Who Was Aradia? The History and Development of a Legend

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Aradia is familiar to most contemporary Pagans and Witches as the principal figure in Charles G. Leland’s Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches, first published in 1899. Leland presents her as the daughter of Diana, the goddess of the moon, by her brother Lucifer, “the god of the Sun and of the Moon, the god of Light” (Leland, 1899, 1998:1), who is sent to earth to teach the poor to resist the oppression of the wealthy classes through magic and witchcraft. Through Leland’s work, Aradia’s name and legend became central to the Witchcraft revival. Between 1950 and 1960, “Aradia” was probably the secret name of the Goddess in Gardnerian Craft (it has since been changed), and she has also given her name to numerous contemporary Witchcraft traditions (Clifton, 1998:73).

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