The “witches” of Europe were women and men from villages all across Europe who were involved with their indigenous spiritual traditions. Each small village in Europe had its own rich customs about the natural world and the unseen realms. These traditions arose organically from the ecosystem itself. The place, the trees, the mountains, the water, the important landscape features, made the witch’s craft unique to each area. Though customs differed, they always involved the same work: tending to the ancestors and earth spirits and keeping open the gates of communication between dimensions. It was not important how this was done but very important that it was done. Tending to the energetic balance of places and communities is very important work.
The Streghe are part of this tradition.
One of the main ways this tradition manifested in every culture was through intimate connection with plants. Witches offered wisdom gained from plants back in the form of healing. An elder from their village, often a relative, indoctrinated the witches into this work. This craft may have been in the family for generations, it may have been a lineage. These were people with a particular gift. It did not make them better than anyone else. But it did make them different, easy to notice and single out.
From 1486 until the early 1800s these women and men were murdered en masse. The lowest total estimate of those burned at the stake for the crime of witchcraft is 300,000. Others estimate the count to be millions of witches murdered during this time. 82% of those murdered were women.
There only needed to be one person to accuse a witch. She was not allowed to defend herself. Witches were burned publicly in the village square. Before they were burned alive, they were also publicly tortured. This is a painful part of the history of the earth.
If you are of European descent—whether your ancestors were the witches, the children who witnessed this torture and murder, the accusers, or the perpetrators—all the people in this story are your ancestors.
Reclaiming these lost lineages is an important part of healing this collective trauma. The Strega lineage is but one of these. You can contact me for a divination if you want to begin to reclaim your own lost lineage.
~Theresa C. Dintino
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