as soon as i can...




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    • #3
      Thank you, Raven. I will be looking forward to the next thread.
      In perfetto amore e perfetto fiducia
      Lupercus

      Comment


      • #4
        Here I will present the influence of Catholicism on Italian Witchcraft. As an author I receive reader mail, and often a reader will comment that his or her grandmother, mother, or aunt performed this or that spell or ritual. This often leads the reader to feel that he or she had Witchcraft in the family line. This may or may not be the case. Please let me explain.

        Folklorist Charles Leland, in his book Etruscan Roman Remains (1892) wrote:

        “It is the most natural thing in the world that there should be certain blendings, compromises, and points of affinity between the Stregheria — witchcraft, or “old religion,” founded on the Etruscan or Roman mythology and rites — and the Roman Catholic: both were based on magic, both used fetishes, amulets, incantations, and had recourse to spirits. In some cases these Christian spirits or saints corresponded with, and were actually derived from, the same source as the heathen. The sorcerers among the Tuscan peasantry were not slow to perceive this.”

        What we have in Old Italy is the existence of folk magic and folk beliefs that remained among the common people, who continued to use various herbs and charms despite being Catholic. Because the majority of these folk practices are rooted in pre-Christian times it is only natural that some are also found among Witches (who are part of the culture as well). Therefore, the use of herbs or charms (in and of itself) is not "proof" that the practice is Witchcraft. It may instead simply be old folk magic used by the common people (who may self-identify as Catholic, and may well even abhor Witchcraft).

        In Italy today, there are many Catholic traditions that have preserved the old Pagan ways. The two most obvious examples are the reverence for Mary (as the “Mother of God”) and the belief in the intercession of saints (a remnant of pagan worship related to specific spirits who have power over various aspects of life). The Fanarric Witches of northern Italy maintain the belief that the Goddess was the first of all that came to be, and that she created the God. In this sense she can be thought of as the Mother of God. They also believe in a host of various spirits who can be persuaded to assist them in life through the use of offerings, prayers, and spells.

        Many modern Italian Witches simply consider Catholics to be Pagans who have accepted the divinity of Jesus. There are some interesting concepts in both the Old and New Testaments that resemble Italic beliefs and may well be the foundation of such an idea. According to the New Testament, the Magi were the first to seek out Jesus after “seeing” his star. Legend claims that the Magi were astrologers and sorcerers, and associates them with the lands of Chaldea, Egypt, and Persia. These are all places that have an occult history dating far back into antiquity. The tale of the Magi recorded in the Book of Matthew seems to indicate that these mystic Pagans were among the first to pay homage to Jesus.

        In the Book of Proverbs (chapter 8, verse 2), we find a personage called “Wisdom” conceived of in the form of a female divinity who “stands at the crossroads” (a phrase used in ancient times concerning the witches’ goddess.) Wisdom speaks of being present both prior to and during the process of Creation. In verse 30 (The Jerusalem Bible) she claims to have been God’s assistant during the process of Creation:

        “I was by his side, a master Craftsman, delighting him day after day, ever at play in his presence, at play everywhere in his world, delighting to be with the sons of men.”

        In the book of Wisdom (found only in the Catholic version), “Wisdom” is praised with these words (chapter 7: 22–27):

        “For within her is a spirit intelligent, holy ... penetrating all intelligent, pure and most subtle spirits; for Wisdom is quicker to move than any motion; she is so pure, she pervades and permeates all things ... She is a reflection of the eternal light, untarnished mirror of God’s active power ... although alone, she can do all; herself unchanging, she makes all things new ...”


        Connected to this concept of the feminine aspect of Divinity is the word “Ruach.” In Hebrew, this word is of feminine gender and would properly be defined in the sense of feminine divinity. When we read in the account of Creation (Book of Genesis) that the “spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters,” the Hebrew word used here for spirit was ruach. In the New Testament this has been translated into “Holy Spirit,” as in the Trinity concept of “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Hebrew mystics of the Kabbalah considered ruach to be associated with the element of air, and thus with spirit as well. Among early Kabbalists, the sound of a word denoted its elemental association; soft sounds were associated with air, hard sounds with earth, hissing sounds with fire, and muted sounds with water.

