Sunday, September 28, 2008

Charge of the God

This is taken from Italian Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi:

Hear you all the words of the God. By the fallen temple stone or in a forgotten glen, there shall you gather, all who seek to know my secret mysteries. I am He who guards and He who reveals all of these things.

I am the Lord of the earth and sky, of rocky cliffs, and forests deep and darkened. I was there when the world was new, and I taught you to hunt and to gather plants for food. Look within yourselves, for I am there. I am that strength upon which you draw in times of need. I am that which conquers fear. I am the hero and the fool. I am your longing to be free and your need to be bound.

In my love for you, I give up my life. I die but rise again. I prepare the path upon which you journey, going always on before you. For it is in becoming as you, that you become as me.

Hear the thunder, there am I. See the hawk and raven soar, there am I. See the great wolf and the stag appear in the forest clearing, there am I. Close your eyes at the end of your days, there I am, waiting by the temple stone.

Words of Aradia: Concerning the God & Goddess

These words are taken from Italian Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi:

Uni is the sacred name of the Great Goddess, She who is all Goddesses. Upon the Earth She is known as Fana, in the heavens She is Diana (the Moon) and in the Universe She is Tana.
Lakes, hills, streams and beaches are sacred places to the Goddess. The animals that are sacred to Her are dogs, owls, and cats. Her sacred plants are moonflowers and willows, lemons and apples.
She is all that is feminine. She is total beauty and love. She is the Divine Lover, Enchantress, Temptress and Mother. At times She is the Eternal Virgin , at times the Mother, but truly, She is free, loving, sexual, independent and powerful. She loves her followers with unequaled passion. She never forgets nor neglects Her own. She is generous and protective to all who love Her.

Tagni is the Great God who is all Gods. On Earth He is Faunus, in the heavens he is Janus (the Sun) and in the Universe He is Tanus.
All mountains are sacred to Tanus. His sacred animals are horses, wolves, woodpeckers and ravens. His sacred plants are the fig tree, oak, dogwood, laurel and the bean plant.
He is all that is masculine. He is strength and will. He is the power of fertility (which is shared with the Goddess) and the desire behind all creation. He is the source for all creation.
At times He is the hunter and provider and at times He is the destroyer. But truly, He is wise and powerful. He is the freedom of all things that are wild. He is loving and sexual, independent and powerful. He loves His followers with a demanding love. He protects and provides but He is stern and judgemental. He expect strict adherence to His ways and His laws. But He is always fair and just.
Faunus is the Eternal Child, for we see in Him the frolicsome Pan. Yet the noble side of Faunus can be seen in the grace of a beautiful stag in the forest. We can see His spiritual nature in the circling hawk and in the playful butting of young goats we can see the lighthearted Faunus. All of these are lesser reflections of Janus and Tanus in their own natures.

The Goddess is the balance to the God, and He is the balance to Her. Without the Goddess, the God would be a judge without compassion. He would be stern without understanding, He would control without loving.
Without the God, the Goddess would have compassion without direction, understanding without foundation, love without form. The God and Goddess complete each other, and together they are the One True Creator and Maintainer of the Universe.

Words of Aradia: Concerning The God

These words are taken directly from Italian Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi:

The God is known as the stern and demanding aspect of divinity. He is perceived as the death force that transforms. He is Lord of the Afterworld who restores and rests the soul, which is prepared for a new life. This is performed through the union of the God and the Goddess.

Yet there is duality in all things, and the God is also the vitality and strength. He is the Sun, the Lord of Light. He can give life or death through His activity. he ascends and vitalizes all living things, but in His journey He descends and brings darkness and cold. This is the Realm of Shadows, to which He carries all departed beings.

The God is desire to create, dwelling in the stage prior to creation. Through the attraction of the Goddess He is moved to create.

He is the Lord of the Heavens, clothed tin the Sun and bearing a golden rod. He is the Lord of the Earth, horned and hooved. He is the Lord of the Afterworld, dark, lonely, Stern and just. (Thus are the two faces of Janus.)

