Dianic Mythology

Dianic Creation Myth

Diana Primgenia was the first created, before all creation: in her were all things; out of herself, the first darkness, she divided herself; into darkness and light, she was divided. Apollo Lucetius, her twin brother and son, herself and her other half, was the light.

Diana saw the beauty of her brother, the light, and longed to draw him back into her, into the primal darkness. But the light fled from the darkness. Lucetius would not yield to her and fled Diana. As Apollo the mouse, he fled from her--like the mouse which scurries away from the cat.

To receive the light, Diana became the light. She became Diana Luna, the white cat of the night. So beautiful was she, Diana drew Apollo's light towards her. Her fur was the light of moonlight.

She purred, and her purring became the humming of the first enchantment. The sound was like the humming of bees, like the humming of a spinning wheel, spinning magic, spinning fate. Thus all things were spun from the wheel of Diana. Lucetius turned the wheel.

Diana seduced her brother in a dream. Their union was sweet, sweet as the honey of love.

When the passion of the sun was spent, he departed from Diana, but from the unity of darkness and light sprang the Fatas, the elements, and all manner of things. The goddess, with the whiles of witchcraft, received the seed from which all things sprang forth.

Diana transformed and became the many breasted green Diana, holy mother of the earth and the woods. She also remained white Diana of the sky, who ruled the star mice. Then also she was black Diana, worshipped by the Amazons, who was the primal darkness, the black soil of the loam wherein all secrets hide. In time, men called her Diana Trivia--Diana on the earth, Luna in the sky, and Proserpine in the underworld--but these names came later.

Diana and Her Children

Great Diana longed for her mountains in spring, and the company of her many children. Thus Diana went on earth, as did Lucetius. She donned a short saffron tunic and ran barefoot as a girl among the shadowy trees of the deep woods. She became Artini, maiden of the wild things.

Then like a young doe, like a fawn that gambols in the spring, she ran among the beasts. She ran among the bears and rolled with their cubs.

She saw her other children, human beings, shivering in the chill air and saw that people were without fur or feathers to keep them warm. So she made for them a hearth of stones, and gathered dead wood from beneath the trees. She kindled for them a fire. She taught the women the mysteries of the hearth, and set the girls to keep vigil over it.

Having taught the magic of fire-making, the maiden set aside her tunic and knife; she set aside her silver bow and arrows. She daubed her face with white mud gypsum, and bid the women to do likewise. Then the goddess of the slim ankles taught the women the magic of dance. Wearing her elegant body ornaments, she raised her white arms. Thus the silver footed maiden started the dance, and the young girls and the old followed.

She instructed her people in many things, including how to divine through augury, how to gather plants, and how to bake cakes. She taught them what manner of worship is proper.

Diana Nemorensis, or Diana of the Grove

Yet the moon shall follow and seek the sun. After having dwelt sometime among her people, Diana again desired the company of Lucetius, and sought him out.

In the wood of Nemi near Aricia, Diana found Virbius, who had been Lucetius. As she was still covered with gypsum, she bathed nude in the sacred lake of Nemi.

As she rose purified from the waters, Virbius and Numa spied her beauty. Standing beneath an oak tree, Numa bowed his head low. Virbus asked, "Beautiful one, do I know you?"

The Lady answered: "I am Egeria. I am Fauna. I am Flora. I am the soul of nature. I am Diana Nemorensis. I am Fortuna Virilis and Fata Diana. I am the light-bearer, Juno Lucina and Hecate Phosphoros. I am Vesta of the hearth. I am Ceres Copia, the harvest mother. I am Bona Dea, the good goddess. I am the Etrusian Leukothea of the wholesome ocean breezes and the moon's tides. I am Dia of the sacred grove on the Tiber.

"The primeval Phrygians call me Pessinuntica, mother of the gods; in Cyprus, I am Paphian Aphrodite; in Crete, I am Dictynna who draws the nets; in Gaul, I am Dea Artio, the bear; I am Diana of Ephesus, the great many breasted mother; for the Sicilins, I am Stygian Proserpine. I am the maiden, Artini. I am Artemis Apollousa, the destructress. I am Luna. I am Losna. In the ancient sands of Babylon, they call me Sharrat Shame, queen of heaven; to the swarthy Egyptians, I am queen Isis. But foremost I am Diana Primigenia, the first-born, mother and beloved sister of Lucetius."