        It is not necessary, however, to look to Catholicism in order to find remnants of earlier Pagan worship. Aspects of Italian Witchcraft still survive today in both Italy and America, even among those who would not readily identify themselves as being members of La Vecchia Religione (The Old Religion). They employ various prayers to a host of saints, lighting candles and placing assorted objects as required by tradition. Saints such as St. Anthony, St. Jude, St. Anna, and St. Simon have replaced the old Pagan gods, to whom similar prayers and offerings were once made.

        Charles Leland, in his book Etruscan Magic & Occult Remedies, records the old connection between Witches and Catholicism, of which he writes:

        “As for families in which stregheria, or a knowledge of charms, old traditions and songs is preserved, they do not among themselves pretend to be even Christian. That is to say, they maintain outward observances, and bring the children up as Catholics, and “keep in” with the priest, but as the children grow older, if any aptitude is observed in them for sorcery, some old grandmother or aunt takes them in hand, and initiates them into the ancient faith.”

        Much of their magic is mixed with Catholic rites and saints, the origins of which date back to ancient times. Certain saints, such as Anthony, Simon, and Elisha, are viewed as demi-gods, and their magical rites of evocation are performed in cellars. However, it should be noted that not all Italian Witches incorporate Catholic elements into their practices/systems. There are many who practice the traditional ways that existed before the influence of Catholicism.

        I will prepare another thread post on codes of conduct, and in the meantime I hope there will be some questions or comments to address.

        Best regards - Raven
        There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy...(from Hamlet).

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by raven grimassi
          Lucan writes of a dialogue wherein a Witch proclaims: "Persephone, who is the third and lowest aspect of our goddess Hecate" (BC. 6:700-01). Ovid, in his work Metamorphoses, quotes the Witch Medea who says: "I pray only that the three-formed Goddess will help me and come to give her blessings to our immense enterprise". Ovid also presents the hero Jason making an oath to Medea in which he says: " I will be true by the sacred rites of the three-fold goddess."
          I presume the original texts were in Latin. What Latin word is being translated as "witch"?

          In Horace's writings related to Witchcraft we find these words:

          (Epode 5) “... Night and Diana, who command silence when secret mysteries are performed, now aid me; now turn your vengeance and influence against my enemies’ house ...”

          (Epode 17) “Now already I yield to your mighty art, and suppliant beseech you by the realms of Proserpina, and by the powers of Diana..."
          What is the context? How do we know this is about "witchcraft" as we understand it?
          ~Two things are necessary for a traveller on this path: a thick skin and a sense of humor.~
          ~ When the .sig file is longer than the post, what message does this convey? ~

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Phaedra B
            I presume the original texts were in Latin. What Latin word is being translated as "witch"?
            There are several words used in Lucan's writings, all of which are translated by modern scholars into the English word Witch (probably more due to the context of Lucan's story). One of the best books to use in order to sort out the use of ancient words for Witch is:

            Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: Ancient Greece and Rome (edited by Bengt Ankarloo and Stuart Clark. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999). Here you can follow the trail of such words as maga, carmena, saga, striga, and venefica, and how they translate into Witch according to the context in which they appear. Lucan uses maga and carmena (or derivatives thereof) in his works (among other words translated into Witch due to context).

            Originally posted by Phaedra B
            What is the context? How do we know this is about "witchcraft" as we understand it?
            From the various forums I have been in, including MW, I do not believe that "we" have a common or agreed upon understanding of what Witchcraft is or was. Therefore, I cannot really answer your question.

            But, to try and reply to your question, the Epodes of Horace are commonly known to be, in part, about the Witch named Canidia. The context of the quote I used appears in Horaces' work where a character in the story has offended Canidia and pleads for mercy from her magical retribution.

            There are many interesting concepts in Horace's Epodes, including the mention that Witches can drawn the moon down from the heavens.

            But I think it should be pointed out that ancient writers such as Horace, Ovid, and Lucan are essentially telling stories. These are not historical accounts. But I use them simply to show that such concepts existed in ancient times, and are not modern concoctions (as some modern scholars profess).

            Best regards - Raven
            There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy...(from Hamlet).

