I personally feel it is important to see 'who' and 'what' Diana and Aradia were and are to many traditions. Yes, there are many legends of Diana and Aradia, and yes more than one culture has their own definition. This is true with most pagan orientated cultures, the names get changed or mangeled or mutated if pronunciation was difficult.
There appear to be 4 'Aradia's': Queen of the Witches (daughter of Diana and Lucifer); a Holy Woman or female Christ figure who lived in 14th century Italy and taught Witchcraft; the subject of Leland's book; and known as Herodias according to the Bible, was responsible for the beheading of John the Baptist.
Diana is seen as the Roman Goddess of Light, Moon Goddess, Queen of Heaven, Lunar Virgin (please note that to the Romans, the word 'virgin' meant a woman who had never been married or pregnant, not a woman who had never had sex), Goddess of Wildwood, Divine Huntress, Protector of Animals, and Lady of Beasts.
In 'To Ride A Silver Broomstick' by Silver RavenWolf, Diana is noted as being: Roman, Moon Goddess and Goddess of the Hunt. Diana is many faceted. She is a seductress as well as a mother figure for Witches.
To some Diana is considered to be the equal or the same as: the Greek Artemis; the Kemetic (ancient Egyptian) Bast; the Egyptian Hathor; the Kemetic (ancient Egyptian) Isis; the Phoenician Astarte; the Babylonian Ishtar; the Celtic Brigid; the Babylonian/Sumerian Inanna; the Welsh Cerridwin; and the Hebrew Lilith.
The excavation of the temple of Diana Nemorensis was undertaken in 1885, by Sir John Savile Lumley, now Lord Savile of Rutherford, the English ambassador at Rome, with the kind consent of the Italian government. It seems that this Artemisium Nemorense was not only a place of worship and devotion, but also a hydro-therapeutic establishment. The waters employed for the cure were those which spring from the lava rocks at Nemi, and fell in graceful cascades into the lake, at a place called "Le Mole." Diana, however, was chiefly worshipped in this place as Diana Lucina.
According to Leland: when Diana divided herself to create Darkness and Light, the Light was Lucifer. Diana used magic to charm and seduce Lucifer. She changed places with a cat and lay with her brother Lucifer, thus conceiving Aradia. Diana decided she liked magic and wanted to develop it. She disguised herself as a mortal woman and went to earth to teach magick and sorcery. She found that times were very hard. Many people were oppressed; so she decided to teach them magic so they could take care of themselves and protect themselves from their oppressors. Diana became very powerful and could not remain hidden. So Aradia was taught witchcraft by Diana and was bade to teach mortals on earth.
'The Golden Bough' states: On the northern shore of the lake, right under the precipitous cliffs on which the modern village of Nemi is perched, stood the sacred grove and sanctuary of Diana Nemorensis, or Diana of the Wood. According to one story the worship of Diana at Nemi was instituted by Orestes, who, after killing Thoas, King of the Tauric Chersonese (the Crimea), fled with his sister to Italy, bringing with him the image of the Tauric Diana hidden in a faggot of sticks. After his death his bones were transported from Aricia to Rome and buried in front of the temple of Saturn, on the Capitoline slope, beside the temple of Concord. The bloody ritual which legend ascribed to the Tauric Diana is familiar to classical readers; it is said that every stranger who landed on the shore was sacrificed on her altar. Of the worship of Diana at Nemi some leading features can still be made out. From the votive offerings which have been found on the site, it appears that she was conceived of especially as a huntress, and further as blessing men and women with offspring, and granting expectant mothers an easy delivery. Again, fire seems to have played a foremost part in her ritual. The sacred grove was dedicated to Diana by a certain Egerius Baebius or Laevius of Tusculum, a Latin dictator, on behalf of the peoples of Tusculum, Aricia, Lanuvium, Laurentum, Cora, Tibur, Pometia, and Ardea. This tradition indeed speaks for the great age of the sanctuary, since it seems to date its foundation sometime before 495 B.C. The same ancient pair of deities was variously known among the Greek and Italian peoples as Zeus and Dione, Jupiter and Juno, or Dianus (Janus) and Diana (Jana), the names of the divinities being identical in substance, though varying in form with the dialect of the particular tribe which worshipped them.
