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Raven Grimassi

Raven Grimassi Award-winning author Raven Grimassi is the author of seven books on Wicca and Witchcraft, including Wiccan Mysteries (awarded Best Book of the Year & Best Spirituality Book 1998 by the Coalition of Visionary Retailers), Wiccan Magick, Italian Witchcraft (previously titled Ways of the Strega), Hereditary Witchcraft, Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft (awarded Best Non-Fiction Book 2001 by the Coalition of Visionary Retailers), Beltane, and the forthcoming title The Witches' Craft (October 2002).

Raven Grimassi has been a teacher and practitioner of the Craft for nearly 30 years. He is trained in the Family tradition of Italian Witchcraft (also known as Stregheria), and is also an initiate of several Wiccan Traditions, including Brittic Wicca and the Pictish-Gaelic Tradition. He is currently the Directing Elder of the Arician Ways. Raven considers it his life's work to ensure the survival of ancient witch lore and legend along with ancestral teachings of the Old Religion.

Grimassi has worked as both a writer and editor for several magazines over the past decade, including The Shadow's Edge (a publication focusing on Italian Witchcraft) and Raven's Call (a journal of modern Wicca, Witchcraft and Magick).

Titles by Raven Grimassi:

  • Beltane
  • The Well Worn Path
  • Italian Witchcraft: The Old Religion of Southern Europe
  • The Wiccan Mysteries: Ancient Origins & Teachings
  • Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft
  • The Witch's Familiar: Spiritual Partnerships for Successful Magic
  • The Witches' Craft: The Roots of Witchcraft & Magical Transformation
  • Hereditary Witchcraft: Secrets of the Old Religion
  • Wiccan Magick: Inner Teachings of the Craft
  • Witchcraft: A Mystery Tradition
  • Spirit of the Witch: Religion & Spirituality in Contemporary Witchcraft
© 2006 Raven Grimassi.
All rights reserved.


Since ancient times the goddess Diana has enjoyed a devout following, particularly among women.  In pre-Christian times the cult of Diana flourished in the sacred grove at lake Nemi where her ancient temple stood for centuries.  Ancient Roman poets and other writers associated Diana with witchcraft.

The worship of Diana continued among rural peasants during the first centuries following the establishment of Christianity.  This was noted in the writings of St Martin of Braga who encountered the veneration of Diana among the country-folk in the north-western regions of the Iberian peninsula.[1]  Here she was also associated with spirits known as the dianae or fairies.  Folklorist Charles Leland referred to Diana as Queen of the Fairies and as the goddess of witches.

Historian Julio Bajora wrote:

"Several theories have been put forth to explain the phenomenon of witchcraft. According to one it had the historical origins in the cult of Diana, and witchcraft as found in Europe at the time of the major persecutions was merely a development of the cult.”[2] 

 This theory was presented in the writings of Margaret Murray who defined witchcraft as the cult of Diana.  Baroja notes that some theologians of the 16th century continued to regard Diana as the “patron goddess of witches” and to look upon the Canon Episcopi as an old reference to her followers in earlier Church writings.  Written some time before the 10th century, the Canon Episcopi stated that women were deceived into believing that the devil was Diana, and that these women formed into groups that met at night.

Jules Michelet wrote about the women who venerated Diana and other pagan deities, stating: 

“All innocence as the woman is, still she has a secret – we have said so before – a secret she never, never confesses at church. She carries shut within her breast a fond remembrance of the poor ancient gods, now fallen to the estate of spirits, and a feeling of compassion for them.”

 Michelet also adds:

 “Nothing can be more touching than this fidelity to the old faith.  In spite of persecution, in the fifth century, the peasants used to carry in procession, under the form of poor little dolls of linen and flour, the deities of the great old religions – Jupiter, Minerva, Venus.  Diana was indestructible, even in the remotest corner of Germany.”[3]

Charles Leland, in his book Etruscan Romain Remains, presents his belief that certain spirits that are venerated by Tuscan witches are actually old Etruscan deities who have diminished to lesser entities over the centuries.  Leland also wrote of the goddess Diana and of the association of her and the biblical figure known as Herodias.  This figure also appears referenced in Leland’s Aradia material.  Some modern scholars believe that the name Aradia is actually a modified version of Herodias.  In reality, as shall be demonstrated here, the connection between Diana and Herodias (as well as Aradia) is an intentional distortion for political gain and Church agenda.

Carlo Ginzburg notes there is “a rich series of testimonies” regarding women who claim to participate in groups that follow a “mysterious female divinity who had several names depending on the place (Diana, Perchta, Holda, Abundia, etc).”[4]  Ginzburg states that the name Herodias appears in European Witchcraft due to a misunderstanding or misreading of earlier references. He points out that Burchard, Bishop of Worms, added Herodias to the name of Diana (when referring to an earlier canon about Diana and her night followers). He also mentions that the Council of Truer in 1310 “set Herodiana along side Diana”. Ginzburg states that in 1390 Friar Beltramino “inserted” a reference to Herodias that did not appear in the trial records concerning a woman named “Sibillia”.  All of this demonstrates a falsification regarding Herodias and the witch sect.

According to Ginzbug we find that Vincent of Beauvais added statements to the original Canon Episcopi, and that Dominican preacher Johannes Herolt added the name Unholde. Later editions of his Serones added Fraw Berthe and Fraw Helt, displacing Unholde. This appears to be evidence of deliberate alterations, which further confuses the allegations that attempt to equate Diana with other figures

As previously noted, Ginzburg (in his book Ecstasies) points out that the old hypothesis equating Diana and Herodias stems from a misunderstanding/misreading of the original reference to “Hera Diana” which is rendered Herodiana, and then “normalized” to read Herodias. What should have been rendered Heradiana, appears as Herodiana, which is curiously close to the word Herodian. The latter indicates an association with King Herod of the Bible, and the tale of Herodias who was instrumental in the beheading of John the Baptist.[5]

It is interesting to note that the ancient custom among the Romans was to create composite names for various deities. Some examples include Artemis-Hekate (AESCH. Hiket. 667-7) and Juno-Lucina (Catullus’ Hymn to Diana). In the Hymn to Diana, Catallus writes: “Diana whose name is Juno-Lucina, who hears the prayers of birthing women”. As we know, Juno is the Roman name for the goddess Hera. Here we can easily see a connection between Diana and Hera, a possible foundation for the name Hera-Diana. This root may help explain the confusion between Hera-Diana and Herodias (noting Ginzburg’s reference to Herodiana rendered as Herodias).  In other words, Hera-Diana may have been an actual indigenous goddess form that was later conveniently distorted into Herodias though anti-witch sentiments.

Ginzburg mentions the existence of a Medieval sect of peasants who worshipped Hera in the Palatinato.[6] They believed that Hera flies through the night during the time of Epifania, bringing abundance to her followers.[7]  Ginzburg notes that Hera is tied to Diana, which creates a connection to Herodiana as a nocturnal goddess. He further notes that the name Herodiana eventually becomes transformed into Erodiade. This is supported by a 12th century reference attributed to Ugo da San Vittore, (an Italian abbot) who writes of women that believe they go out at night riding on the backs of animals with "Erodiade," whom he conflates with Diana and Minerva.[8] Some commentators believe that the name Aradia may have evolved from the name Erodiade.

