HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO CHARLES GODFREY LELAND
The author of Aradia or the Gospel of the Witches, Charles Leland, was born on August 15, 1824 in beautiful Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended Princeton University, and in addition to his regular studies, studied Hermeticism and Neoplatonism, which undoubtedly served him well as a future folklorist and author of magical texts.
Not just an Academic, he was a freedom fighter in the French Revolution of 1848, and served the Union in the Civil War, and was at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Leland wrote books on various subjects such as Pennsylvania German Ballads, Native American Legends, Woodworking, Leatherworking, Riddles, and Poetry. But it’s his books on Witchcraft and folklore for which all Wiccans are eternally grateful.
He published books on Romany folklore and magical practices in the 1880s (even using the word Wicca to show the history of the word Witch) and two books on Italian lore and practices that with Aradia form a corpus, namely Etruscan Magic and Occult Remedies, and Etruscan Roman Remains. The latter by the way, has also been repackaged as Stregheria.
The book most familiar to Wiccans and Witches however, is Aradia or the Gospel of the Witches, first published in 1899. He had been living in Italy, collecting folktales, spells and rituals, and forming relationships with Witches such as Maddalena and Marietta, who supplied him with the actual Witch Lore and practices found in Aradia.
Within Aradia we find the form of the Charge of the Goddess that many Wiccans use today. Much of the hardcore anti-Church and anti-Establishment lines have been replaced with Aleister Crowley and Doreen Valiente material since Gerald Gardner started using it in his Coven’s rituals. If you haven’t read the original, you really should. The Witch as outsider is clearly evident, and the use of Magick to fight oppression is a large part of the Work.
The Spells in Aradia often include that old modus operandi of threatening a Deity or spirit with suffering till they grant the ends the Witch desires. Modern Wiccans may find this a bit off-putting, but to my mind shows the authenticity of the work.
In Aradia there is both Ritual Witchcraft and Operative Witchcraft - Religion and Spellwork. We learn how Diana created everything, and how Pagan beliefs mingled with apocryphal christianity. In the Preface we read the phrase “the Old Religion” that Gardner used to describe Wicca.
One of Inner Circle Sanctuary’s (and indeed Lady Morgana’s Coven’s) favorite sections of Aradia is a prayer to the Moon:
“Moon, Moon, beautiful Moon! Fairer far than any star;
Moon, O Moon, if it may be, bring good fortune unto me!”
Charles Godfrey Leland, who could arguably be called the Grandfather of Wicca, died on March 20, 1903, in Florence Italy.
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Inner Circle Sanctuary
Inner Circle Sanctuary is a school for traditional style Wicca and holds eight sabbat festivals every year.