Italian words used by Westerners (FB post) 2

I just posted this in one of the FB group in which I participate. I thought that folks here might find it interesting…

New topic (bound to be controversial!) 

Let’s talk about how Italian words are used by Westerners (specifically, English speakers). 

Often, English speakers will modify foreign words to make them sound better within an English sentence. For instance, in English, a person who practices “Wicca” is referred to as “Wiccan”. However, a person who practices “Stregheria” is “a Strega”, not “Streghan”. Personally, I feel that if someone is going to use a foreign word, it’s important to understand the word in the native language from which it originates and use it in that context. Of course, it can get even more complicated when we start to get into colloquial expressions! If one still chooses to anglicize a foreign word after knowing it’s origins and use, then at least it is an informed choice.

Below are common Italian words that we use in this forum. I’d like to offer how *I* use them. This is not meant to tell others that they aren’t using them correctly but is instead offered as a way of explaining how I heard them used when I was in Sicily:

Stregheria – archaic word Witchcraft. As Raven says, “The 18th century writings of Giorlamo Tartorotti refers to “Stregheria” as the survival of the cult of the goddess Diana”. I use Stregheria to indicate “Pagan religious Witchcraft” based in the Italic cultures.

Stregoneria – the common word in modern Italy used to indicate Witchcraft. As Raven says, “In mainstream Italian culture “Stregoneria” means harmful magic and is associated with the Devil”. (Vinnie notes – just as the word “witchcraft” does in most mainstream Western cultures.) I use Stregoneria to indicate witchcraft as a magical practice regardless of religious, spiritual, or ethical association; i.e. folk magic and tradition as a practice rather than a vocation.*

Strega (una strega) – singular, female witch

Stregone (uno stregone) – singular, male witch

Streghe – plural of strega; i.e. a group of female witches (also commonly used to indicate a group of witches of mixed sex)

Stregoni – plural of stregone; i.e. a group of male witches

della strega – possessive singular; i.e. The witch’s broom (La scopa della strega)

delle streghe – possessive plural; i.e. The witches’ broom (La scopa delle streghe)

Words that are not Italian but commonly used by English speakers:
Stregan, Streghan, Stregherian – These are American derivations of Italian words but not actually Italian. They are often used to indicate a practitioner of witchcraft (stregheria or stregoneria). However, a person who practices stregheria (or stregoneria) is not “stregan” or “stregherian”. A person who practices Stregheria is a “a strega” or “a stregone” (English) [or “una strega” or “uno stregone” (Italian)]. 

*Nota bene: I was always told that in Italy/Sicily, the word Strega was always negative and never used as a self-identifier. I was very surprised to find that to be the case “for the general, non-magical public” but not necessarily for the magical community. For the general public, like in parts of our culture, Strega (or any type of witchcraft) most definitely has a very negative connotation. However, that’s starting to change. There are dozens of shows (mostly for teens and pre-teens) where the good guys are witches. Kinda like the Disney show “Witches of Waverly Place”. What I did notice was that the word Strega was almost never used on its own by the *general* populace. It was always clarified with something like: strega cattiva, strega buona, strega bella, strega maga, etc. to indicate what type of strega, as if the word (on its own) was simply an indicator of a practitioner of magic (folk or cultural).

I encourage all my students to get a basic understanding of Italian music, culture, food and language in order to understand the context from which Italic Craft is derived. I hope that you found this “buon argomento di meditazione” (good food for thought).


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