Crafters & Followers
of the Old
from the Queen
Honouring, Venerating & Serving
Apollo as their Priestesses and Priests!!!
by Charles Leland
HOW DIANA GAVE BIRTH TO ARADIA (HERODIUS)
"It is Diana!
She rises crescented." ~Keats' Endymion
The Star Queen's crescent on her marriage night."
This is the Gospel
(Vangelo) of the Witches:
DIANA greatly loved her brother LUCIFER, the
god of the Sun and of the Moon, the god of Light
(Splendor), who was so proud of his beauty,
and who for his pride was driven from Paradise.
DIANA had by her brother a daughter, to whom
they gave the name of ARADIA (i.e. Herodius).
In those days there were on earth many rich
and many poor.
The rich made slaves of the poor.
In those days were many slaves who were cruelly
treated; in every palace tortures, in every
Many slaves escaped. They fled to the country;
thus they became thieves and evil folk. Instead
of sleeping by nigh, they plotted escape and
robbed their masters, and then slew them. So
they dwelt in the mountains and forests as robbers
and assassins, all to avoid slavery.
DIANA said one day to her daughter ARADIA:
'Tis true indeed that thou a spirit art,
But thou wert born but to become again
A mortal; thou must go to earth below
To be a teacher unto women and men
Who fain would study witchcraft in thy school
Yet like Cain's
daughter thou shalt never be
Nor like the race who have become at last
Wicked and infamous from suffering,
As are the Jews and wandering Zingari,
Who are all thieves and knaves; like unto them
Ye shall not be...
And thou shalt be the first of witches known;
And thou shalt be the first of all I' the world;
And thou shalt teach the art of poisoning,
Of poisoning those who are great lords of all;
Yea, thou shalt make them die in their palaces;
And thou shalt bind the oppressor's soul (with
And when ye find a peasant who is rich,
Then ye shall teach the witch, your pupil, how
To ruin all his crops with tempests dire,
With lightning and with thunder (terrible),
And with the hail and wind...
And when a priest
shall do you injury
By his benedictions, ye shall do to him
Double the harm, and do it in the name
of me, Diana, Queen of witches all!
And when the priests
or the nobility
shall say to you that you should put your faith
In the Father, Son, and Mary, then reply;
"Your God, the Father, and Maria are
true God the Father is not yours;
For I have come to sweep away the bad
The men of evil, all will I destroy!"
"Ye who are
poor suffer with hunger keen,
And toil in wretchedness, and suffer too
Full oft imprisonment; yet with it all
Ye have a soul, and for your sufferings
Ye shall be happy in the other world,
But ill the fate of all who do ye wrong!"
Now when ARADIA
had been taught, taught to work all witchcraft,
how to destroy the evil race (of oppressors),
she (imparted it to her pupils) and said unto
When I shall have
departed from this world,
Whenever ye have need of anything,
Once in the month, and when the moon is full,
Ye shall assemble in some desert place,
Or in a forest all together join
To adore the potent spirit of your queen,
My mother, great Diana. She who fain
Would learn all sorcery yet has not won
Its deepest secrets, then my mother will
Teach her, in truth all things as yet unknown
. And ye shall all be freed from slavery,
And so ye shall be free in everything;
And as the sign that ye are truly free,
Ye shall be naked in your rites, both men
And women also: this shall last until
The last of your oppressors shall be dead;
And ye shall make the game of Benevento
Extinguishing the lights, and after that
Shall hold your supper thus:
THE SABBAT, TREGUENDA OR WITCH-MEETING -
HOW TO CONSECRATE THE SUPPER
Here follows the
supper, of what it must consist, and what shall
be said and done to consecrate it to DIANA.
You shall take
meal and salt, honey and water, and make this
I conjure thee,
Who art indeed our body, since without thee
We could not live, thou who (at first as seed)
Before becoming flower went in the earth,
Where all deep secrets hide, and then when ground
Didst dance like dust in the wind, and yet meanwhile
Didst bear with thee in flitting, secrets strange!
And yet erewhile,
when thou were in the ear,
Even as a (golden) glittering grain, even then
The fireflies came to cast on thee their light
And aid thy growth, because without their help
Thou couldst not grow nor beautiful become;
Therefore thou dost belong unto the race
Of witches or of fairies, and because
The fireflies do belong unto the sun...
Queen of the fireflies! hurry apace,
Come to me now as if running a race,
Bridle the horse as you hear me now sing!
Bridle, O bridle the son of the king!
Come in a hurry and bring him to me!
The son of the king will ere long set thee free!
And because thou for ever art brilliant and
Under a glass I will keep thee; while there,
With a lens I will study they secrets concealed,
Till all their bright mysteries are fully revealed,
Yea, all the wondrous lore perplexed
Of this life of our cross and of the next.
Thus to all mysteries I shall attain,
Yea, even to that at last of the grain;
And when this at last I shall truly know,
Firefly, freely I'll let thee go!
When Earth's dark secrets are known to me,
My blessing at last I will give to thee!
Here follows the
Conjuration of the Salt.
I do conjure thee,
salt, lo! here at noon,
Exactly in the middle of a stream
I take my place and see the water around,
Likewise the sun, and think of nothing else
While here besides the water and the sun;
For all my soul is turned in truth to them;
I do indeed desire no other thought,
I yearn to learn the very truth of truths,
For I have suffered long with the desire
To know my future or my coming fate,
If good or evil will prevail in it..
Water and sun, be gracious unto me!
Here follows the
Conjuration of Cain.
I conjure thee,
O Cain, as thou canst ne'er
Have rest or peace until thou shalt be freed
From the sun where thou art prisoned, and must
beating thy hands and running fast meanwhile:
I pray thee let me know my destiny;
And it 'tis evil, change its course for me!
If thou wilt grant this grace, I'll see it clear
In the water in the splendor of the sun;
And thou, O Cain, shalt tell by word of mouth
Whatever this my destiny is to be.
And unless thou grantest this,
May'st thou ne'er know peace or bliss!
Then shall follow
the Conjuration of Diana.
You shall make
cakes of meal, wine, salt, and honey in the
shape of a (crescent or horned) moon, and then
put them to bake, and say:
I do not bake the bread, nor with it salt,
Nor do I cook the honey with the wine;
I bake the body and the blood and soul,
The soul of (great) Diana, that she shall
Know neither rest nor peace, and ever be
In cruel suffering till she will grant
What I request, what I do most desire,
I beg it of her from my very heart!
And if the grace be granted, O Diana!
In honor of thee I will hold this feast,
Feast and drain the goblet deep,
We will dance and wildly leap,
And if thou grant'st the grace which I require,
Then when the dance is wildest, all the lamps
shall be extinguished and we'll freely love!
And thus shall
it be done: all shall sit down to the supper
all naked, men and women, and the feast over,
they shall dance, sing, make music, and then
love in the darkness, with all the lights extinguished;
for it is the Spirit of DIANA who extinguishes
them, and so they will dance and make music
in her praise.
And it came to pass that DIANA, after her daughter
had accomplished her mission or spent her time
on earth among the living (mortals), recalled
her, and gave her the power that when she had
been invoked...having done some good deed...she
gave her the power to gratify those who had
conjured her by granting her or him success
To bless or curse
with power friends or enemies (to do good or
To converse with spirits.
To find hidden treasures in ancient ruins.
To conjure the spirits of priests who died leaving
To understand the voice of the wind.
To change water into wine.
To divine with cards.
To know the secrets of the hand (palmistry).
To cure diseases.
To make those who are ugly beautiful.
To tame wild beasts.
And whatever thing
should be asked from the spirit of Aradia, that
should be granted unto those who merited her
And thus must they invoke her:
Thus do I seek Aradia! Aradia! Aradia! At midnight,
at midnight I go into a field, and with me I
bear water, wine, and salt, I bear water, wine,
and salt, and my talisman - my talisman, my
talisman, and a red small bag which I ever hold
in my hand - con dentro, con dentro, sale, with
salt in it, in it. With water and wine I bless
myself, I bless myself with devotion to implore
a favour from Aradia, Aradia. (emphasize italics
Aradia! my Aradia!
Thou art my daughter unto him who was
Most evil of all spirits, who of old
Once reigned in hell when driven away from heaven,
Who by his sister did thy sire become,
But as thy mother did repent her fault,
And wished to mate thee to a spirit who
Should be benevolent,
And not malevolent!
Thee by the love which she did bear for thee!
And by the love which I too feel for thee!
I pray thee grant the grace which I require!
And if this grace be granted, may there be
One of three signs distinctly clear to me:
The hiss of a serpent,
The light of a firefly,
The sound of a frog!
But if you do
refuse this favour, then
May you in future know no peace nor joy,
And be obliged to seek me from afar,
Until you come to grant me my desire,
In haste, and then thou may'st return again
Unto thy destiny. Therewith, Amen!
HOW DIANA MADE
THE STARS AND THE RAIN
DIANA was the
first created before all creation; in her were
all things; our of herself, the first darkness,
she divided herself; into darkness and light
she was divided. Lucifer, her brother and son,
herself and her other half, was the light.
And when DIANA saw that the light was so beautiful,
the light which was her other half, her brother
Lucifer, she yearned for it with exceeding great
desire. Wishing to receive the light again into
her darkness, to swallow it up in rapture, in
delight, she trembled with desire. This desire
was the dawn.
But Lucifer, the light, fled from her, and would
not yield to her wishes; he was the light which
flies into the most distant parts of heaven,
the mouse which flies before the cat.
Then DIANA went to the fathers of the Beginning,
to the mothers, the spirits who were before
the first spirit, and lamented unto them that
she could not prevail with Lucifer. And they
praised her for her courage; they told her that
to rise she must fall; to become the chief of
goddesses she must become mortal.
And in the ages, in the course of time, when
the world was made, Diana went on earth, as
did Lucifer, who had fallen, and DIANA taught
magic and sorcery, whence came witches and fairies
and goblins - all that is like man, yet not
And it came thus that DIANA took the form of
a cat. Her brother had a cat whom he loved beyond
all creatures, and it slept every night on his
bed, a cat beautiful beyond all other creatures,
a fairy: he did not know it.
DIANA prevailed with the cat to change forms
with her; so she lay with her brother, and in
the darkness assumed her own form, and so by
Lucifer became the mother of Aradia. But when
in the morning he found that he lay by his sister,
and that light had been conquered by darkness,
Lucifer was extremely angry; but Diana with
her wiles of witchcraft so charmed him that
he yielded to her love. This was the first fascination;
she hummed the song, it was as the buzzing of
bees (or a top spinning round), a spinning-wheel
spinning life. She spun the lives of all men;
all things were spun from the wheel of DIANA.
Lucifer turned the wheel.