            Comment


            • #7
              .
              Last edited by ariansdreams; May 15th, 2016, 07:21 AM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by ariansdreams
                I have a question for you, but I don't know if this is the appropriate place to post it. Hopefully it is ok. My great grandmother was full-blooded Italian (born in Italy but raised in Pittsburgh, PA) and she did something that she called "taking off the malook."
                Ah yes, this is classic stuff here. What she was taking about is the Malocchio, the evil eye. Italian-Americans often shorten this to Maloch, or some short version in slang. This is an old belief that a person can curse another by piercing into the soul with a look of the eyes, a darting glance.

                Originally posted by ariansdreams
                "Grandma Caruso would take a bowl of water and at some point she would add some olive oil and say some prayers across it and swipe her hand over it a few times and then look into it...then I think she'd use the oily water to put across on the forehead to remove the evil eye and she would only do this if you had malook."
                Yes, this is very common folk magic in Italy.

                Originally posted by ariansdreams
                My great grandmother identified herself as Catholic, so if she was a witch, she didn't tell anyone. I doubt she was though, as she incorporated the sign of the cross when she took off the malook. I am not sure if that is how it is spelled, it is just how it sounds. Grandma Caruso also refused to teach anyone else how to do it. Is there a reason you could think of that she would do that?
                Yes, there is a very good reason. It was/is an old folk magic belief that such things could only be passed on at a certain time to another person. To do otherwise was to lose the power.

                Thanks for bringing this up. This is really old lore, and a particular field of study that I enjoy.

                Best regards - Raven
                There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy...(from Hamlet).

                Comment


                • #9
                  .
                  Last edited by ariansdreams; May 15th, 2016, 07:20 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ariansdreams
                    Are there any resources you could reccomend so that I could find out more about it?
                    Yes, but I am not sure if they are still in print or not, but here is a list from my research notes:

                    1. Italian-American Folklore (by Frances Malpezzi and William Clements. August House Publishers, 1992).

                    2. The Evil Eye (edited by Alan Dundes. University of Wisconsin Press,1992)

                    3. The Malevolent Eye (by Pierre Bettez Gravel. Peter Lang Publishing, 1995)

                    4. The Evil Eye (by Frederick Elworthy)


                    Best regards - Raven
                    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy...(from Hamlet).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Grimassi wrote:

                      ""But I think it should be pointed out that ancient writers such as Horace, Ovid, and Lucan are essentially telling stories. These are not historical accounts. But I use them simply to show that such concepts existed in ancient times, and are not modern concoctions (as some modern scholars profess).""

                      What do you mean they aren't historical accounts? The stories themselves are "historical" legends of the gods and of ancient times written by historians, poets, satirists; all types of people, in memory of earlier oral traditions. Lucan, Ovid, and Horace were merely doing what they thought best, re-writing and preserving the stories they learned about growing up as a youth. The lore of a country was passed down just the same as any other type of knowledge in those times so this is why I also term Lore as historical. A devout roman would have seen them as the legends of his culture and therefore to be revered as the lore and folklore of his beloved country. whether you believe in them or not, they are still not to be taken as mere senseless "stories."


                      The accounts of witches in Greco-Roman legend seem to be more of a supernatural, Deity- nature, rather than some ordinary person in the mortal realm performing spells and curses, however, ancient Italy was thriving with performance of magical rituals in everyday life around the countryside, it wasn't anything secretive, for parts of the larger public festivals would often include the use of magical rites. Hecate and Nox (Night) are often seen as goddesses of dark magical rites, or Sorcery in general, perhaps their devoted cultus performed more complex rituals of magic, like the witches in legend. This would not be public though, it would be performed in the countrysides, in the homes, in more private rites. Some Roman Pagans overlook Hecate and other goddesses with their strong connections to a definitive practice of Sorcery, but there's something that was going on in the background of the Roman Society I think, that did concern cults of Sorcery linked with certain goddesses, well there was in all cultures I imagine.....

                      Have you found any sources where a writer speaks about such hidden practices more vividly? Like before the advent of Christianity.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Neptune496
                        What do you mean they aren't historical accounts? The stories themselves are "historical" legends of the gods and of ancient times written by historians, poets, satirists; all types of people, in memory of earlier oral traditions. Lucan, Ovid, and Horace were merely doing what they thought best, re-writing and preserving the stories they learned about growing up as a youth.
                        I am referring specifically to the quotes from Horace and Lucan, which I used in my thread post. Horace writes of the Witch Canidia having a dialogue with one of the characters in the story. I simply pointed out that the story is a fictional tale, not a news report. Likewise, what I quoted from Lucan is dialogue from a Witch in a story, and not the recorded dictation of an actual discussion. That does not mean that the concepts are fiction, it simply means the tale in which they reside are fictional accounts.