The Lord answered her, "I am Virbius. I am Faunus of the animals. I am Sylvanus of the trees. I am Priapus of the garden. I am Lucetius who turned the wheel. I am Phoebus, the shining one. I am the oracular spirit of Pythian Apollo. I am known as Smintheus, the white mouse. I am Bacchus of the true vine. I am king of the wood, Rex Nemoresis, thus I am Dis and Saturn of the harvest; to the Arcadians, I am hoary Pan, and I am also the Phoenecian Adonis under the myrrh tree. I am Jove Pater. I am Tinia. But first, I was Apulu, the youth, beloved of Artini, the maid. I have known you well. For you, I play the seven sacred notes upon the lyre."

How Diana, or Tana, Made the Stars and the Rain

All things were formed of Great Diana: the spirits of the stars, the spirits of the springs, caves and woods, the folletti in the winds, the ghosts of the dead, the giants which were of old, and the monachettos who dwell in the stones.

Great Diana had not made herself known to these fairies, nymphs and spirits who dwelt in the wild places, for her name was secret.

Thus it came to pass one night, at the treguenda among the nymphs and fatas, Diana declared that she--Tana--would cover the sun with the moon, darkening the heavens, and turn all the stars into mice.

All those present said: "If thou, Tana, canst do such a strange thing, having risen to such power, thou shalt indeed be our queen."

So Diana went to the open field. She took a silver coin edged like a knife on one side and the bladder of an ox. She cut the earth with the coin and filled the bladder with dirt and gathered mice into the bladder also. She blew and blew into the bladder and it grew big, until it at last burst.

There was then a great marvel, for the sun was blocked out. And the black dirt that was in the bladder became the round heaven above and there was a great rain: the mice became stars and rain. And having made the heaven and the stars and the rain Fata Diana, or Tana, was acknowledged by all as queen of the fatas. She is known as the good faery Turanna, Mother Turritia, and Queen Titania of the moon. Yet she is Diana of the rainbow, the cat who ruled the star mice and the rain.

Tana and Endamone

Before Tana was acknowledged by all as queen of the fatas and spirits, she loved a marvelously handsome youth named Endamone; but her love was crossed by a nymph whose mother was a sorceress and whose father was a wicked folletto. The nymph was Tana's rival, although Endamone did not care for this nymph.

But the nymph resolved none would have him if she did not. With this intent the nymph induced Endamone's servant to allow her to steal silently into his master's room while Endamone slept at night.

Thus while Endamone lay asleep, she crept naked to his bedside and stealthily cut a lock of his hair without awakening him. This act gave him into her power. The nymph then lay down beside him and kissed his closed eyes and upon rising slipped silently away.

She returned home, and taking a piece of sheep's intestine, formed of it a small sack, and in this she put the hair she had taken, with a red and black ribbon, bound together, with a feather and pepper and salt, and then sang a song. These were the words, a song of witchcraft of the very old times.

			The Spell
		This bag for Endamon' I wove,
		It is my vengence for the love,
		For the deep love I had for thee,
		Which thou would'st not return to me,
		But bore it all to Tana's shrine,
		And Tana never shall be thine!
		Now every night in agony
		By me thou shalt oppressed be!
		From day to day, from hour to hour,
		I'll make thee feel the witch's power;
		With passion thou shalt be tormented,
		And yet with pleasure ne'er contented:
		Enwrapped in slumber thou shalt lie,
		To know that thy beloved is by,
		And ever dying, never die,
		Without the power to speak a word,
		Nor shall her voice by thee be heard:
		Tormented by Love's agony,
		There shall be no relief for thee!
		For my strong spell thou canst not break,
		And from that sleep thou ne'er shalt wake:
		Little by little thou shalt waste,
		Like taper by the embers placed.
		Little by little thou shalt die,
		Yet, ever living, tortured lie,
		Strong in desire, yet ever weak,
		Without the power to move or speak.
		With all the love I had for thee
		Shalt thou thyself tormented be,
		Since all the love I felt of late
		I'll make thee feel in burning hate,
		For ever on thy torture bent,
		I am revenged, and now content.