DIANA was not known to the witches and spirits,
the fairies and elves who dwell in desert place,
the goblins, as their mother; she hid herself
in humility and was a mortal, but by her will
she rose again above all. She had passion for
witchcraft, and became so powerful therein,
that her greatness could not be hidden.
And thus it came to pass one night, at the meeting
of all the sorceresses and fairies, she declared
that she would darken the heavens and turn all
the stars into mice.
All those who were present said -
"If thou canst do such a strange thing,
having risen to such power, thou shalt be our
DIANA went into the street; she took the bladder
of an ox and a piece of witch-money, which has
an edge from a knife - with such money witches
cut the earth from men's foot tracks - and she
cut the earth, and with it and many mice she
filled the bladder, and blew into the bladder
till it burst.
And there came a great marvel, for the earth
which was in the bladder became the round heaven
above, and for three days there was a great
rain; the mice became stars or rain. And having
made the heaven and stars and the rain, DIANA
became Queen of the Witches; she was the cat
who ruled the star mice, the heaven and the
THE CHARM OF THE
STONES CONSECRATED TO DIANA
To find a stone with a hole in it is a special
sign of the favour of DIANA. He who does so
shall take it in his hand and repeat the following,
having observed the ceremony as enjoined -
I have found
A holy-stone upon the ground.
O Fate! I thank thee for the happy find.
Also the spirit who upon this road
Hath given it to me;
And may it prove to be for my true good
And my good fortune!
I rise in the
morning by the earliest dawn,
And I go forth to walk through (pleasant) vales,
All in the mountains or the meadows fair,
Seeking for luck while onward still I roam,
Seeking for rue and vervain scented sweet,
Because they bring good fortune unto all.
I keep them safely guarded in my bosom,
That none may know it - 'tis a secret thing,
And sacred too, and thus I speak the spell:
"O vervain! ever be a benefit,
And may thy blessing be upon the witch
Or on the fairy who did give thee to me!"
It was Diana who
did come to me,
All in the night in a dream, and said to me:
"If thou would'st keep all evil folk afar,
Then ever keep the vervain and the rue
Safely beside thee!"
Great Diana! thou
Who art the queen of heaven and of earth,
And of the infernal lands - yea, thou who art
Protectress of all men unfortunate,
Of thieves and murderers, and of women too
Who lead an evil life, and yet hast known
That their nature was not evil, thou, Diana
Hast still conferred on them some joy in life.
Or I may truly
at another time
So conjure thee that thou shalt have no peace
Or happiness, for thou shalt ever be
In suffering until thou greatest that
Which I require in strictest faith from thee!
[Here we have
again the threatening the deity, just as in
Eskimo or other Shamanism, which represents
the rudest primitive form of conjuring, the
spirits are menaced. A trace of this is to be
found among rude Roman Catholics. Thus when
St. Bruno, some years ago, at a town in the
Romagna, did not listen to the prayers of his
devotees for rain, they stuck his image in the
mud of the river, head downwards. A rain speedily
followed, and the saint was restored in honour
to his place in the church.]
The Spell or Conjuration
of the Round Stone
The finding of
a round stone, be it great or small, is a good
sign, but it should never be given away, because
the receiver will then get the good luck, and
some disaster befall the giver.
On finding a round stone, raise the eyes to
heaven, and throw the stone up three times (catching
it every time), and say -
Spirit of good
Who art come to aid me,
Believe I had great need of thee.
Spirit of the Red Goblin,
Since thou hast come to aid me in my need,
I pray of thee do not abandon me;
I beg of thee to enter now this stone,
That in my pocket I may carry thee,
And so when anything is needed by me,
I can call unto thee: be what it may,
Do not abandon me by night or day.
Should I lend
money unto any man
So teach him with
thy ceaseless "Brie - brie!"
Who will not pay when due, I pray of thee,
Thou the Red Goblin, make him pay his debt!
And if he will not and is obstinant,
Go at him with thy cry of "Brie - brie!"
And if he sleeps, awake him with a twitch,
And pull the covering off and frighten him!
And follow him about where'er he goes.
That he who obligation e'er forgets
Shall be in trouble till he pays his debts.
And so my debtor on the following day
Shall either bring the money which he owes,
Or send it promptly: so I pray of thee,
O my Red Goblin, come unto my aid!
Or should I quarrel with her whom I love,
Then, spirit of good luck, I pray thee go
To her while sleeping - pull her by the hair,
And bear her through the night unto my bed!
And in the morning, when all spirits go
To their repose, do thou, ere thou return'st
Into thy stone, carry her home again,
And leave her there asleep. Therefore, O Sprite!
I beg thee in this pebble make thy home!
Obey in every way all I command.
So in my pocket thou shalt ever be,
And thou and I will ne'er part company!
OF THE LEMON AND PINS
Sacred to Diana
A lemon stuck
full of pins of different colours always brings
If you receive as a gift a lemon full of pins
of divers colours, without any black ones among
them, it signifies that your life will be perfectly
happy and prosperous and joyful.
But if some black pins are among them, you may
enjoy good fortune and health, yet mingled with
troubles which may be of small account. [However,
to lessen their influence, you must perform
the following ceremony, and pronounce this incantation,
wherein all is also described.
At the instant
when the midnight came,
I have picked a lemon in the garden,
I have picked a lemon, and with it
An orange and a (fragrant) mandarin.
Gathering with care these (precious) things,
And while gathering I said with care:
"Thou who art Queen of the sun and of the
And of the stars - lo! here I call to thee!
And with what power I have I conjure thee
To grant to me the favour I implore!
Three things I've gathered in the garden here:
A lemon, orange, and a mandarin;
I've gathered them to bring good luck to me.
Two of them I do grasp here in my hand,
And that which is to serve me for my fate,
Queen of the stars!
Then make that fruit remain firm in my grasp.
here omitted in the MS. I conjecture that the
two are tossed without seeing them into the
air, and if the lemon remains, the ceremony
proceeds as follows. This is evident, since
in it the incantation is confused with a prose
direction how to act]
Saying this, one
looks up at the sky, and I found the lemon in
one hand, and a voice said to me -
"Take many pins, and carefully stick them
in the lemon, pins of many colours; and as thou
wilt have good luck, and if thou desirest to
give the lemon to any one or to a friend, thou
shouldst stick in it many pins of varied colours.
"But if thou wilt that evil befall any
one, put in it black pins.
"But for this thou must pronounce a different
Goddess Diana, I do conjure thee
And with uplifted voice to thee I call,
That thou shalt never have content or peace
Until thou comest to give me all thy aid.
Therefore tomorrow at the stoke of noon
I'll wait for thee, bearing a cup of wine,
Therewith a lens or a small burning glass.
And thirteen pins I'll put into the charm;
Those which I put shall all indeed be black,
But thou, Diana, thou wilt place them all!
And thou shalt
call for me the fiends from hell;
Thou'lt send them as companions of the Sun,
And all the fire infernal of itself
Those fiends shall bring, and bring with it
Unto the Sun to make this (red) wine boil,
So that these pins by heat may be red-hot;
And with them I do fill the lemon here,
That unto her or him to whom 'tis given
Peace and prosperity shall be unknown.
If this grace
I gain from thee
Give a sign, I pray, to me!
Ere the third day shall pass away,
Let me either hear or see
A roaring wind, a rattling rain,
Or hail a clattering on the plain;
Till one of these three signs you show,
Peace, Diana, thou shalt not know.
Answer well the prayer I've sent thee,
Or day and night will I torment thee!
As the orange
was the fruit of the Sun, so is the lemon suggestive
of the Moon or DIANA, its colour being of a
lighter yellow. However, the lemon specially
chosen for the charm is always a green one,
because it "sets hard" and turns black.
It is not generally known that orange and lemon
peel, subjected to pressure and combined with
an adhesive may be made into a hard substance
which can be moulded or used for many purposes.
I have devoted a chapter to this in an as yet
unpublished work entitled One Hundred Minor
Arts. This was suggested to me by the hardened
lemon given to me for a charm by a witch.
A SPELL TO WIN
When a wizard, a worshipper of DIANA, one who
worships the Moon, desires the love of a woman,
he can change her into the form of a dog, when
she, forgetting who she is, and all things besides,
will at once come to his house, and there, when
by him, take on again her natural form and remain
with him. And when it is time for her to depart,
she will again become a dog and go home, where
she will turn into a girl. And she will remember
nothing of what has taken place, or at least
but little or mere fragments, which will seem
as a confused dream. And she will take the form
of a dog because DIANA has ever a dog by her
And this is the spell to be repeated by him
who would bring a love to his home.
of this spell seems to be merely a prose introduction
explaining the nature of the ceremony)
Today is Friday,
and I wish to rise very early, not having been
able to sleep all night, having seen a very
beautiful girl, the daughter of a rich lord,
whom I dare not hope to win. Were she poor,
I could gain her with money; but as she is rich,
I have no hope to do so. Therefore will I conjure
Diana to aid me.
Who art indeed as good as beautiful,
By all the worship I have given thee,
And all the joy of love which thou hast known,
I do implore thee to aid me in my love!
What thou wilt 'tis true
Thou canst ever do:
And if the grace I seek thou'lt grant to me,
Then call, I pray, they daughter Aradia,
And send her to the bedside of the girl,
And give that girl the likeness of a dog,
And make her then come to me in my room,
But when she once has entered it, I pray
That she may reassume her human form,
As beautiful as e'er she was before,
And may I then make love to her until
Our souls with joy are fully satisfied.
Then by the aid of the great Fairy Queen
And of her daughter, fair Aradia,
May she be turned into a dog again,
And then to human form as once before!
Thus it will come
to pass that the girl as a dog will return to
her home unseen and unsuspected, for thus will
it be affected by Aradia; and the girl will
think it is all a dream, because she will have
been enchanted by Aradia.
TO FIND OR BUY
ANYTHING, OR TO HAVE GOOD FORTUNE THEREBY
The man or woman who, when about to go forth
into the town, would fain be free from danger
or risk of an accident, or to have good fortune
in buying, as, for instance, if a scholar hopes
that he may find some rare old book or manuscript
for sale very cheaply, or if any one wishes
to buy anything very desirable or to find bargains
or rarities. This scongiurazione serves for
good health, cheerfulness of heart, and absence
of evil or the overcoming enmity. These are
words of gold unto the believer.
'Tis Tuesday now,
and at an early hour
I fain would turn good fortune to myself,
Firstly at home and then when I go forth,
And with the aid of beautiful Diana
I pray for luck ere I do leave this house!
First with three
drops of oil I do remove
All evil influence, and I humbly pray,
O beautiful Diana, unto thee
That thou wilt take it all away from me,
And send it all to my worst enemy!
When the evil
Is taken from me,
I'll cast it out to the middle of the street
And if thou wilt grant me this favour,
O beautiful Diana,
Every bell in my house shall merrily ring!
