The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005
Food and Drink
Strega means “witch” and so this is “Witch Liqueur.” According to legend, this Italian liqueur is based on an ancient witchcraft potion. Its label and bottle feature witches: young witches dance around the famous tree of Benevento on the label, and the bottle also features a portrait of a snake-haired witch with her owl and broom.
Strega is a steam-distilled liqueur crafted from approximately seventy herbs, barks, roots, and spices. Its yellow color is obtained from saffron, which has an ancient reputation as a magical aphrodisiac.
There are two versions of Strega’s origins:
Strega is genuinely based on a witch’s love potion. Benevento, where Strega has been produced since 1860, is an area long associated with witchcraft traditions.
The recipe originally belonged to local monks. Giuseppe Alberti, a liquor distributor, coaxed the recipe from them, marketing it as Alberti Medical Elixir. It didn’t sell. So Alberti renamed it Strega; it became extremely popular and remains among Italy’s best-selling liqueurs.
Some suggest that both versions are true: Alberti received the formula from the monks but they received it from the witches!
Whether Strega was developed by witches or not, the liqueur has been incorporated into modern witchcraft traditions. It is an appropriate and popular offering to the Italian witchgoddess, Diana. It may be offered as a libation or in a glass, however Diana has a predilection for flame offerings:
1. Pour a small quantity of Strega into a flameproof bowl and set it alight.
2. Toast Diana with your own glass while keeping an eye on the burning flames.
Don’t be too generous with the Strega. Be sure to add only a little to the bowl—no higher than a quarter-full. As Strega is highly flammable there is a tendency for flames to shoot up.
See DIVINE WITCH: Diana; PLACES: Benevento.