catholic tools

anonymous asked:

I am interested in the Sicilian and Italian traditions! Can you direct me as to where to learn more about this/explain the basics of this practice? Thank you so much- your blog is great:)

Italian Witchcraft and Folklore

Hey! That’s wonderful! They’re surprisingly difficult to find any accurate information on!
My best resources are the article by Sabina Magliocco titled Witchcraft, healing, and vernacular magic in Italy, a less reliable article (that mixes witch-lore and folk magic all together) by J.B. Andrews called Neapolitan Witchcraft, and Carlo Ginzburg’s book The Night Battles about the benandanti in Friuli (Northeastern region of Italy).

If anyone knows any other sources feel free to list them!

Italian witch lore is very old, as there have been legends of witches in this region for a very long, accountable period. The word strega (witch) most likely comes from the Latin strix (screech owl) which witches were thought to take the shape of in the night. The practice of witchcraft is called stregoneria, a male witch is a stregone, and a female witch is a strega.
There are more legends of Italian witches in the south (particularly near Naples). One of the most famous is the story of the witches of Benevento, who convened beneath a walnut tree on a hill therein, and danced and worshiped the Devil. This tree was supposedly cut down.


There is a popular image of a witch who arises among Christian tradition in Italy, even still today. This witch is called Old Befana or Bella Befana(Bruta BefanaBella Befana or Vecchia Befana) who is a good witch who lived alone in a small cottage. One day, three wise men knocked on her door. “Behold! The child of God is born, (yada yada) we’re going to find him and bring him gifts! Will you join us Old Befana?” Now, Old Befana was glad to hear the news and excited to meet the new babe and give it what gifts she could. However, she was not one to shuck her responsibilities so she said she would have to wait until her chores were completed. They agreed and she saw them off, before finishing her cleaning. Once her duties were completed, she packed up her presents for the babe, hopped promptly onto the broom she had just finished sweeping with, and flew out the chimney into the cold night. However, they had not told her how to find them again! Not wanting to deny the boy his gifts, she decided to give some to all the little children she passed on her way, as any might be the new born child of God. Every year on that same night, Old Befana rides out on her broom and deposits gifts for little children, in hopes that one day she will finally find the baby Jesus and give him the presents she has been holding all this time.

In southern Italy, many of the tales of witches (streghe) and folk healers (fattucchiere, or ‘fixers’) tell of the songs they sing to work their magic. Unfortunately, this seems to be all anyone knows on the subject, and I can’t find any references or information on these songs!
In lore, the witches of both benevolent and malefic natures are closely related or interchangeable with more faerie-like spirits. The Janare of Naples/Janas of Sardinia (lit. followers of Diana) are magical women said to live in Neolithic shaft tombs and are expert weavers and spinners. They sometimes intermarry with humans, but are very different from the cogas  (or little cooks) of Sardinia, who are malefic witches that cook and eat their victims.


Most folk magic in Italy has died out, even in many of the rural areas. What is documented and what remains is all, unsurprisingly, Catholic magic. Much of it draws to saints, prayers, and Catholic holy tools. One name for this form of magic is benedicaria. However, much of it seems more agricultural or magical and less religious in nature. There is no point assuming this other source is pagan, because we could never prove where almost of any of it originated.



Most witchcraft you will find today in Italy, especially in urbanized areas, is of a New Age or Neo-pagan persuasion. Neo-Wicca is about the best you can hope to find, and even that is comparatively rare to that found in Great Britain, Australia, and the U.S.

In conversations about Italian magic and witchcraft, Raven Grimassi’s book Italian Witchcraft tends to come up. THIS BOOK IS UTTER BULLSHIT. HOGWASH. STUFF AND NONSENSE. It’s almost literally just Neo-Wicca with different names and some made up information. I’m not exaggerating. If you have this book, it’s better off as kindling than on your bookshelf. Just saying.
Charles Leland’s book Aradia: The Gospel of the Witches is a pretty piece of poetry, and perhaps has some truths in it, but it can never be relied upon. His source is not credible, and the information doesn’t add up well. It is a beautiful book, but not an accurate account of Italian magic or witchcraft.

Here are a few blog posts I have made relating to Italian witchcraft and folk magic:

The Curse of the Lemon and Pins

Neapolitan Flying Ointment

The Use of Stones in Italian Folk Magic

Charm Against the Evil Eye

To Cure Jaundice

To Cure Worms

To Bind an Eagle from your Flock

To Keep Birds from the Crops

The light show in Rome..