Diana, as a goddess associated with witchcraft, appears by various names and natures through Europe.  Sir Walter Scott, in letter four of his “Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft,” wrote:

 “The great Scottish poet Dunbar has made a spirited description of this Hecate riding at the head of witches and good neighbours (fairies, namely), sorceresses and elves, indifferently, upon the ghostly eve of All-Hallow Mass. In Italy we hear of the hags arraying themselves under the orders of Diana (in her triple character of Hecate, doubtless) and Herodias, who were the joint leaders of their choir, But we return to the more simple fairy belief, as entertained by the Celts before they were conquered by the Saxons.”

In 906 AD, Regino of Prum wrote in his instructions to the Bishops of the Kingdoms of Italy, concerning this cult.  Here he states "...they ride at night on certain beasts with Diana, goddess of the pagans, and a great multitude of women, that they cover great distances in the silence of the deepest night, that they obey the orders of the goddess ...by speaking of their visions (they) gain new followers for the Society of Diana...” Carlo Ginzburg also notes Regino’s reference to the “Society of Diana”.[9]

Various witch trial transcripts contain confessions that mention membership in the Society of Diana.  In addition there also exists commentaries by various trial judges and demonologists who also refer to the Society of Diana.  A sample list of such references can be found in the book Italian Witchcraft.[10]

We know from the writings of the Roman poet Horace that the concept of witches associated with Diana is an ancient one.  In his writings known as the Epodes, Horace depicts a witch at night calling upon Diana: 

“O ye faithful witnesses to my proceedings, Night and Diana, who presidest over silence, when the secret rites are celebrated: now, now be present, now turn your anger and power against the houses of our enemies…” – Epode 5

 Other Roman writers such Ovid and Lucan present similar concepts related to a goddess figure in witchcraft.  One example depicts a witch making the following comment:

 “Persephone, who is the third and lowest aspect of our (the witches’) goddess Hekate…”[11]

 Hecate is among the earliest goddesses to be associated with witchcraft.  She is also intimately linked to the crossroads, which in ancient times was a favored site for witchcraft and sorcery.  The crossroads was considered to be a place between the worlds, and one where departed souls that could not pass into the afterlife gathered at night.  This was chiefly comprised of those who died before their time or died by violence.

Sarah Johnston comments on the “restless dead” who frequent the crossroads:

 “Broadly, the aversion rites in both the Selinuntine and the Cyrenean text align with the funerary practice of feeding the dead and making them comfortable in other ways, but more specifically, they are also similar to another ad hoc method of appeasing and averting the dead: the suppers (deipna) that could be sent to the crossroads at the time of the new moon. Several ancient sources tell us that these were left by the statues or shrines of Hecate (hekataia) that stood at crossroads, and were dedicated to both the goddess and to “those who must be averted” (hoi apotropaioi).  As Hecate was a goddess credited with the power either to hold back the unhappy dead or to drive them on against an unlucky individual, hoi apotropaioi surely refers here to dangerous ghosts of the dead.  Offering these suppers to both the dead and their mistress guaranteed not only that the dead would be fed and appeased but also that Hecate would help to keep them under control. The timing reflects a belief that souls were especially likely to be abroad on the night of the new moon; if one wanted to do something to appease them, this was the easiest – and also the most necessary – time to make contact.”[12]

In addition to the role of Hecate as a tender of souls gone astray, she was also important in her role as a gatekeeper or threshold guardian.  Johnston notes this important character associated with Hecate:

 “…she could be the goddess supplicated at the time of the new moon and the new month, the escort at the palace door and the guide at the crossroads, the conductor to Hades and the queen of the souls that never made it there, the key-holder to the higher realms of the cosmos, and the lunar purifier of souls - - or all of these things at once. But the concept behind these duties was at heart the same: from early times, Hekate was the deity who could aid men at points of transition, who could help them to cross boundaries, whether they be of a prosaic, everyday nature, of an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime nature or, later, of a theurgical nature.  The ancients certainly saw unity within the various expressions of this role – indeed, they used the earlier expressions to validate or clarify the later ones…”[13]

The concept of Hecate offering aid to cross barriers and to pass through transitions becomes quite interesting when we consider the belief in the ability of witches to fly to the Sabbat, and in regards to the idea presented as follows from the Canon Episcopi:

“One mustn’t be silent about certain women who become followers of Satan, seduced by the fantastic illusion of the demons, and insist that they ride at night on certain beasts together with Diana, goddess of the pagans, and a great multitude of women; that they cover great distances in the silence of the deepest night; that they obey the orders of the goddess as though she were their mistress; that on particular nights they are called to wait on her.”

Ruth Martin comments on the idea “that the witch was a member of a unified and organized sect of similar-minded people, capable of flying through the air to meet together…” and she states “Again, this idea of flying, which was obviously necessary if witches were to travel the distances required to meet up with hundreds of others of their kind, was by no means new…”[14] Martin notes that such beliefs date back to ancient Roman times.

The concept of witches flying to meet others, as described in trial transcripts, is an impossible concept unless one takes the view that such flights were not taking place with other living witches, but instead with the souls of witches no longer living.  This leads us back to the idea of a goddess who tends souls that have yet to cross over into the afterlife.

Martin refers to the “Procession of the Dead” as a concept probably surviving from pre-Christian times.[15]  Regarding this belief she writes:

 “The belief was that groups of people, again mainly women, would go out, in spirit, on nocturnal expeditions joining in a train of followers behind their leader who was variously known as Diana, Herodias, Holda, or Perchta.  This procession was often believed to consist of the souls of the prematurely dead”[16]

 The emerging theme here equates Diana and Hecate, which is also a theme reflected in the identification of Artemis-Hekate by Aeschylus, as noted earlier in this article lesson material. Aeschylus writes:

 “And may the altars, whereat the elders gather, blaze in honor of venerable men. Thus may their state be regulated well, if they hold in awe mighty Zeus, and most of all, Zeus the warden of guest-right, who by venerable enactment guideth destiny aright. And that other guardian be always renewed, we pray; and that Artemis-Hekate watch over the child-bed of their women.”[17]  

 In a similar fashion the ancient writer Varro equates Hekate (mentioning her former status as a Titian) with Diana: 

“The Trivian Titaness [Hekate] is Diana, called Trivia [literally ‘she of the crossroads’] from the fact that her image is set up quite generally in Greek towns where three roads meet.”[18]

At this point we have encountered a theme strongly suggesting that witches were involved in night wanderings, which required leaving the body either in spirit, trance, or through mastery of the dream state.  Here they met with other witches of the past, and perhaps even with some other living witches who had made the same connection, which allowed interaction with one another.  The fantastic accounts of the Sabbats certainly seem to indicate something “other worldly” in nature and experience.  In this light we can view the Society of Diana as a fellowship on both planes (the spirit and the material).

