A Teaching Gifted to Me by My Great-Grandmother, the Strega

Domenica-edite-1 2My great-grandmother was a Strega, an Italian wise woman, witch and healer. I am of this lineage. The lineage was lost or broken in my family and I have spent the last 20 years endeavoring to return it to myself and my family.

In 2005, in a shamanic journey, I met my great-grandmother, the Strega, in a cave where she was busy crafting something which I could not, at first, see. After repeated visits I was finally able to determine that what she was crafting was something that I call “Wombs with Wings.” It took me fifteen years to understand the meaning of this image. 

Wombs with Wings

Wombs with Wings

Red and porous, with healthy veins and wings of joy, pulsing with the rhythm of life.

When I finally saw what she was doing, I felt my own womb jump. It began to pulse. Now, fifteen years later, I am finally beginning to understand what this image means, what she is doing, why it is important, and that she wants me to do this as well. 

Membranes of HopeThe wombs are the membranes and the membranes are in need of healing. The wings are for ascension – an overused but essential word. Ascension – meaning literally “going up,” moving to the next level. It can even simply mean to evolve rather than devolve, strengthen rather than dissipate or fall apart, flourish rather than self-destruct, and thrive rather than merely survive. And it can only happen when the membranes are strong.

Membranes are the bioenergetic boundaries that contain, inform and protect lifesystems. The membranes exist in fractal layers: personal, family, village, earth and cosmic. 

It took me some time to understand that this work, the work of caring for the membranes is the primary work of a medicine person. The role of the spirit worker has always been to tend to, support, and keep these membranes strong and supple so that what is held within them not only survives but thrives. 

At this time on the planet when the life systems are in so much danger and imperiled, this work comes even more to the forefront of need. 

My great-grandmother was a village Strega in the Abuzzo region of Italy at a time where that role was still viable and important. Her work was embedded into the community and an integral part of village life. As a Strega she was a midwife, an herbalist, a diviner, a seer and more. She tended to the wild places on the land and her shrines to the Goddess Diana. The wolves and the deer were her friends.

Her relationship with the land and the place where she lived, which included all life forms, magical and alive, is what gave her medicine power. She understood that as much as her work concerned itself with the people of her village, it also concerned itself with family systems, ancestors, the village itself and even beyond. There were wombs within wombs within wombs that all needed midwifing and care to keep it all healthy, on all the dimensional levels: physical, spiritual, energetic and cosmic.  

This was her work and her way. But it was lost when she emigrated to the U.S. She kept working as a midwife birthing babies, but the other parts of the job or role became impossible to maintain. On top of the trauma of moving to New Hampshire, a place that was so foreign, so cold and unwelcoming, she also did not know the language or the plants in the local ecosystem. 

She did her finest to set up her practice in the best way she could but her children did not want to carry it on. The lineage was lost. By the time I got to it there were only crumbs, and superstitious renderings to grab on to. There was also the fear that had been planted in the new generation who viewed my great-grandmother as old fashioned and even worse, the medicine itself as the devil’s work. 

150487326_1125286774585627_2150929562652513799_oRecently I was interviewed about my new book and my work in general for the Twisting the Plot Podcast. You can listen to that interview here. Twisting the Plot: New Possibilities for Women over 50 is the brainchild of Dr. Cecilia Dintino and Hannah Murray, both psychotherapists with years of experience in many modalities including Drama Therapy, who noticed when they reached a certain age that there was no roadmap or, the ones that existed were less than appealing.

They decided it was time to Twist that Plot and help other women over 50 Twist theirs. On their website you will find a variety of resources and ways to Twist your own Plot as well.

Master Podcast Link- Twisting Plot Website

Podcast Link- iTunes

Podcast Link- Spotify

It took me a long time to find my way back to her and my own lineage. I had to rediscover the Goddess, relearn my own power, become initiated as a diviner and develop a spiritual community. But I have and I did, all with her guidance and care. Now the teaching is about these wombs, these membranes: that they are in peril and need care. The membranes and that which lies within them, the interior space, the holy of holies—the soul.

My new book, Membranes of Hope: A Guide to the Spiritual Boundaries that Keep Lifesystems Healthy from the Personal to the Cosmic, tells the story of that discovery and also offers the teachings that she wanted me and therefore, you, to have.

© Theresa C. Dintino 2021