The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005
The Divine Witch: Goddesses and Gods
In the beginning was Diana, primordial Spirit of Darkness. She divided the world into complementary opposites: yin and yang, male and female, light and darkness.
The light half evolved into her brother Lucifer. Diana desired him and wished to unite and merge with him. Lucifer, on the other hand, wanted light to remain completely distinct from darkness. Proud Lucifer refused to merge. Diana pursued him but he resisted.
Eventually she learned that he had a favorite cat that slept with him. Diana persuaded the cat to switch places with her and so, in the form of a black cat, Diana seduced her brother Lucifer. From this union, the world’s first witch was conceived: Aradia, Messiah of the Witches.
Diana sent her daughter to Earth with the mission of teaching humans witchcraft, the sacred arts of Diana, Queen of Witches.
That’s the first coming of Aradia the Messiah and the history of the world, according to Aradia or The Gospel of the Witches anyway. Aradia returned for a second coming too.
This Aradia was born in Volterra, Italy on August 13, 1313 (August 13th being Diana’s sacred day) and stimulated a revival of Italian witchcraft and pre-Christian traditions that had been driven into hiding by the Church. She herself had learned the Old Ways from her family and proceeded to teach them to others. Aradia was eventually caught by the Inquisition and burned as a witch, but not before she left a manuscript that allegedly serves as the framework for the testament Aradia.
No documentation regarding either Aradia exists prior to C.G. Leland’s 1899 publication of Aradia or The Gospel of the Witches; however in 1508, Italian Inquisitor Bernardo Rategno noted in his Tractatus de Strigibus that a rapid expansion of witchcraft had occurred a hundred and fifty years earlier, which corresponds with the second coming.
The story of Diana as Creator of the World, Mother of Witchcraft corresponds with nothing from classical mythology, although that in itself does not prove anything; many myths—and deities—survive based on only a single source (much of Celtic and Norse mythology, for instance). This could be but another instance of a lone survival of an ancient myth, but it could also be a Christian tale intended to portray Diana and witches in a negative light.
Classical mythology suggests that if one identifies Diana with Artemis, then her brother is Apollo, a god of light. The name Lucifer (“light-bringer”) pre-dates Christianity and was a title given to various Roman deities, female as well as male, and was intended as benevolent, not malefic. However during the medieval period when Aradia was allegedly written, Lucifer had become exclusively identified with Satan, the proud handsome fallen angel. Simultaneously, Inquisitors branded Diana the bride of Lucifer in order to damn and defame her and her devotees.
Thus this legend may be interpreted in various ways. However, no matter how it is interpreted, it is never entirely complimentary. Diana engages in deception, the inference that witches are daughters of Satan…
The name Aradia clearly resembles that of Herodias, another witch-deity of importance in Italy, and perhaps they are one and the same.
Is the fourteenth-century Italian witch a distortion of the biblical legend of Herodias?
Was an actual woman named in Herodias’ honor?
Was the legend of the biblical Herodias superimposed on a pagan Italian spirit?
For his part, Leland believed that his Aradia was really based on a distortion of Lilith as the true first woman, rather than on the Herodias of the New Testament. Italian Jews do identify Lilith with black cats.
See also Artemis, Diana, Herodias, Lilith, Nox; ANIMALS: Cats; BOOKS: Grimoires: Aradia or the Gospel of the Witches.