The Marsi, an ancient Central Italian tribe, claimed descent from Circe’s son. Their chief deity was his daughter, Angitia, a snake-charming sorceress who learned her craft directly from her grandma. Very little concrete information survives regarding Angitia.
The Marsi made an alliance with the Romans in 304 BCE but revolted two years later. The Romans ultimately reasserted their authority; the Marsi lost political autonomy and were absorbed into the Roman Empire but retained their magical reputation. Their presence as fortune-tellers plying their trade on Roman streets is documented as late as the second century CE. The Marsi werealso reputedly magical, shamanic physicians whose specialty was healing those bitten by venomous snakes and rabid dogs.
Angitia was not incorporated into the Roman pantheon, the Romans not being favourably inclined toward witchy, snake-charming goddesses, but she was never forgotten. Post-Christianity, her powers were transferred to San Domenico. Much of what is known regarding Angitia is derived from rituals rededicated to him, especially The Festa dei Serpari (“The Procession of the Snake Catchers or Snake Charmers”) in Cocullo, Italy. Her rites may also have survived among the sanpaolari, eighteenth-century shamanic healers and snake charmers whose specialty was healing snakebite.
A sacred grove was dedicated to her on the shores of Lake Fucinus, as was a temple where the arts of herbalism and snake charming were practiced and taught. The lake was drained in 1875; during the process votive offerings to Angitia were discovered.
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by :Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.