Aradia, or The Gospel of the Witches, by Charles Godfrey, Leland, introduced by A.J. Drew
New Page Books, 160 pp., 2003
It is primarily in the Preface, Introduction, Commentaries, and “Final Word” that this edition differs from earlier copies. Basically, this is a reprint of Leland’s original publication.
Although many of the younger generation of Witches (and, I suspect, most of the Wiccans) will never have seen this book (or even heard of it), it is the second copy of it that I have owned. My first copy was produced by Hero Press with an introduction by Dr. Leo Louis Martello, well over a quarter of a century ago. At one time it was considered required reading for all students of the Craft. It forms the underpinning of much of the teaching and mythology of Strega (in fact, it was often the first exposure many of us had to that branch of the Craft).
The Witchcraft expounded in this small volume is not the White-light, politically correct Wicca of the modern world. Witches, in this volume, are encouraged to return good for good, but if someone slaps your face – punch his lights out! No meekness or mildness here.
Published originally in 1899 (that’s right folks, half a century before Gardner, Valiente, et. al.) it contains the essence of “The Charge of the Goddess,” which Doreen Valiente later reworked in Gardner’s Book of Shadows. It contains conjurations in both Italian and English, as well as commentaries throughout by Mr. Drew.