Through Him order is established and discipline mastered. He is the inner strength of the individual. He is the essence of inner strength and defense.
Yet He is also the warrior and the destroyer. He is the power and strength. All men bear His essence. He is all men.

There is a side of the God that can be seen by those who desire to love Him. It is a gentleness, a compassion, and an understanding. Hie gentleness comes from His awareness of His strength and power. His compassion is born of His understanding of justice.

The God is sexual desire and virility within the male. He is attraction, sensuality and sexuality. He is physical nature, just as the Goddess is spiritual nature.

In death, He is the comforter and the renewer. He is the great initiator and teacher. He rules the Afterworld and dispels the darkness with His presence. He is the illuminator and reveals all that is hidden. He scatters all falsehoods and establishes truth.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Feeling the Wheel Turn

There are those times in our lives were we can feel, see or hear our connection to the greater universe. What we have to do it learn how to look for this connection. We have to learn how to "be still and listen". Yeah, Yeah, I know. Easier said than done.

I remember going through a particularly bad time in my career. I had a boss that did not respect me, my technical knowledge or my experience. No matter what I did she was dissatisfied or did not understand what I was trying to communicate. Additionally many jobs in my field were being sent to other countries because staff in these countries were "lowest cost providers". Needless to say this was an unhappy and stressful time. But it wasn't just me she was making miserable. She had managed to make at least a hundred people scattered literally across the country almost as miserable as me. We all thanked our God(s) that she didn't work in the same location as most of us!

One morning, very early, when I was going to work, I looked up in the sky and there was the waning moon bright and clear in the sky next to Venus and Mars and I just knew that it would all work out. Not right away but when I saw the moon in the sky I just knew that the Gods had found a way to tell me everything would be alright. The equivalent of a celestial pat on the hand. My boss moved on to another position and was actually counseled on her approaches. We got a new boss, who wasn't much better but at least different and well, some of the pressure came off. And then I was actually able to move out of one division of the very large corporation I work for and into another division. They wanted me for ME. And I love my job.

Now I can feel the wheel turning again. At this point it feels like the shift is both more subtle and greater. I am changing. Not my circumstances. Me.

I have always been a go-getter. I have always striven to do my very best, beyond what is simply necessary. Sometimes this led me to miss out on other aspects of my life or just not to take the time to fully appreciate these other aspects. But now every day there is an opportunity to relish living and experiencing life and all the little things. Now it feels like something inside me has finally figured out how to work and stop and smell the roses, simultaneously. Time seems to have slowed down to allow this.

Is it because I have allowed this to happen and I wasn't allowing it before? Is it because I have finally found the sweet spot? Is it because I have "earned" it, in that twisted Puritanical or as my family would say "Germanic sense"? Or have I finally just relaxed into it? Or gotten old enough and had enough experience to unconsciously figure it out? I know I have not been consciously working on a "problem", seeking a solution and finding it. I know how to do this. I know what consciously finding a solution feels like. This is significantly different.

It finally feels like I can "put all of my weight down". For many years I think I was perched on the edge of my own life, cautiously waiting for the next hit. Prepared, strong, capable but not necessarily comfortable. Anytime it felt too comfortable was a time to worry about the next big thing. It doesn't feel like that anymore. It feels like I'm in the flow, swimming, but with the tide not against it. Moving and integrally connected to the web of life, a happy part of it not just grist in the wheel. And I like it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fall in New Orleans

Many of you live in places where the weather changing from summer to fall is bold, and obvious.

Here Fall is subtle.
The humidity drops.
The breezes blow.
The air is more active.

Some of the summer flowers that have died back in the heat of Summer return.
The Roses bloom again. The Chrysanthemums bud.
The Basil seeds that fell to the ground in the heat of summer, sprout.
The Lion's Tail blooms. The Camellias bud.
The Figs put out their second crop.
The Kumquats grow plumper and, later in the season, start to get orange.

The Live Oaks here are essentially evergreen.
But the Sycamore drops its large, brown, plate like leaves.
The Bald Cypress will begin to slowly
let is soft carpet of needles cover the ground.
The Crepe Myrtle leaves begin to turn blood red and slowly drop.
It will take months to before all the leaves are gone.