Then well contented
I will go forth to roam,
Because I shall be sure that with thy aid
I shall discover ere I return
Some fine and ancient books,
And at a moderate price.
And thou shalt
find the man,
The one who owns the book,
And thou thyself wilt go
And put it in his mind,
Inspiring him to know
What 'tis that thou would'st find
And move him into doing
All that thou dost require.
Or if a manuscript
Written in ancient days,
Thou'lt gain it all the same,
It shall come in thy way,
And thus at little cost.
Thou shalt buy what thou wilt
By great Diana's aid.
was obtained, after some delay, in reply to
a query as to what conjuration would be required
before going forth, to make sure that one should
find for sale some rare book, or other object
desired, at a very moderate price. Therefore
the invocation has been so worded as to make
it applicable to literary finds; but those who
wish to buy anything whatever on equally favorable
terms, have but to vary the request, retaining
the introduction, in which the magic virtue
consists. I cannot, however, resist the conviction
that this is most applicable to, and will succeed
best with, researches for objects of antiquity,
scholarship, and art, and it should accordingly
be deeply impressed on the memory of every bric-a-brac
hunter and bibliographer. It should be observed,
and that earnestly, that the prayer, far from
being answered, will turn to the contrary or
misfortune, unless the one who repeats it does
so in fullest faith, and this cannot be acquired
by merely saying to oneself, "I believe."
For to acquire real faith in anything requires
long and serious mental discipline, there being,
in fact, no subject which is so generally spoken
of and so little understood. Here indeed, I
am speaking seriously, for the man who can train
his faith to actually believe in and cultivate
or develop his will can really work what the
world by common consent regards as miracles.
A time will come when this principle will form
not only the basis of all education, but also
that of all moral and social culture. I have,
I trust, fully set it forth in a work entitled
"Have you a Strong Will? or how to Develop
it or any other Faculty or Attribute of the
Mind, and render it Habitual," &c.
London: George Redway.
The reader, however, who has devout faith, can,
as the witches declare, apply this spell daily
before going forth to procuring or obtaining
any kind of bargains at shops, to picking up
or discovering lost objects, or, in fact, to
finds of any kind. If he incline to beauty in
female form, he will meet with bonnes fortunes;
if a man of business, bargains will be his.
The botanist who repeats it before going into
the fields will probably discover some new plant,
and the astronomer by night be almost certain
to run against a brand new planet, or at least
an asteroid. It should be repeated before going
to the races, to visit friends, places of amusement,
to buy or sell, to make speeches, and specially
before hunting or any nocturnal goings-forth,
since DIANA is the goddess of the chase and
of night. But woe to him who does it for a jest!
TO HAVE A GOOD
WINE AND VERY GOOD WINE BY THE AID OF DIANA
He who would have a good vintage and fine wine,
should take a horn full of wine and with this
go into the vineyards or farms wherever vines
grow, and then drinking from the horn say -
I drink, and yet
it is not wine I drink,
I drink the blood of Diana,
Since from wine it has changed into her blood,
And spread itself through all my growing vines,
Whence it will give me good return in wines,
Though even if good vintage should be mine,
I'll be free from care, for should it chance
That the grape ripens in the waning moon,
Then all the wine would come to sorrow, but
If drinking from this horn I drink the blood
The blood of great Diana - by her aid -
If I do kiss my hand to the new moon,
Praying the Queen that she will guard my grapes,
Even from the instant when the bud is born
Until it is a ripe and perfect grape,
And onward to the vintage, and to the last
Until the wine is made - may it be good!
And may it so succeed that I from it
May draw good profit when at last 'tis sold,
So may good fortune come unto my vines,
And into all my land where'er it be!
But should my vines seem in an evil way,
I'll take my horn, and bravely will I blow
In the wine-vault at midnight, and I'll make
Such a tremendous and a terrible sound
That thou, Diana fair, however far
Away thou may'st be, still shalt hear the call,
And casting open door or window wide,
Shalt headlong come upon the rushing wind,
And find and save me - that is, save my vines,
Which will be saving me from dire distress;
For should I lose them I'd be lost myself,
But with thy aid, Diana, I'll be saved.
This is a very
interesting invocation and tradition, and probably
of great antiquity from very striking intrinsic
evidence. For it is firstly devoted to a subject
which has received little attention - the connection
of DIANA as the moon with Bacchus, although
in the great Dizionario Storico Mitologico,
by Pozzoli and others, it is expressly asserted
that in Greece her worship was associated with
that of Bacchus, Esculapius and Apollo. The
connecting link is the horn. In a medal of Alexander
Severus, Diana of Ephesus bears the horn of
plenty. This is the horn or horn of the new
moon, sacred to DIANA. According to Callimachus,
Apollo himself built an altar consisting entirely
of horns to DIANA.
The connection of the horn with wine is obvious.
It was usual among the old Slavonians for the
priest of Svantevit, the Sun god, to see if
the horn which the idol held in his hand was
full of wine, in order to prophesy a good harvest
for the coming year. If it was filled, all was
right; if not, he filled the horn, drank from
it, and replaced the horn in the hand, and predicted
that all would eventually go well. It cannot
fail to strike the reader that this ceremony
is strangely like that of the Italian invocation,
the only difference being that in one the Sun,
and in the other the Moon is invoked to secure
a good harvest.
In the 'Legends of Florence' there is one of
the Via del Corno, in which the hero, falling
into a vast tun or tina of wine, is saved from
drowning by sounding a horn with tremendous
power. At the sound, which penetrates to an
incredible distance, even to unknown lands,
all came rushing as if enchanted to save him.
In this conjuration, DIANA, in the depths of
heaven, is represented as rushing at the sound
of the horn, and leaping through doors or windows
to save the vintage of the one who blows. There
is a certain singular affinity in these stories.
In the story of the Via del Corno, the hero
is saved by the Red Goblin or Robin Goodfellow,
who gives him a horn, and it is the same sprite
who appears in the conjuration of the Round
Stone, which is sacred to DIANA. This is because
the spirit is nocturnal, and attendant on Diana-Titania.
Kissing the hand to the new moon is a ceremony
of unknown antiquity, and Job, even in his time,
regarded it as heathenish and forbidden - which
always means antiquated and out of fashion -
as when he declared (xxxi, 26, 27), "If
I beheld the moon walking in brightness...and
my heart hath been secretly enticed or my mouth
hath kissed my hand...this also were an iniquity
to be punished by the Judge, for I should have
denied the God that is above." From which
it may or ought to be inferred that Job did
not understand that God made the moon and appeared
in all His works, or else he really believed
the moon was an independent deity. In any case,
it is curious to see the old forbidden rite
still living, and as heretical as ever.
The tradition, as given to me, very evidently
omits a part of the ceremony, which may be supplied
from classic authority. When the peasant performs
the rite, he must not act as once a certain
African, who was a servant of a friend of mine,
did. The man's duty was to pour out every morning
a libation of rum to a fetish - and he poured
it down his own throat. The peasant should also
sprinkle the vines, just as the Devonshire farmers
who observed all Christmas ceremonies, sprinkled,
also from a horn, their apple trees.
TANA AND ENDAMONE,
OR DIANA AND ENDYMION
"Now it is fabled that Endymion, admitted
to Olympus, whence he was expelled for want
of respect to Juno, was banished for thirty
years to earth. And having been allowed to sleep
this time in a cave of Mount Latmos, Diana,
smitten with his beauty visited him every night
till she had by him fifty daughters and one
son. And after this Endymion was recalled to
-Diz. Stor. Mitol
legend and the spells were given under the name
or title of TANA. This was the old Etruscan
name for DIANA, which is still preserved in
the Romagna Toscana. In more than one Italian
and French work I have found some account or
tale how a witch charmed a girl to sleep for
a lover, but this is the only explanation of
the whole ceremony known to me.
Tana is a beautiful goddess, and she loved a
marvelously handsome youth names Endamone; but
her love was crossed by a witch who was her
rival, although Endamone did not care for the
But the witch resolved to win him, whether he
would or not, and with this intent she induced
the servant of Endamone to let her pass the
night in the latter's room. And when there,
she assumed the appearance of Tana, whom he
loved, so that he was delighted to behold her,
as he thought, and welcomed her with passionate
embraces. Yet this gave him into her power,
for it enabled her to perform a certain magic
spell by clipping a lock of his hair.
Then she went home, and taking a piece of sheep's
intestine, formed of it a purse, and in this
she put that which she had taken, with a red
and a black ribbon bound together, with a feather,
and pepper and salt, and then sang a song. These
are the words, a song of witchcraft of the very
This bag for Endamon'
It is my vengeance for the love,
For the deep love I had for thee,
Which thou would'st not return to me,
But bore it all to Tana's shrine,
And Tana never shall be thine!
Now every night in agony
By me thou shalt oppressed be!
From day to day, from hour to hour,
I'll make thee feel the witch's power;
With passion thou shalt be tormented,
And yet with pleasure ne'er be contented;
Enwrapped in slumber thou shalt lie,
To know that thy beloved is by,
And, ever dying, never die,
Without the power to speak a word,
Nor shall her voice by thee be heard;
Tormented by Love's agony,
There shall be no relief for thee!
For my strong spell thou canst not break,
And from that sleep thou ne'er shalt wake;
Little by little thou shalt waste,
Like taper by the embers placed.
Little by little thou shalt die,
Yet, ever living, tortured lie,
Strong in desire, yet ever weak,
Without the power to move or speak,
With all the love I had for thee,
Shalt thou thyself tormented be,
Since all the love I felt of late
I'll make thee feel in burning hate,
For ever on thy torture bent,
I am revenged, and now content.
But Tana, who
was far more powerful than the witch, though
not able to break the spell by which he was
compelled to sleep, took from him all pain (he
knew her in dreams), and embracing him, she
sang this counter charm.
By the love I feel, which I
Shall ever feel until I die,
Three crosses on thy bed I make,
And then three wild horse chestnuts take,
In that bed the nuts I hide,
And then the window open wide,
That the full moon may cast her light
Upon the love as fair and bright,
And so I pray to her above
To give wild rapture to our love,
And cast her fire in either heart,
Which wildly loves to never part;
And one thing more I beg of thee!
If any one enamoured be,
And in my aid his love hath placed,
Unto his call I'll come in haste.
So it came to
pass that the fair goddess made love with Endamone
as if they had been awake (yet communing in
dreams). And so it is to this day, that whoever
would make love with him or her who sleeps,
should have recourse to the beautiful Tana,
and so doing there will be success.
