Tuesday, January 11, 2011

La Vecchia and "The Black Book"

"Ay! La vecchia!"
This phrase was used by my Grandparents to mean "the old days," as in lamenting how things used to be. Others might hear the phrase and think of an old person, or old age. The context and inflection give us the definition as much as the words used. I'll go so far as to say that the Italian language, like Shakespeare, was not meant to be read, it was meant to be performed, hand gestures and all. The old ways, and the old days, were not forgotten. After all, Italy is the land that coined the phrase: "Revenge is a dish best served cold." Italians have long memories. Especially Italian Women.

I will let you in on somewhat of a secret; It's an open secret. We don't hide it, but unless you've been around us, you won't really get it: Every Italian Woman has a Black Book, whether it be a literal one, or in their head. (It has nothing to do with the "little black book" of lover's contact info.) I thought it was a generational thing, and to some degree it is, then again I've been around less Italians in the past few years. As I have taken up the mantle of my position, I have come to realize that I, too, have a Black Book. And it is filled. And it contains notes from my Mother's Book and my Grandmother's too.

"Arrite arready! What's this book thing ?" It's every gift ever given or received, every favor done or received, attendance at funerals, weddings, baby showers, and for all important family events. Italian accounts paid and receivable.

My Mom called one day to ask me a question. Hubby picked up the phone and took the call, so she asked him: How much did Aunt blah blah and Uncle So n So give you for your wedding 7 years ago? Hubby was stumped, wondering why she'd think he'd remember that. I took the phone, "opened my book" and gave her the number. Of course she had to know, she was going to their son's wedding the following week and had to give a gift!

I know who was and wasn't at my Grandmother's wake when I was 11 because of the wakes we did and did not go to in the 10 years following. There were obligations. "I don't even know this person," I protested. Her reply: "They came when your Grandmother died." I thought my Mom was being silly, but now I remember exactly who was and was not at my Father's wake 10 years ago. I know who owed my Grandmother favors, I know who my Mom has beef with and why and won't ever forget who did and did not support us in the past few years. There are people I'd love to write off but then I remember they were there for me at certain points. Cred, however, gets used up. How this started, I have no idea. It sounds very Mafia, doesn't it? Speaking of... Hubby thought I was crazy (that not all Italians could possibly do this, it's just my odd family) until we were watching The Sopranos. There's a wonderful scene where Tony and Carmela are getting ready for a wedding and she's sitting at the kitchen table and... writing the gift in a Black Book. Hahaha!

I've been doing a lot of blahblah lately, so here's something more practical:

I've been told by many "Scholars" that the stuff in Leland's Aradia is made up. My Grandmother never read any Leland, but somehow she knew what to do on a Tuesday. What she told me isn't exactly what's in Aradia: Gospel of Witches, but it's close enough (given differences in region and dialect) for me to call it the same thing. I'm not going to repost it here because honestly, Leland mixes two different things: The first part is removing "The evil eye" using oil. He calls it a common courtesy between Wizzards. o.0? He also neglects to describe the gestures he mentions or the "special incantation," which I know they wouldn't let him overhear unless it was midnight on christmas eve. But I digress. The second part is a Petition to Diana to go out and find what you need and lead you to it.

Tuesday is THE day of the week to go shopping for that hard to find item. It's the day of Mars, dies Martis, and therefore action and the number 9, which is why most prices are $X.99. To do this, just concentrate on what it is you need and head on out shopping. I don't need to detail a ceremony for this, do I? Hold it in your mind, make an offering if you wish, then get on out there. It might not be the first place you go, but if you listen to your inner voice, you might notice it's amped up a bit, or you just might happen by a store, or feel compelled to pop into a certain place. Something to keep in mind: You might not find the item you thought of that day, instead you might come across something else that you had been looking for but had forgotten!

Let me know what you find :)


  1. So TRUE about the black book! My mom calls all the time and asks. HAHAHAHA ~Anita

  2. think I needed a black book; my Jewish mother used to call sometimes and ask how much cousin whoever gave us :)