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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

We're back on line...

We're back on line with the new redesign of all our websites!

Now you can get to any of our sites by visiting http://www.arsenic.com.

We have a few bugs to knock out so please let us know if you see one and please give us your feedback!
Our newest site, http://www.Streghe.US is going to be our resource center for information on Witchcraft, specifically Pagan religious Witchcraft with origins in Italy/Sicily, Europe, & the USA.  We have a variety of articles, book reviews by Mike Gleason, blogs, and other references.  Please let us know if you have written an article that you would like to see at Streghe.US.  If you know of a good article that you think would be appropriate for our site, let us know its URL.  We'll track down the author and see if they will let us repost it.
For those of you on Facebook, we are going to be changing how we use FACEBOOK:

LIKE OneStopOccultShop
https://www.facebook.com/OneStopOccultShop
for Store info, discount coupons, new products, blog updates, article updates, and things of interest to general paganism.

LIKE StregaCrafts
https://www.facebook.com/StregaCrafts
for updates of interest to Italian Craft, handmade items, blog updates, article updates, and things "Strega", then please like this page:

Like Arsenic & Old Lace
https://www.facebook.com/ArsenicAndOldLace
if you want to see my "catch all" posts, blog updates, general reposts, etc.

Fair warning on my personal page
https://www.facebook.com/nivho
- it is going to be used for my personal posts, politics, humor, and general thoughts that creep out of my head. It will also be receiving reposts from my Twitter account and likely to have duplicate posts. If you don't like my politics or my humor, then you probably shouldn't friend it.
Ciao for now!
---Vincenzo

Monday, October 22, 2012

Offline, just a quick update...

Offline, just a quick update...

If you try to reach any of our normal websites, you probably already noticed that there currently off-line. You've guessed it, were in the process of pushing live all of our website changes and integration. With a bit of luck, all of our websites should be back online sometime tomorrow. That means that I'm actually taking a day off and doing something for myself.

Over the weekend I got Mike and I new gym memberships at the local YMCA. Since I was taking the day off for myself I decided I had better get into my new athletic routine and headed to the Y. The only downside to the Malden Y are the locker rooms. They remind me of very small high school locker rooms. However, what they lack in locker room amenities they certainly make up for in the helpfulness of the staff, the pool, and a variety of other machines.

Luckily for me, they have quite a few stationary bikes, stair steppers, and ellipticals as well as free weights and weight machines. Since I'm trying to get back in shape, and want to focus more on toning rather than bulking up, the aerobics machines were huge draw for me.

I spent an hour and a half at the gym this morning familiarizing myself with the facilities and doing my first workout. I'm proud to say that I biked for 6 miles and walked for 4 miles and I'm feeling great because of it.

I think it's going to be easier at the Y to keep to a regular routine. Much more so than at the gym I used to go to. Because my schedule, my general workout time tends to fall somewhere mid-morning. At the gym I used to go do it didn't matter what time I went for workout, all the other members seem to have near-perfect bodies and could do just about anything. It was very discouraging. At this Y, it was great to see regular people of all ages ranging from early teens through their 80s enthusiastically exercising and encouraging each other.

Okay, enough of writing. It's time to go eat a healthy lunch of salad, grilled steak strips, and a few avocado slices.

Stay healthy!

Benedizioni,
Vincenzo

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Using the Saints as part of the Italian Craft

Using the Saints as part of the Italian Craft


In Italy (and in the USA) much of "traditional" Italian culture now a-days often has at least a gloss (if not a thick coating!) of Christianity. This is because Christianity is still the overwhelming dominant religion and probably will be for some time.  It’s been like that for hundreds of years and it has left its mark on the culture, even for those people who aren’t Christian or are actively of another faith.  It permeates the culture and customs. There is no getting around that unless you want to cut yourself off from huge aspects of Italian culture.

There are quite a few Italians that I know who are not Christian. Even so, the culture that birthed them (and that they are part of) still has certain aspects (folk, magic, and other) that are Christian in origin or at least in flavor.

Some of these Christian-based customs are starting to be seen by many as being less religious-Christian and more simply “cultural and personal customs” that "we do because it’s what we do as a community”. In other words, sometimes, the cultural customs that are Christina-based in origin have become community-based customs that have little religious significance but are still powerful for community and social purposes.

For instance, in Italy, it is still very popular for each town (or region) to have a patron saint and to celebrate the feast day, often organized and led by a local church.  Although many of the people who participate in the celebration are Christian and hold that day as a special religious holy day, there are other people who participate and celebrate the day as a “day of community celebration” and don’t attach any personal religious significance to it.

