'Strega' is an old word, derived from the Latin 'Strix' and every dialect has a word and a legend for it. The word 'strega' in modern Italian means 'witch' or 'hag'. Some common names found throughout Italy are: Strie, Gatte Masciare, Zobiane and Streghe Marine. The word for 'witch' is different in various parts of Italy.
The Stregherian calendar acknowledges Eight Treguendas. During this time, we undergo 13 Full Moon phases, one every 28 1/4 days. It was once believed that the shadowed areas of the Moon were forests where the Goddess Diana hunted. In Italy, witches do not use the word Sabbat for their seasonal rites. The Italian word is Treguenda (Tray-gwen-dah). In modern Italian the word Treguenda means 'quarterly or every three months'. In the Stregherian tradition there are eight Treguendas: four major and four minor. The major festivals occur in October, February, May and August and these are the Spiritual rites. The minor festivals occur on the Spring and Autumn Equinox and on the Summer and Winter Solstice. These are the Earth festivals and are seasonal and agriculture-related in nature.
The Old Religion of Italy first began to form around the beliefs of early, pre-Etruscan Italians. The mystery teachings and the magickal practices were further developed and refined by the Etruscans, who appeared in Italy around 1000 B.C.E., establishing the great Etruscan Empire. The Etruscans were known historically for their great magickal and mystical knowledge. With the rise of the Roman Empire, other factors began to influence Italian religion.
What we call the Lare today, were, in early Etruscan times called the Lasa. In Stregheria, the Lare represent not only ancient family ties, but the spirits who protect and preserve the Old Religion and its followers. The Lasa were the spirits of the West (ancestral ties) and the Lare were spirits of the East (preservation of Ways). Lasa was the name the Etruscans gave nature spirits, those which had once been human, now moving on through their spiritual evolution. So there was a connection to the people from the past, an ancestral connection. Now, when we say 'Lasa', we mean these nature spirits. The Romans called them the Lare and emphasized even more their ancestral nature, connecting specifically with the collective consciousness of all their familial predecessors. The streghe families kept this concept alive, gaining strength and aid from staying linked with the streghe that had gone before. The Lare are centered on the family and its doings and have strong ties to actual ancestors. The Lasa are less 'domestic' and their roots are in all of humanity. Once the Lare shrine has been established, you have a presence in your home. So you would approach the shrine with the awareness that you are going to speak to a respected elder. Light a candle and incense as a focusing act, and place a nectar offering. Then ask for their help in the same way you would a person, clearly stating what you need assistance with and then respectfully request their aid. Thank them at the end of this. It's important to interact with them not only when you need help. They should be included in birthdays and other family events, just as you would another family member. If you read up on Roman practices regarding the Lare and ancestral spirits, it's pretty obvious that this was an extremely important feature of the culture.
In Stregheria we call the elements from the altar. Our first encounter with the Watchers or Grigori is when we cast the circle. We call forth the Watchers to 'watch' or oversee the ritual and whatever workings we may be doing. I personally believe that the Watchers will watch over us if we are initiated or not. The witch is watched and aided by the Grigori. Every act of magick is seen and noted by the Grigori. This does not mean that the Grigori will stop a working, we are each responsible for our actions. Just that all workings are noted and we all need to think about what we do - before - we do it. I personally view the Grigori as a sort of 'conscienceness' whereby I weigh the aspects for what I wish to do and the consequences thereof. We call the Grigori to our rites so they can help us with our workings and to oversee what we are doing. By calling the Grigori we invoke the nature of that Watcher within ourselves. They are protectors of the ritual circle. The Grigori are of a 'higher' realm and guard the portals to the gods. They were once known as the archangels, who are above the elemental rulers, too. As Strega, we don't view the elemental rulers and the Grigori as being the same. They're distinct entities, and the Grigori are not elemental in nature. Rather, they might be seen as 'superior' to, or supervising the elements. Do not ever play the game of leaving it all up to higher powers to decide whether it's ok to do a working or spell. They 'may' intervene, but the responsibility is 'entirely' yours.
Benandanti, (a term roughly translated into 'good walkers,' 'those who go well' or 'good-doers') were participants in the lingering remnants of an ancient agrarian cult in northern Italy. The Benandanti were thought to have the ability to contact the world of the dead and to exercise control over the powers of nature for the benefit of society. In their role as protectors of agricultural fertility, they entered into catatonic states, during which they envisioned themselves armed with fennel stalks and astride cats, goats, and horses, engaging in fierce nocturnal battles. The Benandanti testified they left their bodies at night, (what we now call astral projection. While 'out' they performed work which, we now know from modern research, was typical of shamans around the world. They healed and protected people of the village, and they kept the paths of the dead from this world to the next secure.
Lupercus, son of (the Godddess & God) Diana and Dianus; taken by the Grigori to prove his worthiness; tested with twelve labors. After completing these labors, he dwelt among the wolves. Lupercus is easily identifiable as he usually wears a wolf pelt. Each day Lupercus would wake up and journey across the heavens, gathering the souls of those who had died and delivered them to Luna. I can only find two myths/legends that had to perform 12 labors. Both of these 'heros' had to prove their strength and worthiness to attain their goals. The other hero is Hercules, who was the son of (the God) Zeus and (the mortal) Alcmene.
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