This is an old post from my Tumblr about a semi-obscure Italian goddess, who is a bit popular in Neopaganism. She is however, influential in the Western side of things concerning witchcraft and Wicca. It is imperative to know about her in witchcraft studies. Some label her as a “fictional” goddess, but I reject this notion, since the Gospel of Witches was written as non-fiction. (One could argue all gods are fictional, anyway.)
The Goddess of Witches
Aradia is the Neopagan goddess of witchcraft and witches. She first appeared in a published work by American folklorist Charles Leland, in a 1899 book called “Aradia or the Gospel of witches”. Leland claimed this story (And spells and rites in the book.) came from an old Italian woman named Maddalena, who spoke of a surviving witch-cult.
In the story, Aradia is the messianic daughter of the Roman goddess of the hunt, Diana, and her brother/consort the Roman god Lucifer. Aradia comes to teach people witchcraft to free them from their oppressors, as she was sent by her mother. In some texts, it appears Diana and Aradia are confused or conflated with each other.
Academics are divided on whether Leland’s book is an actual retelling or a manuscript he made up entirely or he was simply duped by this woman he claimed to have met. Either way the book has proven to be one of the earliest influences on modern witchcraft and Wicca.
It was so influential that Aradia was the goddess of Gardner’s coven and she appears in his Book of Shadows. In Wicca she is typically paired with the Celtic Horned god; Cernunnos. (At the time, the book was obscure. It has since gained some popularity.) In other witchcraft traditions, she is used as one of the many names of the Goddess.
More information can be found at the site dedicated to Aradia: www.aradiagoddess.com
1. Aradia or the Gospel of Witches by Charles Leland (2010 publication, published The Witches’ Almanac LTD, which includes passages on modern perspectives.)
2.The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft (2nd edition) by Rosemary Ellen Guiley
3. Gerald Gardner’s Book of Shadows (Found at sacred-texts.com)