I just posted this in one of the FB group in which I participate. I thought that folks here might find it interesting...
New topic (bound to be controversial!)
Let's talk about how Italian words are used by Westerners (specifically, English speakers).
Often, English speakers will modify foreign words to make them sound better within an English sentence. For instance, in English, a person who practices "Wicca" is referred to as "Wiccan". However, a person who practices "Stregheria" is "a Strega", not "Streghan". Personally, I feel that if someone is going to use a foreign word, it's important to understand the word in the native language from which it originates and use it in that context. Of course, it can get even more complicated when we start to get into colloquial expressions! If one still chooses to anglicize a foreign word after knowing it's origins and use, then at least it is an informed choice.
Below are common Italian words that we use in this forum. I'd like to offer how *I* use them. This is not meant to tell others that they aren't using them correctly but is instead offered as a way of explaining how I heard them used when I was in Sicily:
Stregheria - archaic word Witchcraft. As Raven says, "The 18th century writings of Giorlamo Tartorotti refers to "Stregheria" as the survival of the cult of the goddess Diana". I use Stregheria to indicate "Pagan religious Witchcraft" based in the Italic cultures.
Stregoneria - the common word in modern Italy used to indicate Witchcraft. As Raven says, "In mainstream Italian culture "Stregoneria" means harmful magic and is associated with the Devil". (Vinnie notes - just as the word "witchcraft" does in most mainstream Western cultures.) I use Stregoneria to indicate witchcraft as a magical practice regardless of religious, spiritual, or ethical association; i.e. folk magic and tradition as a practice rather than a vocation.*
Strega (una strega) - singular, female witch
Stregone (uno stregone) - singular, male witch
Streghe - plural of strega; i.e. a group of female witches (also commonly used to indicate a group of witches of mixed sex)
Stregoni - plural of stregone; i.e. a group of male witches
della strega - possessive singular; i.e. The witch's broom (La scopa della strega)
delle streghe - possessive plural; i.e. The witches' broom (La scopa delle streghe)
Words that are not Italian but commonly used by English speakers:
Stregan, Streghan, Stregherian - These are American derivations of Italian words but not actually Italian. They are often used to indicate a practitioner of witchcraft (stregheria or stregoneria). However, a person who practices stregheria (or stregoneria) is not "stregan" or "stregherian". A person who practices Stregheria is a "a strega" or "a stregone" (English) [or "una strega" or "uno stregone" (Italian)].
*Nota bene: I was always told that in Italy/Sicily, the word Strega was always negative and never used as a self-identifier. I was very surprised to find that to be the case "for the general, non-magical public" but not necessarily for the magical community. For the general public, like in parts of our culture, Strega (or any type of witchcraft) most definitely has a very negative connotation. However, that's starting to change. There are dozens of shows (mostly for teens and pre-teens) where the good guys are witches. Kinda like the Disney show "Witches of Waverly Place". What I did notice was that the word Strega was almost never used on its own by the *general* populace. It was always clarified with something like: strega cattiva, strega buona, strega bella, strega maga, etc. to indicate what type of strega, as if the word (on its own) was simply an indicator of a practitioner of magic (folk or cultural).
I encourage all my students to get a basic understanding of Italian music, culture, food and language in order to understand the context from which Italic Craft is derived. I hope that you found this "buon argomento di meditazione" (good food for thought).
Thanks for pointing that out! Some words I incorrectly assume everyone knows. :-)
A Very Powerful Charm:
Scongiurazione della pietra bucata.
Una pietra bucata
Ne ringrazio il destin,
E lo spirito che su questa via
Mi ha portata,
Che passa essere il mio bene,
E la mia buona fortuna!
Mi alzo la mattina al alba,
E a passegio me ne vo
Nelle valli, monti e campi,
La fortuna cercarvo
Della ruta e la verbena,
Quello so porta fortuna
Me lo tengo in senno chiuso
E saperlo nessuno no le deve,
E cosi cio che commendo,
La verbena far ben per me!
Benedica quella strege!
Quella fàta che mi segna!"
Diana fu quella
Che mi venne la notte in sogno
E nu disse: "Se tu voir tener,
Le cattive persone da te lontano,
Devi tenere sempre ruta con te,
Sempre ruta con te e verbena!"
Diana, tu che siei la regina
Del cielo e della terra e dell'inferno,
E siei la prottetrice degli infelici,
Dei ladri, degli assassini, e anche
Di donne di mali affari se hai conosciuto,
Che non sia stato l'indole cattivo
Delle persone, tu Diana,
Diana il hai fatti tutti felici!
Una altra volta ti scongiuro
Che tu non abbia ne pace ne bene,
Tu possa essere sempre in mezzo alle pene,
Fino che la grazia che to ti chiedo
Non mi farai!
From the Gospel of Aradia, yes?
Indeed, I can see you are familiar! The use of the term "strege", what is your take on that, a regional nuance?
In native Italy and Sicily, the word (and magic in general) got a very negative association as a result of the Christian church - anything not them was evil. (Just like in England and the USA). Outsiders and common folk used it negatively because that's what the church taught. I've met a number of native Italians and Sicilians (and their American counterparts) who self-identify as Streghe when talking with other magical practitioners.
When I came back from Sicily I wrote this as part of a blog:
I was always told that it Italy/Sicily, the word Strega was always negative and never used as a self-identifier. I was very surprised to find that to be the case "for the general, non-magical public" but not necessarily for the magical community.
For the general public, like in parts of our culture, Strega (or any type of witchcraft) most definitely has a very negative connotation. However, that's starting to change. There are dozens of shows (mostly for teens and pre-teens) where the good guys are witches. Kinda like the Disney show "Witches of Waverly Place". What I did notice was that the word Strega was almost never used on its own by the *general* populace. It was always clarified with something like: strega cattiva, strega buona, strega bella, strega maga, etc. to indicate what type of strega, as if the word (on its own) was simply an indicator of a practitioner of magic (folk or cultural but not ceremonial).
The pagan magical practitioners that I met often used Strega-XXX or simply a dialectical word. I heard: "magara", "maiare", "maga/mago/magoi" (which my family uses), and even "fattucchiere", "maghiardzha", and "pratico". It seems there's no end. Those pagan religious witches that I personally met often used one word to describe the magical practice (what we do) and another for their spiritual practice (what we experience/believe). Apparently, context is KEY. A word may be appropriate in one setting but WRONG in another setting.
Hope that was useful!
Thanks for that Vinnie.
Very interesting to see this still as a closet concept in Italy. And of course, it does not surprise me at all under the guise of Catholic church dominance in the region.
I'll research the meaning of the various terms you mention here, and give you some feedback on it.
I know we may be in different cities but I believer in networking with our community, locally and all over the world.
I am spending the day telling our community about PaganFaire2014. It’s going to be a great event. Starting at 10:00 am until 5:00 pm, there will be Hawaiian food from Ohana’s; a all day talent stage (belly dancers, Celtic music, etc.); Pagan/Wiccan artisans, and a wonderful Spring Equinox Ritual at the end of the day, 7:00 pm.
“Diana’s Silver Daughter: Aradia in the 21st. Century!”
If you are in the Portland Oregon area (or you know someone who will be) come to PaganFaire2014 and connect, or reconnect, with your community. This is a wonderful way to show support and practice our spirituality.
The more we go to these fairs and buy from our folks, the more we can avoid being or supporting the corporate world!
If you would like to vend at the fair: email@example.com
Please help spread the word about PaganFaire2014! No matter where you live, post this and share it with everyone.
Blessed be, Jamie Okulam
PS When you visit the fair, come up and introduce yourself to me so I can say Hi!