This legend, while
agreeing in many details with the classical
myth, is strangely intermingled with practices
of witchcraft, but even these, if investigated,
would all prove to be as ancient as the rest
of the text. Thus the sheep's intestine - used
instead of the red woolen bag which is employed
in beneficent magic - the red and black ribbon,
which mingles threads of joy and woe, the (peacock)
feather, pepper and salt, occur in many other
incantations, but always to bring evil and cause
I have never seen it observed, but it is true,
that Keats in his exquisite poem of Endymion
completely departs from or ignores the whole
spirit and meaning of the ancient myth, while
in this rude witch-song it is minutely developed.
The conception is that of a beautiful youth
furtively kissed in his slumber by DIANA of
reputed chastity. The ancient myth is, to begin
with, one of darkness and light, or day and
night, from which are born the fifty-one (now
fifty-two) weeks of the year. This is DIANA,
the night, and Apollo, the sun, or light in
another form. It is expressed as love-making
during sleep, which, when it occurs in real
life, generally has for active agent some one
who, without being absolutely modest, wishes
to preserve appearances. The established character
of DIANA among the Initiated (for which she
was bitterly reviled by the Fathers of the Church)
was that of a beautiful hypocrite who pursued
amours in silent secrecy.
"Thus as the moon Endymion lay with her,
So did Hippolytus and Verbio."
But there is an exquisitely subtle, delicately
strange idea or ideal in the conception of the
apparently chaste "clear, cold moon"
casting her living light by stealth into the
hidden recesses of darkness and acting in the
occult mysteries of love or dreams. So it struck
Byron as an original thought that the sun does
not shine on half the forbidden deeds which
the moon witnesses, and this is emphasized in
the Italian witch-poem. In it the moon is distinctly
invoked as the protectress of a strange and
secret amour, and as the deity to be especially
invoked for such love-making. The one invoking
says that the window is opened, that the moon
may shine splendidly on the bed, even as our
love is bright and beautiful...and I pray her
to give great rapture to us.
The quivering, mysteriously beautiful light
of the moon, which seems to cast a spirit of
intelligence or emotion over silent Nature,
and dimly half awaken it - raising shadows into
thoughts and causing every tree and rock to
assume the semblance of a living form, but one
which, while shimmering and breathing, still
sleeps in a dream - could not escape the Greeks,
and they expressed it as DIANA embracing Endymion.
But as night is the time sacred to secrecy,
and as the true Diana of the Mysteries was the
Queen of Night, who wore the crescent moon,
and mistress of all hidden things, including
"sweet secret sins and loved iniquities,"
there was attached to this myth far more than
meets the eye. And just in the degree to which
DIANA was believed to be Queen of the emancipated
witches and of Night, or the nocturnal Venus-Astarte
herself, so far would the love for sleeping
Endymion be understood as sensual, yet sacred
and allegorical. And it is entirely in this
sense that the witches in Italy, who may claim
with some right to be its true inheritors, have
preserved and understood the myth.
It is a realization of forbidden or secret love,
with attraction to the dimly seen beautiful-by-moonlight,
with the fairy or witch-like charm of the supernatural
- a romance combined in a single strange form
- the spell of Night!
a dangerous silence in that hour
A stillness which leaves room for the full soul
To open all itself, without the power
Of calling wholly back its self-control;
The silver light which, hallowing tree and flower,
Sheds beauty and deep softness o'er the whole,
Breathes also to the heart, and o'er it throws
A loving languor which is not repose."
This is what is meant by the myth of DIANA and
Endymion. It is the making divine or aesthetic
(which to the Greeks was one and the same) that
which is impassioned, secret, and forbidden.
It was the charm of the stolen waters which
are sweet, intensified to poetry. And it is
remarkable that it has been so strangely preserved
in Italian with traditions.
Once there was, in the very old time in Cettardo
Alto, a girl of astonishing beauty, and she
was betrothed to a young man who was as remarkable
for good looks as herself; but though well born
and bred, the fortune or misfortunes of war
or fate had made them both extremely poor. And
if the young lady had one fault, it was her
great pride, nor would she willingly be married
unless in good style, with luxury and festivity,
in a fine garment, with many bridesmaids of
And this became to the beautiful Rorasa - for
such was her name - such an object of desire,
that her head was half turned with it, and the
other girls of her acquaintance, to say nothing
of the many men whom she had refused, mocked
her so bitterly, asking her when the fine wedding
was to be, with many other jeers and sneers,
that at last in a moment of madness she went
to the top of a high tower, whence she cast
herself; and to make it worse, there was below
a terrible ravine into which she fell.
Yet she took no harm, for as she fell there
appeared to her a very beautiful woman, truly
not of earth, who took her by the hand and bore
her through the air to a safe place.
Then all the people round who saw or heard of
this thing cried out, "Lo, a miracle!"
and they came and made a great festival, and
would fain persuade Rorasa that she had been
saved by the Madonna.
But the lady who had saved her, coming to her
secretly, said, "If thou hast any desire,
follow the Gospel of DIANA, or what is called
the Gospel of the Witches, who worship the moon."
"If thou adorest Luna, then What thou desir'st
thou shalt obtain!"
Then the beautiful girl went forth alone by
night to the fields, and kneeling on a stone
in an old ruin, she worshipped the moon and
invoked DIANA thus:
Diana, beautiful Diana!
Thou who didst save from a dreadful death
When I did fall into the dark ravine!
I pray thee grant me still another grace.
Give me one glorious wedding, and with it
Full many bridesmaids, beautiful and grand;
And if this favour thou wilt grant me,
True to the Witches' Gospel I will be!
When Rorasa awoke
in the morning, she found herself in another
house, where all was far more magnificent, and
having risen, a beautiful maid led her into
another room, where she was dressed in a superb
wedding garment of white silk with diamonds,
for it was her wedding dress indeed. Then there
appeared ten young ladies, all splendidly attired,
and with them and many distinguished persons
she went to the church in a carriage. And all
the streets were filled with music and people
So she found the bridegrooms, and was wedded
to her heart's desire, ten times more grandly
than she had ever dreamed of. Then, after the
ceremony, there was spread a feast at which
all the nobility of Cettardo were present, and,
moreover, the whole town, rich and poor, were
When the wedding was finished, the bridesmaids
made every one a magnificent present to the
bride - one gave diamonds, another a parchment
(written) in gold, after which they asked permission
to go all together into the sacristy. And there
they remained for some hours undisturbed, until
the priest sent his chierico to inquire whether
they wanted anything. But what was the youth's
amazement at beholding, not the ten bridesmaids,
but their ten images or likenesses in wood and
in terra-cotta, with that of DIANA standing
on a moon, and they were all so magnificently
made and adorned as to be of immense value.
Therefore the priest put these images in the
church, which is the most ancient in Cettardo,
and now in many churches you may see the Madonna
and Moon, but it is DIANA. The name Rorasa seems
to indicate the Latin ros the dew, rorare, to
bedew, rorulenta, bedewed - in fact, the goddess
of the dew. Her great fall and being lifted
by DIANA suggest the fall of dew by night, and
its rising in vapor under the influence of the
moon. It is possible that this is a very old
Latin mythic tale. The white silk and diamonds
indicate the dew.
THE HOUSE OF THE
The following story does not belong to the Gospel
of Witches, but I add it as it confirms the
fact that the worship of DIANA existed for a
long time contemporary with Christianity. Its
full title in the original MS, which was written
out by Maddalena, after hearing it from a man
who was a native of Volterra, is The Female
Pilgrim of the House of the Wind. It may be
added that, as the tale declares, the house
in question is still standing.
There is a peasants
house at the beginning of the hill or ascent
leading to Volterra, and it is called the House
of the Wind. Near it there once stood a small
palace, wherein dwelt a married couple, who
had but one child, a daughter, whom they adored.
Truly if the child had but a headache, they
each had a worse attack from fear.
Little by little as the girl grew older, and
all the thought of the mother, who was very
devout, was that she should become a nun. But
the girl did not like this, and declared that
she hoped to be married like others. And when
looking from her window one day, she saw and
heard the birds singing in the vines and among
the trees all so merrily, she said to her mother
that she hoped some day to have a family of
little birds of her own, singing round her in
a cheerful nest. At which the mother was so
angry that she gave her daughter a cuff. And
the young lady wept, but replied with spirit,
that if beaten or treated in any such manner,
that she would certainly soon find some way
to escape and get married, for she had no idea
of being made a nun against her will.
At hearing this the mother was seriously frightened,
for she knew the spirit of her child, and was
afraid lest the girl already had a lover, and
would make a great scandal over the blow; and
turning it all over, she thought of an elderly
lady of good family, but much reduced, who was
famous for her intelligence, learning, and power
of persuasion, and she thought, "This will
be just the person to induce my daughter to
become pious, and fill her head with devotion
and make a nun of her." So she sent for
this clever person, who was at once appointed
the governess and constant attendant of the
young lady, who, instead of quarreling with
her guardian, became devoted to her.
However, everything in this world does not go
exactly as we would have it, and no one knows
what fish or crab may hide under a rock in a
river. For it so happened that the governess
was not a Catholic at all, as will presently
appear, and did not vex her pupil with any threats
of a nun's life, nor even with an approval of
It came to pass that the young lady, who was
in the habit of lying awake on moonlight nights
to hear the nightingales sing, thought she heard
her governess in the next room, of which the
door was open, rise and go forth on the great
balcony. The next night the same thing took
place, and rising very softly and unseen, she
beheld the lady praying, or at least kneeling
in the moonlight, which seemed to her to be
very singular conduct, the more so because the
lady kneeling uttered words which the younger
could not understand, and which certainly formed
no part of the Church service.
And being much exercised over the strange occurrence,
she at last, with timid excuses, told her governess
what she had seen. Then the latter, after a
little reflection, first binding her to a secrecy
of life and death, for, as she declared, it
was a matter of great peril, spoke as follows:
"I, like thee, was instructed when young
by priests to worship an invisible god. But
an old woman in whom I had great confidence
once said to me, 'Why worship a deity whom you
cannot see, when there is the Moon in all her
splendor visible? Worship her. Invoke Diana,
the goddess of the Moon, and she will grant
your prayers.' This shalt thou do, obeying the
Gospel of (the Witches and of) Diana, who is
Queen of the Fairies and of the Moon"
Now the young lady being persuaded, was converted
to the worship of DIANA and the Moon, and having
prayed with all her heart for a lover (having
learned the conjuration to the goddess), was
soon rewarded by the attention and devotion
of a brave and wealthy cavalier, who was indeed
as admirable a suitor as any one could desire.
But the mother, who was far more bent on gratifying
vindictiveness and cruel vanity than on her
daughter's happiness, was infuriated at this,
and when the gentleman came to her, she bade
him begone, for her daughter was vowed to become
a nun, and a nun she should be or die.
Then the young lady was shut up in a cell in
a tower, without even the company of her governess,
and put to strong and hard pain, being made
to sleep on the stone floor, and would have
died of hunger had her mother had her way.
