Grimassi, Raven 1951-

views updated

GRIMASSI, Raven 1951-

PERSONAL: Born 1951. Religion: Italian Witchcraft.


ADDRESSES: Offıce—c/o Raven's Loft, P.O. 2315, Valley Center, CA 92082. E-mail—[email protected] net.


CAREER: Ye Olde Enchantment Shoppe, San Diego, CA, taught classes on Italian witchcraft for several years, beginning in 1979; founded Aridian tradition of Italian witchcraft, 1981, teacher, directing elder, 1981—; Shadow's Edge magazine, writer and editor, 1981; Moon Shadow and Raven's Call magazines, contributing writer and editor; author, 1995—; lecturer; Raven's Loft, Escondido, CA, shop owner, 2000—.


MEMBER: Clan Umbrea (founder).


AWARDS, HONORS: Coalition of Visionary Retailers Award for Best Book of the Year and for Best Spirituality Book, 1998, for The Wiccan Mysteries; Coalition of Visionary Retailers, Best Nonfiction Book, 2001, for Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft.


WRITINGS:

Ways of the Strega: Italian Witchcraft: Its Lore, Magick, and Spells, Llewellyn Publications (St. Paul, MN), 1995, expanded edition published as Italian Witchcraft: The Old Religion of Southern Europe, 2000.

The Wiccan Mysteries: Ancient Origins & Teachings, Llewellyn Publications (St. Paul, MN), 1997.

Wiccan Magick: Inner Teachings of the Craft, Llewellyn Publications (St. Paul, MN), 1997.

Hereditary Witchcraft: Secrets of the Old Religion:Drawn from Old Family Texts and Oral Teachings, Llewellyn Publications (St. Paul, MN), 1999.

Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft, Llewellyn Publications (St. Paul, MN), 2000.

Beltane: Springtime Rituals, Lore & Celebration, Llewellyn Publications (St. Paul, MN), 2001.

The Witches' Craft: The Roots of Witchcraft & Magical Transformation, Llewellyn Publications (St. Paul, MN), 2002.

The Witch's Familiar: Spiritual Partnerships for Successful Magic, Llewellyn Publications (St. Paul, MN), 2003.

Spirit of the Witch: Religion & Spirituality in Contemporary Witchcraft, Llewellyn Publications (St. Paul, MN), 2003.


Author of booklets, including The Book of the Holy Strega, and of a two-volume set, The Book of Ways, Nemi Enterprises (San Diego, CA). Contributor to periodicals, including Shadow's Edge, Moon Shadow, and Raven's Call.


WORK IN PROGRESS: Compendium of the works of Charles Godfrey Leland on Italian witchcraft.


SIDELIGHTS: Teacher and renowned expert on Italian witchcraft Raven Grimassi was raised in the "Old Religion" of Italian witchcraft, Stregheria, and has studied extensively with Wiccan teachers of various traditions, including Brittic Wicca (which combines Basque witchcraft and English Wicca) and the Pictish-Gaelic tradition. He founded the Aridian tradition of Italian witchcraft and continues to teach and direct the system.


In an interview for the Wiccan/Pagan Times, Grimassi said he has loved to write since childhood, and that he now gathers ideas for books from students in his workshops and from readers' mail. Grimassi remarked that his goal as a writer is "to preserve the Old Ways." He told the Wiccan/Pagan Times, "My books are about the spiritual roots that nourish us. My basic theme is that we are the spiritual descendants of those who cleared the road before us, the well-worn Path. It is up to us to extend the Path further now, and to leave the continuing legacy to yet another generation. I advocate seeking a balance, embracing the traditional teachings left in the wisdom of our ancestors while at the same time looking inward for discernment and relativity."


Grimassi's first book, Ways of the Strega: Italian Witchcraft: Its Lore, Magick, and Spells (later published as Italian Witchcraft: The Old Religion of Southern Europe) presents the Aridian Tradition, the Italian witchcraft/Wiccan tradition the author founded in 1981.


His second book, The Wiccan Mysteries: Ancient Origins & Teachings, was written to give readers a more in-depth look at Wicca than other books on the market, Grimassi told M. L. Benton for an article in RealMagick. He said this is his favorite book because "it gave me more freedom as a writer to create the text." Grimassi discusses how once-secret Wiccan traditions passed into the public domain and how modern Wiccans have many divergent beliefs.

Wiccan Magick: Inner Teachings of the Craft is different from other books, Grimassi told Benton, in that it is "one of the few that explains why things work. It presents magick as a metaphysical science."