Anonymous asked:

Hi Father, I hate to bug you. I’m looking for some help in understanding the light show that was projected onto St. Peter’s.

And yet I still have some friends who think it was offensive, improper,… Sorry don’t mean to be another person questioning the whole thing but seeking to make sense of all the brouhaha.

Hi anonymous:

It’s not a problem. It’s not bugging me. The light show happened. But now it’s over with and we just have to move on. 

It was sort of like an episode of National Geographic. Cute animals and pics of nature were projected with light onto the facade of St. Peter’s basilica in Rome. Some thought this was sacrilegious, or a profanation of a sacred space. 

Others felt that the pope allowed the climate change crowd to use the Catholic Church as a tool for unscientific, alarmist, exaggerated theories about keeping the earth pure. 

It was like “those effing Vegans gone Wild at the Vatican” (as one person wrote to me), and some people who are right-wing in their politics in the U.S. think that vegans should be shot, or drowned in a gluten-free vat of animal drippings, preferably boiled out of endangered animals who were shot and killed during trophy hunting.

Some were angry that this was done on December 8th, the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

I cannot help but simply think, MEH.

First, a church cannot be profaned by using a light projector to project images of nature onto the front of the church building. Profanation of a place, in Catholic theology, happens inside the building, from the inside of the doors to the altar area or sacristy. And profanation is committing acts of sacrilege which are contrary to the virtue of religion.

Light images of monkeys, lions, rain forests, or streams, are not the subject matter of “sacrilege.” It’s nature. God, according to Catholic dogma, is the Creator of nature, and the Source of its beauty and order and design. 

Catholic churches have been used for concerts, for morality plays (even in the Medieval Church), and even as homeless shelters during times of earthquake, flood, and fire. People have, even in the good ‘ol days of tradition, hung patriotic banners and advertisements for church carnivals, fiestas, and fund raisers, which had little to nothing to do with religion per se.

So that light show was not a profanation or a sacrilege. As far as hating on the environment, or on National Geographic type shows, or wanting to round up all the vegans and shoot or drown them in dead animal juices, that is neither here nor there. 

The Pope of Rome is entitled to his opinions about the scientific theories of climate change. The Pope of Rome has a right to share the opinion that the environment is in grave danger. If he wants to do that by inviting climate change folks to do a light show in Rome, that is also his prerogative. 

Such a National Geographic-type thing is NOT morally sinful or grave matter, and he is the Supreme Sovereign of the Vatican City State. Since that State has never pretended to be a democracy, he does not have to give a damn what anyone thinks, as long as he is not committing sin (which he did not).

As far as taking attention away from Our Lady’s feast of the Immaculate Conception, I asked my Catholic friends who were angry at Pope Francis “And just what did YOU DO for the Immaculate Conception??” I mean, besides attend Mass. Did you organize a parade for the Blessed Virgin? Did you put together a prayer evening with Holy Hour and singing to Mary?

The reply to those questions:  crickets. Typical of some Catholics. Complain that the Pope took attention away from the Virgin Mary, while they sit on their butts on December 8th and do nothing special for her. WHAT. EVER.

So, no, I do not and did not get excited about Pope Francis’ light show at the Vatican. It was neither sinful nor sacrilegious. At the worst, maybe it was “gimmicky” but Francis does weird stuff like that. There is nothing wrong with a Pope doing weird stuff, as long as it is not sinful or immoral. He means well and he is trying to get a message out about the beauty of creation, which is in accord with his namesake, the poor guy from Assisi.

In this winter time, some folks cannot breathe from asthma and flu. Some cannot pay their heating bill or are going to food pantries for groceries. College kids don’t have money to register for next semester’s classes. Other families are in the middle of divorces, abortions, drug addictions, and suicidal depression. And there are those people who are passing their first Christmas, this 2015, without their mom, dad, sibling, best friend, or beloved pet. It is a time of tears, and not laughter, for them. 

I say that people just need to see this Pope Francis light show in the big picture. And the big picture is that, in the Catholic Church, there are professional whiners and bitchy people who are still mad because the pope wears black shoes, instead of those pretty red slippers. 

I am so happy for them, to have the luxury to obsess about non-problems while other people are going through real crises in their lives. I just don’t want to join their club–okee dokee? God bless and take care, Fr. Angel