The light changes.
There is less of it, fewer hours.
The angle of the light is different and
so it is more likely to be polarized by the clouds.
Things brighten as a result of this polarized light.
Colors are more vibrant.
It’s a great deal like the flush of life that precedes human death.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wheel of the Year

Streghe honor and revere Nature and Nature plays a huge part in defining the seasonal rituals. Our solar seasonal rituals fall at the standard pagan times for solar ritual. We have an established and integrated mythos that weaves through the seasons and differs slightly from the standard mythos associated with Wicca.

Winter Solstice: Goddess gives birth to the Child of Promise, the God, Janus Lord of two faces, Lord of Light.

Lupercus (Feb 2): The God grows, gains strength and proves himself, as the Sun waxes. We honor the Sun God as the Great Golden Wolf, Lupercus. We honor and celebrate our connection to the primal and wild.

Spring Equinox: We honor the death of the Wolf God and celebrate the return of the Goddess from the underworld and Her union with the Lord of the Forest, Kern. Seeds are blessed.

Lady's Day (May 1): We honor the return of the Goddess in Her fullness. The God turns His reign over to the Goddess.

Summer Solstice: We join ourselves to the power of the Nature. We celebrate the union of the God and Goddess. We align ourselves with the Elemental forces and work magic to protect the Earth.

Cornucopia (Aug 1): We celebrate the Gods' gift of Harvest. We consider what is good & full and as well as what is bad & empty and meditate on the reasons for all things. We send our wishes to the Gods.

Autumn Equinox: We honor the sacrifice of Kern, Lord of the Forest. Janus departs to the Underworld.

Shadowfest (Oct 31): The Goddess mourns the God and seeks Him in the Underworld so that She may understand the mystery of Death. She does not die, but goes before the Lord of Shadows and turns Her reign over to Him. Great mysteries are shared.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hurricanes & Fall Blessings

The last week of August, the 29th to be exact, was to mark the 3rd Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Instead we got Hurricane Gustav, followed a week later by Hurricane Ike. Gustav formed on August 25th and made landfall in Louisiana west of the Mississippi River on September 1st. While Gustav was coming ashore, Ike was forming. We spent a week recovering from Gustav and another week watching Ike until it made landfall in Texas on September 13th. That, folks, makes 18 days of more than a little Hurricane stress. Even longer when we consider that Florida got Fay and the East Coast got Hanna. All this hurricane activity fell around a time of year that for most in South Louisiana is the marker for the turning point in our lives. We have PreKatrina lives and PostKatrina lives. So, here in New Orleans, when we woke up on September 14th to cool (by our standards) dry air with a hint of the coming fall, it was nothing short of a miraculous gift from the Gods.

The changing of the seasons here in New Orleans and South Louisiana is a subtle thing. Our weather isn't always subtle, but the change in seasons definitely is. Weather that would be considered summer in Minnesota or Montana or even Massachusetts, can start here as early as March and last until November. While in September we begin to hope for Fall, we rarely get a glimpse so soon and even more rarely so close to the Autumn Equinox. Since Nature is the Great Teacher, I am hopeful that this breath of fall from the Gods is a sign that this year's hurricane season is on its way out. Here's hoping the weather in your world speaks to you as well.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Words of Aradia: Concerning Rebirth

These words are taken from Italian Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi:

The human body will eventually fade away after the death experience. Yet the soul cannot be destroyed, nor is it subject to physical actions and restrictions.

After death of the body, the soul is still connected to its form for three days. For a period of seven days the soul is earthbound. After this it will be escorted by the Old Ones to the Moon Worlds.

For Strega the desire is to enter the world of Luna and be prepared for rebirth. The Strega also desires to be born among the loved ones that he or she knew in lives that have passed.

The ancient teachings tell us that the soul enters a cycle of seven lives through which it strives to be complete. Each cycle is followed by another until the soul is complete and physical life is no longer necessary.

The memory of a past live if often hidden from the present consciousness so that each live is unique. Yet the memory can be recalled if truly desired. The memory of each life is contained within the soul. The soul is the True Self. Each physical body (and personality) is only a garment worn by the soul. It is not important whether you are a man or a woman, for each is but a small lesson, and you shall be both many times.