Grimassi told Benton that he wrote Hereditary Witchcraft: Secrets of the Old Religion: Drawn from Old Family Texts and Oral Teachings "to preserve some of the older teachings of Witchcraft before it all disappeared beneath the abundance of the self-styled Craft materials that has become the norm today."


Grimassi added that he wrote the Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft to be a "community resource" for those who wanted to research the subjects and their history. It arose, he said, out of years of research and note taking that was part of his routine as a writer. He also took on the task, he said, to correct the misinformation that was circulating among the Wiccan community. Entries include the various Wiccan groups, figures from ancient mythology, animals and plants with special significance, biographies of prominent persons in the history of the craft, and practices common to the craft. A reviewer for Booklist called it "a work by a believer for believers" but said it "has something to offer those outside the various traditions who seek to understand them." Shannon Graff Hysell of American Reference Books Annual, and a reviewer for Publishers Weekly both referred to the book as "authoritative." However, M. R. Pukkila, in Choice, called it "hazardous" and "misleading" to readers not familiar with Wicca and witchcraft because most entries do not mention current scholarship on the subjects. Pukkila did find the biographies interesting and an article on the tradition of Reclaiming to be "particularly valuable."


Beltane: Springtime Rituals, Lore & Celebration is part of Llewellyn's series on the Wiccan Sabbats, written at the publisher's request, Grimassi told Benton.


In an interview with Lisa Braun for Llewellyn.com, Grimassi said he wrote The Witches' Craft: The Roots of Witchcraft & Magical Transformation as an attempt to refute recent critics who claim that witchcraft was created by the Englishman Gerald Gardner in the mid-twentieth century. The book delves into ancient traditions and records of European witchcraft that indicate practices were passed down through generations. After presenting written literature on witchcraft dating back 2,500 years, Grimassi outlines techniques and practices, including states of consciousness. He also focuses on the environment and on a gentler relationship with the natural world that was part of the lifestyle of earlier peoples. James F. DeRoche, in a review for Library Journal, commended Grimassi for "tak[ing] pains" to cover the historical development of each topic. A contributor to Publishers Weekly called the book "well-researched" and concluded, "Everyone who cares deeply about the witchcraft tradition will want this impressive work."


Witch's Familiar: Spiritual Partnerships for Successful Magic focuses on every aspect of the "familiar," or witch's helping spirit. Grimassi includes a never-before published system for using magical seals to help acquire and work with a familiar. He also adds cautions and remedies in the event that something goes wrong in the practice. A synopsis of the book on Grimassi's Web site, Stregheria.com, describes it as "the first thorough, serious, and in-depth work on the subject to be produced for modern Witches and Pagans."


Spirit of the Witch: Religion & Spirituality in Contemporary Witchcraft deals with witchcraft and spirituality. In the interview with Braun, Grimassi said the book "focuses on what it means to be a Witch, and to live life as a Witch. The book explores the Witch in mundane life and in spiritual life. I believe it will be the first book of its kind to deal exclusively with witchcraft as a spirituality."


Grimassi told Benton that his goal is to open an accredited Mystery School for the Craft, where students can earn a degree as priests and priestesses of the Old Religion.


BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Reference Books Annual, 2001, Shannon Graff Hysell, review of Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft, p. 31.

Booklist, February 1, 2001, review of Encyclopedia ofWicca & Witchcraft, p. 1072.

Choice, March, 2001, M. R. Pukkila, review of Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft, p. 1244.

Library Journal, December, 2002, James F. DeRoche, review of The Witches' Craft: The Roots of Witchcraft & Magical Transformation, p. 135.

Publishers Weekly, August 28, 2000, review of Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft, p. 78; September 30, 2002, review of The Witches' Craft, p. 68.


ONLINE

Llewellyn.com,http://www.llewellyn.com/ (April 16, 2003), "Author Bio: Raven Grimassi"; Lisa Braun, "An Interview with Raven Grimassi."

RealMagick,http://realmagick.com/ (December, 2001), M. L. Benton, "Grimassi, Raven."

Stregheria.com,http://www.stregheria.com/ (June 5, 2003), "Books by Raven Grimassi"; "Raven Grimassi, Author and Lecturer"; "Biography of Raven Grimassi."

Wiccan/Pagan Times,http://www.twpt.com/ (April 16, 2003), "The Author's Corner: Raven Grimassi"; "Wiccan Mysteries and Magick: TWPT Talks with Raven Grimassi."