Then in this dire need she prayed to DIANA to
set her free; when lo! she found the prison
door unfastened, and easily escaped. Then having
obtained a pilgrims dress, she traveled far
and wide, teaching and preaching the religion
of old times, the religion of DIANA, the Queen
of the Fairies and of the Moon, the goddess
of the poor and oppressed.
And the fame of her wisdom and beauty went forth
over all the land, and the people worshipped
her, calling her La Bella Pellegrina. At last
her mother, hearing of her, was in a greater
rage than ever, and, in fine, after much trouble,
succeeded in having her arrested and cast into
prison. And then in evil temper indeed she asked
her whether she would become a nun; to which
she replied that it was not possible, because
she had left the Catholic Church and become
a worshipper of DIANA and of the Moon.
And the end of it was that the mother, regarding
her daughter as lost, gave her up to the priests
to be put to torture and death, as they did
all who would not agree with them or who left
But the people were not well pleased with this,
because they adored her beauty and goodness,
and there were few who had not enjoyed her charity.
But by the aid of her lover she obtained, as
a last grace, that on the night before she was
to be tortured and executed she might, with
a guard, go forth into the garden of the palace
and pray. This she did, and standing by the
door of the house, which is still there, prayed
in the light of the full moon to Diana, that
she might be delivered from the dire persecution
to which she had been subjected, since even
her own parents had willingly given her over
to an awful death.
Now her parents and the priests, and all who
sought her death, were in the palace watching
lest she should escape.
When lo! in answer to her prayer there came
a terrible tempest and overwhelming wind, a
storm such as man had never seen before, which
overthrew and swept away the palace with all
who were in it; there was not one stone left
upon another, nor one soul alive of all who
were there. The gods had replied to the prayer.
The young lady escaped happily with her lover,
wedded him, and the house of the peasant where
the lady stood is still called the House of
This is very accurately
the story as I received it, but I freely admit
that I have very much condensed the language
of the original text, which consists of twenty
pages, and which, as regards needless padding,
indicates a capacity on the part of the narrator
to write an average modern fashionable novel,
even a second rate French one, which is saying
a great deal. It is true that there are in it
no detailed descriptions of scenery, skies,
trees, or clouds - and a great deal might be
made of Volterra in that way - but it is prolonged
in a manner which shows a gift for it. However,
the narrative itself is strangely original and
vigorous, for it is such a relic of pure classic
heathenism, and such a survival of faith in
the old mythology, as all the reflected second
hand Hellenism of the Aesthetes cannot equal.
That a real worship of or belief in classic
divinities should have survived to the present
day in the very land of Papacy itself, is a
much more curious fact than if a living mammoth
had been discovered in some out of the way corner
of the earth, because the former is a human
phenomenon. I forsee that the day will come,
and that perhaps not so very far distant, when
the world of scholars will be amazed to consider
to what a late period an immense body of antique
tradition survived in Northern Italy, and how
indifferent the learned were regarding it; there
having been in very truth only one man, and
he a foreigner, who earnestly occupied himself
with collecting and preserving it.
It is very probably that there were as many
touching episodes among the heathen martyrs
who were forced to give up their beloved deities,
such as DIANA, Venus, the Graces, and others,
who were worshipped for beauty, as there were
even among the Christians who were thrown to
the lions. For the heathen loved their gods
with a human personal sympathy, without mysticism
or fear, as if they had been blood relations;
and there were many among them who really believed
that such was the case when some damsel who
had made a faux pas got out of it by attributing
it all to some god, faun, or satyr; which is
very touching. There is a great deal to be said
for as well as against the idolaters or worshippers
of dolls, as I heard a small girl define them.
TANA THE MOON
The following story, which appeared originally
in the Legends of Florence, collected from the
people by me, does not properly belong to the
Witch's Gospel, as it is not strictly in accordance
with it; and yet it could not well be omitted,
since it is on the same subject. In it DIANA
appears simply as the lunar goddess of chastity,
therefor not as a witch. It was given to me
as Fana, but my informant said that it might
be Tana; she was not sure. As Tana occurs in
another tale, and as the subject is certainly
DIANA, there can hardly be a question of this.
Tana was a very
beautiful girl, but extremely poor, and as modest
and pure as she was beautiful and humble. She
went from one contadino to another, or from
farm to farm to work, and thus led an honest
There was a young boor, a very ugly, bestial,
and brutish fellow, who was after his fashion
raging with love for her, but she could not
so much as bear to look at him, and repelled
all his advances.
But late one night, when she was returning alone
from the farmhouse where she had worked to her
home, this man who had hidden himself in a thicket,
leaped out on her and cried, "Thou canst
not flee; mine thou shalt be!"
And seeing no help near, and only the full moon
looking down on her from heaven, Tana in despair
cast herself on her knees and cried to it:
"I have no
one on earth to defend me,
Thou alone dost see me in this strait;
Therefore I pray to thee, O Moon!
As thou art beautiful so thou art bright
Flashing thy splendor over all mankind;
Even so I pray thee light up the mind
Of this poor ruffian, who would wrong me here,
Even to the worst. Cast light into his soul,
That he may let me be in peace, and then
Return in all thy light unto my home!"
When she had said
this, there appeared before her a bright but
shadowy form, which said:
go to thy home!
Thou has well deserved this grace;
No one shall trouble thee more,
Purest of all on earth!
Thou shalt a goddess be,
The Goddess of the Moon,
Of all enchantment Queen!"
Thus it came to
pass that Tana became the dea or spirit of the
Though the air
be set to a different key, this is a poem of
pure melody, and the same as Wordsworth's "Goody
Blake and Harry Gill." Both Tana and the
old dame are surprised and terrified; both pray
to a power above:
cold moon above her head,
Thus on her knees did Goody pray;
Young Harry heard what she had said,
And icy cold he turned away."
The dramatic center
is just the same in both. The English ballad
soberly turns into an incurable fir of ague
inflicted on a greedy young boor; the Italian
witch-poetess, with finer sense, or with more
sympathy for the heroine, casts the brute aside
without further mention, and apotheosizes the
maiden, identifying her with the Moon. The former
is more practical and probable, the latter more
And here it is worth while, despite digression,
to remark what an immense majority there are
of people who can perceive, feel, and value
poetry in mere words or form - that is to say,
objectively - and hardly know or note it when
it is presented subjectively or as thought,
but not put into some kind of verse or measure,
or regulated form. This is a curious experiment
and worth studying. Take a passage from some
famous poet; write it out in pure simple prose,
doing full justice to its real meaning, and
if it still actually thrills or moves as poetry,
then it is of the first class. But if it has
lost its glamour absolutely, it is second rate
or inferior; for the best cannot be made out
of mere words varnished with associations, be
they of thought or feeling.
This is not such a far cry from the subject
as might be deemed. Reading and feeling them
subjectively, I am often struck by the fact
that in these Witch traditions which I have
gathered there is a wondrous poetry of thought,
which far excels the efforts of many modern
bards, and which only requires the aid of some
clever workman in words to assume the highest
rank. A proof of what I have asserted may be
found in the fact that, in such famous poems
as the Finding of the Lyre, by James Russell
Lowell, and that on the invention of the pipe
by Pan, by Mrs. Browning, that which formed
the most exquisite and refined portion of the
original myths is omitted by both authors, simply
because they missed or did not perceive it.
For in the former we are not told that it was
the breathing of the god Air (who was the inspiring
soul of ancient music, and the Bellaria of modern
witch-mythology) on the dried filament of the
tortoise, which suggested to Hermes the making
an instrument wherewith he made the music of
the spheres and guided the course of the planets.
As for Mrs. Browning, she leaves out Syrinx
altogether, that is to say, the voice of the
nymph still lingering in the pipe which had
been her body. Now to my mind the old prose
narrative of these myths is much more deeply
poetical and moving, and far more inspired with
beauty and romance, than are the well-rhymed
and measured, but very imperfect versions given
by our poets. And in fact, such want of intelligence
or perception may be found in all the 'classic'
poems, not only of Keats, but of almost every
poet of the age who has dealt in Greek subjects.
Great license is allowed to painters and poets,
but when they take a subjective, especially
a deep tradition, and fail to perceive its real
meaning or catch its point, and simply give
us something very pretty, but not so inspired
with meaning as the original, it can hardly
be claimed that they have done their work as
it might, or, in fact, should have been done.
I find that this fault does not occur in the
Italian or Tuscan witch versions of the ancient
fables; on the contrary, they keenly appreciate,
and even expand, the antique spirit. Hence I
have often had occasion to remark that it was
not impossible that in some cases popular tradition,
even as it now exists, has been preserved more
fully and accurately than we find it in any
Now apropos of missing the point, I would remind
certain very literal readers that if they find
many faults of grammar, misspelling, and worse
in the Italian texts in this book, they will
not, as a distinguished reviewer has done, attribute
them all to the ignorance of the author, but
to the imperfect education of the person who
collected and recorded them. I am reminded of
this by having seen in a circulating library
copy of my Legend of Florence, in which some
good careful soul had taken pains with a pencil
to correct all the archaisms. Wherein, he or
she was like a certain Boston proof reader,
who in a book of mine changed the spelling of
many citations from Chaucer, Spenser, and others
into the purest, or impurest, Webster; he being
under the impression that I was extremely ignorant
of orthography. As for the writing in or injuring
books, which always belong partly to posterity,
it is a sin of vulgarity as well as morality,
and indicates what people are more than they
"Only a cad
as low as a thief
Would write in a book or turn down a leaf,
Since 'tis thievery, as well is know,
To make free with that which is not our own."
DIANA AND THE
There was in Florence in the oldest time a noble
family, but grown so poor that their feast days
were few and far between. However, they dwelt
in their old palace (which was in the street
now called La Via Cittadella), which was a fine
old building, and so they kept up a brave show
before the world, when many a day they hardly
had anything to eat.
Round this palace was a large garden, in which
stood an ancient marble statue of Diana, like
a beautiful woman who seemed to be running with
a dog by her side. She held in her hand a bow,
and on her forehead was a small moon. And it
was said that by night, when all was still,
the statue became like life and fled, and did
not return till the moon set or the sun rose.
The father of the family had two children, who
were good and intelligent. On day they came
home with many flowers that had been given to
them, and the little girl said to the brother,
"The beautiful lady with the bow ought
to have some of these!"
Saying this, they laid flowers before the statue
and made a wreath, which the boy placed on her
Just then the great poet and magician Virgil,
who knew everything about the god and fairies,
entered the garden and said, smiling, "You
have made the offering of flowers to the goddess
quite correctly, as they did of old; all that
remains is to pronounce the prayer properly,
and it is this:"
So he repeated the invocation of Diana:
of the bow!
Lovely Goddess of the arrows!