The Law of Return governs the life experience and conditions in each new life. But beyond all of this is the realm of Tartaru, which is the abyss. Here are the Souls that are inclined toward evil. Here are they kept in restriction until the Great Ones decree their fate.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Death & Disney

I had to attend a funeral today. It made me think about my Lasa/Lare Shrine and my Grandmother and explaining death to a 5 year old.

My Gran died when he was 83 years old. She was a "Tough Cookie". Everything I learned about tenacity and thoroughness and principle I learned at my Gran's knee. She could also occasionally be a pill, so I remember this when I slip or when my daughter shows these tendencies. Any way, during Gran's on and off stays at the hospital for the last ~8 months of her life my 5 year old daughter and I would visit Gran. My daughter had visited Gran regularly before the hospital stays started but, we visited every other weekend while she was in the hospital. I say this so you will know that my daughter *knew* her great-grandmother. This was the first person that she has ever known who died. So this was a *BIG* deal.

Here is where I thank Disney. There isn't much death in Disney. There are only a few scenes where you actually *see* death happen. I can recall the Mom's death in Bambi (but you really hear and *feel* that death more than see it), the Dragon in Sleeping Beauty, Ursula in the Little Mermaid, (which we “zoomed past” for a long time because of the negative witch portrayal) and the Gorilla in Tarzan. The Gorilla is Tarzan's pseudo father so seeing his death has a bigger impact on the watcher. About the 4th or 5th time we sat through Tarzan, my daughter asked me right after the Gorilla dies, "Mommie why do your eyes close when you die?" Uhmmmmmmm (quick Mom-thinking here)... "Well 'cause you don't need you eyes when you are dead."

My daughter is a big anatomy and physiology fan she wants to know how everything works. She has a huge kid's book, 3 feet high with pictures of kid anatomy and we've covered a lot of the how your body works stuff. So it’s not totally off the wall for me to say: "When we die we don't need our eyes, or our hearts any more that's why we can give them to other people whose eyes or hearts don't work as well or are making them sick or unable to run and play or read books." Well that is, thankfully, enough for her at the time and the end of the discussion.

When Gran died, I had to find a way to tell my daughter. I also had to prepare her for any stuff that people could say to her about her Gran's death. So we had a little quiet time that evening and I told her that Gran had died. With small kids it is sometimes hard to know what they think so I went on: "Mommie thinks that when you die you go on to be a spirit. We don't need our bodies any more and so we become spirits." I don't say Angels. I intentionally use the more generic term Spirit. And I very specifically say *Mommie thinks*, because Dad thinks when you're done, you're done, that's it! Here is where I thank Disney again. "Do you know how Mulan lights the incense and then the Blue Spirits come out and find a way to help Mulan?" Yes, big head nodding she remembers this... Who can forget the Blue Ancestor popping out and Eddie Murphy as Mushu! "Well now Gran is a Blue Spirit." More head nodding and eyes lighting up in anknowledgement. O.K. I see that works. Whew!

New Orleans is a very old fashion town so we have a wake/visitation but only from 8-11 AM. Then there is the service at the funeral home by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Pastor and I sit through it thinking how glad I am not to believe the stuff. When the service is over at 11:30 I dash out to get my daughter from School. The Gods must have helped with the timing because I got to school right at 11:40 which was when I said I would be there and as I was driving on to the cemetery I dropped off of the Interstate with the funeral procession exactly 5 blocks behind me. So we go on to the burial. We watch as the casket is taken out and I tell my daughter that even though Gran doesn't need her body anymore we still put her body in a special box and in a special place because we loved Gran. That works, thankfully, for my very practical daughter.

There was a huge flower arrangement on the casket from children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and after the service all of the children and grandchildren and great Grandchildren take a flower or 2 out of the arrangement. Later, after gathering with close friends and family for lunch, hanging out and telling tales about Gran, we go home. My 5 year old holds the flowers as we drive and we decide where we are going to put them. She wants to put hers in the dining room. I have 2 roses and say I'm going to put them in "Mommie's special spot downstairs". She dutifully remembers which flowers go where and makes sure that they get to the special spot. The special spot is, of course, my Lasa Shrine. I don't push anything that evening. The kid has had a full day, but she watches as I light a candle before going upstairs.

