In the heart of the enchanting Italian region of Campania, nestled amid rolling hills and lush vineyards, lies a small and unassuming town with a rich and mystical history. This town, called Benevento, is home to a legend that has captivated the imaginations of its inhabitants for centuries – the legend of the Walnut of Benevento.
Pagans dancing around the Walnut of Benevento - Enrico Isernia, Istoria della città di Benevento dalla sua origine fino al 1894 – © Benevento, Stabilimento Tipografico A. D'Alessandro e Figlio, 1895
The Walnut of Benevento is a legendary tree that has been associated with witches and witchcraft for centuries. The tree is said to have been located in Benevento, Italy, and was believed to have been a gathering place for witches during their Sabbats
The story begins in ancient times, during the reign of the Samnites, a formidable Italic tribe that once ruled the region. The town of Benevento was a place of great significance, not only for its strategic location but also for the magical tree at its center – the majestic Walnut of Benevento. This sacred walnut tree was believed to possess extraordinary powers that could both bless and curse the town's inhabitants.
According to local lore, the Walnut of Benevento was said to have been a gift from the gods, a symbol of protection and prosperity for the Samnite people. Its leaves shimmered with an otherworldly sheen, and its fruits were said to grant immortality to those who partook of them. However, such gifts often come with a price, and the walnut tree held a secret darker than its enigmatic allure.
As time passed and the Samnite civilization fell, the town of Benevento came under Roman rule. The powerful Romans were drawn to the mystical walnut tree, and they incorporated it into their own beliefs and practices. Benevento became a center for Roman rituals and occult gatherings, and the walnut tree played a central role in these mysterious ceremonies.
Paganini's Dream, fantasia for the Piano-Forte, in which is introduced The Dance of the Witches under the Walnut Tree of Benevento. Song sheet title by composer Niccolò Paganini (printed 1830-1835) – The Trustees of the British Museum
It is said that the shadow of the Walnut of Benevento became the backdrop for meetings of witches, sorcerers, and all manner of mystical beings. They would gather under the tree's boughs, concocting elixirs and casting spells that could sway the fates of individuals and even nations. Benevento gained a reputation as a hub of magic and intrigue, with its residents becoming known as the "Maleventum" – meaning "Evil Wind" in Latin.
The legend of the witches of Benevento is one of the most famous in Italy. The witches were said to have gathered under the walnut tree during their Sabbats, where they would cast spells and perform other magical rituals. The witches of Benevento were believed to be particularly powerful, and their magic was said to be able to influence the course of events.
The legend of Benevento's witches is rooted in the Langobard domination. According to the legend, the Langobard soldiers used to hang goat (or snake) skins from the walnut tree and, after impaling them with spears, ate them in hopes of acquiring the power of the animal. These rituals lasted several days and Langobards used to light bonfires at night and revel with wine, women and dancing. Bishop Barbatus allegedly uprooted this tree in the seventh century as he sought to repress non-Christian cults.
Over time, the Walnut of Benevento became a symbol of duality – a source of both good and evil, a representation of the interconnectedness of the mystical and mundane. Its stories were passed down from generation to generation, and the tree itself took on a legendary and ethereal quality.
San Barbato knocks down the walnut (18th century Benevento engraving)
Today, when you visit Benevento, you can still find the ancient walnut tree at the heart of the town, its gnarled branches casting dappled shadows on the cobblestone streets. The walnut tree stands as a living testament to the enduring power of legends and the complex relationship between magic and history. The people of Benevento continue to honor their sacred tree, recognizing that while it may have been the source of both blessings and curses, it is a part of their unique and enchanting heritage.
So, if you ever find yourself wandering through the charming streets of Benevento, take a moment to sit in the shade of the Walnut of Benevento, close your eyes, and listen to the whispers of history and magic that still echo through its ancient branches. The legend lives on, and the enchantment of the Walnut of Benevento continues to captivate all who are drawn into its mystical embrace.
Experience the Magical Energy of the Walnut of Benevento
Under the dappled shade of the Walnut of Benevento, the mystical and the mundane coexist in harmony. Our "Under the Walnut Tree" soap invites you to experience the magical energy that has captivated the imagination of generations.