                        Originally posted by Neptune496
                        The stories themselves are "historical" legends of the gods and of ancient times written by historians, poets, satirists; all types of people, in memory of earlier oral traditions. Lucan, Ovid, and Horace were merely doing what they thought best, re-writing and preserving the stories they learned about growing up as a youth. The lore of a country was passed down just the same as any other type of knowledge in those times so this is why I also term Lore as historical.
                        I have no argument with that, and I do see value (yes, even historical value) in the Bardic tales which were later written down and now appear as myth and legend.


                        Originally posted by Neptune496
                        A devout roman would have seen them as the legends of his culture and therefore to be revered as the lore and folklore of his beloved country. whether you believe in them or not, they are still not to be taken as mere senseless "stories."
                        Again, no argument here. I certainly would never say these are senseless stories. As a teacher of the Mystery Tradition I personally see myth, legend, and lore as the captured metaphors of ancestral knowledge and wisdom.


                        Originally posted by Neptune496
                        Some Roman Pagans overlook Hecate and other goddesses with their strong connections to a definitive practice of Sorcery, but there's something that was going on in the background of the Roman Society I think, that did concern cults of Sorcery linked with certain goddesses
                        Hecate was a key figure in Roman Witchcraft (as well as Greek) and is featured in rites associated with the crossroads. In Rome there were Mystery sects that maintained secrecy, such as the cult of Dionysos in Pompeii. Witches were believed to meet at the crossroads, as did many rejected elements of society.

                        Historian Albert Grenier (The Roman Spirit in Religion, Thought, and Art) wrote of the College of the Crossroads, a quasi-order of social misfits and outcasts in ancient times. Grenier states that gods of the streets, fields, roads, and crossroads take such people under their protection. Of these deities Grenier writes:

                        "About their altars on the cross-roads they collect all the vagabonds, all those who have no family, no hearth, no worship of their own. Their humble devotees combine to celebrate their feasts as best they can, forming Colleges of the Crossroads, collegia compitalicia."


                        Originally posted by Neptune496
                        Have you found any sources where a writer speaks about such hidden practices more vividly? Like before the advent of Christianity.
                        Yes, there are many sources, and it depends upon what you are looking for by way of secrecy. We know that the cult of Bona Dea was a secret initiatory system that was of exclusively female membership. And, again, so too the cult of Dionysos in Pompeii. The goddess Ceres (goddess of the Mysteries) also enjoyed an initiatory system that met in secrecy.

                        Here are some books that may be of help and interest:

                        Mystery Religions in the Ancient World, by Joscelyn Godwin (Harper & Row, 1981)

                        Eleusis, by Carl Kerenyi (Princeton University Press, 1962)

                        The Roman Goddess Ceres, by Barbette Stanley Spaeth (University of Texas Press, 1996)

                        Hekate Soteira, by Sarah Iles Johnston (Scholars Press, 1990)

                        Restless Dea: Encounters between the Living and the Dead in ancient Greece, by Sarah Iles Johnston (University of California Press, 1999)

                        The Origins of Mithraic Mysteries, by David Ulansey (Oxford University Press, 1989)

                        The Mystery Religions, by S. Angus (Dover Publications, 1975)

                        Best regards - Raven
                        There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy...(from Hamlet).

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                        • #13
                          Hey, this is getting really interesting, keep it coming!

                          In Her Service,
                          Nemesis Descending

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                          • #14
                            CODES OF CONDUCT

                            The following presents the ethical views or codes of honor found in many systems of Italian Witchcraft. Not all systems adhere to this, but I feel that this post will present what is most common.

                            The older systems of the Italian Craft did not practice the philosophy reflected in the modern Wiccan Rede. Instead they adhered to what might be called grey Witchcraft, which can be seen as a view that nothing is good or bad per se, but is instead situational. On a mundane level this is akin to the idea that a wolf is not evil or ill-natured because it kills and eats a deer. The deer is not the good guy and the wolf the bad guy. What happens is what is necessary due to situation.

