About My Work
My primary goal in writing about Wicca/Witchcraft is to
provide information that will help people make their own decisions about
the history and practice of what I call The Old Ways. I see
my work in one way as a service, because I read literary and historical
writings that most people would find very dry and boring. I read
them and quote from them (and of course my perspective is one of a
Witch). I'm also fortunate to have access to books that are out-of-print
and unavailable. I quote from these as well, and share my
Sometimes I come across the allegation that I never provide
sources in my books to support my position. The truth is that the
vast majority of my books provide sources, references, and a
bibliography. I'm fine with people disagreeing with my
interpretation of the data, but I'm not fine with people deliberately
misrepresenting my work.
I typically spend most of the day doing research, and at
least four hours of writing the results of that research each day.
I rarely take a day off, and most of the time if I'm not working on a
book or a research paper, I'm giving a lecture or workshop at a festival
or convention. I am fortunate to have a loving and beautiful wife
who believes in my work and supports my writing by allowing me to spend
so much time away from our relationship.
Even though I've been referred to as a scholar, I don't
view myself as one. I tend to think of myself as a religious
writer or a writer on spiritual traditions. I have a deep love of
old lore, and of pre-Christian European religion. My passion and
my personal path is that of Witchcraft, the Old Religion.
I view Witchcraft as a religion that has evolved over the
centuries. I do not consider Witchcraft to be a modern invention .
Instead I deal with it in my writings as a Mystery Tradition with long
roots to the past. It has always been my position that we
don't need an ancient tradition in order to be validated. We just
happen to have one.
My view concerning Wicca is similar to my view of Witchcraft.
In other words I do not believe that Wicca originated with Gerald
Gardner. I think he was just another link added to the chain.
For many years I equated Witchcraft with Wicca, as did many people of my
generation. For my current views click
ABOUT MY WRITINGS ON ITALIAN WITCHCRAFT
My first attempts at providing information on
the Italian Craft began around 1979 with the self
publication of books and a magazine. Working from
material I had copied in my late teens and early twenties, I
created an "outer-court" system through which I could convey
the basic concepts of initiate teachings. Looking back
on these early projects they were crude and amateurish.
But for the time period they seemed to fit in with what most
people were producing.
Thinking back on those
days now I realize that I was a "true believer" in the things I had been taught
and had learned. I think this was no more
evident than in my writings on Aradia, which I presented in
a self published work titled The Book of the Holy Strega.
Some of my views have changed over the years as I've learned
and experienced more. But the problem with
published materials is that they remain views that are
frozen in time. Unfortunately some people allow
past views to overshadow the current ones.
There is a rich legacy of
ritual, lore, and magic in the teachings of Italian
Witchcraft. It has always been my goal to share
this with others in whatever way I can. This has been
a challenge over the years because much of the material is
protected by sworn oaths to not reveal various elements.
I have pushed that envelope over the year and continue to do
so today. Ironically this has brought charges from
initiates that I am violating the oaths, and it has brought
allegations from the public that I have nothing authentic to
share and am simply using the "oath claim" as a shield.
We are a fascinating community.
The facts are that I plant
the keys to initiate material in my non-initiate material.
I use common material as a carrier for the inner workings.
All that is required is for a person to sift through my
books and join things together. The keys and the doorways
are all there, it only takes a focused desire to reveal what
resides within the written words. Is this the breaking
of oaths? For some people it is, and some initiates
feel that I am freely giving away keys that they have had to
work for over the years.
Some non-initiates look at
my work, and because it contains some common Wiccan elements
they dismiss it all as unauthentic. I guess this is like
finding a fly in your soup; it ruins the whole thing.
Except, of course, that the fly doesn't make chicken soup
something else because the fly is mixed in. It's
chicken soup with a fly in it. That's pretty much the
situation with Wiccan elements in my writings on Italian
Witchcraft. I was particularly amused one time to hear
my book on Italian Witchcraft referred to as Wicca with
marinara sauce. While inaccurate, the statement is still
I find that some of my critics invent things about me and
work, which is really a misuse of valuable time for all concerned.
While I appreciate respectful differences of opinion, and I value
constructive criticism of my writings, I have little tolerance for
unwarranted allegations and outright lies. But I do realize
that being a public figure is going to draw attacks upon my work and my
character. It's an unfortunate truth about human nature.
It it is remarkable to find so much deliberate misinformation and
misrepresentation about me and my work these days, that I feel obligated to
try and set the record straight. In this section I will not fully elaborate as you can read
article on my view on Italian
Witchcraft here on this site for further
consideration. Instead I will simply touch now on a few allegations
(that I did not want to clutter the article with).
1. Grimassi's depiction of Italian Witchcraft in his
books is entirely made up and bears no similarities to what is actually
practiced in Italy.
First it should be noted that I do mention in my book that
I mixed Wiccan elements into my presentation of an overview of Italian
Witchcraft. I also stated in the book that the rituals are modern
and were created by me (based upon the older models I was taught).