 It is interesting to note that the revels described in the Sabbats of witchcraft are very much the same as those depicted in fairy revels.  There is a long-standing theme in many regions of Europe that suggest an intimate relationship between fairies and witches. 

Scholar Katharine Briggs notes:

 “In nearly all the countries where fairy beliefs are to be found some at least of the fairy people are supposed to gregarious, riding in procession, hunting, holding court and feasting, and above all dancing.  This is perhaps particularly true of the British Isles, though France, Italy, Scandinavia and Germany there are the same tales of dancing, revelry, and processions.”[19]

 It is also note worthy to mention the following by scholar W. Y. Evans-Wentz: 

 “The evidence from each Celtic country shows very clearly that magic and witchcraft are inseparably blended in the Fairy-Faith, and that human beings, i.e.' charmers,' dynion hysbys, and other magicians, and sorceresses, are often enabled through the aid of fairies to perform the same magical acts as fairies..”[20] 

As we explore the subject of fairies and witches a connection with the theme of Hecate’s company of souls beings to emerge.  The theme of “trooping fairies” is noted by Briggs in connection with processions:  

 “All these fairies, riding or hunting, touched the ground of middle earth as they rode, but other trooping fairies traveled by levitation as the Sluagh did, either by a potent word or by straddling a bean-stick or piece of ragwort, or by wearing a magical cap.  There are many stories of mortals who join fairy expeditions, many of which end in a cellar where the fairies royster and drink.”[21]

Briggs recounts a tale of fairies that is similar in nature to the accounts of Diana’s followers and to the “wild hunt” of European lore:  

“And there in the bright blue sky they beheld a multitudinous host of spirits, with hounds on leash and hawks on hand.  The air was filled with music like the tinkling of silver bells, mingled with the voices of the “sluagh’, hosts calling to their hounds.  The men were so astonished that they could only remember a few of the names they heard. These were the spirits of the departed on a hunting expedition, traveling westwards…”[22]

The “sluagh” appear in Scottish lore as “the evil dead” but the account mentioned by Briggs does not portray them in a negative light in this particular case.  Briggs notes (on page 173) that:

“The huntsmen are described as the Sluagh, but these are not evil, death-dealing host of the Unforgiven Dead, but a brighter troop on their way towards the Tir na h-oige, the Land of the Ever-Young, where the bright heroic fairies live.”

 However in general lore the Sluagh are typically associated with malevolence, which is also the case with witches.  Briggs draws a connection between fairies of northern and southern Europe lore, and comments on counterparts:

 “The larvae of the Romans were the hungry, malevolent ghosts, who also have their counterparts in the later folk tradition, the Sluagh of the Highlands.”[23]

 Here we see evidence of an early widespread belief that fairies are spirits of the dead. Along with Briggs, Wentz presents a connection between the fairies of northern and southern Europe:   

“There is an even closer relationship between the Italian and Celtic fairies. For example, among the Etruscan-Roman people there are now flourishing animistic beliefs almost identical in all details with the Fairy-Faith of the Celts. In a very valuable study on the Neo-Latin Fay, Mr. H. C. Coote writes:--'Who were the Fays--the fate of later Italy, the fées of mediaeval France? For it is perfectly clear that the fatua, fata, and fée are all one and the same word.' And he proceeds to show that the race of immortal damsels whom the old natives of Italy called Fatuae gave origin to all the family of fées as these appear in Latin countries, and that the Italians recognized in the Greek nymphs their own Fatuae.”[24]

 As we examine fairy lore and witch lore we find the core symbol of the tree, which is also associated with the worship of the goddess Diana.  It is interesting to note an ancient belief that the spirits of the dead inhabited trees.[25]  This may have a connection with the wooden pole placed upright at the crossroads in ancient times to honor Hecate (who as we noted gathered souls that had gone astray).  This “tree of Hecate” was known as a hekataia or hekataion, and “suppers of the dead” were placed there on the new moon to appease the spirits of the dead.  The hekataion served to manage the departed souls in order to protect the living from any mischief or ill intent.[26]

The image of the hekataion with departed souls gathered around it, that take up the feast offerings, presents a striking similarity to the legends of fairy and witch revels around a tree.  In connection with Diana we find the famous walnut tree of Benevento where legendary witch revels took place, which is also associated with fairies in many Italian folktales.

 In ancient myth and legend various trees are associated with themes of the dead and the Underworld or Otherworld.  Such trees are often believed to be guardians; some examples are the oak, ash, and thorn.  Beneath the sacred oak tree in the grove of Diana at Nemi occurred combat to the death over “kingship” of the grove.  In this event we find the figure known as Rex Nemorensis, king of the woods.

In southern and northern European myth and legend we find the Golden Bough and the Silver Bough (respectively).  To carry the silver or golden branch allowed passage to and from the Underworld of Otherworld.  Wentz writes of this theme:

“To enter the Otherworld before the appointed hour marked by death, a passport was often necessary, and this was usually a silver branch of the sacred apple-tree bearing blossoms, or fruit, which the queen of the Land of the Ever-Living and Ever-Young gives to those mortals whom she wishes for as companions; thought sometimes, as we shall see, it was a single apple without its branch.  The queen’s gifts serve not only as passports, but also as food and drink for mortals who go with her.”

 “It is evident at the outset that the Golden Bough was as much the property of the queen of that underworld called Hades as the Silver Branch was the gift of the Celtic fairy queen, and like the Silver Bough it seems to have been the symbolic bond between that world and this, offered as a tribute to Proserpine by all initiates, who made the mystic voyage in full human consciousness.  And, as we suspect, there may be even in the ancient Celtic legends of mortals who make that strange voyage to the Western Otherworld and return to this world again, an echo of initiatory rites – perhaps Druidic – similar to those of Proserpine as shown in the journey of Aeneas, which, as Virgil records it, is undoubtedly a poetical rendering of an actual psychic experience of a great initiate.”[27]

Wentz also mentions a tree that is associated with the Underworld and with the goddess Juno:

 “In Virgil’s classic poem the Sibyl commanded the plucking of the sacred bough to be carried by Aeneas when he entered the underworld; for without such a bough plucked near the entrance to Avernus from the wondrous tree sacred to Infernal Juno (i.e. Proserpine) none could enter Pluto’s realm. And when Charon refused to ferry Aeneas across the Stygian lake until the Sibyl-woman drew forth the Golden Bough from her bosom, where she had hidden it, it becomes clearly enough a passport to Hades, just as the Silver Branch borne by the fairy woman is a passport to Tír N-aill; and the Sibyl-woman who guided Aeneas to the Greek and Roman Otherworld takes the place of the fairy woman who leads mortals like Bran to the Celtic Other-world.”[28]

 It is interesting to note that Juno is equated in ancient times with Diana, as reflected in the Hymn to Diana, written by Catullus:

