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Raven Grimassi

Raven Grimassi Award-winning author Raven Grimassi is the author of seven books on Wicca and Witchcraft, including Wiccan Mysteries (awarded Best Book of the Year & Best Spirituality Book 1998 by the Coalition of Visionary Retailers), Wiccan Magick, Italian Witchcraft (previously titled Ways of the Strega), Hereditary Witchcraft, Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft (awarded Best Non-Fiction Book 2001 by the Coalition of Visionary Retailers), Beltane, and the forthcoming title The Witches' Craft (October 2002).

Raven Grimassi has been a teacher and practitioner of the Craft for nearly 30 years. He is trained in the Family tradition of Italian Witchcraft (also known as Stregheria), and is also an initiate of several Wiccan Traditions, including Brittic Wicca and the Pictish-Gaelic Tradition. He is currently the Directing Elder of the Arician Ways. Raven considers it his life's work to ensure the survival of ancient witch lore and legend along with ancestral teachings of the Old Religion.

Grimassi has worked as both a writer and editor for several magazines over the past decade, including The Shadow's Edge (a publication focusing on Italian Witchcraft) and Raven's Call (a journal of modern Wicca, Witchcraft and Magick).

© 2011 Raven Grimassi.
All rights reserved.

Correcting Misrepresentations

When imagination runs wild

In a recent blog written by a gentleman named David Griffin (aka Lupercus) I note some very odd and unwarranted allegations against my character. Mr. Griffin's defamatory attacks against my name appear to stem from a post I made on the Traditional Witchcraft forum. Mr. Griffin's apparent misinterpretation of my comments seem to have resulted in what I consider to be a very bizarre rant.

While much of what he says is a reinvention of the history between us, and a misrepresentation of the facts regarding me and my tradition, I feel that I should address his blog anyway. Normally I do not like to give energy to false accusations, but it seems wise in this case to make a statement.

Mr. Griffin and I had early communications by phone and email. He reinvents the history here by claiming that I wrote to him seeking protection for my reputation and wanting him to alert me to negative comments made against me. However, the facts are I first contacted him directly because people were writing to me inquiring about the authenticity of these individuals. Before arriving at an opinion, I wanted to go to the source. So, that is what I did.

In the beginning, communications were cordial. I tried to help them deal positively with their critics, and David and his Italian guests and I agreed to keep each other informed about comments that people might make in an attempt to set us against one another. I expressed my desire to have them judged fairly by community, and I actively countered anything on the Internet in which people without first hand knowledge were saying negatively about them.

During the course of events, one of my initiates went into a private forum without my knowledge or direction, and posted a critical view of David and his Italian guests. Mr. Griffin chose to regard this as a covert operation launched by me, which of course it was not. In response, I wrote a public post on Facebook pointing out that I did not agree with my initiate's views, and did not set her out to post against anyone. At the time this seemed to satisfy Mr. Griffin's misgivings.

In an attempt to keep boundaries clear, Mr. Griffin, his Italian guests, and I agreed not to cross-pollinate (so to speak) and it was decided out of courtesy that we not teach each other's initiates and active students. However, in his recent blog, Mr. Griffin reinvents this agreement, and paints it in the light of fear on my part that my people would learn the "true teachings" he and his guests hold, which implies that mine are bogus. A clever maneuver, but an easily seen through move on his part.

Among the odd things in Mr. Griffin's blog is the reference to the Great Rite as indicator of the only true and authentic form of Italian witchcraft, and he asserts that I know nothing about it. This, of course, appears to indicate an attempt to take away my credibility as a witch practicing a form of Italian witchcraft. He also asserts that the tradition of his Italian guests, which is known as The Sublime Art, is the mark of authentic Italian witchcraft. He then asserts that it is unknown to me (by that name) and therefore what I teach is entirely made up. How sad to see this "My way is the only true way" theme reappearing in the Craft community. I remember this mentality from the 60's and early 70's. I had hoped we had all gotten over this nonsense and ego driven agenda.

For anyone actually interested in the facts, what I stated that apparently upset Mr.Griffin was a factual clarification of his position and not a condemnation. Here is what I wrote (which Griffin edited on his blog) in response to a question someone raised, asking if anyone knew something about the Stregheria del Bosco Sacro (people). This appeared on the Traditional Witchcraft forum, under the thread someone else started, which was titled Stregheria del Bosco Sacro -

"Yes, I have had several emails and phone conversations with the people in question. In the early stages of communication they claimed to be an Italian witchcraft tradition of great antiquity, which they stated continued in the Lake Nemi region of Italy. They further claimed that the priestess in their company comes from a lineage of 38 generations of priestesses at Nemi (the former sacred site of the temple of Diana).

The couple from Italy are staying with their sponsor David Griffin, a name associated with the Golden Dawn controversy. When I first spoke with him about the couple, David told me on the phone that the "coming of the Stregans" is going to be like when the Beatles first came to the US, and that the impact on the Pagan community will be unimaginable. However, following their debut at the Pantheacon convention, it seems like things turned out a bit differently than he envisioned. Attendance at their talks was low, and the majority of the reviews were not complimentary.

It is noteworthy that after Pantheacon, and the resulting questions and objections raised, David and his Italian guests are no longer referring to themselves as "Stregans" or "Italian Witches". They have changed the text on their website, removing all references to Stregheria, Italian Witchcraft, and so forth. They are now calling their tradition "the ancient Shamanic tradition of the Great Mother in Italy". The use of "Stregheria" on their site has now been replaced with Egyptian Alchemy.