Diana also had a santuary on Aventine Hill in Rome and under Roman rule, Diana took over the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. The Temple at Ephesus dates from the 4th century BC.
According to 'Aradia:Gospel of the Witches', Leland writes: "Then having obtained a pilgrim's dress, she traveled far and wide, teaching and preaching the religion of old times, the religion of Diana, the Queen of the Fairies and of the Moon, the goddess of the poor and the oppressed. And the fame of her wisdom and beauty went forth over all the land, and people worshipped her, calling her La Bella Pellegrina (the beautiful pilgrim)."
In 'To Ride A Silver Broomstick' by Silver RavenWolf, Aradia is noted as being: Italian Goddess sworn to protect her people against the aggression of masculine faith and its persecutors during the reign of Medieval terror. Silver RavenWolf also states that 'the symbol of Aradia is the red garter.'
According to the Bible, Mark 6:14-29; Aradia is a corruption of Herodias who was identified with Diana, and who was directly responsible for the death of John the Baptist. Leland's book refutes this: 'Aradia is not derived from the Herodias of the New Testament, but from an earlier replica of Lilith bearing the same name.'
In Jeremiah 44:71 we read the following: 'But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.' This reminds me of Leland's Aradia, who says 'we should make cakes in the shape of the Moon for Diana'.
Invocation to Aradia
Hail, Aradia! From the Amalthean horn
Pour forth thy store of love; I lowly bend
Before thee, I adore thee to the end
With loving sacrifice thy shrine adorn.
Thy foot is to my lip, my prayer upborns
Upon the rising incense-smoke; then spend
Thine ancient love, O Mighty One, descend
To aid me, who without thee am forlorn.
From: The Witches' Goddess, by Janet and Stewart Farrar
I am Aradia,
daughter of the sea and daughter of the wind;
daughter of the Sun, and daughter of the Moon;
daughter of dawn, and daughter of sunset;
daughter of night, and daughter of the mountains.
From: Wicca, by Vivianne Crowley
O My Goddess, Diana, hear my song of adoration.
Hear my voice when I sing Thy praises.
Hear my songs as they rise heavenward,
When the Full Moon, brightly shining,
Fills the heavens with Thy beauty.
O my beautiful Moon Goddess,
Hear me as I stand before Thee.
See me when I reach toward heaven,
When my arms reach upward toward Thee.
When the Full Moon shines upon me,
Give me Thy blessings, O Diana.
Teach me of Thine ancient mysteries,
Ancient rites of invocation that the Holy Strega spoke of,
For I believe the Strega's story:
When she spoke of Thy shining glory,
When she told us to entreat Thee,
Told us when we seek for knowledge to seek
And find Thee above all others.
Give us wisdom, O Diana:
How to bind our oppressors,
How to cure the sick among us.
Teach me, O Diana.
Give me Thy blessings, O Great Moon Goddess.
Shield me from my oppressors.
Receive me as your daughter, Diana.
Receive me, though I am earth-bound.
Grant me ancient Wiccan knowledge.
When my body lies resting nightly, speak unto my inner spirit;
Teach me all Thy holy mysteries.
believe Thine ancient promise,
Thy promise unto the ancient Wicca
That we who seek Thy holy presence will receive Thy Wisdom.
Now the Full Moon shines upon me.
Hear me! I stand before Thee!
Grant me wisdom! O Diana!
Shield me from my oppressors!
Teach me Thine holy mysteries!
I sing Thy praises unto the heavens.
Let Thy glory shine about me.
Bless us, O gracious Queen of Heaven.
Descend Thou among us;
Descend and conquer, Gracious Goddess.