 "Diana whose name is Lucina, Lightbringer, who every month restores the vanished moon.  Diana whose name is Juno-Lucina, who hears the pained prayers of birthing women. Diana whose name is Trivia – the crossroads her sacred place – night goddess, queen of underworld…”[29]

Juno as a goddess associated with light and childbirth was an early element of archaic Roman religion.  The origin of her name Juno-Lucina may be derived from lucus (meaning “grove”), which seems supported by Pliny who records that the goddess took her name from the grove that stood on the Esquilline hill in Rome, which is where her temple was later erected.  In this sacred grove stood a tree where the Vestal virgins hung up offerings of locks of their hair.[30]

 Juno’s consort Jupiter was also associated with a sacred tree.  Historian Cyril Bailey notes: 

Of the recognition of a spirit in individual trees we may have a trace in the cult of Iuppiter Feretrius [Jupiter Feretrius] on the Capital: he may have been in origin the spirit of a sacred oak, upon which according to Romulus hung the spolia opima.”[31]

 The temple of Jupiter Feretrius was the oldest temple to be established in Rome, and bore Tuscan columns.  It was associated with a sacred oak tree, and the temple was built on the former site of the tree.  Sir James Frazer writes:

 “…it is reasonable to conclude that wherever in Latium a Vestal fire was maintained, it was fed, as at Rome, with wood of the sacred oak.  If this was so at Nemi, it becomes probable that the hallowed grove there consisted of a natural oak-wood, and that therefore the tree which the King of the Wood had to guard at the peril of his life was itself an oak; indeed, it was from an evergreen oak, according to Virgil, that Aeneas plucked the Golden Bough.  Now the oak was the sacred tree of Jupiter, the supreme god of the Latins.  Hence it follows that the King of the Wood, whose life was bound up in a fashion with an oak, personated no less a deity than Jupiter himself.  At least the evidence, slight as it is, seems to point to this conclusion.”[32]

 Bailey notes that the god Janus is associated with Jupiter as reflected in the rite of porca praecidanea, in which Janus receives his sacred cake (stures) and takes his place among the deities of the farms.[33]  Frazer also associates Janus with Jupiter:

“To this theory it may naturally be objected that the divine consort of Jupiter was not Diana but Juno, and that if Diana had a mate at all he might be expected to bear the name not of Jupiter, but of Dianus or Janus, the latter of these forms being merely a corruption of the former.  All this is true, but the objection may be parried by observing that the two pairs of deities, Jupiter and Juno on the one side, and Dianus and Diana, or Janus and Jana, on the other side, are merely duplicates of each other, their names and their functions being in substance and origin identical.”[34]

 It is note worthy in the region of Naples that we find the word “janara” to be the term for witch.  It is accepted by Italian scholars that the Neapolitan Janara and the Sardinian Jana are derived from "Diana," in that night-flying women were considered followers of the goddess Diana in medieval legend.  In regional lore the janara lurk in doorways and thresholds, which reflects the theme of Hecate’s souls at the crossroads.  In ancient times the crossroads was a place between the worlds, and doorways in general were also considered to be liminal places as well.  Regarding this concept, Johnston writes:

 “The common belief that the doorway is a gathering place for the demons and ghosts reflects the connection between liminality and the demonic in a difference way, for the threshold belongs to neither the interior nor that of the outside world. Crossroads – the interstices between three or four roads – also are associated with ghosts and demons in many cultures, including Greek.  In these cases, doorways or crossroads are perceived as dangerous places precisely because they are liminal – because they fall between otherwise defined and controlled areas – and thus come to be viewed as just the sorts of locations where demons gather and lurk.”[35]

The guardianship of thresholds also appears in the concept of the Karyatis figures. These images of the goddess Carya stand at the entrances to ancient Greek temples and support the temple roof.  The Greek writer Pausanias describes the worship of a goddess known as Artemis-Caryatis (Karyatis) who is venerated in a sanctuary of walnut trees.[36]  Old traditions related to the Italian city of Benevento related tales of the witches’ walnut, which was a legendary site for gatherings and celebrations.

Ancient tales tell of a sect of maidens at Karyai who worship Artemis with celebratory dances.   In some accounts the name Karya appears as a tree nymph, which suggests a connection to fairy lore.  In Italian folklore, fairy maidens are associated with walnut trees (among other types of trees).  Often fairy women are depicted in tales as the departed mother of the central figure in the story.  Here again we find the connection of a tree with souls of the dead.

In the tale of Rhoikos and Arkas we find a sexual relationship with a tree nymph.  Rhoikos saves an oak by propping it up, and its nymph appears saying she will grant him a wish.  He asks to have sex with her, and she tells the hero that a bee will come to him and announce the time of the tryst.  In Italian folklore we find the theme of trees giving birth to human babies.  Perhaps we are seeing an old belief that souls of the dead can be reborn through trees under the right conditions.  If so, this may be one of the reasons for revels and celebrations around certain trees found in fairy and witch lore (a means of retrieving ancestral souls through fertility rites).

Scholar Jennifer Larson notes that the representation of grouped maidens in processions and round dances has a long history dating back the “geometric period.”  This is usually categorized as: Early Geometric period 900-850 bce, Middle Geometric period 850-760 bce, and Late Geometric period 760-700 bce.[37]  It is difficult to distinguish between the choruses of maidens within a sect and the band of nymphs that follow a specific deity such as Apollo, Pan or Hermes.

Larson notes that nymphs are frequently depicted as having sexual relations with pastoral gods.  An erotic element was the playing of music, and here we find Pan’s pipes and Apollo’s harp.  The “round dance” which features in the depiction of Pan and his nymphs also appears in the accounts regarding the gatherings of witches and fairies.  As we shall see, sexual union was not the goal but the tool through which something much greater was sought.

Upon examination we find the theme of female rites of passage reflected in ancient rites, which upon further examination lead us back to Artemis, and Proserpina (Persephone).  Larson states:

“The Greeks conceptualized a woman’s life as a series of stages and events related to reproduction. A young girl was a potential bride and mother, a wild creature who needed to be socialized and reconciled to the culturally approved restrictions on female behavior, a goal that was achieved in part through participation in rituals.  Young girls learned about gender roles through maturation rituals…This process, far from being of merely personal significance, was recognized as a fundamental and crucial requirement for social continuity. Abundant myths illustrate the drama of the young woman’s resistance to her forfeiture of freedom and her inevitable, necessary submission to the requirements of the group”[38]

 Larson mentions that stages of female life were under the purview of major goddesses, for example, Artemis, Hera, Persephone and Eileithyia.  According to Larson each district and city had its own customs and relied on its own combinations of deities and rituals to achieve essentially the same ends.  Larson writes:  “The nymphs represented the wild prepubertal girl, the chaste chorus member, the bride before and after the consummation, and even the mother, whereas the sexual and familial identities of the major goddesses were more firmly fixed.”[39]

 Here we find the foundation for a mythos, but one that would differ in certain ways within the rituals of the mystery tradition.  Underlying this structure it is not difficult to see sexual rites of initiation and transformation that become reduced to mere orgies through the eyes of the Church and its operatives.  The image of witches engaged in orgies at the Sabbat was a theme popularized by opponents of witchcraft for many centuries.  