In essence, the Saint become not an icon/representative of the Church (which they may be) but becomes an icon of cultural expression and power regardless (despite?) that the feast originated with Catholic origins and is still celebrated as such. Think of Christmas celebrations in the USA. Many are indeed Christian religious celebrations. Many are non-religious yet still tap into that power and community aspect from a cultural perspective.

Many Streghe who are Pagan (non-Christian) have come to terms with being birthed from a culture that is predominantly Christian and incorporated aspects, via culture, into their practice.  How’s it done? Not through our Stregheria (pagan religious Witchcraft) but through our Stregoneria (witchcraft as a system of magical practices) and culture.

We acknowledge Christianity’s influence on customs and culture and try to get to the pre-Christian or pagan roots of the customs and magic when possible. When this is not easy to do, or even possible, we have two choices.  One is to cut ourselves off from an overwhelmingly Christian aspect of our culture. The other is to acknowledge the cultural and community importance of certain customs and make personal associations and attachments to them that work for us as individuals and families (smaller communities).

A good example is how many of the non-Christian Streghe I know make excellent use of the Cult of the Saints.

The "Cult of the Saints", describes a particular popular devotion or abandonment to a particular Saint or Saints. Although the term "worship" is sometimes used, it is intended in the old-sense meaning to honor or give respect. I like to use the term “veneration”.  For Christians, the Saints are petitioned to help out in just about any matter that you can imagine. This is almost always done by devote Catholics in a Christian-religious manner, i.e. following the dictates and customs of the Catholic Church.

When the Streghe interact or petition the Saints or include the Cult of the Saints in their Stregoneria (magic as a system of practices), it takes on a different perspective.  To an outsider, on the surface it may look very similar to what a Christian may do but it is only a gloss.  The Saints become less specifically Christian “entities” and become more “cultural and community powers”.  They are treated with the same reverence and respect as any other “spirit allies” that the Strega works with.  In other words, the Streghe works with the Saints from a personal and cultural perspective, not a Christian dogmatic perspective.

The Streghe consciously (and jointly) enter into a relationship with the Saint(s) with the Saint acting much the same as a spirit ally (albeit of a different order). Through the acceptance of, and exchange for, the Streghe’s energy in the form of respect, reverence, and offerings (incense, wine, feast tables, prayers, etc.), the Saint(s) offers assistance in matters in which they hold influence. It’s important to remember that this is part of Stregoneria (witchcraft as a system of magical practices) rather than Stregheria (pagan religious Witchcraft).

The important thing is that this is done with the utmost respect and honesty and that the Strega knows exactly who the Saint(s) are that s/he is dealing with and practices accordingly. You might realize that this sounds a lot like a number of other syncretic spiritual practices. Imagine that?

So, it is entirely possible for a Strega who practices Stregheria (Pagan religious Witchcraft) to also have part of their Stregoneria (magical practice of witchcraft) include the Cult of the Saints and not have a conflict of interest.  It is not a religious matter, but a magical matter base on personal and cultural association.

Of course, there are Pagan Streghe who have chosen to NOT include the Cult of the Saints (or other customs that have become cultural) in their practice. That’s perfectly valid. Neither is a better or a more correct. More power to them! More power to us all!

Benedizioni,

---Vincenzo

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Agguingere e Soffriggere

Agguingere and soffriggere are my new favorite words!

The homework for my Italian class was to take a recipe for Bolognese sauce and translate it into Italian using my growing grasp of Italian.

This isn't my sauce recipe, it's the one that we were given to translate. I think that I've done pretty well with the translation!

IL RAGU' ALLA BOLOGNESE
Tritare finemente il sedano, la cipolla e la carota.
Soffriggere le verdure in olio e burro.
Mescolare la pancetta e la carne macinata.
Aggiungere la pancetta e la carne macinata alle vedure.
Rosolare bene la carne e le verdure per 15-20 minuti.
Sfumare con un bicchiere di vino rosso.
Agguingere il concentrato di pomodoro e il brodo di carne.
Infine aggiungere un bicchiere di latte.
Lasciare cuocere a fuoco basso per 2 o 3 ore.
Buon appetito!

Translation -
Bolognese Sauce
Finely chop the celery, onion and carrot.
Saute (fry) the vegetables in olive oil and butter.
Add in (mix) the bacon and minced meat.
Add bacon and minced meat (ground beef) with vegetables.
Brown the meat and vegetables for 15-20 minutes.
Blend (Reduce and Simmer) with a glass of red wine.
ADD the tomato paste and beef broth.
Finally, add a glass of milk.
Cook over low heat for 2 or 3 hours.
Enjoy your meal!