A few days later, I'm digging through some pictures to find a picture of my Gran and PaPa to place in the Lasa Shrine. I find it and my daughter helps me take it downstairs and I put it next to the flowers. And we talk, for the first time really, about the Lasa Shrine. "You know how Mulan goes to a special house to light the incense for her ancestors? Well this is Mommie's special spot for her ancestors and now that Gran is a spirit I thought that we could put her picture here and light a candle for her." Eyes lighting up, she gets it (totally cool!), then "Mommie can *I* light the candle?". Sure kid. Thanks Disney.

Ever notice that the Fairy in Pinocchio is Blue? Traditionally the lasa/spirit light and the life in the light of the spirit flame is said to be blue. Disney either got lucky or really did their homework or had a Pagan link way back there. I’m envisioning a sort of a group of modern Age of Enlightenment type thinkers, not really Pagan but open to those sorts of ideas. Either way it’s nice to be able to use these mundane tools to help explain my path to my daughter.

Words of Aradia: Concerning Death

These words are taken from Italian Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi:

Every beginning is also the ending of that which came before it. Every ending is likewise a beginning of that which is to follow. Coming and going are simply the two sides of the one journey.

Death is merely a change in awareness and of form. It is unfeared by the spirit, but often feared by the personality of the dying one. Yet the realm of death is like the dream worlds to which we journey in our sleep, and just as brief. Know that the spirit always moves to a higher state, and always toward the Light. The shadows of death can not keep us.

Upon dying we are purified by the elements as we rise into the ether. From life we go to dwell upon the Moon (within the Lunar and Astral Realms) and there await our return. In Luna we are given vitality and made strong again.

If the Great ones, who created all things, have seen within us the purity of Light, then shall we go forth to be forged by the Sun and taken to dwell among the stars, in our new divine form. If this is not to be, then shall we be given unto rebirth (according to our deeds) within the world of physical matter.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Any one who wishes to become a student working toward initiation, must read the "Beginner's Training Manual" - Italian Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi. So if you have an interest, read this book completely, think about the concepts and have questions ready before you look for a teacher. It has been my experience that one cannot be a partial Strega or Stregone. One either is or is not. There are many paths, this is but one.

Studying with a teacher typically means being willing to start fresh. Please be aware that what is published is more of an "outer court" introduction to Stregheria. The initiate Ways are taught by the teacher, and they DO differ from the books. Everyone comes to a tradition with experience and history. Some come with unpleasant baggage from other traditions. Some come with a wealth of positive experiences that may be different from what we practice. Everyone starts anew.

One becomes a member by being initiated into the Tradition by a Priest or Priestess after having dedicated to our ways and completed a course of study. As a Mystery Tradition we can only be taught by a Priest or Priestess and yes, this does mean joining the "group". Stregheria is meant to be a complete system practiced in groups. So anything other than group participation takes us a step away from the Tradition - a Tradition we are sworn to keep.

If you've "read the manual" and are still interested, please leave your contact information and a brief introduction on the comment section of this post. The comments are not posted until they are moderated. So your information is private and reviewed only by me via the website and later, with your permission, by a very limited number of potential teachers.

Blessings in your search, Nola

An Interview with Nola

I recently gave and interview to Christopher Blackwell on Stregheria.
It is in the Mabon 2008 edition.

Stregheria, Arician Tradition
Interview with a Third Degree Priestess - By Christopher Blackwell

Men sometimes complain that in Wicca there is no real position of importance for men, that besides being outnumbered by woman, the men sometimes feel that they are not really needed.

However, there are traditions where the man's role is every bit as important as the woman's. I asked a high priestess of the Stregheria, Arician Tradition, if she might explain some of the differences between her tradition and Wicca.

Christopher: Tell us a bit about yourself and how long you have practiced this tradition.