 Larson mentions that:

 “Goddesses and nymphs, as divine exemplars, enacted at both mythic and ritual levels the choruses, baths, and other symbolic events of the female life cycle. Girls and women, in turn, believed they were emulating the deities by their participation in these events, while the community as a whole celebrated and affirmed gender expectations through the deities public cults.”[40]

 In the case of the mystery tradition such rites were private and intended for something more significant than integration into the sect, its mythos, and the social expectations of the sect.  This shall become more apparent as we continue.

Sarah Johnston notes the inner levels of rites of passage for women, and from this arise some important elements.  Johnston writes:

 “The passage of a girl out of her natal household into marriage and the motherhood that sets the seal upon marriage can be truncated and ruined at either end of the process with the same result: she becomes an unhappy soul, frustrated in her attempt to complete her life as woman, who must be propitiated lest she return to ruin the lives of other females, Although the deities blamed for such failures in myth are most often Artemis and Hera, Dionysus takes on the role as well in some versions of the Proetides’ myth, in the Minyads’ myth, in the myth of Carya, and more faintly in the extant version of the myth of Erigone.  Thus, rituals to propitiate these dead women’s souls could be attracted into the sphere of a Dionysiac festival…”[41]   

Earlier we encountered the theme of unhappy souls gathered at crossroads where the “tree of Hecate” stood.  Johnston’s mention of Carya and Erigone is noteworthy.  In Greek mythology, Erigone is the daughter of Icarius, the hero of the Attic deme Icaria. Her father, who Dionysus taught to make wine, gave some to some shepherds who then became intoxicated. Their companions, thinking they had been poisoned, killed Icarius and buried him under a tree.  Erigone, guided by her faithful dog Maera, found his grave and in her grief she hanged herself on the tree.  In anger Dionysus sent a plague on the land, and all the maidens of Athens, in a fit of madness, hanged themselves like Erigone.  The festival called Aeora (the swing) was subsequently instituted to propitiate Icarius and Erigone. Various small images were suspended on trees and swung backwards and forwards, while offerings of fruit were made.  Some commentators believe that the story was probably intended to explain the origin of these figures, by which Dionysus, as god of trees, was propitiated.  In Greek myth, forest nymphs raised Dionysus, and he was called Dendrite, which in Greek connects him with trees.

The Dendrite aspect of Dionysus is deeply rooted in the ecstatic elements of his cult. The release of primal or animal feelings is experienced in its fullness without limitations.  Sexual rites immerse one in the deep memory of death and deep-seated fear, wherein life is reaffirmed and liberation can be achieved.  Here again what can be misunderstood as a mere orgy for personal gratification is actually a rite of reconnecting with the three great mysteries: birth, life, and death.

 As in the myth of Erigone, the maiden Carya is intimately connected to a tree.  In the best-known version of the myth, Carya is a Laconian maiden who is seduced by Dionysus and later transformed by him into a nut tree. In the common myth this occurs when her sisters try and interfere when Dionysus attempts further advances towards Carya.  But this is too exoteric to have meaning in the greater context of the mythos.

Johnston notes that Caryatis was Artemis’s cult title in the village of Caryai, and here the priestesses of Artemis were called the caryatidai.  Each year women performed a dance called the caryatis at a festival in honor of Artemis called the Caryateia.  In the tale of the maiden Carya, Johnston sees the state of Carya’s transformation as a liminal condition, a placement between the worlds.  She also notes a legend about a group of Laconian maidens who committed suicide by hanging themselves from a tree.  According to this legend the temple of Artemis Caryatis was later built upon the site.  Johnston writes:

 “The description of both the mythic and the real girls as virginal indicates that they were at the age during which transitional rites took place, as does, again, the method by which they committed suicide.  That the mythic girls became madly suicidal at this age, and expressed that madness by hanging themselves on the tree that once was a virgin like themselves, suggests a causal connection between their fate and that of Carya.”[42]

In another tale we find a group of children who were stoned to death for tying a noose around the statue of Artemis near the town of Condylea in Arcadia.  According to the tale, the death of the children angered Artemis who punished the offenders by causing all their unborn children to die in their mother’s wombs.  Here we begin to see a reflection of ill elements later distorted and associated with witches and the death of infants.  It is important to note the absence of a belief in ancient Greece of magic being used for reproductive failure, as well as such acts being extremely rare in Roman times.[43]   This strongly suggests that beliefs in the Christian era regarding witches and babies were something contrived rather than rooted in pre-existing traditions.  However, the argument can be made that such beliefs were rooted in supernatural beings like the gello and the strix.[44] In this light the conflation of supernatural beings with witches may have fed the hysteria of the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods.

 It is important now to separate the Greek goddess Artemis from the Roman goddess Diana, particularly regarding virginity.  Classic myths depict Artemis as a chaste goddess, whereas Diana has several lovers including a mortal named Endymion.  Another distinction is made in the fact that several ancient writers associate Diana with witches but none with Artemis

In Italy the worship of Diana appears to have been indigenous, and not an import from Greece.[45] Among the Romans, Diana was a goddess of the moon, and later Greek myths relating to Artemis were added.[46] However, this influence may have come from the Etruscans who worshipped a goddess known as Atimite or Artimite.  Etruscan artifacts and construction methods discovered in the area of Diana’s temple at Nemi strongly suggests an indigenous cult in ancient Italy, which pre-existed the Romans.

When we consider the “Society of Diana” and its night gatherings in ancient times, it must have been important to appease night spirits and to create a society that was not in discord.  Johnston mentions the “horrors of the night” and writes about various “night-wandering female ghosts” who attack virgins, infants, and pregnant women.  She also mentions spirits known as the nuctalopes, who are called the night-watchers.[47]  Johnston reveals several types of amulets to protect against such spirits, but it seems more practical that a gathering of witches at night can practice unmolested if they are not virgins (hence, in part, the use of sexual rites).  But what about pregnancy, and how can night spirits be prevented from injuring the womb without the use of talismans, which in and of themselves might be considered offensive and therefore cause disharmony between witches and spirits?

The answer to this dilemma might well reside in the idea of a divine mating, a hieros gamos.[48]  Naturally this required a male partner, and in particular one of divine nature.  Surely the fetus of a god is well protected, and what night-spirit would dare risk the wrath of a deity!  It is here in the image of Dionysus that we arrive in the presence of the horned-god, in whatever local form he may take shape, including the distorted image of the Christian devil.

