On New Years day, she handed over to him a document in her own handwriting, the Vangel , which is the core of this book.
Maddelena then reportedly went missing, and never contacted Leland again. The authenticity of Aradia has always been in question.
Aradia or The Gospel of the Witches
Ronald Hutton, in his scholarly study of the roots of neo-Paganism, The Triumph of the Moon Oxford University Press, , presents three divergent theories about Aradia: first, that is a genuine text of an underground Italian Goddess religion, second, that Maddelena wrote it based on her family tradition, or third, that Charles Leland forged it based on his extensive knowledge of folklore.
Each of these theories has pros and cons: it may be that the second and third are closest to the truth.
Until now Aradia has been a work more often cited than read. Its first edition garnered only one review, and sank from sight like a stone cast into murky waters; it sold poorly and is now a rare book. By chance a copy fell into the hands of Theda Kenyon, who devoted a few pages to it in her sensational Witches Still Live , thereby calling it to the attention of many readers.
By the s Doreen Valiente had read Aradia , and she incorporated some of its most beautiful passages into the Wiccan rituals that she wrote. Aradia has always been a controversial work, among Witches and scholars alike.
Scholars have questioned whether it may be a fiction or a forgery by Leland or by his principal informant, Maddalena Margherita Taludi. Witches have objected to it on theological and ethical grounds, since some of the myths that it tells are about Lucifer and Cain as well as Diana and Aradia, some of its spells work by threatening or coercing the Deities and spirits, and in its revolutionary fervor it does not shrink even from teaching that the poor and downtrodden should use poisons to destroy their feudal overlords.
Despite all that, it remains a beautiful and compelling work. This edition has brought the format and typography up to date, while keeping the text unchanged.
Related Aradia; or, The gospel of the witches
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