Ladies In Waiting


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ladies in waiting Aradia




  If  the reader has ever met with the works of the learned
folk-lorist G. Pitre, or the articles contributed by
"Lady Vere de Vere" to the Italian Rivista or that of
J. H. Andrews to Folk-Lore, he will be aware that there are
in Italy great numbers of Strege, fortune-tellers or witches,
who divine by cards, perform strange ceremonies in which
spirits are supposed to be invoked, make and sell amulets,
and, in fact, comport themselves generally as their reputed
kind are wont to do, be they Black Voodoos in America or
    But the Italian Strega or sorceress is in certain respects
a different character from these.  In most cases she comes of
a family in which her calling or art has been practiced for many
generations.  I have no doubt that there are instances in which
the ancestry remounts to mediaeval, Roman, or it may be Etruscan
times. The result has naturally been the accumulation in such
families of much tradition.  But in Northern Italy, as its literature
indicated, though there has been some slight gathering of fairy tales
and popular superstitions by scholars, there has never existed the
least interest as regarded the strange lore of the witches, nor any
suspicion that it embraced an incredible quantity of old Roman minor
myths and legends, such as Ovid has recorded, but of which much escaped
    This ignorance was greatly aided by the wizards and witches
themselves, in making a profound secret of all their traditions,
urged thereto by fear of the priests.  In fact, the latter all
unconsciously actually contributed immensely to the preservation of
such lore, since the charm of the forbidden is very great, and
witchcraft, like the truffle, grows best and has its raciest flavour
when most deeply hidden. Hopiter, and Venus and Mercury, and the Lares
or ancestral spirits, and in the cities are women who prepare strange
amulets, over which they mutter spells, all known in the old Roman time,
and who can astonish even the learned by their legends of Latin gods,
mingled with lore which may be found in CATO or THEOCRITUS.  With one of
these I became intimately acquainted in 1886, and have ever since employed
her specially to collect among her sisters of the hidden spell in many
places all the traditions of the olden time known to them.  It is true
that I have drawn from other sources, but this woman by long practice has
perfectly learned what few understand, or just what I want, and how to
    Among other strange relics, she succeeded, after many years, in
obtaining the following "Gospel", which I have in her handwriting.
A full account of its nature with many details will be found in an
Appendix.  I do not know definitely whether my informant derived a part
of these traditions from written sources or oral narration, but believe
it was chiefly the latter.  However, there are a few wizards who copy or
preserve documents relative to their art.  I have not seen my collector
since the "Gospel" was sent to me.  I hope at some future time to be
    For brief explanation I may say the witchcraft is known to its
votaries as la vecchia religione, or the old religion, of which DIANA
is the Goddess, her daughter Aradia (or Herodius) the female Messiah,
and that this little work sets forth how the latter was born, came down
to earth, established witches and witchcraft, and then returned to heaven.
With it are given the ceremonies and invocations or incantations to be
addressed to Diana and Aradia, the exorcism of Cain, and the spells of
the holy-stone, rue, and verbena, constituting, as the text declares,
the regular church-service, so to speak, which is to be chanted or
There are also included the very curious incantations or benedictions
of the honey, meal, and salt, or cakes of the witch-supper, which is
curiously classical, and evidently a relic of the Roman Mysteries.
    The work could have been extended ad infinitum by adding to it the
ceremonies and incantations which actually form a part of the Scripture
of Witchcraft, but as these are nearly all - or at least in great number -
to be found in my works entitled Etruscan-Roman Remains and Legends of
Florence, I have hesitated to compile such a volume before ascertaining
whether there is a sufficiently large ... more

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Up From Slavery


Up from slavery
Chapter I 45Sl2
Slavery
A slave among slaves.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Chapter I.
I WAS born a slave on a plantation in Franklin County, Virginia. I am not quite sure of the exact place or exact date of my birth, but at any rate I suspect I must have been born somewhere and at some time. As nearly as I have been able to learn, I was born near a cross-roads post-office called Hale's Ford, and the year was 1858 or 1859. I do not know the month or the day. The earliest impressions I can now recall are of the plantation and the slave quarters -- the latter being the part of the plantation where the slaves had their cabins.
My life had its beginning in the midst of the most miserable, desolate, and discouraging surroundings. This was so, however, not because my owners were especially cruel, for they were not, as compared with many others. I was born in a typical log cabin, about fourteen by sixteen feet square. In this cabin I lived with my mother and a brother and sister till after the Civil War, when we were all declared free.
Of my ancestry I know almost nothing. In the slave quarters, and even later, I heard whispered conversations among the coloured people of the tortures which the slaves, including, no doubt, my ancestors on my mother's side, suffered in the middle passage of the slave ship while being conveyed from Africa to America. I have been unsuccessful in securing any information that would throw any accurate light upon the history of my family beyond my mother. She, I remember, had a half-brother and a half-sister. In the days of slavery not very much attention was given to family history and family records -- that is, black family records. My mother, I suppose, attracted the attention of a purchaser who was afterward my owner and hers. Her addition to the slave family attracted about as much attention as the purchase of a new horse or cow. Of my father I know even less than of my mother. I do not even know his name. I have heard reports to the effect that he was a white man who lived on one of the near-by plantations. Whoever he was, I never heard of his taking the least interest in me or providing in any way for my rearing. But I do not find especial fault with him. He was simply another unfortunate victim of the institution which the Nation unhappily had engrafted upon it at that time.
The cabin was not only our living-place, but was also used as the kitchen for the plantation. My mother was the plantation cook. The cabin was without glass windows; it had only openings in the side which let in the light, and also the cold, chilly air of winter. There was a door to the cabin -- that is, something that was called a door -- but the uncertain hinges by which it was hung, and the large cracks in it, to say nothing of the fact that it was too small, made the room a very uncomfortable one. In addition to these openings there was, in the lower right-hand corner of the room, the cat-hole, -- a contrivance which almost every mansion or cabin in Virginia possessed during the ante-bellum period. The cat-hole was a square opening, about seven by eight inches, provided for the purpose of letting the cat pass in and out of the house at will during the night. In the case of our particular cabin I could never understand the necessity for this convenience, since there were at least a half-dozen other places in the cabin that would have accommodated the cats. There was no wooden floor in our cabin, the naked earth being used as a floor. In the centre of the earthen floor there was a large, deep opening covered with boards, which was used as a place in which to store sweet potatoes during the winter. An impression of this potato- hole is very distinctly engraved upon my memory, because I recall that during the process of putting the potatoes in or taking them ... more

ladies in waiting

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