Johnston states that one of the earliest roles of Hecate in Greek literature and art is that of a wedding attendant.  She notes that Hecate, in this role, was similar to Artemis who ensured:  “…the bride’s transition from maiden to wife.  As is well known, this was but one aspect of Artemis’s general guardianship of the females passage from girl to mother, which also manifested itself in her presence when women gave birth, her protection of children after birth, and, even earlier in the process, her sponsorship of a variety of rituals in which girls symbolically made the transition from virgin to marriageable woman.”[49]  It is under the sanction of the goddess that the maidens may mate with the horned-god.

In the iconography and mythical references a triformis imagery of Dionysus emerges.  He is depicted with the horns of a goat and also a bull, and when he is not, Dionysus sports a crown of grape leaves (sometimes ivy), which denotes his agricultural nature (wherein he can be viewed as a harvest lord figure).  The figure of the horned devil of Christian belief features prominently in woodcuts and drawings of the persecution era, and his horns are depicted in some cases as those of a goat, and at other times as the horns of a bull.  Since the devil is never given a physical description in the Bible, it seems clear that his imagery is drawn from pagan sources.

The stories told of the witches’ Sabbats during the era of persecution provide accounts of orgiastic meetings, feasts, dancing, and impossible physical feats that include the ability to fly.  Prior to the notion that witches flew on broomsticks we find that riding on a goat provided transportation to the Sabbat, which is one of the cult animals associated with Dionysus.

It is interesting to note that Dionysus is depicted in ancient myth as a god connected to death and the souls of the dead.  The followers of Dionysus, who travel with him, share traits in common with the assembly of witches and the revels of fairies.  Here we see reflections of the night-wandering women who accompany Diana.  Historian Walter Otto writes: 

“However, the dark and eerie character of the animal also leaves its mark in the cult and myth of Dionysus, and it is this duality in its nature which first makes it into a genuine symbol of the two-fold god.  Dionysus ‘of the black goatskin’ has an epithet here, which is used again in the case of the Enrinyes.  Plutarch mentions it together with ‘the nocturnal one.’ To his cult, which in Attica was associated with the Apaturia, belonged a legend which obviously referred to the spirit realm beneath the earth.  He was also worshipped in Hermione. A figure who was undoubtedly connected with Dionysus Melanaigis was Dionysus Morychis (‘the dark one’) in Syracuse. The spirit of horror which, according to the myth-making mind, lives in the goatskin is well known to us from the figure of Zeus, who shakes the aegis. The same concept recurs in the italic cult of Mars.  It is precisely out of Italy, moreover, that we get our most explicit evidence for the viewpoint that the he-goat and the she-goat belong to the subterranean world, and to death’s realm. The goddess of women, Juno, dresses herself in a goatskin.” [50] 

The procession of the dead, and its connection to witchcraft through Hecate and her souls at the crossroads, is significant in relationship to themes of revelry.  In the image below, Dionysus is shown as a column known as a herm figure.  Herm figures were pillars with the upper portion shaped as the bust of a god or goddess.  In ancient times they were placed at the crossroads and thresholds.  In connection to the herm figure of Dionysus, Harrison notes that Dionysus was called by the name Perikionios, which means, “He-about-the-pillar.”   The images surrounding Dionysus depict the followers of Dionysus worshiping him as the god of life.  Harrison notes that they “bend in ritual ecstasy to touch the earth, mother of life.”[51]

 The cult of Dionysus in the region of Benevento is evident in the Villa of the Mysteries at Pompeii, which is about 50 miles south of Benevento.  Here we find painted depictions of an initiation ceremony in which a woman enters into the cult of Dionysus.


Gerald Gardner mentions the mural paintings at Pompeii, in connection with witchcraft, in his book Witchcraft Today:


“…and when I visited the Villa of the Mysteries at Pompeii I realized the great resemblance to the cult…I showed a picture of these frescoes to an English witch, who looked at it very attentively before saying: ‘So they knew the secret in those days.’ [52]


Dionysus was known by many names including Bacchus.  It is likely that he blended with a local deity and took on a new name, if not simply the name of the indigenous god figure.


We know from various sources that the goddess Diana was worshipped in Pompeii, which is evidenced also in the excavated home of Octavius Quartio.  Within the house was an arcaded courtyard with its hanging garden and household shrine dedicated to Diana.  In a resort called Baiae, near Naples, women frequently attended processions in honor of Diana Nemorensis at Aricia.[53]


In Diana’s grove we find the figure Rex Nemorensis, the King of the Woods.  Diana has been referred to as the “queen of all witches” and the “queen of the fairies.”  The theme of a king and queen in witchcraft also appears in connection with Benevento, as evidenced in the following excerpt from a 16th century witch trial


“In 1588 a fisherman’s wife from Palermo confessed to the Inquisition that she and her company, with their ‘ensign’ at their head, rode on billy-goats through the air to a country called Benevento that belongs to the Pope and lies in the kingdom of Naples.  There was a great plain there on which there stood a large tribune with two chairs. On one of them sat a red young man and on the other a beautiful woman; they called her the Queen, and the man was the King.  The first time she went there, - when she was eight years old, - the ensign and other women [sic] in her company said that she must kneel and worship this king and queen and do everything they told her, because they could help her and give her wealth, beauty and young men to make love with.  And they told her that she must not worship God or Our Lady.  The ensign made her swear on a book with big letters that she would worship the other two. So she took an oath to worship them, the King as God and the Queen as Our Lady, and promised them her body and soul…And after she had worshipped them like this, they set out tables and ate and drank, and after that the men lay with the women and with her and made love to them many times in a short time.

All this seemed to her to be taking place in a dream, for when she awoke she always found herself in bed, naked as when she had to rest.  But sometimes they called her out before she had gone to bed so that her husband and children should not find out, and without going to sleep (as far as she can judge) she started out and arrived fully clothed.

She went on to say that she did not know at that time that it was devilment, until her confessor opened her eyes to her errors and told her that it was the Devil and that she must not do it any more.  But in spite of this she went on doing it until two months ago. And she went out joyfully because of the pleasure she took from it…and because they [the King and the Queen] gave her remedies for curing the sick so that she could earn a little, for she has always been poor.”[54]

It is not a new idea that Bacchus was the god among witches.  Scholar Stuart Clark points out this belief as late as the 18th century.[55]  As noted by Clark, Pierre Crespet (Prior of the French Celestines) pointed to the origins of the “the witches’ dance” in the Bacchanalia, and felt they were the same ritual.  Jude Serclier (canon of the Order of St Ruff) believed the origins of the witches’ sabbats to be traceable to ancient Roman celebrations.  Francois de Rosset, in his 18th century work titled “Tragical Histories,” equated the rites of the bacchanal with those of the witches’ sabbat. In this same period, Francois Hedelin (abbe d’Aubignac) wrote that the rites of the bacchanal were “the same thing” as the night conventicles of contemporary witches.  Both individuals wrote that Bacchus presided over the Bacchanal and the Sabbats, which were the same events.  Both Hedelin and Rosset held that Bacchus was actually a devil and that the ancient practitioners of the Bacchanal were really witches.

