I am not a Strega. I am a Wiccan. A link to a page on Italian Witchcraft can be found under Links and Contacts. However, I will quote Professor Leonard R. N. Ashley for a brief description of Strega:
This word is known today to non-Italians as the name of a liqueur with an herbal base, somewhat similar to those created by Carthusian, Benedictine, and other monks. The name apparently suggests that this recipe comes from, or was influenced by, the wise women or witches famous for their potions (and also poisons, but the liqueur is supposed to be health giving).
For centuries these old women practiced herbal medicine, and if they mumbled blessings or curses over their retorts or attached magical conditions to taking the medicines, it only assisted the superstitious to get well. The mystery that surrounds modern medical prescriptions gives them similar additional power, and the very symbol of medicine is a magical wand of Mercury.
It was only when the locals turned against these old women out of disappointment with their medicines, or when malice or greed for their few possessions caused people to turn them in to the authorities or lynch them, that the witches were persecuted. Most of the time they were both diagnosticians and apothecaries in their little world, a genuine public services regarded with respect and permitted to operate more or less publicly alongside church and other institutions, like the curanderos in Mexico today.
--Leonard R. N. Ashley, PhD., The Complete Book of the Devil's Disciples, 1996, p 81. Professor Ashley is the author of several books on the supernatural, including The Complete Book of Superstition, Prophecy, and Luck, The Complete Book of Spells, Curses, and Magical Recipes, The Complete Book of Magic and Witchcraft, The Complete Book of Devils and Demons, The Complete Book of Ghosts and Poltergeists, etc. Ashley is a venerable scholar and his books are wonderfully researched, ranging over centuries of published sources. They are both academic and reader friendly. The above brief passage is quoted as an example of his scholarly, yet engrossing writing style. Anyone pursuing an in depth study of the occult and its history is encouraged to read his books.
Quote used with Leonard R. N. Ashley's permission.
The Spirit of Italian Witchcraft
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