Nola: Let's see... I'll try to keep it short. I live in New Orleans and have all my life. I've traveled quite extensively in North America, Mexico, Central America and Europe, but have yet to touch Asia, Australia, South America or Antarctica. In all my travels I have never found a place as wonderfully interesting as my hometown. It's the most European city in America and definitely has a unique vibe.

My college training is in the sciences and this scientific approach colors the way I look at things and learn. When I look at what quantum physics tells us today, I have to work really hard not to see the metaphysical connections. As Arthur C. Clarke said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." I work for one of the largest corporations in the world, am a wife, mom and post-Katrina community leader.

I've practiced this tradition since 1995.

Christopher: I believe that I have read that this tradition predates Wicca?

Nola: Our tradition’s thoughts on this are explained on the website above.

Something I believe should be clarified here is that Wicca is essentially a 20th century name so by definition almost all groups pre-date "Wicca". Every society/civilization called their religion by different names. Our tradition is based in a family tradition. The family tradition is documented back to the 14th Century. The links go back much farther. Our tradition has been extensively researched by its leaders and practitioners. It tends to attract those who want to dig deeply into the past and its practices. The last (academic) book I read with links to my tradition was Roman Religion and The Cult of Diana at Aricia by CMC Green. This book is not about our tradition but, as a practitioner, it is easy to see the historical links to what I have been taught. Oh and one other clarification our tradition is not a Roman tradition. It is pre-Roman, pagan in the “of the countryside” meaning of the word. It both pre-dates and was influenced by the Roman religion.

There are some who believe that what is practiced today by Pagans/Heathens/Wiccans is “neo”, a recreation or a creation based research and personal expression and that there is no such thing as a link to historical pagan past or a valid family tradition. We respect the rights of others to think this way. We can only hope that others respect that we see things differently.

Christopher: You mentioned that men have a very definite place in the cycle of yearly ceremonies in your tradition?

Nola: YES. Our year is divided in half. From May Day until Shadowfest the Goddess rules and the High Priestess leads the rituals. From Shadowfest until May Day the God rules and the High Priest leads the rituals. The leaders ritually give their reign over to the other at the appointed times. But that is not to say that the God or Goddess is not present when not ruling. In the winter, under the God's rule, it is quieter, more constrictive. In the silence She whispers in our ear. In the Summer, under Her rule, He calls us outside to work and play under the Sun. The Moon weaves in and out traversing the seasons, and in the lunar rites, He is there, shining light on Her. The lunar rituals are a bit more focused on the Goddess. The Solar rituals tell the story of the God and Goddess. We always have both icons on our altar to honor the balance between them. In our rituals men and women often come together to honor and bless each other.

Our deities are in an eternal dance and we are invited to dance with them. To enter this flow, the flow of Nature, of the moon and seasons, of the waxing and waning, we come to understand ourselves better, and see how we are aligned with the Gods. Through this alignment, we find divine rapport.

Our Tradition, Arician, is meant to be practiced in groups and is best practiced with an equal number of males and females. While we can practice as a solitary we cannot practice the Ways completely on our own. We understand the wholeness of Deity but because we are human we conceive of Deity as both male and female, God and Goddess. Nature is the Great Teacher who we look to for our understanding

Christopher: Not all groups use things like the Rede or or the Rule of Three. What does your tradition use for ethics?

Nola: We take personal responsibility for our thoughts and actions. We follow The Covenant of Aradia and we have our Basic Tenets of Belief and most importantly we have The Words of Aradia.

I suppose that the Rede's most direct correlations are in Aradia's Words Concerning the Law of Return: "Every act you perform will draw to itself three times the nature of the act (affecting us on three levels: soul, mind and body.) Such is the law. This affects not only the acts of each day but reaches into the future as well. Here the law establishes that those debts must be paid."

AND Concerning Freedom: "Freedom allows the mind body & spirit to be free of shame, guilt and restrictions… Freedom to act as you desire, harming no one by your deeds is the gift of Freedom."