Although the Church tried to eradicate Pagan beliefs and practices related to Bacchus, such elements merely morphed into curious celebrations associated with saints and Christian festivals and carnivals.  In the region of Naples, two saints are featured in a celebration that includes phallic symbolism.  These saints are named St. Cosmo and St. Damiano.  Wax phalli were offered to these saints and were placed upon their altars. Sir William Hamilton and Mr. Payne Knight investigated the origins of this ceremony, which they stated “left no doubt that it was a remnant of the worship of Priapus, which appears to have lingered on this spot without interruption from pagan times.”[56] 

The merging of Bacchus with Priapus among the peasantry is reported by various writers and commentators.  One example appears in the writings of John Davenport and Alan Hull Walton:

 “In the Kingdom of Naples, in the town of Trani, the capital of the province of that name, there was carried in procession, during the carnival, an old wooden statue representing an entire Priapus, in the ancient proportions; that is to say that the distinguishing characterisitics of that god was very disproportionate to the rest of the idol’s body, reaching, as it did, to the height of the chin.  The people called this figure il Santo Membro, the holy member.  This ancient ceremony, evidently a remains of the feasts of Bacchus, called by the Greeks Dionysiacs, and by the Romans Liberalia, existed as late as the commencement of the eighteenth century, when it was abolished by Joseph Davanzati, archbishop of that town.”[57]

Historian Jeffrey B. Russell notes that the Devil is often portrayed or described as having an oversized phallus.[58]  His other attributes, including horns and cloven hooves, are certainly drawn from earlier Pagan symbolism.  The Italian Witch Hunter, Francesco Guazzo, notes several interesting elements in his work titled Compendium Maleficarum.  He recounts a trial transcript in which a woman tells of an Italian man who brought her into a field in the middle of the night on the summer solstice.  He took a beech twig and traced a ritual circle upon the ground.  Afterwards he read from a black book, but the girl could not make out what he was saying. Shortly thereafter two women appeared with a large black goat.

A man next appeared wearing the vestments of a priest and joined the others gathered at the ritual circle.  Upon the head of the goat was a lighted candle, and everyone lit their own candles from this flame.  They worshipped the goat, and gave it offerings in a bowl.  At the next visit the Italian man cut a lock from the girl’s hair and placed it on the goat, which marked a wedding rite.  The girl claimed she was led off into the woods where she was then mounted by the goat to consummate the marriage.[59]  Unlike many accounts of witchcraft assemblies, this one contains little that is too fantastic.  It is likely based on an actual event, with the goat being a man in animal disguise (seen at night by candlelight).  At its core was probably an ancient fertility rite designed to ensure the proliferation of herds and crops as well as human reproduction.


Guazzo notes other gatherings that take place in Benevento, which also include the black goat figure.  Related trial transcripts contain the claim by the accused that such assemblies are real and not imagined or envisioned.  The accused insisted that transport to Benevento was provided on the back of a goat, and that many witches attended the assemblies.[60]  It is interesting to note Margaret Murray’s comment, which ties ritual witchcraft in general with the goddess Diana, and by extension with the Society of Diana:


“Ritual Witchcraft – or, as I propose to call it, the Dianic cult – embraces the religious beliefs and ritual of the people known in late medieval times as ‘Witches”.  The evidence proves that underlying the Christian religion was a cult practiced by many classes of the community, chiefly, however, by the more ignorant or those in the less thickly inhabited parts of the country.”[61


When we view the accounts of the witches’ Sabbats it seems clear that we are looking at ritual practices that take place sometimes in the material world and at other times in trance states, which constitute something akin to an astral experience.  Because witchcraft was a structured system, it seems likely that the more seasoned witches directed such experiences.  Today we call these experiences “guided meditation journeys.”  However in the Middle Ages and Renaissance period drugs were certainly used to facilitate the journey.  This was most likely due to the fact that opportunities for training were limited due to fear of being discovered practicing Witchcraft.  Therefore drugs hurried the process of liberating the mind and spirit from the body, and skilled elders verbally directed the experience of the Sabbats while the neophyte was under the influence. On other occasions a newcomer, under the influence of a drug, observed and took part in fertility rituals where the key performers wore masks and costumes.  No doubt the neophytes confused various events, and over the course of time it became unclear what had actually happened in the flesh and what had taken place solely in the spirit.


Not all witch assemblies convey a mystical nature.  Ginzburg notes one very worldly account:


“A woman tried by the Milanese Inquisition in 1390 for having asserted that she belonged to the ‘society’ of Diana, declared that the goddess accompanied by her followers wandered at night among the houses, chiefly those of the well-to-do, eating and drinking: and when the company came to dwellings that were well swept and orderly, Diana bestowed her blessings.”[62]

 It is difficult to gain a full portray of the Society of Diana because it was a secret organization.  Professor Franco Mormando comments: “The ultimate prototype of such secret nocturnal assemblies is the “Society of Diana.”[63]  Here we are reminded of the passage by folklorist Lady de Vere:

 "...the community of Italian witches is regulated by laws, traditions, and customs of the most secret kind, possessing special recipes for sorcery"[64] 

Folklorist Charles Leland comments:

 “The witches of Italy form a class who are the repositories of all the folklore; what is not at all generally known, they also keep as strict secrets an immense number of legends of their own, which have nothing in common with the nursery or popular tales, such as are commonly collected and published …the more occult and singular of their secrets are naturally not of a nature to be published”.

 Perhaps it is just as well that the Society of Diana must reside as a legendary history as opposed to one with sufficient evidence to be subjected to the dispassionate analysis of scholars and the academic community.  A healthy mind is one that not embraces the realities of daily life but also dreams in the reality of sleep. Clinical studies have shown that dream deprivation results in detrimental changes in personality, perceptual processes, and intellectual functioning.  Dare we reject the reality of the dream, and in doing so lose our ability to see clearly in the light of day?

Joseph Campbell once pointed out that the conscious mind is only fifty-percent of our being, and the other fifty-percent resides in the subconscious mind.  Can this be the reason why the witches’ assemblies took place in both words in different ways?  If so, the Society of Diana leaves us with the spiritual lineage of those who once walked between the worlds.  It is the well-worn path of those who came before us.  It is our spiritual legacy.

