|New York - Italian immigrants at Little Italy © De Agostini / SuperStock|
Here's an article from an Italian-American growing up in the 1950s which illustrates this, as well as dealing with cultural stereotypes. And another link which even brings up that fact that Italians, along with Germans and Japanese were interred during WWII. We all know about the Japanese, and they received an apology at least, but what about the Italians? My Grandfather and all of his brothers fought in WWII and I'm wondering if, for some immigrants, this was done as a way to prove their loyalty and save their families from being put in prison for the crime of being at war with their native country? Something to ponder.
Family trad Witches in Italy and Family trad Witches of Italian descent in America are different too. We are more open here. We can claim the word Strega the same way we can claim the word Witch, the same way Christian Day can claim the word Warlock. If you talk to the older Italians and use the word Strega, they might poo-poo it as an insult. That doesn't mean the term is invalid. After all, that's what many Witches did here in America (over the past 20 years that I've been involved anyway), hiding behind the word "Wicca." The word "Witch" evokes all kinds of imagery and connotations, but using a softer word, a word that was less well known, like "Wicca" was ok. The same thing is happening in Italy: There is less need to hide behind the Saints and other Catholic trappings and Italian Pagans and Witches can start coming out of the closet.
This past Saturday, Janet Farrar (who was kind enough to post here on the blog, both correcting and confirming my rant at the same time!) said that, in Italy, "Strega" is thought of as a term of insult by the Italians who took their workshops. Yes, it has been for a long time, but that's the same as "Witch" being used as an insult. It still is today in America. However, there are many of us, on both sides of the Atlantic, reclaiming the terms. It will take a long time, and in both cases, other, softer words are being used to ease the muggles and bigots into the transition.
I'm on different Italian Stregoneria groups on Facebook and the internet. I don't mean "Italian Witchcraft" where everyone is American and interested in what the Italians do, I mean groups of Italians, speaking in Italian living in Italy. It's giving me a chance to practice my skills. I'll write up more conclusions, as well as the answers to the questions I posed on the groups, if anyone does indeed answer and I didn't completely mess up the Italian!