But there are Words Concerning Nature, the Earth, Life, Death, Rebirth, The Gods, The Goddess, The God, Worship, Elements, The Astral plane, Magick, Christianity, Love, Sexuality, Marriage and others. The Words on each subject are few but when we take them and listen to the fact that Nature is the Great Teacher and integrate these with our mythos and celebrations around the wheel of the year, we can learn endless lessons.

Christopher: Do you use different seasonal celebrations than Wicca?

Nola: Yes and no. We all honor and revere Nature and Nature plays a huge part in defining the seasonal rituals. Our solar seasonal rituals fall at the standard pagan times for solar ritual. We have an established and integrated mythos that weaves through the seasons and differs slightly from the standard mythos associated with Wicca.

We have consorted deities, and they move through the year as one would expect: She gives birth to her child and lover at Winter Solstice. He grows, gains strength and proves himself, as the Sun waxes (Lupercus – Feb 2). They both mature (Spring Equinox). They come together at Lady's Day in May, and by Summer Equinox they wed, so that the Great Mother can bring forth the God’s gift of harvest (Aug 1). Later in that harvest, He is slain (the Slain God – Autumn Equinox) and departs to the Underworld; She mourns him, and follows, to understand the mystery of Death. She does not die, but goes before the Lord of Shadows and great mysteries are shared (Shadowfest – Oct). They couple, and bring forth the ever-reborn Child of Promise at the Winter Solstice. We also celebrate lunar rituals at each full moon.

Christopher: Does one have to have a particular ancestral background to be a member?

Nola: No. I freely admit that I was personally surprised to find what I had been looking for in an Italian tradition. I am not of Italian ancestry. In the New World many, if not most, are adopted or "Initiated" into our Tradition by a Priest or Priestess who can trace their Initiation to a particular blood-line.

Many traditions have the concept of reincarnation. Reincarnation is about your soul's path, not your genetics. Genetics help teach us the lessons we need to learn and can provide important links to our past. But our soul is not bound by the limitations of the physical. To paraphrase Aradia’s Words on Life: We are spiritual beings having a physical experience.

Christopher: Does becoming a member mean joining a group?

Nola: Eventually yes. What it means most is being willing to start fresh. Everyone comes to a tradition with experience and history. Some come with unpleasant baggage from other traditions. Some come with a wealth of positive experiences that may be different from what we practice. One must first find a teacher who will work with them. One studies with a teacher, or on a list with teachers (teachers are second degree and up.) One becomes a member by being initiated into the Tradition by a Priest or Priestess after having dedicated to our ways and completed a course of study. As a Mystery Tradition we can only be taught by a Priest or Priestess and yes, this does mean joining the "group". Stregheria is meant to be a complete system practiced in groups. So anything other than group participation takes us a step away from the Tradition - a Tradition we are sworn to keep.

Times as they are demand compromise. Our group practices as solitaries, remembering the group rites, and come together from all over the country to gather and circle as we can. Meanwhile, we stay linked via a Yahoo group and phone calls.

Christopher: How can our readers learn more?

Nola: Students of our Ways start with Raven Grimassi's books on Italian Witchcraft. Please be aware that what is published is more of an "outer court" introduction to Stregheria. The initiate Ways are taught by the teacher, and they DO differ from the books.

Christopher: What else would you like our readers to know about this tradition?

Nola: In a world where many enjoy doing their "own thing," our Tradition offers structure: it is a complete system, wherein everything has a purpose and reason. We can look across our mythos’ Wheel of the Year and see how we have come to this point. Our deities are consorted, so we never have to wonder who to invoke with whom. They rule realms - the earth, the heavens (sun & moon) and the Universe (stellar realm). Our Guardians watch over and guard us. Like Wiccans, our Tradition recognizes elementals and nature spirits. Our color associations are different, our tools are similar. It is rich and complete and works. It is a tradition that acknowledges, respects, and *requires* the contributions of male and female equally. It is a participatory system. One has to "do it" and not just read about it to know it. It does require a commitment and effort. It has been my experience that one cannot be a partial Streghe. One either is or is not. Over time and with practice the system lives within us, allowing us to perceive more clearly all that we endeavor.

Christopher: Thank you for your time and information.

Nola: Christopher, You are most welcome. It has been my pleasure.