At over a hundred years old, Aradia is one of the classics. That said, how well does it survive into the modern day? Is it a must read?
As far as delivery and binding, Troy does great, as always. Shipping and delivery are fast. The standard hardcover comes beautifully bound in a burgundy leatheresque material with black endpapers. Paperback is also available.
Presentation in the form of formatting, on the other hand, left a bit to be desired. The text has many Italian incantations, frequently separated by a line, followed by the English translation… sometimes. The further into the book you get, the sloppier and more careless it gets. Suddenly there is no spacing between the Italian and the English, suddenly its all just clustered together. Other times paragraphs end up getting broken in half for no reason. It’s honestly a pretty big disappointment for me, considering how easy it would have been to tidy up. I’m not sure how editions from other publishers stack up next to this, but this isn’t the kindest to people who don’t handle disorganization well.
In this version of Aradia, Gemma Gary writes the forward. She discusses certain things to keep in mind while reading Aradia, such as how it came about, and how it could have been compiled to satisfy Leland’s pushing for such a text. It also discusses that not all of the chapters were original. It’s good to get an understanding of such things before jumping in and believing blindly or thinking something to be some kind of holy grail.
In the first part of the book, a cosmology is given. Diana and Lucifer and a story of creation. Her daughter Aradia is then sent down to teach witchcraft to oppressed mortals. While it’s not the exact cosmology story I’d subscribe to, it’s a good bit of sorta basic classic lore to read and at least be familiar with.
The parts of the text dealing with oppressors in general, I think, is particularly worth reading and considering. A lot of people always seem to want to be the better person and simply turn the other cheek, an ineffective – and frankly stupid and irresponsible – method of dealing with any people who are more than willing to slap the other if given the opportunity. Particularly if doing so shows them how easy it is to get away with such acts. Rather, Aradia teaches essentially to stand ones ground and have no support for the continuing cycles of oppression or abuse.
I can’t lie, I thought this book would never end. It started out well enough, but it quickly lost interest for me. Much like the first time I had read this book, I hardly made it past the fourth chapter, this time I forced myself to complete it. It becomes, for the most part, a lot of spells that just bored me to death. The spell to get books for cheap did give me a cackle though, finally a spell for me lol.
So how do they stack up? They’re simple sorta folk charms and spells for the most part, nothing too fancy or excessive. One, for instance, uses a lemon stuck with pins given as a gift. Here, colored pins are used for blessings or black pins for malediction. It’s simple enough and makes sense, but like a lot of these spells offered in such books, they’re super not the route I would take. For starters, lemons may grow in Italy, but they are not native here. I would sooner work with those plants in my own land that I’ve connections with. Second, it’s currently 2019 and there is the internet. A lemon stuck with pins is a weird thing to be given, even if the lemon scent and prettiness might make the person somewhat welcome to it. Unless you’re hiding it discretely, it’s quite possible they’re going to know what’s up. Especially if they know you’re a witch. If it seems odd, all they have to do is google and they will have their answer. I feel like if/when considering spells like this, it’s good to truly consider them in a modern and even local context, to see if/how they may be better adapted. Witchcraft evolves with its time and place.
There’s also this spell where some sad man can’t get laid by the wealthier woman he wants, so he turns her into a dog to visit him at night and then she forgets in the morning. A spell for the incels. If my eyes could roll out of my head, they might.
Towards the middle is a nice, albeit brief, section with a few photos.
There’s some good parts. And it’s probably good to be familiar with the text since it’s a classic, but that doesn’t mean you need to read it all. I forced myself through it, and I didn’t feel at all rewarded or like it ever recovered near the end. At least read the first couple chapters, even if just online. They’re short and I would say they give enough of a foundation understanding of the what the text is. Read more if it has your interest. But if it starts to bore you, feel free to put it down or skip the spell chapters that you’ll probably never use, or the chapter where Leland inserts his cries because people don’t like his sloppy writing (or whatever he was going on about), or whatever. There’s nothing so revolutionary that you’ll miss out if you decide to skip around after getting the gist of it.