The name Aradia occurred in the ancient world as that of a Phoenician town. This town is mentioned by Gibbons in reference to the Punic Wars in volume one of his classic 1806 work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (which we may note is listed in the bibliography of The Meaning of Witchcraft). It is interesting to observe that it is referred to in an Italian work on the history of Tuscany, as this was one of the Phoenician colonies. The Phoenician influence was felt by the Etruscans who subsequently ruled there:
“and arriving at Canton, in China, opened a regular commerce between that kingdom, Aradia, Persia, and Egypt,”
So if the name Aradia was known in the ancient world in connection with the Phoenicians, is it too much of a speculative leap to wonder if somehow the name became conflated with the worship of one of their chief goddesses, Astarte?
As a tangential aside of some relevance, we may note that the architect of the temple in Freemasonry (another tributary contributing to the Wiccan river), Hiram Abiff, came from Tyre, i.e. was a Phoenician. This is referred to in the Old Testament in II Chronicles, and ties Hiram in with King Solomon, another legendary figure whose attributed work has influenced Wicca. II Chronicles 13 says:
“And now I have sent a cunning man, endued with understanding, of Hiram Abiff.”
Further consideration may shed some light on the roots of Aradia, by exploring the name of Herodias, who Leland equated to Aradia. Herodias was the sister-in-law of King Herod, who persuaded her daughter Salome to ask for John the Baptist’s head in exchange for her dance. In medieval Italian, Herodias became "Erodiade", which could have been corrupted to Aradia. A significant early reference to Herodias is in the tenth century work of Raterius of Liegi, Bishop of Verona (890-974 CE). Raterius lamented that many believed Herodias was a queen or a goddess, and said that one third of the earth was under her charge. In fact Aradia’s mother Diana has been associated with witchcraft for thousands of years. In the Canon Episcopi, which is believed to date to the ninth century CE, although it may have roots going back to as early as the fifth century CE, Diana’s associations were highlighted:
“This also is not to be omitted, that certain wicked women, turned back toward Satan, seduced by demonic illusions and phantasms, believe of themselves and profess to ride upon certain beasts in the night time hours, with Diana, the Goddess of the Pagans, and an innumerable multitude of women, and to traverse great spaces of earth in the silence of the dead of night, and to be subject to her laws as of a Lady, and on fixed nights be called to her service.”
Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @ https://amzn.to/3Ay4HJr. Shared here with the intention to inspire and inform the now and future generations interested in Wicca and other Pagan traditions inspired by it.