But Tana, who was far more powerful than this nymph, though not able to break the spell by which he was compelled to sleep, took from Endamone all pain (he knew Tana in dreams), and embracing him she sang the counter-charm.

			The Counter-Charm

		Endamone, Endamone, Endamone!
		By the love I feel, which I
		Shall ever feel until I die.
		Three crosses on thy bed I make,
		And then three wild horse-chestnuts take;
		In that bed the nuts I hide,
		And then the window open wide,
		That the full moon may cast her light
		Upon a love as fair and bright,
		And so I pray to her above
		To give wild rapture to our love,
		And cast her fire in either heart,
		Which wildly loves to never part;
		And one thing more I beg of thee!
		If any one enamoured be,
		And in my aid his love hath placed,
		Unto his call I'll come in haste.

So it came to pass that the fair goddess, Tana, made love with Endamone as they had been awake (yet consuming in dreams). Endamone thus fathered on Tana fifty daughters and one son through this passion. In all this time Endamone has neither withered nor aged, for the love and enchantments of Tana preserved his youth.

And so it is to this day that whoever would make love with him or her that sleeps, should have recourse to beautiful Tana.

Myth's Notes:

All the "Dianic Mythology" in this section was written in September 2003 and was inspired by Leland's text, Aradia or the Gospel of Witches. I make no claim that "Dianic Mythology" represents any present day Strega tradition or any form of genuine ancient Italian tradition.

"Tana and Endamone", for example, has been recounted much the same as in Leland's text.

Most students of mythology will easily recognize the similarity of this tale to the Greek myth of Selene and Endymion. Selene and Endymion's myth was retold by the Greek poet, Theocritus, in the 3rd century c.e.

Endymion the shepherd,
As his flock he guarded,
She, the Moon, Selene,
Saw him, loved him, sought him,
Coming down from heaven
To the glade on Latmus,
Kissed him, lay beside him.
Blessed his fortune.
Evermore he slumbers,
Tossing not nor turning,
Endymion the shepherd.
Whether the Romans borrowed this story from the Greeks or the Greeks borrowed it from the Etruscans is a scholarly subject worthy of debate, but I will not touch it here. Leland discussed the ancient source of the story:

The ancient myth is, to begin with, one of darkness and light, or day and night, from which are born the fifty-one (now fifty-two) weeks of the year. This is Diana, the night, and Apollo, the sun, or light in another form. It is expressed as love-making during sleep, which, when it occurs in real life, generally has for active agent some one who, without being absolutely modest, wishes to preserve appearances. (483)

Robert Graves in his The Greek Myths (1955, 1960) speculated that the fifty daughters that Selene bore Endymion were actually a college of fifty water priestesses. Graves further stated, "The name Endymion, from enduein (Latin: inducere), refers to the Moon's seduction of the king, as though she were one of the Empusae; but the ancients explain it as referring to somnum ei inductum, 'the sleep put upon him.'" (Graves, p. 211)

Leland maintained that the elements of the spell were certainly as ancient as the classical myth:

Thus the sheep's intestine--used instead of the red woollen bag which is employed in beneficent magic--the red and black ribbon, which mingles threads of joy and woe--the (peacock's) feather or la penna maligna--pepper and salt, occur in many other incantations, but always to bring evil and cause suffering. (182)

"Diana Nemorensis, or Diana of the Grove", however, has no counterpart in Leland's text. Historically, Diana was venerated in a unique way at the grove of Nemi in Italy. The guardian of Diana's shrine was a runaway slave who had challenged his predecessor to ritual combat by breaking a branch off an oak tree. The fight was to the death. As victor, he became Rex Nemorensis, the King of the Wood, Diana's priest. James Frazer was fasinated that this practice had survived into Imperial times and wrote about it in his monumental The Golden Bough.Two other deities were associated with Diana and worshipped at Nemi, the water nymph, Egeria, and the god, Virbius. Very little information remains about these two deities.

I sought to imagine a mythological backdrop for Aradia. I presumed that the complex figure of the Italian Diana might have become even more complex through mythological assimilation--by absorbing attributes, functions, and titles of other divinities--which would explain Diana's later preeminence during the Christian era as a surviving pre-Christian divinity.

