Davis, Wade. The Serpent and the Rainbow. New York: Simon
& Schuster, 1985. Gonzalez-Wippler. Santería: African Magic in Latin America. New York: Original Products, 1981.
Leland, Charles Godfrey (1824-1903) American folklorist, lecturer and prolific author whose immersion in Gypsy lore and witchcraft played a role in the revival of the latter in the 20th century, especially in America.
Leland was born August 15, 1824, in Philadelphia to a family with Puritan roots. His father, Henry, was a descendant of Hopestill Leland, one of the first white settlers in New England. Family lore maintained that one ancestor was a German sorceress, and Leland always believed that he resembled her in an atavistic way.
The young Leland showed an intense interest in occult subjects, Gypsies and high adventure. He was ambivalent about education; though he graduated from Princeton and studied in Munich and Heidelberg, he later freely acknowledged that he had hated school. Once out of college, he began a lifetime of exotic travel and penetration of the mysterious worlds of GYPSIES, witches and voodoo (see VODUN).
He returned periodically to America, where he had short-lived careers as a lawyer, newspaper editor and article writer. In his thirties he married Isabel Fisher; the marriage lasted more than 40 years, until her death in 1902.
Leland's real love was the occult and folklore, and after his parents died, he took his inheritance and moved to England. From there, he traveled the world. He learned about the Gypsies and also learned to speak their language, Romany. He discovered Shelta, the secret language of the tinkers. The Gypsies took him into their society, calling him a Romany Rye—a non-Gypsy who associates with Gypsies. He collected Gypsy, witchcraft and voodoo artifacts and books, turning his home into a veritable museum.
In 1879 he returned to Philadelphia, where he established the Industrial Art School. He spent several summers with American Indians, learning their spiritual lore. After four years he returned to England, where he began The Gypsy Journal. He wrote extensively about the Gypsies in books and articles.
In 1886, while in Italy, Leland met a Florentine Witch whom he referred to only as "Maddalena." He described Maddalena as a hereditary Witch with ancient Etruscan roots. She was born in Tuscany into a family of Witches and was educated by her grandmother, aunt and stepmother in the ways of the Craft.
Maddalena and Leland became close friends. She introduced him to other Witches and divulged many secrets of the Craft to him. The information Leland gleaned from Maddalena was incorporated into a series of books, the best-known of which is Aradia, or Gospel of the Witches, published in London in 1889. Aradia attempts to establish the antiquity of Witchcraft as a religion. It was the first book of its kind to record specific Witchcraft SPELLS, incantations, beliefs and lore (see ARADIA).
Leland died on March 20, 1903, in Florence, of pneumonia and heart trouble. He had spent the last seven years of his life in ill health, which was further aggravated by his grief at the death of his wife on July 9, 1902. Leland was cremated, and his ashes were returned to Philadelphia for burial.
Leland was known to embellish his folklore accounts, and thus never enjoyed a good reputation with scholars. The authenticity of Aradia is disputed.
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Clifton, Chas S., ed. Witchcraft Today: Book One. The Modern
Craft Movement. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1993. Farrar, Janet, and Stewart Farrar. A Witches Bible Compleat.
New York: Magickal Childe, 1984.
Lemp, Rebecca (d. 1590) One of 32 women convicted of witchcraft and burned in a witch hunt in Nordlingen, Swabia, Germany. The case of Rebecca Lemp is notable for the records of letters left behind about her torture, conviction and death.
The witch hunt was led by the burgomaster, George Pheringer, and two lawyers, Conrad Graf and Sebastien Roettinger. An anti-witch hysteria prevailed, and despite testimony from many people in favor of the accused, 32 were sent to their deaths.
Lemp was the wife of Peter Lemp, an accountant who was well educated and well regarded. She was arrested in April 1590 while her husband was away on business. Initially, she and her six children were confident that the authorities would realize her innocence, and she would soon be set free. Tragically, she was not.
Lemp wrote to her husband, assuring him of her innocence. "Were they to pulverize me and cut me into a thousand pieces, I could not confess anything," she said. "So don't be alarmed. Before my conscience and before my soul, I am innocent. Will I be tortured? I do not believe it, as I am not guilty of anything." Lemp was naive to think that she would not be tortured—or that she could withstand the torture. She had no conception of the pain and brutality that awaited her.
Lemp was tortured five times before she surrendered and confessed. She then wrote to Peter and once again protested her innocence. She begged him to send her something so that she could end her life, before she died under more torture. Peter sent her poison, but it was intercepted by the authorities.
The court forced Lemp to write to Peter and confess she was a witch. He wrote to the court and insisted she was innocent and petitioned to be allowed to come to her aid. He also asked for the right to confront her accusers, for he believed her confession was forced under torture. He swore that she was honest, chaste and pious and had never entertained an ill or evil thought in her head. She was a good mother who educated her children about the Bible. He asked for her release.
The court's response was to torture Lemp again and then burn her in public on September 9, 1590.
The burnings of Lemp and others incited the witch hysteria to a new intensity. The hysteria reached a peak of insanity in 1594 when Maria Hollin, owner of the Crown tavern in Nordlingen, was arrested and tortured 56 times over the course of 11 months. Authorities from her home town of Ulm interceded and rescued her from jail, claiming they had jurisdiction to try her. She was released. Public sentiment began to turn against witch-hunting, and the hysteria came to an end.
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