The ancient gods of the Strega

The old gods of pre-Christian Europe have survived. There is still a world where we still know the powers of charms and amulets, secret gestures, invoking protection or attracting energy. Incantations are learned like an art, signs and oracles are read in the clouds, in the flight of a bird. The future can be revealed by drops of olive oil floating on the surface of consecrated water and visions can appear if one looks through a crystal.

The old strega gods

the old gods

The Crescent Moon Goddess and the Horned God have been worshiped for moons under several names: Fana and Faunus, Jana and Janus, Tana and Tanus, but the names most commonly used in Italian witchcraft are Diana and Dianus. Their oldest names however were Uni and Tagni.

Nature is seen as the manifestation of spiritual forces and laws. Magic is the art of grasping and understanding the interplay between these forces and the ways in which they can be influenced. The "mechanism" hidden behind the physical world (dimension) is animated and guarded by a horde of spirits and deities.

Ancient techniques have been preserved which demonstrated that one can acquire the favors of these beings, that personal wishes and desires could be fulfilled by them. To do this, however, required a variety of offerings and established rites to attract the entity that influences the desired aspects.

To the north of Italy appears the region of Tuscany. On these lands are the descendants of an ancient people: the Etruscans. This is where the Old Religion of Italy was preserved by the Witches and Sorcerers who transmitted their knowledge from generation to generation. Traditional High Art in Tuscany is quite unique, despite influences from other regions of Italy. We can see the remains of religious beliefs from the beginnings of civilization Etruscan.

Tuscan witches believe that their knowledge of this Art is the legacy that had to be given to at least one person before they died. If this was not accomplished, then it was believed that it would harm the progress and advancement of the future life. It is also said that a witch is reborn several times in human form, becoming more and more powerful. Eventually, she can become a guiding spirit or even a demi-goddess.

This religion focuses mainly on the God Tagni and the United Goddess. The universe they rule has sixteen (16) "mansions", four for each of the four cardinal points. The gods of destiny stand in the North. To the east are the major gods, to the south are the astral entities, and to the west are the spirits of the Underworld (underworld).

Tagni and Uni thus rule over a hierarchy of powerful spirits who wield significant influence over the Earth. The following list will show you some of these Tuscan spirits and gods/goddesses along with those they currently correspond to.

Tuscan / Greek or Roman

Teramo Mercury
Nortia Fortune
Apollo Apollo
Losna Diane (Moon)
Turanna Venus
Pan Pan
Maso Mars
Silviano Silvanus
Esta Vesta
Faflon Bacchus
Tesana Aurora
Spulviero Aeolus
Fanio Faunus
Alpena Flora
Tituno Vulcan
Verbio Verbius
Jano Janus
Meana Fata – Destiny
Dusio Eros

These spirits and gods/goddesses are invoked for several purposes and take part in daily life in Tuscany and more than were other similar gods in other regions.

Teramo is the messenger summoned to bring requests to the gods and helps cast spells. Losna is the spirit of the Moon and is invoked for all magical work. Turanna influences affective relationships. In the Old Religion, everything is the result of the action of a spirit or a god, or even a witch. It is for this reason that everyday life is linked to Great Art.

As in most pagan traditions, elemental forces are revered and living entities are associated with the magical properties of the elements. Likewise, Nature is full of spirits dwelling even in objects or places. This is the principle of animism. Fauns (Fauni) and Sylphs (Silvani) are the spirits of the woods. The Monachetto are like Gnomes while the Linchetto are part of the family of Elves.

In Tuscan sorcery, the North is a place of great powers. The elemental beings of the North are called Palace, spirits of the Earth. To the south stand the Settiano, who are the spirits of fire. To the west are the Manii, the spirits of Water. To the east are the Bellarie, elementals of Air. The first ones myths report that the Lasa were associated with the Underworld. Through the interaction of these beings, the vegetation blooms, the rain falls, the cycle of life continues. These spirits are the inner forces of Nature.

Closely linked to this belief is a tradition of magical cures, incantations, rites to attract love, to ward off evil spirits or negativity, ensuring physical comfort. Although this knowledge was once known even to non-practitioners, the secrets of the practice of this magical Art have mostly been kept and taught in a "hereditary" way in wizarding families.

The Strega/Stregone believe in a clan of spirits known as the Lare, who protected their homes and families. They also preserved family lines and their traditions. The Lare assisted the Strega in order to help them be reborn among those they had known and loved in the previous life.

They were venerated in front of a small altar or a small “abode” built for them in the family house, placed to the West or to the East. Offerings were made there for them, especially on special occasions when the whole family could be together, such as weddings, births, birthdays or funeral rites, etc.

Traditionally, candles are lit, offerings of bread, wine, milk, honey are made to them, placed in separate bowls in front of their dwelling (altar). In earlier times, these spirits were called Lasa and were considered the first spirits on Earth.

There are several types of spirits in Italian folklore. One of the most common and best known is the Folletto. All the Folletto travel, move thanks to the wind, causing whirlwinds in the dust. They are said to look like butterflies and are always on the move. They are generally friendly around humans but can be mischievous and annoying at times.

It's not uncommon for a Folletto to lift a woman's skirt in a gust of wind or as they bump into an object in a sudden gust. As they are magical beings, they act positively to promote sexual relations. In northern Italy, some Folletto are called Basadone, known to steal a kiss from women in a breeze, hence their name. The woman of this spirit is called Folletti, which is also the name given to a group of Folletto (plural).

The Linchetto belong to the race of Elves and are also night elves. They are native to Tuscany or what used to be called the Etruscan Kingdom. These elves are sometimes the source of our nightmares and often let out frightening cries during the night. They hate clutter and can't stand it. It is said that to drive Linchettos out of your home, you have to scatter grass (twigs) around the bed. The night elf would come, try to pick them all up, but eventually walk away, angry.

The Fata (fairies, in Italian) are the spirits of woods and water. They often change form, either that of a human or that of an animal or even that of a plant. It is said that those who stopped to help an animal or an old person could discover a fairy, in disguise and were always highly rewarded. On the other hand, those who are cruel to a Fata can be in grave danger.

The Lauru are Follettos with twinkling black eyes, long curly hair and the most prestigious velvet clothes. They're pretty mischievous but if treated with respect they can reveal hidden treasures or the winning lottery numbers!

Italian folklore also extends to inanimate objects because everything has a certain power, a key made of gold or silver, pearls, coral (especially red), are good examples. Other objects, such as a clove of garlic or a pinch of salt, have the power to protect.