So, I am not sure why people use this as a criticism. It's the book I
chose to write, and I encourage anyone to write their own book and
present what they want to see in a book on Italian Witchcraft. I
think this is a more productive use of time, and one that can make a
As to Italian Witchcraft in Old Italy, for my book I drew
upon the field research of several folklorists studying Italian
Witchcraft during the late 19th century in Italy. Their research
covered three different regions of Italy. The research was
unique in the regard that these folklorists interviewed people claiming to be
Witches. In the accounts of these native Italian Witches there is
support for the overview on Italian Witchcraft that I present in my
I do hear the allegation from time time that the natives in
Italy reject what I've written as not being true to their own
understanding of Italian Witchcraft. This is not unexpected for
even in Italy you'll encounter people who are ignorant of what
witchcraft is all about. It's the same situation here in the U.S.
, and if you were to stop the average person on the street and ask him
or her what witchcraft is, you would hear the old tired stereotypes that
have nothing to do with witchcraft old or new. It's the same
situation regarding the common man or woman on the streets of any
Italian city. Therefore the allegation carries no weight.
2. There is no such word as Stregheria in Italian,
and Grimassi just made it up.
Actually there was and still is.
The word "stregheria" is
used almost exclusively in Apologia della Congresso
Notturno Delle Lamie, by Girolamo Tartarotti (1751) .
It also appears as an entry in Vocabolario
piemonteno-italiano del professore di gramatica italiana e
latina - by Michele Ponza (1860), and in Vocabolario
Bolognese Italiano - by Carolina Coronedi Berti (1874),
and also in Nouveau dictionnaire italien-francais et
francais-italien - by Costanzo Ferrari, Arthur Enkenkel
(1900) . In this book both "stregheria" and "stregoneria"
appear as separate entries with slightly different meanings;
the entry on stregoneria refers strictly to sorcery, whereas
the entry on stregheria refers to organized witchcraft in
connection with the Sabbat. The word "stregheria" also
appears in a modern Italian dictionary as a now rare usage
in place of the modern word "stregoneria" (Vocabolario
della Lingua Italiana, edited by Nicola Zingarelli,
3. Grimassi commits "cultural violence" against
practitioners of Italian folk magic.
This very bizarre allegation stems from a passage that
appeared in an article by Sabina Magliocco, which was titled
Spells, Saints, and Streghe: Witchcraft, Folk Magic, and Healing in
Italy. The passage is contained in the following excerpt from
For example, the people of "Monteruju," the community in
Sardinia where I did fieldwork, plant wheat or lentil seeds on Ash
Wednesday and grow them in the dark until the Thursday before Easter,
when the etiolated sprouts, known as sos sepulchos ("the buried ones"),
are placed in brightly-decorated yogurt containers and carried to
church. Folklorists recognize in this custom a version of a number of
similar ancient circum-Mediterranean practices, from the "Gardens of
Adonis" described by classical authors to the small sarcophagi filled
with sprouts which have been found in Egyptian pyramids. The adaptation
of this practice to Easter is particularly appropriate, as Christ can be
seen as just another dying and resurrecting god, much like Adonis or
Osiris. But the difficulty with interpreting this practice only as a
survival is that it does violence to the way practitioners perceive
themselves. It is important to remember that practitioners think of
themselves as Catholic. Monteruvians were furious when the local priest
frowned on their Easter custom as a pagan vestige; as far as they were
concerned, they were observing Easter with a very concrete symbol of
Christ's death and resurrection. The folk practice is similar, but its
meaning has changed through the centuries to reflect Christian mythology
A few people misuse the reference to "violence" and accuse
me of doing this because I point to Pagan origins for some of the
customs found in Folk Magic traditions. Apparently some people regard my
opinion as being harmful. However, upon closer examination, Magliocco is actually saying that the "violence" comes from not
supporting the position that these Folk Magic practitioners are
Catholic. My view is that they are Catholic and they aren't Pagan
and aren't Witches. Therefore I show them no disrespect.
Ironically, the people who claim I am doing cultural violence are
self-professed Folk Magic practitioners who call themselves Witches.
Calling Italian Folk Magic users "Witches" is the type of cultural
violence to which Magliocco refers in her article.
4. Grimassi is just in
this for the money.
Like most authors of my genre, I have to chuckle whenever I
hear this allegation. First off, it's an urban legend that
authors of Wicca and Witchcraft are making a lot of money. Not
even the most popular Craft authors make much to speak of, and few if
any make enough to cover the basic living expenses of even a modest
As to why I write, I'm afraid the truth is that it's simply
my passion. Even as a boy I wanted to write books. I
used to wander about the library and handle each book as though it was a
rare and fragile antique. I love to write and to share my research
and my ideas. As to accepting money for writing and teaching, yes,
I am guilty of being paid for what I do to earn a living.
5. Grimassi manipulates, twists, and distorts data
to fit the view he wants to promote.
This is another curious allegation. The truth is that
I often don't agree with the conclusions that some scholars have
regarding the same data. I have my own interpretation, and
therefore I'm not ignoring the scholarly view, it's just that
sometimes I don't share it.
Another related allegation is that I intentionally
omit contrary views when the sources I use add a note
mentioning a specific disagreement. This is typically in the form of a
footnote or endnote in the source material that challenges the statement
itself. My reason for not mentioning such a reference is not
because I'm trying to distort or avoid something, it's simply because I
don't think the contrary statement actually contains any merit. In other
words if I don't think it's worth mentioning, then I don't. If
however there is merit in the other point of view, I do include it.
Disagreeing with my point of view does not constitute a lack of merit.