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Defining Moments

We all have those moments in our life where it all comes together like a Jigsaw puzzle, that moment where you see that every choice has brought you to this very moment in time, because you were meant to be there. I have been blessed to have had these moments of "the puzzle pieces coming together." I have also had moments where I couldn't see the forest for the trees and felt that everything I was experiencing was all a construct of my own delusional mind.  If it wasn't for The Readings, I received from Candelo Kimbisa and Ifa Abeyo and the introduction to Conjure work and The ATR, I would be lost, in the dark and potentially dead. If it wasn't for the decision to silence myself and listen to the words I had been told and to start in earnest to practice Conjure and connect with my Ancestors. I would not have found myself again. At one point in time Paganism had saved me in the same way, and it was a series of readings I received that saved my life in just the same fashion. As I have mentioned, I felt a connection with Italian Witchcraft from the very beginning of my Education. In my mediation, I believed The First Goddess to ever make herself known to me was The Italian Goddess Aradia. I was taught she was a legendary Italian Witch who claimed to be the Daughter of the Moon Goddess Diana and through her works had become a Goddess. Her legend prevailed around the 14th Century and she was known as The Beautiful Pilgrim La Bella Pellegrina. I have since learned Strega do not view Aradia as a Goddess, but as a High Holy Strega. Much like Catholics venerate The Virgin Mary, but do not worship her. I have also learned the legend has weight in Italian history and it is debated whether or not she was a real person. My metaphysical training was over the course of 4 years, at the end of it I had to write a thesis of sorts. I decided to write it on Italian Witchcraft, I learned a lot in my research. My research lead me to believe that it was a very different practice than what I was learning. It spoke of connecting with Familiar Spirits in order to achieve your desired outcome, this concept seemed so foreign to me even as a Witch. You can't work with Spirits like that! Right? It spoke of it being an oral tradition that is passed down from generation to generation and the way each Family cares for their Spirits is different. It also spoke of working more outside in nature, dance work, trance work, Spirit possession, herbalism, and medicine work. It spoke of town Called Benevento which has a legendary walnut tree that Strega would come to dance under and use it to create medicine until it was ordered to be uprooted once Rome became a Christian land, as means to stop the witches from gathering there. It is said The Tree magically reappears on nights of The Strega Sabbath so we can dance under it again. Reading about all of these things even 4 years in of practicing Witchcraft scared me, but also really intrigued me. Ultimately though I knew that I would never really know how it was practiced unless I found an Italian High Priestess/Priest to study under. I forgot about it and continued to train in The Celtic path I was learning.In beginning of 2010 shortly after I turned in my thesis, I found myself moving away from my Coven to Las Vegas, Nevada. Life in Las Vegas was hard and I sincerely questioned why I moved. I made my very best attempt to find a Coven like I had in Long Beach, but I couldn't find one. I had joined a meetup group and they said they only met for The major Pagan Holidays, but were not a Coven. They were having a Winter solstice Ritual and they were going to have a special guest who was bringing some friends from Italy and they were going to share their customs with the group. I went excited, but not expecting too much. And then they walked in, 4 people; a swaggering American, a petite blonde woman, an older looking man, and a young boy. To this day I still try to find the words to describe what I felt when they walked through the door, it was like The Goddess Diana and The God Dianus walked in. My heart was pounding and I had let out a soft gasp, it was as if they heard me from across the yard over the rabble of people chatting excitedly. All four heads snapped in my direction, one of the girls I was with leaned in and made a comment about it. The American came up to me first and said he knew me, but he could not remember where. I assured him We didn't know each other, but he insisted we did. I don't speak Italian, but I knew he was telling them he knew me, he just couldn't remember where. They all seemed to nod knowingly and then went to go introduce themselves to the rest of the crowd. The American introduced himself as Lupercalis, the woman was Diana and The man was Dianus, please forgive, but I cannot remember the young man's name. I know he was Diana and Dianus' son. The ritual itself was very lovely and two men enacted the fight of the holly king and oak king, they raised a cone of power and then it was done. Lupercalis said that Dianus wanted to speak for Diana. She thanked everyone for their performance and energy tonight, but this was not Witchcraft they way that she was taught. She spoke of the dance that as needed, the music that was needed, the channeling that was needed. The connection to your Spirits that was needed. She spoke of her disappointment as she has only encountered a few that she feels would be open to learning The old ways. The circle broke and I kept my distance from them, because the feelings they stired inside of me scared me. I felt like they were looking at me when they were giving their speech. I felt like if they asked me to leave my then husband and run away with them to Italy I would have, so I stayed by the