Of all hounds and of all hunting
Thou who wakest in starry heaven
When the sun is sunk in slumber
Thou with moon upon thy forehead,
Who the chase by night preferrest
Unto hunting in the daylight,
With thy nymphs unto the music
Of the horn - thyself the huntress,
And most powerful: I pray thee
Think, although but for an instant,
Upon us who pray unto thee!
Then Virgil taught
them also the spell to be uttered when good
fortune or aught is specially required -
Fair goddess of
Of the stars and of the moon!
The queen most powerful
Of hunters and the night!
We beg of thee thy aid,
That thou may'st give to us
The best of fortune ever!
If thou heed'st our evocation
And wilt give good fortune to us,
Then in proof give us a token!
And having taught
them this, Virgil departed.
Then the children ran to tell their parents
all that had happened, and the latter impressed
it on them to keep it a secret, nor breathe
a word or hint thereof to any one. But what
was their amazement when they found early the
next morning before the statue a deer freshly
killed, which gave them good dinners for many
a day; nor did they want thereafter at any time
game of all kinds, when the prayer had been
There was a neighbor of this family, a priest,
who held in hate all the ways and worship of
the gods of the old time, and whatever did not
belong to his religion, and he, passing the
garden one day, beheld the statue of DIANA crowned
with roses and other flowers. And being in a
rage, and seeing in the street a decayed cabbage,
he rolled it in the mud, and threw it all dripping
at the face of the goddess, saying, "Behold,
thou vile beast of idolatry, this is the worship
which thou has from me, and the devil do the
rest for thee!"
Then the priest heard a voice in the gloom where
the leaves were dense, and it said, "It
is well! I give thee warning, since thou hast
made thy offering, some of the game to thee
I'll bring; thou'lt have thy share in the morning."
All that night the priest suffered from horrible
dreams and dread, and when at last, just before
three o'clock, he fell asleep, he suddenly awoke
from a nightmare in which it seemed as if something
heavy rested on his chest. And something indeed
fell from him and rolled on the floor. And when
he rose and picked it up, and looked at it by
the light of the moon, he saw that it was a
human head, half decayed.
Another priest, who had heard his cry of terror,
entered his room, and having looked at the head,
said, "I know that face! It is of a man
whom I confessed, and who was beheaded three
months ago at Siena."
And three days after, the priest who had insulted
the goddess died.
tale was not given to me as belonging to the
Gospel of Witches, but as one of a very large
series of traditions relating to Virgil as a
magician. But it has its proper place in this
book, because it contains the invocation to
and incantation of DIANA, these being remarkably
beautiful and original. When we remember how
these 'hymns' have been handed down or preserved
by old women, and doubtless much garbled, changed,
and deformed by transmission, it cannot but
seem wonderful that so much classic beauty still
remains in them, as, for instance, in -
of the bow!
Lovely Goddess of the arrows!
Thou who walk'st I starry heaven!
Robert Browning was a great poet, but if we
compare all the Italian witch poems of and to
DIANA with the former's much admired speech
of Diana-Artemis, it will certainly be admitted
by impartial critics that the spells are fully
equal to the following by the bard -
I am a goddess
of the ambrosial courts,
And save by Here, Queen of Pride, surpassed
By none whose temples whiten this the world;
Through heaven I roll my lucid moon along,
I shed in Hell o'er my pale people peace,
On Earth, I, caring for the creatures, guard
Each pregnant yellow wolf and fox bitch sleek,
And every feathered mother's callow brood,
And all that love green haunts and loneliness.
This is pretty,
but it is only imitation, and neither in form
or spirit really equal to the incantations,
which are sincere on faith. And it may here
be observed in sorrow, yet in very truth, that
in a very great number of modern poetical handlings
of classic mythic subjects, the writers have,
despite all their genius as artists, produced
rococo work which will appear to be such to
another generation, simply from their having
missed the point, or omitted from ignorance
something vital which the folk lorist would
probably not have lost. Achilles may be admirably
drawn, as I have seen him, in a Louis XIV. wig
with a Turkish scimitar, but still one could
wish that the designer had been a little more
familiar with Greek garments and weapons.
THE GOBLIN MESSENGERS
OF DIANA AND MERCURY
The following tale was not given to me as connected
with the Gospel of the Witches, but as DIANA
appears in it, and as the whole conception is
that of Diana and Apollo in another form, I
include it in the series.
ago there was a goblin, or spirit or devil-angel,
and Mercury, who was the god of speed and of
quickness, being much pleased with this imp,
bestowed on him the gift of running like the
wind, with the privilege that whatever he pursued,
be it spirit, a human being, or animal, he should
certainly overtake or catch it.
This goblin had a beautiful sister, who like
him, ran errands, not for the gods, but for
the goddesses (there was a female god for every
male, even down to the small spirits); and Diana
on the same day gave to this fairy the power
that, whoever might chase her, she should, if
pursued, never be overtaken.
On day the brother saw his sister speeding like
a flash of lightning across the heaven, and
he felt a sudden strange desire in rivalry to
overtake her. So he dashed after as she flitted
on; but though it was his destiny to catch,
she had been fated never to be caught, and so
the will of one supreme god was balanced by
that of another.
So the two kept flying round and round the edge
of heaven, and at first all the gods roared
with laughter, but when they understood the
case, hey grew serious, and asked one another
how it was to end.
Then the great father-god said, "Behold
the earth, which is in darkness and gloom! I
will change the sister into a Moon, and her
brother into a sun. And so shall she ever escape
him, yet will he ever catch her with his light,
which shall fall on her from afar; for the rays
of the sun are his hands, which reach forth
with burning grasp, yet which are ever eluded."
And thus it is said that this race begins anew
with, the first of every month, when the moon
being cold, is covered with as many coats as
an onion. But while the race is being run, as
the moon becomes warm she casts off one garment
after another, till she is naked and then stops,
and then when dressed the race begins again.
As the vast storm
cloud falls in glittering drops, even so the
great myths of the olden time are broken up
into small fairy tales, and as these drops in
"On silent lake or streamlet lone"
as Villon hath it, even so minor myths are again
formed from the fallen waters. In this story
we clearly have the dog made by Vulcan and the
wolf - Jupiter settled the question by petrifying
them - as you may read in Julius Pollux his
fifth book, or any other on mythology.
"Which hunting hound, as well is known,
Was changed by Jupiter to stone."
It is remarkable that in this story the moon
is compared to an onion. "The onion,"
says Friedrich, "was, on account of its
many skins, among the Egyptians the emblem and
hieroglyph of the many formed moon, whose different
phases are so clearly seen I the root when it
is cut through, also because its growth or decrease
corresponds with that of the planet. Therefore
it was dedicated to Isis, the Moon Goddess."
And for this reason the onion was so holy as
to be regarded as having in itself something
of deity; for which reason Juvenal remarks that
the Egyptians were happy people to have gods
growing in their gardens.
The following very curious tale, with the incantation,
was not in the text of the Vangelo, but it very
evidently belongs to the cycle or series of
legends connected with it. DIANA is declared
to be the protectress of all outcasts, those
to whom the night is their day, consequently
of thieves; and Laverna, as we may learn from
Horace and Plautus, was pre-eminently the patroness
of pilfering and all rascality. In this story
she also appears as a witch and humorist.
It was given to me as a tradition of Virgil,
who often appears as one familiar with the marvelous
and hidden lore of the olden time.
It happened on
a time that Virgil, who knew all things hidden
or magical, he who was a magician and poet,
having heard a speech (or oration) by a famous
talker who had not much in him, was asked what
he thought of it. And he replied, "It seems
to me to be impossible to tell whether it was
all introduction or all conclusion; certainly
there was no body in it. It was like certain
fish of whom one is in doubt whether they are
all head or all tail, or only head and tail;
or the goddess Laverna, of whom no one ever
know whether she was all head or all body, or
neither or both."
Then the emperor inquired who this deity might
be, for he had never heard of her.
And Virgil replied, "Among the gods or
spirits who were of ancient times - may they
be ever favorable to us! Among them (was) one
female who was the craftiest and most knavish
of them all. She was called Laverna. She was
a thief, and very little known to the other
deities, who were honest and dignified, for
she was rarely in heaven or in the country of
"She was almost always on earth, among
thieves, pickpockets, and panders - she lived
"Once it happened that she went (to a mortal),
a great priest in the form and guise of a very
beautiful stately priestess (of some goddess),
and said to him: -
" ' You have an estate which I wish to
buy. I intend to build on it a temple to (our)
God. I swear to you on my body that I will pay
thee within a year'
"Therefore the priest transferred to her
"And very soon Laverna had sold off all
the crops, grain, cattle, wood, and poultry.
There was not left the value of four farthings.
"But on the day fixed for payment there
was no Laverna to be seen. The fair goddess
was far away, and had left her creditor in the
"At the same time Laverna went to a great
lord and bought of him a castle, well furnished
within and broad rich lands without.
"But this time she swore on her head to
pay in full in six months.
"And as she had done by the priest, so
she acted to the lord of the castle, and stole
and sold every stick, furniture, cattle, men,
and mice - there was not left wherewith to feed
"Then the priest and the lord, finding
out who this was, appealed to the gods, complaining
that they had been robbed by a goddess.
"And it was soon made known to them all
that this was Laverna.
"Therefore she was called to judgment before
all the gods.
"And when she was asked what she had done
with the property of the priest, unto whom she
had sworn by her body to make payment at the
time appointed (and why she had broken her oath)?
"She replied by a strange deed which amazed
them all, for she made her body disappear, so
that only her head remained visible, and it
"Behold me! I swore by my body, but body
have I none!"
"Then all the gods laughed.
"After the priest came the lord who had
also been tricked, and to whom she had sworn
by her head. And in reply to him Laverna showed
all present her whole body without mincing matters,
and it was one of extreme beauty, but without
a head; and from the neck thereof came a voice
which said: -
'Behold me, for I am Laverna, who
Have come to answer to that lord's complaint,
Who swears that I contracted debt to him,
And have not paid although the time is o'er
And that I am a thief because I swore
Upon my head - but, as you all can see,
I have no head at all, and therefore I
Assuredly ne'er swore by such an oath.'
"Then there was indeed a storm of laughter
among the gods, who made the matter right by
ordering the head to join the body, and bidding
Laverna pay up her debts, which she did.
"Then Jove spoke and said: -
" 'Here is a roguish goddess without a
duty (or a worshipper), while there are in Rome
innumerable thieves, sharpers, cheats, and rascals
who live by deceit.
"These good folk have neither a
church nor a god, and it is a great pity, for
even the very devils have their master, Satan,
as the head of the family. Therefore, I command
that in future Laverna shall be the goddess
of all the knaves or dishonest tradesman, with
the whole rubbish and refuse of the human race,
who have been hitherto without a god or a devil,
inasmuch as they have been too despicable for
the one or the other.'