Taken from : The Witches Workbook: The Magick Grimoire of Lady Sheba
by Jessie Wicker Bell, pub. Kensington Pub. Co., 1975
Whenever ye have need of anything, once in the month, and better it be when the moon is full, then shall ye assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of me, who am Queen of all the witches. There shall ye assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, yet have not won its deepest secrets; to these will I teach things that are yet unknown. And ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that ye be really free, ye shall be naked in your rites; and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love, all in my praise.
For mine is the ecstasy of the spirit, and mine also is joy on earth; for my law is love unto all beings. Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever towards it; let naught stop you or turn you aside. For mine is the secret door which opens upon the Land of Youth, and mine is the cup of the wine of life, and the Cauldron of Cerridwen, which is the Holy Grail of immortality. I am the Gracious Goddess, who gives the gift of joy unto the heart of man. Upon earth, I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal; and beyond death, I give peace and freedom and reunion with those who have gone before. Nor do I demand aught in sacrifice; for behold, I am the Mother of all living, and my love is poured out upon the earth.
Hear ye the words of the Star Goddess; she in the dust of whose feet are the hosts of heaven, and whose body encircles the Universe.
I who am the beauty of the green earth, and the white Moon among the stars, and the mystery of the waters, and the desire of the heart of man,
call unto thy soul. Arise, and come unto me. For I am the soul of nature, who gives life to the universe. From me all things proceed, and unto me all things must return; and before my face, beloved of Gods and of men, let thine innermost divine self be enfolded in the rapture of the infinite.
Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth; for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. And therefore let there be beauty and strength,
power and compassion, honour and humility, mirth and reverence within you. And thou who thinkest to seek for me, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not unless thou knowest the mystery; that if that which thou seekest thee findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee.
For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.
by: Doreen Valiente
When I shall have departed from this world,
Whenever ye have need of anything,
Once in the month, and when the moon is full,
Ye shall assemble in some desert place,
Or in a forest all together join
To adore the potent spirit of your queen,
My mother, great Diana. She who fain
Would learn all sorcery yet has not won
Its deepest secrets, then my mother will
Teach her, in truth all things as yet unknown
And ye shall all be freed from slavery,
And so ye shall be free in everything;
And as the sign that ye are truly free,
Ye shall be naked in your rites, both men
And women also.
From: 'Aradia: the Gospel of Witches' by Charles Leland
Here are my thoughts on the 1st few sentences of Leland's Charge of Aradia:
"Whenever you have need of anything.."
This would seem to tell us we can gather (either as a solitary or a group) in Her name when we truly have a need: perhaps a healing, special requests from a person or group. I don't think I need a special reason or need to acknowledge the Goddess or God. I do a daily devotional in the morning and again before going to bed. I may not have a need, other than to greet and say hello to Her.
"...once in the month when the Moon is full.."
We must gather at least at the times of the full Moon.
"Then you shall come together at some deserted place, or where there are woods..."
We need to gather in one of Natures places: woods, meadows, forest; where ever we can be in touch with nature and away from distractions. Being outside, under the stars, or in the rain, in the snow, it brings us closer to Nature. It made me appreciate our Earth more and see the real beauty of what surrounds us in Nature.
"...and give worship to She who is Queen of all Witches."
This instructs us to give due thanks and praise to the Goddess. She takes many forms: Mother, Maiden, Enchantress, Crone. She also has many names.
"..secrets that are as yet unknown shall be revealed."
Well, I don't know if they are exactly secrets, but perhaps a remembering. Being outside and close to Nature lets us see with 'new' eyes what nature truly is. To me, its the Earth, the Sky, the Stars, the Sun, the Moon, the trees, the animals, the rivers, the oceans.
Aradia: Gospel of the Witches, by Charles Leland
The Golden Bough, by Sir James George Frazer, 1922
To Ride A Silver Broomstick, by Silver RavenWolf
Encyclopedia of Gods and Goddesses, by Michael Jordan, 1993
Pagan and Christian Rome, by Rudolfo Lanciani, 1892
The King James Bible
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