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 what is stregheria

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Morwen
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PostSubject: what is stregheria   Sun May 25, 2014 1:43 am

What are the differences between stregoneria and stregheria, and what exactly is stregoneria? Stregoneria is the modern word in Italian that is commonly translated into English as the word witch. In the Italian dictionary – Vocabolario della Lingua (Nicola Zanichelli, 1970) - stregoneria is defined as a magical practice intended to produce harm or illness. Stregheria is referenced in this book as a rare usage, and it is also defined as witchcraft. In this article the differences between the two words, and what they actually mean, will be revealed.

The statement that stregoneria refers to a harmful magical practice is supported by ethnologist Elsa Guggino, who states that words related to stregoneria are always used disparagingly to describe someone practicing malevolent magic (Stregoneria: The “Old Religion” in Italy from Historical to Modern Times, by Marguerite Rigoglioso, 2000).

Stregoneria, from a historical perspective, is a form of sorcery found in pre-Christian times. With the establishment of the Catholic Church, stregoneria was opposed and eventually outlawed. It appears to have survived in fragmented forms well into the 17th century. As scholar Ruth Martin points out, all practices such as sortilegio, erbaria, and fattucheria were regarded as stregoneria. This is discussed in her book titled Witchcraft and the Inquisition in Venice 1550 – 1650.

Martin also notes the last remaining vestiges of “non-Christian” elements in stregoneria, which appear in the 16th century trial of Elena Draga (also known as Elena Crusichi). Such elements demonstrate the former pagan roots of stregoneria. However, with each passing century the authentic forms of stregoneria withered and passed away. It was displaced with Christian traditions mixed with folk magic beliefs, which bear little if any resemblance to the authentic forms of stregoneria that once existed in Italy. This is very often the fate of inner traditions once they fall into the hands of the general population.

Some modern practitioners of Italian folk magic traditions now claim to be witches. However, professor Sabina Magliocco points out that the folk magic practitioners of Italy view themselves as Catholic; therefore to refer to them as “witches” is an act of cultural violence against Italian folk traditions and their practitioners (Spells, Saints, and Streghe: Witchcraft, Folk Magic, and Healing in Italy – published in Pomegranate, August 2000). Many Italian witches are offended that some people equate witchcraft with the Catholic folk traditions of the non-initiate population of Italy. Therefore this position is offensive to both the authentic folk practitioners of Italy and the authentic witches of Italy.

Stregoneria contrasts sharply with the tradition of Stregheria. The former is now a quasi-Catholic oriented sorcery found in common Italian folk traditions, and the latter is a pagan oriented religious system with a magical structure for rituals and spells. The word “stregheria” is an archaic word for witchcraft that is now applied in place of the word “stregoneria.” Those wishing to differentiate themselves from Christian stregoneria, (which usurped and distorted the pre-existing tradition of witchcraft) now use the term stregheria. The use of the word stregheria is now reclaimed by those who are not ashamed or fearful of their Italian pagan roots.

One old example of the usage of “stregheria” appears in the book Apologia della Congresso Notturno Delle Lamie, by Girolamo Tartarotti (1751), which almost exclusively uses the word stregheria in place of stregoneria. Due to modifications over the centuries, the terms stregoneria and stregheria must now be viewed as referring to different systems. In fact, a dictionary printed in the year 1900 (Nouveau dictionnaire italien-francais et francais-italien – by Costanzo Ferrari) provides separate entries for stregoneria and stregheria. The entry for stregoneria refers strictly to sorcery, while the entry for stregheria refers to organized witchcraft in connection with the Sabbat. The connection of the word stregheria to the Sabbat is particularly noteworthy. Tartarotti includes a discussion of the veneration of the goddess Diana in connection with Stregheria, which further demonstrates the difference between it and stregoneria. Such a connection can be found in pre-Christian writings like those of Horace (the Epodes).
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