fire playing with the energy of the fire. Dianus walked right up to me and said "NO." He placed my hands in the form of a triangle and said. "This yes?" I said "Yes." He placed a finger on my third eye and said. "NO! NO HERE." He placed a finger on my heart and said. "ONLY HERE. Yes?" I said Yes. He repeated himself and had me repeat myself. He took my hands and formed a triangle again placing them over my heart and said. "ONLY HERE." And then gestured to have me play with the energy I was, but in the new way. "Bene(Good), bene(Good)." He said and then wrapped me up in the biggest hug I have ever received. He touched my third eye and heart again repeating. "No and only here." He released me and I stood in shock. We went inside an Dianus told the story of where they were from. Can you guess where? I'll give you 3 guesses and the First 2 don't count. BENEVENTO!!! Now by this time I am really, really shook, I explain that I wrote about the witches of Benevento for my class. Again he swooped me up in hug and I felt like I was home. I cried in his arms, he had his translator ask me what region of Italy my family was from still very shook I told him the little I knew of my family history. He listened and just kept saying "Good, Good." All the while Diana just kept looking at me. I will be honest, I don't remember the rest of the night. I don't remember asking to take the photo below. All I know is Lupercalis took the photo. I no longer speak to the ladies I went with, I have blurred their images as I do not have permission to share their identity. I did exchange emails with Lupercalis as he said he was trying to get Diana, Dianus, and their son here on religious visas as they wanted to form a coven.I came home to my then husband extremely excited about what transpired, my excitement was short lived as my husband did not want me associating with what he thought was a potential Sex cult. I then found out that the visas were not extended to the trio and they had gone back home. It's taken me a long time to admit how this experience was extremely traumatic to my Soul, I used to wonder if I had chosen to say Eff it and reached out sooner if they would have been able to have their visas extended. I will never really know, I believe that was where I first experienced Spiritual depression and isolation, years later I had a dream the American came to me and told me I was not the witch he met, he was disappointed in how I had fallen. I reached out to him via email essentially begging for help. I never got a response. I also believe I have been spiraling for the past 10 years, I had my moments of Spiritual clarity like most people do. I left my toxic relationship in 2015, even leaving him I couldn't break the cycle of my depression. None of my tools worked 2 Years ago I moved back to California in a desperate attempt to get back on track. It wasn't working I felt like things had gotten worse. As I have shared on the recommendation of My Brother I booked a reading with Candelo. He told me pretty much everything I needed to do to get back on track, I just didn't listen. Candelo first shared Conversations with Ifa Abeyo on Facebook and I started to feel something I hadn't felt in a long time. A spiritual connection. I booked a reading. The first words out of her mouth were. "No one can tell you sh*t. You don't listen for sh*t. Have you not been told what to do? Are you not a reader? If things are not working for you, find new way to do it." I cried the entire reading and could barely get 2 words out. We spoke of my feeling called By Ellegua and Oshun​ I told her I felt like I was making it up in my head. She told me it wasn't for us to decide who the Orisha call and just because I felt called didn't mean I going to be initiated and ultimately the mat would decide, but with where I was now any respectful house would turn me away and if they didn't they were out for my money and would con the hell out of me. She said any good house in the African Traditional religion will not take someone who doesn't have the basic foundation of their Eggun. I told her didn't know where to start and she said. "It starts with a Tea light, a cup of water., and a conversation with our Ancestors." That's sound advice right? Right! Did I take it? F**k no! She already said I don't listen for sh*t, so I had to prove her right. It wasn't until things boiled over and I confessed to my friends and family that I was feeling suicidal. My brother in law took me to church at The UU, that saved me more than I think he knows. That my family would experience God with me in whatever fashion it came fueled me. I also started attending an online New Moon circle for Women of color run by the Beautiful and blessed mouth of Yayi Joyce, my brother in law and I were absolutely were loving it at the UU and then The Rona happened. But before that my auntie Ifa (as I now call her) told me she was giving a Spirituality 102 class which focuses Ancestor altar building, Spiritual bathes, Divination, and dream interpretation. I hop, skipped, and jumped at this opportunity. I was now listening and could be told sh*t. I have come full circle in the realization that the practices I am learning now in Spirituality 102 ARE basic tenets in Stregheria. I cried with this realization and it still fills me with emotion when I really think about it. I still feel a call to Ellegua and Oshun, but for now I am still learning. I don't know if I will ever join an ATR. After much consideration I feel as though I can no longer identify as a Pagan for Spiritual and Social reasons. For the first time this does not fill me with sadness or depression. I am A Strega. I am practicing La Vecchia Religione (The old religion), as my Ancestors before me.





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