Aaron Meyer's Reviews > Aradia - Gospel of the Witches: Expanded Edition

Aradia - Gospel of the Witches by Charles Godfrey Leland
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Jun 12, 11

bookshelves: occult, folklore-and-myth
Read from June 06 to 11, 2011, read count: 1

I've read alot of folks reviews before reading the book and after reading the work myself it just comes to me that alot of people don't really "read" it with a view to understand it. I have alot of areas to cover so I guess I will just jump into the first thing that comes to mind.
There are alot of people who claim that the witchcraft in Aradia is to mean and evil. They need to remember that this is not modern wicca, this is real witchcraft. The type that has been used throughout history and throughout the world. This type of "witchcraft" can still be seen in many ATR faiths even today.
I also seen that many people have complained about the threatening of the goddess and how that should never be done. Threatening of the goddess or god or any spirit is not unusual historically, and is most definitely a very ancient survival. One can easily look into the PGM (The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation by Hans Dieter Betz) and see examples of it there. Also one can also look into "Arcana Mundi" by Georg Luck in the introduction and find examples of statues of the gods being whipped in order to get them to do the bidding of the people. Leland gives an excellent example of how a town dealt with a saint that wasn't doing its bidding. All of these actions bespeak of ancient tradition living up to the present. Further that an ancient religious survival wouldn't be influenced a single bit by the predominant religion is ludicrous. You have modern examples of this very same process today, simply look at Santeria for example.
Now for the naysayers that Aradia was made up and couldn't possibly exist in this fashion... Leland himself never claims that their is an actual written gospel. In fact he uses gospel in quotes in his intro. Shouldn't that tell you something? Further he believed that the majority of the information collected for him came from "oral" rather than written material. He also states that he had many sources and Magdalenna was not the only source. In fact the small amount that she provided in the "Gospel" would only be a tiny fragment of the information that he had published in "Etruscan Roman Remains" and "Florentine Legends" as well as a large amount of unpublished material he had collected over the years from other sources. Many of which support stuff that Magdalenna provided. And for those who do not believe in her as an actual person, how do they explain the handwritten letter of hers photocopied in the Phoenix edition of Aradia?
One last thing to relate is that this "Gospel" was given to the oppressed as a means to level the playing field between them and their oppressors. Do you think that a polite society can be created on paper or just in general and people will just do it? No, don't think so. A certain amount of fear of reprisal for one's actions is necessary in order to create a "polite society" or at least a tolerable and less repressed one. The witchcraft of the old days enables those who would be oppressed to have the ability to "remind" those who would naturally oppress of their duty to "do unto others as they would do unto you." What a great wakeup call this book should be.
Ok one more thing to relate. The Phoenix Edition contains another translation more modern and according to them corrected. After comparing them both I found that the translation errors are rather minimal, though there are some instances where it would change the meaning quite a bit, but when I look at what Leland presents and what the modern translator presents I am going to utilize Lelands. His goal was to make it readable, rhythmic, poetic, in other words he took a little poetic liberty. The same is done today by many moderns making new translations of ancient material.
Rather than blowing Leland off he should be congratulated and held in esteem for the contributions he made.
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