Serpent in the Mound by Max Sashu

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    This article originally appears at:

    and is Copyright 2000 Max Dashu



    Under the earth there exists a delicious place,
    the dwelling of witches, where all things abound,
    especially milk and honey, which run in abundant rivers.

    —Basque tradition from Ataún

    Many folk goddesses retained their myths and sanctuaries and powers, but under the Church’s heavy hand, ceased to be openly addressed as divinities. They are called hags with fateful powers, shapeshifters, indwelling spirits of stones and mountains. Frequently they are described as living under the christian god’s curse.

    The tradition of the goddess dwelling in a mountain was old and widespread before clerics, troubadours and courtly poets entered their interpretations of the theme into medieval literature. This faery mountain was said to exist in the Italian Appenines, or to be the Wartburg in Germany, or Mt Pilatus in Switzerland, or a hundred other peaks in Europe.

    In Italy the mistress of this magic mountain was called “wise Sibillia.” It was said that the ancient sibyl of mount Cumae had taken refuge in a cave at the crest of the Appenines. Her underworld paradise was entered through a grotto in the mountains of Norcia, a region famed for its witches. Nearby was a magical lake fed by water from a cavern. Whoever stayed longer than a year could no longer leave, but remained deathless and ageless, feasting in abundance, revelry, and voluptuous delights. [Guerin Meschino, Salade, in Bonomo, 77]

    Antonio Pucci’s Libro de Varie Storie (1362) told of a subterranean paradise with beautiful lammie living in caverns filled with treasures: “And many other marvellous and incredible things were found there…” In theReductorium Morale (c. 1360) Pietro Bersuire wrote about the cave of Sibilla and the happy life in her subterranean world. He alluded to the place as a historic shrine; a priest told him that a lake in the mountains near Norcia had been consecrated to demons from antiquity. [Bonomo, 82, 78]

    For the full article, please visit the original link.

    Copyright 2000 Max Dashu

    • This topic was modified 10 years ago by Enzo.
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