                            In modern society we have laws against killing, and we are told that killing is wrong. This is all enforced by the Government and its courts. And yet, the Government executes people, sends people into combat to kill other people, and allows killing in self-defense. This is a mixed message, but one of necessity (as viewed by supporters of such things). So, is killing itself wrong, or is it a situational ethic?

                            In the old systems of Italian Witchcraft there was no judgment on any act per se, but instead upon what the situation called for in any given case.

                            One thing we find at the core of the old Italian Craft is the idea of non-interference with other Witches. One of the oldest laws was to not undo what another Witch put into place.

                            In modern times many Italian Craft systems have adapted something closer to the Wicca Rede, but allowing for defensive magic (and in some cases preventive strikes as well). The Italian Witch does not play the role of victim but is instead a full participant in the events of his or her life. There is no "turn the other cheek" philosophy is most systems of Italian Witchcraft.

                            The following is fairly representative of the Italian Witch's philosophy in general (and is based upon an excerpt from my book Spirit of the Witch):

                            * I do not force my will upon others because it is the actions of others that invite the response of my will.

                            * I do not desire power over others, because I know I possess personal power and am secure in that realization.

                            * I return the intent of what is given or sent to me, whether good or bad, because I seek freedom from the obligation of attachment.

                            * I do not harm the innocent, because it is my enemies who evoke my warranted response.

                            * I do not steal, because what belongs to me is what I have earned.

                            * I do not take a life other than to preserve life because I am part of Nature.

                            * I do not secretly thrust my pitchfork into another's harvest because mine is work enough. There is no honor in a gain that is undeserved.

                            * I do not modify my beliefs and convictions for the convenience of others or myself because I rely upon being who I am.

                            * I do not lie, because I rely upon truth (in myself and in others). Where there is no truth, each word is wasted energy, and I never waste energy.

                            * I do not betray those I love, because I would not cut off my hand, or foot, or nose, or any part of me that I cherish.

                            * I am not untrustworthy, because my word, once given, is my oath to which I am bound, and I never betray myself.

                            * I do not live in fear nor self-impose my limitations, because I do not accept the domination of others over my life.

                            * I do not play the role of victim, because I am too busy participating in my life and shaping my own future.

                            * I do not worship in the ways others would have me do, because Nature is my first and truest love.

                            * I venerate the old gods because they do not demand it, but my own heart does.


                            Best regards - Raven
                            There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy...(from Hamlet).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I know this is the Paths forum, and that it's dedicated to those of a particular path, but the question came up regarding some classical works to which I think I could add something useful.
                              Horace's Epodes 5 & 17, Ovid's Metamorphoses and Lucan's Bellum Civile (aka Pharsalia) are not historical accounts.
                              In school most of us were given sweeping declarations like 'the Romans looked up to the Greeks,' or 'all Roman mythology comes from the Greeks.' This just isn't true. Though Romans generally recognized the contributions of Greek culture, they also considered the Greeks incredibly superstitious. The Elder Cato wrote often of how the Greeks would believe anything. Pliny the Elder said 'it is amazing the extent to which Greek gullibility will go.' The point I'm laboring to make here is that whenever a Roman author wanted to write a story, and if that story included the subject of witchcraft (usually based upon Greek works), in order for it to be believable to logical Romans, the story had to be set in Greece. Only in Greece was it believed by Romans that such silliness could take place. In fact all three Roman works mentioned earlier are set in Greece: Ovid's Metamorphoses is merely 250+ Greek myths written in Latin, Horace's Epodes 5 & 17 take place in Thessaly while Erictho, the witch in Lucan's Pharsalia 6 (again in Thessaly,) is a mixture of Horace's Canidia, the Greek Hecate as she appeared in Vergil's Aeneid as well as Homer's Circe. Apuleius' Metamorphoses (or Golden Ass) is another example.
                              The question of how much cultural relevance to Italy these Greek myths, or Greek myths written in Latin had I'm still contemplating.
                              Just something to think about.
                              Last edited by TYRRHENUS; February 26th, 2005, 03:35 AM. Reason: bad spelling

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