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Two Different Words? Stregheria and Stregoneria

In a thread ar MysticWicks online, Grimassi disected the two words. Where strego or streg refers to Witches, and eria is a suffix that implies “doings”, the word Stregheria would almost translate directly into English as Witchery, if we disregard the fact that it’s a word unknown to most Italian-speakers. The word nero is the Italian means black, and Grimassi insists that Stregoneria refers distinctly to black magic and ill intent.

Grimassi wrote: Ask the average Italian what stregoneria is and you will be told it is harmful magic, and most likely you will be told it is being in league with the Devil. The same thing would happen if you stopped the average American on the street and asked him or her for a definition of Witchcraft. (1)

It’s as though that he implies, with this reasoning, that Stregheria would generate no such xenophobia. However, If you ask do Italians what Stregheria is, you’d get a different reaction – Stregheria is a word that does not exist. It not known to most Italians today. It is in no Italian-English dictionary that I have come across. Could it be that Grimassi himself invented the word, removing the “black” aspect from it?

Paolo Giordano’s article “What is Stregoneria vs Stregheria” is featured in Raven Grimassi’s official website and explains where we find first find pre-Grimassi evidence of the word “Stregheria”, naming two specific dictionaries. (2) If someone has seen these dictionaries and knows where I could find a copy , scan or photocopy, I’d be very interested.

Lessons in Grammar

In his book Italian Witchcraft: The Old Religion of Southern Europe, Grimassi explains that “Italian is a Latin language, and employs the use of gender in its words and sentence structure.”(3) This is true, as illutrated by the word teacher which translates into professore for men and professoressa for women.

The dictionary definitions for strega and stregone are feminine and masculine words for sorceress/er. (4) Grimassi states that streghe is the all-encompassing plural term, although that is gramatically incorrect. Strega, as a feminine noun, will also be feminine in the plural form. Streghe is absolutely feminine. Stegoni would be the term used for a group of males, and by default, a group of mixed genders as well. With this in mind, Stregoneria refers to the practice of Stregoni. We cannot be certain that the neria part of word refers to blackness.

In his examination, Grimassi wrote “that the word stregheria is rooted in an understanding of Witchcraft as a community of Witches, a people if you will. Stregoneria seems to suggest a magic system as opposed to a people.” I feel that this point is moot – Grimassi’s Stregheria tradition is certainly a magical system itself. We can also link the word stregoni to stregoneria which would indeed link it to a “community” as much as the use of streghe in stregheria does.

Stregheria can be interpreted gramatically as craft solely for women, which would be understandable for an Old Country point of view. All Witches were thought to be women, but then again, all witches were also considered evil. I’m playing the devil’s advocate with this argument – Grimassi would endorse no such image.

Given that Grimassi traces his craft primarily to the Etruscans, who were definitely not Latin, it is surprising he would emphasise the later language of the Romans at all.

Questions for Contemplation and Discussion

If contemporary Italians do not recognize the word Stregheria, is it really Italian?

The Stregheria.com FAQ says:

No, you don’t [have to be Italian to practice Stregheria.] Stregheria is a spiritual path that is open to all. It is, however, based on traditional Italian witchcraft and does have an Italian flavor.  It is primarily derived from Etruscan religion rather than Roman.

Why practice a distinctly Italian Craft if you are not even distantly Italian? Pride in Italy is a major part of Italian culture and therefore makes it neccessary for one to be somewhat Italian in order to be an Italian Witch.

More importantly, what does it mean to be Italian? And why should the Etruscans be emphasised more than the Romans?

Notes

(1)
MysticWicks Online Pagan Community and Spiritual Sanctuary > Raven Grimassi > Stegoneria Italiana

http://mysticwicks.com/showthread.php?t=196124
Posted July 5, 2008, Accessed July 10, 2008.

(2)
“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.”

Giorando, Paulo. “What is Stregoneria vs. Stregheria.”
http://www.stregheria.com/what.htm
Copyright 2006. Accessed July 19, 2008.

(3)

Grimassi, Raven. Italian Witchcraft: The Old Religion of Southern Europe.
2000. Llewellyn Worldwide, Pp 4.

(4)
WordReference.com
http://www.wordreference.com
Accessed July 14, 2008

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I’m one of those people who always de-emphasises spellwork to do beginners. No, do don’t do spells, I always say, do devotional work. There is a great difference.

What is a spell?

This is an important definition. A spell is a ritual done with the intention of change. Spells are always cast for a reason and have a specific outcome in mind.

While not everyone does it this way, most draw The Divine into spellwork, invite them into circle and ask Them to deliver these outcomes. There is a lot more to Wicca and spiritual Neo-Pagan practices than asking for stuff!

Laying Foundations with Devotionals

Would you remain friends with someone who only asked for favours? Of course not! Regular devotional ritual is neccessary for creating the basis of a relationship with the Divine. It keeps the energies and connections flowing between you so that communication comes easier. It shows your commitment to the forces you are working with.

With devotionals you aren’t asking for anything. Not anything specific, anyway. At most its an exchange of offerings between you and Deity. Regular devotionals outside from holy days are a very important part of a pagan practice and are one of the first steps to a profound, spiritually rewarding path.

Of Interest:

Kirk Thomas. Make Offerings, Damnit!

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