Evidence for belief in the continued existence of Diana's cult in Italy can be historically verified by the Canon Episcopi, a Catholic ecclesiastical law written circa 10th century.

...some wicked women...seduced by illusions and phantasms of demons, believe and profess themselves, in the hours of the night, to ride upon certain beasts with Diana, the goddess of the pagans and an innumerable multitude of women, and in the silence of the dead of night to traverse great spaces of earth, and to obey her commands as of their mistress, and to be summoned to her service on certain nights. ...and an innumerable multitude, deceived by this false opinion, believe this to be true, and so believing, wander from the right faith and are involved in the error of the pagans when they think that there is anything of divinity or power except the one God. (Canon Episcopi as quoted by Rosemary Ellen Guiley, The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft, 1989, p. 52)

(For more information, see Canon Episcopi.)

The "great goddess" of both Egypt (Isis) and also Babylon (Ishtar) assimilated many lesser goddesses into their personas. Indeed, I purposely borrowed the tone of Diana's speech in "Diana Nemorensis, or Diana of the Grove" from a speech spoken by Isis in The Golden Ass (written by Apuleius, 2nd century c.e.).

People who are familar with Raven Grimassi's Hereditary Witchcraft (1999) will recall that the "Myth of the Ascent of the Goddess" has Diana bathing in the lake of Nemi and she spied upon by Dianus, in the form of a stag. I finally read Hereditary Witchcraft in either 2002 or 2003. This "Myth of the Ascent of the Goddess" from the Aridian Tradition echoed the Greek myth of Artemis and Actaeon. In this story, a stag explained that he was a triple God Cornunno, Lupercus, and Dianus. Diana gave a simliar speech which mirrored the God's speech.

To any who wonder, it was not my intention to copy any aspect of the "Myth of the Ascent of the Goddess." As stated above, I purposely drew the tone of Diana's speech in "Diana Nemorensis, or Diana of the Grove" from The Golden Ass. And, yes, my intention was also to echo a Wiccan concept found in the Charge of the Goddess "who is known by many names."

"Diana and Her Children" is also spun out of my brain. The ancient goddess, Artini, was the Etruscan counterpart of the Greek goddess, Artemis. This tale is loosely based on a Homeric hymn invoking Artemis. The early Etruscans, who heavily influenced the development of Rome, traded both culture and goods with the Greeks. In Etruscan art, Artini is depicted as a maiden and often appeared with her youthful companion, Apulu.

In surviving Greco-Roman myths, a god is credited with giving fire to human beings by stealing it from the heavenly abode. Yet in Roman iconography, Diana, as goddess of light was often depicted as holding a torch--as were a number of other Italian goddesses (i.e. Juno Lucina). In ancient Rome, the hearth was the dominion of the goddess, Vesta, and the hearth and sacred fire of the city of Rome was presided over by the Vestal Virgins, her priestesses. Is it so unbelievable that there was a myth about a sky goddess giving fire to her people?

Indeed, there was a link between Diana and Egeria of Nemi and Vesta. The Vestal virgins drew water for ceremonial purposes from Egeria's spring at Nemi, which fed Diana's lake. Furthermore, Roman mythology had a little-known female deity, Intercidona, who taught the Italians the art of laying wood for a fire.

Leland claimed that Tana "...was the old Etruscan name for Diana..." (177) The name of Tana has entered as a Goddess name in Wicca, probably based on Leland's claim. Starhawk, for example, mentioned Tana as a goddess of fire in The Spiral Dance. Alas, I have been unable to confirm from other sources on Etruscan mythology whether Tana was invoked by the ancient Etruscans as either a goddess of light or a goddess of fire.

There was, however, an Etruscan goddess known as Turan. Turan was assumed to be the queen of life. Turan survived into modern folklore as Turanna, the "good faery" of peace and love.

I touched on these facts about the names, Tana, Turanna, and Diana, in "How Diana, or Tana, Made the Stars and the Rain."

Like the "Secret Story of Aradia," I have woven together elements from a number of sources, including Roman mythology, Wiccan oral lore, and certain basic mytho-poetic and archtypal concepts. It is my hope that together these elements form a coherent whole.

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