Legend of the Gospel of Aradia
According to legend Aradia was born in 1313 in the town of Volterra in northern Italy. She gathered a small band of followers and went about the countryside, teaching and preaching the Old Religion of Italy. She spoke of an Age of Reason to come that would replace the Age of the Son. When she departed, Aradia requested that a meal be held in her honor, and that she be remembered by future generations.
Aradia was a child of the spirit, and even in her youth she heard the voices that only the ancients once knew. In the early hours of the dawn she walked among the Alban hills near lake Nemi. One day, after having journeyed far into the hills, she grew tired and took her rest beneath the shade of a large tree. As she centered her thoughts within her mind a voice spoke to her, saying:
“Look well into the skies, and know that you are chosen.”
Aradia gazed upward, the skies darkened, and the voice whispered to her the words “Moon shadow”. Something within her awoke, and she understood the path that lay ahead of her. Looking about from the hillside she saw the beauty of Creation and the equality of all things. An understanding of the inner workings of Nature awoke within her, and with this enlightenment she opened up her heart and mind to the vastness of all she perceived. Then Aradia beheld the oppression of the peasant people, knew their sorrows, and was greatly moved with compassion.
In the time of Aradia, many peasant slaves had escaped into the hills and forests. These people gathered into bands of outlaws in order to survive. Aradia sought them out, living with them for a period of time in the woodland camps near lake Nemi. There she listened to the plight of her people. Many suffered persecution from the Church because they worshiped in the Old Ways. Evil Lords who held power in the land made others slaves. Among these outlaws Aradia came to know many Witches who were also in hiding.
In time Aradia went down into the villages and towns in order to give hope to the people. She taught them, saying:
“Blessed be the free. Blessed be they who rejoice in truth and love, and seek not to maintain evil and misguided teachings. Know that the spirit is upon you all, and that spirit is love. Love punishes not, neither a day nor an eternity. Do not lend yourselves to teachings of fear and restriction. Blessed be the free in spirit for their kingdom is of both worlds. They are the Children of the Earth who neither hate nor teach hate, fear nor teach fear, restrict nor teach restriction. These same are the Children of Spirit.”
Aradia gathered disciples and taught them the inner mysteries of the Old Ways that their ancestors once embraced. She revealed the true nature of the name Aradia, taken in honor of the ancient mythological daughter of Diana. Many people knew Aradia in her hometown of Volterra, and in Benevento, before she took this name. Her fame soon spread to all regions of Italy; people came to listen to the words of Aradia and to join her as followers. She thought them the doctrine of reincarnation and about the old gods. Aradia revealed the secrets of the earth and the knowledge of ancient teachings. Because of her fame, she fell into disfavor with the Church, and the priests plotted against her. Soldiers were sent to arrest her for heresy, and she was place inside a prison. There Aradia suffered humiliation and torture. The officials feared her popularity amongst the peasants and desired to sentence her to death.
When morning arrived on the day the priests were to meet, they ordered Aradia brought before them, but she was not found in her cell. A search began for her, but she could not be located anywhere in the region. Later, in the south of Rome, Aradia appeared again and continued to teach. The people were amazed because they believed she had been killed or imprisoned for life. Hearing the news of her appearance in Rome the soldiers came to retrieve her. But none questioned by the soldiers claimed to know anything about Aradia. After the soldiers departed, the priests sent spies to dwell among the peasants in hops of discovering her whereabouts.
In that same month some people discovered Aradia sitting with her disciples and instructing them. Aradia saw that they were joyful to encounter her and she stood to teach them, saying:
”Blessed be the free in spirit and they who love without profit. For love is the greatest attainment. It is the gift of the spirit’s blessing. Therefore never betray a love, nor deceive one. Love each other and care for each other, and for each thing, with the heart and soul of a poet.
Strive to see the world, as does the artist. Go, seek, and capture the beauty, which is there. And take care that you hurt not even one that is among you. But love, and live, to the fullest, in awareness and compassion to the minds and hearts and souls of everyone around you. Live in peace.”
Many people began to question one another concerning Aradia. Her disciples came to her and said, “My Lady, some say you are a prophetess, and some say you are a Magus. What shall we tell them?” Aradia picked up a handful of earth, and looking at the crowd, she said:
“I am the Daughter of the Sun and the Moon. I am the Earth. I am the love of freedom, which is the love of the gods. And whosoever shall believe in me, the same shall be a child of the Mother and Father who dwell in all things.”
A spy from the Church approached and asked: “Lady, we know that you are a holy one; tell us of the God from which your power comes.”
Aradia replied: “Though men shall call upon many gods, there is but One, which is the many. A man in his life is called by many names. Some may know him as Father, or a friend. To some he may be an enemy or a brother, and to another a cousin. Yet is he still not the one man?”
Another spy asked her: “The priests tell us that God is male, and that women must submit to men. What do you say?”
Aradia answered: “ Does not even nature show you, in all ways that all is equal? In all flora and fauna, there is male and female. Who among you can truly say which is more important? One cannot be without the other.”
After this a disciple asked: “Lady, if all you speak is so, why then do the priests not tell us?”
Aradia replied: “These priests tell what they have been told. It is with they who are above the priests that the truth is known, and hidden. There are many greedy and power-hungry men who profit from the Church. It is better for them to control with false teachings, that restrict and threaten independence from the priesthood.”
The spies returned to the Priests and told them what they had heard. The priests were angry and spread lies about Aradia’s teachings claiming they were evil. She was once more arrested to be taken back to Rome. As they were traveling a band of outlaws approached them. The leader was a slave whom Aradia had converted to moon worship in the cult of Diana. A fight resulted and Aradia was freed and taken by the outlaws to a hiding place.
Charles Godfrey Leland