"And so Laverna became the goddess of all
dishonest and shabby people.
"Whenever any one planned or intended any
knavery or aught wicked, he entered her temple,
and invoked Laverna, who appeared to him as
a woman's head. But if he did his work of knavery
badly or maladroitly, when he again invoked
her he saw only the body; but if he was clever,
then he beheld the whole goddess, head and body.
"Laverna was no more chaste than she was
honest, and had many lovers and many children.
It was said that not being bad at heart or cruel,
she often repented her life and sins; but do
what she might, she could not reform, because
her passions were so inveterate.
"And if a man had got any woman with child
or any maid found herself enceinte, and would
hide it from the world and escape scandal, they
would go every day to invoke Laverna.
"Then when the time came for the suppliant
to be delivered, Laverna would bear her in sleep
during the night to her temple, and after the
birth cast her into slumber again, and bear
her back to her bed at home. And when she woke
in the morning, she was ever in vigorous health
and felt no weariness, and all seemed to her
as a dream.
"But to those who desired in time to reclaim
their children, Laverna was indulgent if they
led such lives as pleased her and faithfully
"And this is the ceremony to be performed
and the incantation to be offered every night
"There must be a set place devoted to the
goddess, be it a room, a cellar, or a grove,
but ever a solitary place.
"Then take a small table of the size of
forty playing cards set close together, and
this must be hid in the same place, and going
there at night...
"Take forty cards and spread them on the
table, making of them a close carpet or cover
"Take of the herbs paura and concordia,
and boil the two together, repeating meanwhile
the following: -
I boil the cluster
To keep in concord and at peace with me
Laverna, that she may restore to me
My child, and that she by her favoring care
May guard me well from danger all my life!
I boil this herb, yet 'tis not it which boils,
I boil the fear, that it may keep afar
Any intruder, and if such should come
(to spy upon my rite), may he be struck
With fear and in his terror haste away!
Having said thus,
put the boiled herbs in a bottle and spread
the cards on the table one by one, saying: -
I spread before
me now the forty cards
Yet 'tis not forty cards which here I spread,
But forty of the gods superior
To the deity Laverna, that their forms
May each and all become volcanoes hot,
Until Laverna comes and brings my child;
And 'till 'tis done may they all cast at her
Hot flames of fire, and with them glowing coals
From noses, mouths, and ears (until she yields);
Then may they leave Laverna at her peace,
Free to embrace her children at her will!
was the Roman goddess of thieves, pickpockets,
shopkeepers or dealers, plagiarists, rascals,
and hypocrites. There was near Rome a temple
in a grove where robbers went to divide their
plunder. There was a statue of the goddess.
Her image, according to some, was a head without
a body; according to others, a body without
a head; but the epithet of 'beautiful' applied
to her by Horace indicates that she who gave
disguises to her worshippers had kept one to
herself." She was worshipped in perfect
silence. This is confirmed by a passage to Horace,
where an impostor, hardly daring to move his
lips, repeats the following prayer or incantation:
Give me the art of cheating and deceiving,
Of making men believe that I am just,
Holy, and innocent! extend all darkness
And deep obscurity o'er my misdeeds!"
It is interesting
to compare this unquestionably ancient classic
invocation to Laverna with the one which is
before given. The goddess was extensively known
to the lower orders, and in Plautus a cook who
has been robbed of his implements calls on her
to revenge him.
I call special attention to the fact that in
this, as in a great number of Italian witch
incantations, the deity or spirit who is worshipped,
be it Diana herself or Laverna, is threatened
with torment by a higher power until he or she
grants the favour demanded. This is quite classic
(Grecco-Roman or Oriental) in all of which sources
the magician relies not on favour, aid, or power
granted by either God or Satan, but simply on
what he has been able to wrench and wring, as
it were, out of infinite nature or the primal
source by penance and study. I mention this
because a reviewer has reproached me with exaggerating
the degree to which diabolism - introduced by
the Church since 1500 - is deficient in Italy.
But in fact, among the higher classes of witches,
or in their traditions, it is hardly to be found
at all. In Christian diabolism the witch never
dares to threaten Satan or God, or any of the
Trinity or angels, for the whole system is based
on the conception of a Church and of obedience.
The herb concordia probably takes its name from
that of the goddess Concordia, who was represented
as holding a branch. It plays a great part in
witchcraft, after verbena and rue.
So long ago as
the year 1886 I learned that there was in existence
a manuscript setting forth the doctrines of
Italian witchcraft, and I was promised that,
if possible, it should be obtained for me. In
this I was for a time disappointed. But having
urged it on Maddalena, my collector of folk
lore, while she was leading a wandering life
in Tuscany, to make an effort to obtain or recover
something of the kind, I at last received from
her, on January 1, 1897, from Colle, Val d'Elsa,
near Siena, the MS entitled Aradia, or the Gospel
of the Witches.
Now be it observed, that every leading point
which forms the plot or center of this Vangel,
such as that DIANA is Queen of the Witches;
an associate of Herodius (Aradia) in her relations
to sorcery; that she bore a child to her brother
the Sun (here Lucifer); that as a moon-goddess
she is in some relation to Cain, who dwells
as prisoner in the moon, and that the witches
of old were people oppressed by feudal lands,
the former revenging themselves in every way,
and holding orgies to DIANA which the Church
represented as being the worship of Satan -
all of this, I repeat, had been told or written
out for me in fragments by Maddalena (not to
speak of other authorities), even as it had
been chronicled by Horst or Michelet; therefore
all this is in the present document of minor
importance. All of this I expected, but what
I did not expect, and what was new to me, was
that portion which is given as prose-poetry
and which I have rendered in meter or verse.
This being traditional, and taken down from
wizards, is extremely curious and interesting,
since in it are preserved many relics of lore
which, as may be verified from records, have
come down from days of yore.
Aradia is evidently enough Herodius, who was
regarded in the beginning as associated with
DIANA as chief of the witches. This was not,
as I opined, derived from the Herodias of the
New Testament, but from an earlier replica of
Lilith, bearing the same name. It is, in fact
an identification or twin-ing of the Aryan and
Shemitic Queens of Heaven, or of Night and of
Sorcery, and it may be that this was known to
the earliest myth makers. So far back as the
sixth century the worship of Herodias and DIANA
by witches was condemned by a Church Council
at Ancyra. Pipernus and other writers have noted
the evident identity of Herodias with Lilith.
Isis preceded both.
DIANA is very vigorously, even dramatically,
set forth in this poem as the goddess of the
god forsaken and ungodly, of thieves, harlots,
and, truthfully enough, of the 'minions of the
moon,' as Falstaff would have fain had them
called. It was recognized in ancient Rome, as
it is in modern India, that no human being can
be so bad or vile as to have forfeited all right
to divine protection of some kind or other,
and Diana was this protectress. It my be as
well to observe here, that among all free thinking
philosophers, educated parias, and literary
or book bohemians, there has ever been a most
unorthodox tendency to believe that the faults
and errors of humanity are more due (if not
altogether due) to unavoidable causes which
we cannot help, as, for instance, heredity,
the being born savages, or poor, or in vice,
or unto 'bigotry and virtue' in excess, or unto
inquisitioning - that is to say, when we are
so over burdened with innately born sin that
all our free will cannot set us free from it.
It was during the so called Dark Ages, or from
the downfall of the Roman Empire until the thirteenth
century, that the belief that all which was
worst in man owed its origin solely to the monstrous
abuses and tyranny of Church and State. For
then, at every turn in life, the vast majority
encountered downright shameless, palpable iniquity
and injustice, with no law for the weak who
were without patrons.
The perception of this drove vast numbers of
the discontented into rebellion, and as they
could not prevail by open warfare, they took
their hatred out in a form of secret anarchy,
which was, however, intimately blended with
superstition and fragments of old tradition.
Prominent in this, and naturally enough, was
the worship of DIANA the protectress, for the
alleged adoration of Satan was a far later invention
of the Church, and it has never really found
a leading place in Italian witchcraft to this
day. That is to say, purely diabolical witchcraft
did not find general acceptance till the end
of the fifteenth century, when it was, one may
almost say, invented in Rome to supply means
wherewith to destroy the threatening heresy
The growth of Sentiment is the increase of suffering;
man is never entirely miserable until he finds
out how wronged he is and fancies that he sees
far ahead a possible freedom. In ancient times
men as slaves suffered less under even more
abuse, because they believed they were born
to low conditions of life. Even the best reform
brings pain with it, and the great awakening
of man was accompanied with griefs, many of
which even yet endure. Pessimism is the result
of too much culture and introversion.
It appears to be strangely out of sight and
out of mind with all historians, that the sufferings
of the vast majority of mankind, or the enslaved
and poor, were far greater under early Christianity,
or till the end of the Middle Ages and the Emancipation
of Serfs, than they were before. The reason
for this was that in the old 'heathen' time
the humble did not know, or even dream, that
all are equal before God, or that they had many
rights, even here on earth, as slaves; for,
in fact, the whole moral tendency of the New
Testament is utterly opposed to slavery, or
even sever servitude. Every word uttered teaching
Christ's mercy and love, humility and charity,
was, in fact, a bitter reproof, not only to
every lord in the land, but to the Church itself,
and its arrogant prelates. The fact that many
abuses had been mitigated and that there were
benevolent saints, does not affect the fact
that, on the whole, mankind was for a long time
worse off than before, and the greatest cause
of this suffering was what may be called a sentimental
one, or a newly born consciousness of rights
withheld, which is always of itself a torture.
And this was greatly aggravated by the endless
preaching to the people that it was a duty to
suffer and endure oppression and tyranny, and
that the rights of Authority of all kinds were
so great that they on the whole even excused
their worst abuses. For by upholding Authority
in the nobility the Church maintained its own.
The result of it all was a vast development
of rebels, outcasts, and all the discontented,
who adopted witchcraft or sorcery for a religion,
and wizards as their priests. They had secret
meetings in desert places, among old ruins accursed
by priests as the haunt of evil spirits or ancient
heathen gods, or in the mountains. To this day
the dweller in Italy may often find secluded
spots environed by ancient chestnut forests,
rocks, and walls, which suggest fit places for
the Sabbat, and are sometimes still believed
by tradition to be such. And I also believe
that in this Gospel of the Witches we have a
trustworthy outline at least of the doctrine
and rites observed at these meetings. They adored
forbidden deities and practiced forbidden deeds,
inspired as much by rebellion against Society
as their own passions.
