Deity of the Day
The classical moon goddess, Diana, is still worshipped by neopagans today. Long after Christianity’s triumph over classical paganism, her worship is still going strong. St. Kilian, a Celtic missionary to the pagan Franks, was martyred when he attempted to persuaded the peasants to abandon their worship of this goddess. A writing on the life of St. Caesarius offhandedly mentions “a demon whom simple folk call Diana.”
Diana was the personification of the positive aspects of lunar forces. She was also believed to have led groups of nightriders (known as the “Wild Hunt” or the “Furious Horde”) who flew through the air. The “Wild Hunt” was comprised of “people taken by death before their time, children snatched away at an early age, victims of a violent end.” The goddess would accompany her followers as they wandered at night among the houses of the well-to-do. Whenever they would arrive at a home that was particularly well-kept, Diana would bestow her blessings upon it.
Many benandanti (from the Italian for “those who go well” or “good-doers”) were followers of Diana. The benandanti were members of a fertility cult who were basically anti-witches and practicers of white magic. Nonetheless, they were tortured by the Inquisitors just the same as practicers of the black arts were.
Diana was intrinsically linked with several other witch deities, including Abonde, Abundia, Aradia, Hecate, Herodias, Holda, Perchta, Satia, and Venus.
Bibliography. (Ginzburg 40-46) Bibliography. (King 24)