As to history, let us end with the words of historian Albert Grenier regarding the rural people, which apply equally to the authentic witches of antiquity:


“History, being wholly aristocratic and political, hardly noticed them. For they lived outside history, so to speak, content to be alive under a sunny sky, on a land which they loved.  They needed no more than a few very simple ideas inherited from their forefathers and a few homely rites to give them confidence and joy. A loyal, courageous race, feeling no dread in the presence of the unknown and, at bottom, not caring much about it, when the thoughts and fancies of the Mediterranean came pouring in they kept alive the original conceptions and religious acts of the first masters of the Italian soil.”[65]


[1] Julio Baroja.  The World of Witches.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964 – page 65
[2] Julio Baroja.  The World of Witches.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964 – page 17
[3] Jules Michelet. Sorceress: A Study in Middle Age Superstition.  Paris: Charles Carrington, 1904, page 43
[4] Carlo Ginzburg. Ecstasies, Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath. New York: Pantheon Books, 1991, page 6
[5]  Carlo Ginzburg. Ecstasies, Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath. New York: Pantheon Books, 1991, page 104
[6] Carlo Ginzburg. Ecstasies, Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath. New York: Pantheon Books, 1991, page 104


[7] Storia Notturna. Una decifrazione del sabba, Torino 1989. page 81
[8] Bonomo, Giuseppe. Caccia alle Streghe. Palermo: Palumbo, 1959
[9] Carlo Ginzburg. Ecstasies, Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath. New York: Pantheon Books, 1991, page 130


[10] Raven Grimassi.  Italian Witchcraft. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 2000, page 15-16
[11] Bello Civili 6: 700-01
[12] Sarah Iles Johnston. Restless Dead.  Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999, page 60-61
[13] Sarah Iles Johnston. Hekate Soteira. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1990, page 73-74
[14] Ruth Martin. Witchcraft and the Inquisition in Venice 1550-1650. New York: Basil Blackwell Ltd., 1989, page 41-42
[15] Ruth Martin. Witchcraft and the Inquisition in Venice 1550-1650. New York: Basil Blackwell Ltd., 1989, page 42
[16] Ruth Martin. Witchcraft and the Inquisition in Venice 1550-1650. New York: Basil Blackwell Ltd., 1989, page 42.  Like most scholars Martin dismisses any connection between this theme and witchcraft, seeing it instead as simple unrelated folk beliefs that have no connection.  Such a narrow view is likely due to the fact that scholars dismiss witchcraft as bearing surviving elements of paganism, and instead views it as a product of superstition and fear in an unenlightened period.  Such an approach dismisses the roots of folk belief that extend from earlier periods, and negates the cultural connections to themes woven into folk beliefs about witchcraft that survived and were later distorted by the Church.


[17] Aeschylus. Hiket 667-77
[18]  As quoted in The Rotting Goddess, by Jacob Rabinowitz, Autonomedia, 1998, page 19
[19] Katharine Briggs. The Vanishing People. New York: Patheon Books, 1978, page 39
[20] W.Y. Evans-Wentz  The Fairy Faith in Celtis Countries.  New York: Citadel Publishing, 1994, page 253
[21] Katharine Briggs. The Vanishing People. New York: Patheon Books, 1978, page 47
[22]  Katharine Briggs. The Vanishing People. New York: Patheon Books, 1978, page 174
[23] Katharine Briggs. The Vanishing People. New York: Patheon Books, 1978, page 54
[24] W.Y. Evans-Wentz  The Fairy Faith in Celtis Countries.  New York: Citadel Publishing, 1994, page 231
[25] Lewis Spence. The Fairy Tradition.  Kessinger Publishing, page 322
[26] Sarah Iles Johnston.  Restless Dead.  Berkeley: University of Caifornia Press, 1999, page 60-61, 207-210
[27] W.Y. Evans-Wentz  The Fairy Faith in Celtis Countries.  New York: Citadel Publishing, 1994, page 336
[28] W.Y. Evans-Wentz  The Fairy Faith in Celtis Countries.  New York: Citadel Publishing, 1994, page 337
[29] Jacob Rabinowitz.  The Rotting Godess. New York: Autonomedia, 1998,  page 51
[30] Lesley & Roy Adkins. Dictionary of Roman Religion. New York: facts on File, Inc., 1996, page 117


[31] Cyril Bailey. Phases in the religion of ancient rome, by Cyril bailey – University of California Press, Berkeley, 1932, page 44


[32]  Jame Frazer.  The Golden Bough.  New York: The Macmillan Company, 1928,  page 163
[33] Cyril Bailey.  Phases in the religion of ancient rome. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1932, page 48.


[34] Jame Frazer.  The Golden Bough.  New York: The Macmillan Company, 1928,  page 164
[35] Sarah Iles Johnston.  Restless Dead.  Berkeley: University of Caifornia Press, 1999, page 171


[36] Pausanias. Description of Greece: 3.10.7
[37] Jennifer Larson. Greek Nymphs. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001, page 259
[38] Jennifer Larson. Greek Nymphs. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001, page 100
[39] Jennifer Larson. Greek Nymphs. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001, page 100
[40] Jennifer Larson. Greek Nymphs. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001, page 101
[41] Sarah Iles Johnston.  Restless Dead.  Berkeley: University of Caifornia Press, 1999, page 69-70
[42] Sarah Iles Johnston.  Restless Dead.  Berkeley: University of Caifornia Press, 1999, page 227-228
[43] Sarah Iles Johnston.  Restless Dead.  Berkeley: University of Caifornia Press, 1999, page 188-189

[44] The Gello were the spirits of virgins who died and were therefore denied the opportunity to have children. As a result they  sought vengeance against the living.  The Strix was a owl-woman spirit much like a vampire that fed on babies.  

[45] Alexander S. Murray.  Who's Who in Mythology. Crescent Books. New York: 1988, page 116)  
[46]  Hans Biedermann. Dictionary of Symbolism. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1992, page 96 
[47] Sarah Iles Johnston.  Restless Dead.  Berkeley: University of Caifornia Press, 1999, page 167

[48] The Hieros Gamos, or "holy wedding," is a means of coupling between a human and a deity.  In ancient times this rite was generally conducted in the spring, and participants believed they could gain profound religious experience through sexual intercourse. Participants assumed the role of bride and groom, and through sexual union they obtained symbolic and literal fertility for themselves, the land, and their people.

[49] Sarah Iles Johnston.  Restless Dead.  Berkeley: University of Caifornia Press, 1999, page 211
[50] Walter Otto. Dionysus: Myth & Cult.  Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1965, page 169
[51] Jane Ellen Harrison. Prolegomena. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991, page 429
[52]  Gerald B. Gardner.  Witchcraft Today.  Secaucus: Citadel Press, 1973, page 82 & 88
[53] Ovid.  The Art of Love: Book 1


[54] Early Modern European Witchcraft, edited by Ankarloo & Henningsen, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993, page 196


[55] Thinking with Demons, Stuart Clark, Oxford University Press, 1997 – page 23


[56] Primitive Symbolism as Illustrated in Phallic Worship or the Reproductive Principle, by Hodder M. Westropp and J.G.R. Forlong, page 48


[57] Aphrodisiacs and Love Stimulants, by John Davenport and Alan Hull Walton, page 98


[58] The Prince of Darkness: Radical Evil and the Power of Good in History, page 114

[59] Compendium Maleficarum, book one, chapter twelve, page 47-48.
[60] Compendium Maleficarum, book one, chapter twelve, page 41-42
[61] The Witchcult in Western Europe, Introduction, page 11
[62] Night Battles, page 42
[63] The Preacher's Demons: Bernardino of Siena and the Social Underworld of Early Renaissance Italy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999, page 276


[64] La Rivista of Rome, June, 1984
[65]  The Roman Spirit in Religion, Thought, and Art, page 371-372