There is, however, in the Evangel of the Witches
an effort made to distinguish between the naturally
wicked or corrupt and those who are outcasts
or oppressed, as appears from the passage:
Cain's daughter (offspring) thou shalt never
Nor like the race who have become at last
Wicked and infamous from suffering,
As are the Jews and wandering Zingari,
Who are all thieves: like then ye shall not
The supper of
the Witches, the cakes of meal, salt, and honey,
in the form of crescent moons, are known to
every classical scholar. The moon or horn shaped
cakes are still common. I have eaten of them
this very day, and though they are known all
over the world, I believe they owe their fashion
In the conjuration of the meal there is a very
curious tradition introduced to the effect that
the glittering grains of wheat from which spikes
shoot like sun rays, owe their brilliant likeness
to a resemblance to the firefly, 'who comes
to give the light.' We have, I doubt not, in
this a classic tradition, but I cannot verify
it. Hereupon the Vangelo cites a common nursery
rhyme, which may also be found a nursery tale,
yet which, like others, is derived from witch
lore, by which the lucciola is put under a glass
and conjured to give by its light certain answers.
The conjuration of the meal or bread, as being
literally our body as contributing to form it,
and deeply sacred because it had lain in the
earth, where dark and wondrous secrets bide,
seems to cast a new light on the Christian sacrament.
It is a type of resurrection from earth, and
was therefore used at the Mysteries and Holy
Supper, and the grain had pertained to chthonic
secrets, or to what had been under the earth
in darkness. Thus even earthworms are invoked
in modern witchcraft as familiar with dark mysteries,
and the shepherd's pipe to win the Orphic power
must be buried three days in the earth. And
so all was, and is, in sorcery a kind of wild
poetry based on symbols, all blending into one
another, light and darkness, fireflies and grain,
life and death.
Very strange indeed, but very strictly according
to ancient magic as described by classic authorities,
is the threatening Diana, in case she will not
grant a prayer. This recurs continually in the
witch exorcisms or spells. The magus, or witch,
worships the spirit, but claims to have the
right, drawn from a higher power, to compel
even the Queen of Earth, Heaven and Hell to
grant the request. "Give what I ask, and
thou shalt have honor and offerings; refuse,
and I will vex thee by insult." So Canidia
and her kind boasted that they could compel
the gods to appear. This is all classic. No
one ever heard of a Satanic witch invoking or
threatening the Trinity, or Christ or even the
angels or saints. In fact, they cannot even
compel the devil or his imps to obey - they
work entirely by his good will as slaves. But
in the old Italian lore the sorcerer or witch
is all or nothing, and aims at limitless will
Of the ancient belief in the virtues of a perforated
stone I need not speak. But it is to be remarked
that in the invocation the witch goes forth
in the earliest morning to seek for verbena
or verbain. The ancient Persian magi, or rather
their daughters, worshipped the sun as it rose
by waving freshly plucked verbena, which was
one of the seven most powerful plants in magic.
These Persian priestesses were naked while they
thus worshipped, nudity being a symbol of truth
The extinguishing the lights, nakedness, and
the orgy, were regarded as symbolical of the
body being laid in the ground, the grain being
planted, or of entering into darkness and death,
to be revived in new forms, or regeneration
and light. It was the laying aside of daily
The Gospel of the Witches, as I have given it,
is in reality only the initial chapter of the
collection of ceremonies, incantations, and
traditions current in the fraternity or sisterhood,
the whole of which are in the main to be found
in my Etruscan Roman Remains and Florentine
Legends. I have, it is true, a great number
as yet unpublished, and there are more ungathered,
but the whole scripture of this sorcery, all
its principal tenets, formulas, medicaments,
and mysteries may be found in what I have collected
and printed. Yet I would urge that it would
be worth while to arrange and edit it all into
one work, because it would be to every student
of archeology, folk lore, or history of great
value. It has been the faith of millions in
the past it has made itself felt in innumerable
traditions, which deserve to be better understood
than they are, and I would gladly undertake
the work if I believed that the public would
make it worth the publisher's outlay and pains.
It may be observed with truth that I have not
treated this Gospel, nor even the subject of
witchcraft, entirely as folk lore, as the word
is strictly defined and carried out; that is,
as a mere traditional fact or thing to be chiefly
regarded as a variant like or unlike sundry
other traditions, or to be tabulated and put
away in pigeon holes for reference. That it
is useful and sensible to do all this is perfectly
true, and it has led to an immense amount of
valuable search, collection, and preservation.
But there is this to be said, and I have observed
that here and there a few genial minds are beginning
to awake to it, that the mere study of the letter
in this way has developed a great indifference
to the spirit, going in may cases so far as
to produce, like Realism in Art (to which it
is allied), even a contempt for the matter or
meaning of it, as originally believed in.
I was lately much struck by the fact that in
a very learned work on Music, the author, in
discussing that of ancient times and of the
East, while extremely accurate and minute in
determining pentatonic and all other scales,
and what may be called the mere machinery and
history of composition, showed that he was utterly
ignorant of the fundamental fact that notes
and chords, bars and melodies, were in themselves
ideas or thoughts. Thus Confucius is said to
have composed a melody which was a personal
description of himself. Now if this be not understood,
we cannot understand the soul of early music,
and the folk lorist who cannot get beyond the
letter and fancies himself 'scientific' is exactly
like the musician who has no idea of how or
why melodies were anciently composed.
The strange and mystical chapter 'How Diana
made the Stars and the Rain' is the same given
in my Legends of Florence, but much enlarged,
or developed to a cosmogonic-mythologic sketch.
And here a reflection occurs which is perhaps
the most remarkable which all this Witch Evangel
suggests. In all other Scriptures of all races,
it is the male, Jehovah, Buddha or Brahma, who
creates the universe; in Witch Sorcery it is
the female who is the primitive principle. Whenever
in history there is a period of radical intellectual
rebellion against long established conservatism,
hierarchy, and the like, there is always an
effort to regard Woman as the fully equal, which
means the superior sex. Thus in the extraordinary
war of conflicting elements, strange schools
of sorcery, Neo-Platonism, Cabala, Hermetic
Christianity, Gnosticism, Persian Magism and
Dualism, with the remains of old Greek and Egyptian
theologies in the third and fourth centuries
at Alexandria, and in the House of Light of
Cairo in the ninth, the equality of Woman was
a prominent doctrine. It was Sophia or Helena,
the enfranchised, who was then the true Christ
who was to save mankind.
When Illumination, in company with magic and
mysticism, and a resolve to regenerate society
according to extreme free thought, inspired
the Templars to the hope that they would master
the Church and the world, the equality of Woman
derived from the Cairene traditions, again received
attention. And it may be observed that during
the Middle Ages, and even so late as the intense
excitements which inspired the French Huguenots,
the Jansenists and the Anabaptists, Woman always
came forth more prominently or played a far
greater part than she had done in social or
political life. This was also the case in the
Spiritualism founded by the Fox sisters of Rochester,
New York, and it is manifesting itself in many
ways in the Fin de Siecle, which is also a nervous
chaos according to Nordau - Woman being evidently
a fish who shows herself most when the waters
But we should also remember that in the earlier
ages the vast majority of mankind itself, suppressed
by the too great or greatly abused power of
Church and State, only manifested itself at
such periods of rebellion against forms or ideas
grown old. And with every new rebellion, every
fresh outburst or wild inundation and bursting
over the barriers, humanity and woman gain something,
that is to say, their just dues or rights. For
as every freshet spreads more widely its waters
over the fields, which are in due time the more
fertilized thereby, so the world at large gains
by every revolution, however terrible or repugnant
it may be for a time.
The Emancipated or Woman's Rights woman, when
too enthusiastic, generally considers man as
limited, while Woman is destined to gain on
him. In earlier ages a contrary opinion prevailed,
and both are, or were, apparently in the wrong,
so far as the future is concerned. For in truth
both sexes are progressive, and progress in
this respect means not a conflict of the male
and female principle, such as formed the basis
of the Mahabarata, but a gradual ascertaining
of true ability and adjustment of relations
or coordination of powers.
These remarks are appropriate to my text and
subject, because it is in studying the epochs
when woman has made herself prominent and influential
that we learn what the capacities of the female
sex truly are. Among these, that of witchcraft
as it truly was - not as it is generally quite
misunderstood - is a deeply interesting as any
other. For the witch, laying aside all question
as to magic or its non-existence - was once
a real factor or great power in rebellious social
life, and to this very day it is recognized
that there is something uncanny, mysterious,
and incomprehensible in woman, which neither
she herself nor man can explain.
THE CHILDREN OF
DIANA, OR HOW THE FAIRIES WERE BORN
All things were made by DIANA, the great spirits
of the stars, men in their time and place, the
giants which were of old, and the dwarfs who
dwell in the rocks, and once a month worship
her with cakes.
There was once a young man who was poor, without
parents, yet he was good.
One night he sat in a lonely place, yet it was
very beautiful, and there he saw a thousand
little fairies, shining white, dancing in the
light of the full moon.
"Gladly would I be like you, O fairies!"
said the youth, "free from care, needing
no food. But what are ye?"
"We are moon rays, the children of DIANA,"
replied one -
We are children of the Moon.
We are born of shining light;
When the Moon shoots forth a ray,
Then it takes a fairy's form.
"And thou art one of us because thou wert
born when the Moon, our mother Diana, was full;
yes, our brother, kin to us, belonging to our
"And if thou art hungry and poor...and
wilt have money in thy pocket, then think upon
the Moon, on Diana, unto whom thou wert born;
then repeat these words -
"'Moon, Moon, beautiful Moon!
Fairer far than any star;
Moon, O Moon, if it may be,
Bring good fortune unto me!'
"And then, if thou has money in thy pocket,
thou wilt have it doubled.
"For the children who are born in a full
moon are sons or daughters of the Moon,
'Good evening, fair goat!
And he will reply,
'Good evening, fair sir!
I am so weary
That I can go no farther
And thou shalt reply as usual,
'Fairy DIANA, I conjure thee
To give to this goat relief and peace!'
"Then will we enter in a great hall where
thou wilt see many beautiful ladies who will
try to fascinate thee; but let thy answer ever
be, 'She whom I love is her of Monteroni.'
"And now Gianni, to horse; mount and away!"
So he mounted the cat, which flew as quick as
thought, and found the mare, and having pronounced
over it the incantation, it became a woman and
In the name of the Fairy DIANA!
Mayest thou hereby become
A beautiful young man,
Red and white in hue,
Like to milk and blood!
After this he found the goat and conjured it
in like manner, and it replied -
In the name of the Fairy DIANA!
Be thou attired more richly than a prince!
So he passed to the hall, where he was wooed
by beautiful ladies, but his answer to them
all was that his love was at Monterone.
Then he saw or knew no more, but on awakening
found himself in Monterone, and so changed to
a handsome youth that no one knew him. So he
married his beautiful lady, and all lived the
hidden life of witches and wizards from that
day, and are now in fairy land.
by Elysium Designs