I have more information and am happy to answer any questions related to this topic.

- Raven Grimassi"

Mr. Griffin chose to regard this as an accusation that I consider the folks in question to be frauds. I did not say that, and it was not my intention to depict them as such. My intention was to demonstrate that they are no longer referring to themselves as strega/Italian witches, which is an important point and distinction that I wanted to make on a forum devoted to traditional witchcraft. Nowhere did I state these people are fake, I simply clarified their position as conveyed to me. No one on the Traditional Witchcraft forum asked me for my personal opinion about the authenticity of these people and I did not offer one.

What Mr. Griffin chooses to leave out of his rant blog, is my forum comment:

"I also have a problem with the idea of initiating people on first meeting. I asked them about it and they replied that this is their structure and how the system functions. They inform me that after initiation the training begins, but that initiation and oath-taking is required before anything else. They have no "outer court" phase. It's alien to what I was taught by my native Italian teachers. But, to be fair, witchcraft differs in each region of Italy. There is no "one size fits all" - but even so.....further questions are begged.

- Raven Grimassi"

My comments were intended to convey that one tradition of Italian witchcraft cannot be compared against another in an attempt to mark authenticity. Each regional system differs. But, as clearly indicated in Mr. Griffin's blog, he apparently feels that his system is the only true one, and if differences appear in mine, then mine cannot be authentic. All of this reminds of the stage magician's trick of misdirecting the audience's attention away from what is actually taking place so as to leave the impression that what he showed is real.

In closing, I suggest that Mr. Griffin and his Italian guests should feel confident in who and what they are, and not be threatened by something they misinterpret as a debunking of them. People who are genuine have no need to be fearful. Anger, it is said, is a fear based emotion. So, Mr. Griffin and his Italian guests should embrace the courage of their convictions, and go forth with their truth. It's a much healthier approach than what appears on Griffin's blog.

Peace to all,
Raven Grimassi

David Griffin's blog:

It seems that one of the costs of being a well-known author is to be a target for criticism and ridicule. This is only to be expected and most authors accept it as an unfortunate part of their chosen career.  But what is not acceptable is the deliberate misrepresentations and falsehoods fostered by critics.  Internet forums and chat rooms are an overly abundant source of misinformation and false allegations.

Over the years a small but very vocal scattering of critics have assaulted the Internet with an abundance of misinformation, misrepresentation, and untruthful statements about me, my tradition, and my writings.  The falsehoods have then been repeated and passed along on the Internet.  For anyone interested in the truth I have decided to set the record straight here once and for all.

The following are the most common false accusations made on the Internet, and which appear without any attempt to substantiate them.  No real evidence is brought forth, and commentators merely state they read it somewhere but that the sources have since disappeared. Unfortunately there are people who regard this hearsay as fact, and this only serves to keep falsehoods alive.

I will start with the allegation and then follow with the facts.

1. ALLEGATION:  Grimassi claims in his book Ways of the Strega (later re-titled Italian Witchcraft) that he is presenting pure Italian witchcraft. But what he writes about is not practiced in Italy or know to native Italians.

FACT:  In the introduction to Ways of the Strega, I clearly state  that the system in the book is the Aridian tradition. I state that it is a modern system created by me but based upon an older Italian model. I further state that the Aridian tradition is mixed with Wiccan elements.  In the new re-titled edition (Italian Witchcraft) I point out that the Aridian system was created by me in the early 1980s.

Since the rituals and other practices in the book are from the Aridian system (as pointed  out in the book) naturally they are not native Italian rites.  They are, however, based upon Italian witchcraft but mixed with modern Wicca themes.  So, of course,  native Italians practicing non-Wiccan related rites are not performing the rituals from my book.   However there is plenty of material within my books on Italian witchcraft that reveal elements of native Italian traditions. Therefore it cannot be reasonably argued that my books Italian Witchcraft, and Hereditary Witchcraft, contain nothing about old native Italian Craft tradition. They do indeed contain old and authentic elements of Italian witchcraft.

I believe that the negative allegations are designed to mislead people into believing that I am trying to pull off a veiled deception.  This is simply not the case.  In my published material I present exactly what I claim to present - a modern system called the Aridian tradition, which I created (based upon Italian teachings but mixed with Wicca).

The false allegations have largely been spread on the Internet by members of an organization known as Stregoneria Italiana, and through the efforts of a woman known as Rue.  She operates a site called Rue's Kitchen.  Both sites contain material that is hodge-podge collection of common Italian folklore and magic that is conflated with witchcraft. Unfortunately what is depicted as witchcraft on these sites isn't, and remains outside of their grasp. This is primarily due to the fact that Italian witchcraft is an initiatory system, and from the material presented on Rue's Kitchen and Stregoneria Italiana, it is obvious  that the  individuals involved with these sites are outsiders.  However, critics of my work rely heavily upon the material contained on these websites in a failed attempt to discredit authentic elements of Italian witchcraft presented by me.

The standard operating procedure of these critics in their assault against my work and my reputation can be summed up with three words:  misrepresent, distort, falsify.


2. ALLEGATION:  Following the publication of Grimassi's book Ways of the Strega in 1994, the real strega complained to the Publisher (Llewellyn) and in response the Publisher changed the title to Italian Witchcraft.

FACT: The title was changed by the Publisher after sales of Ways of the Strega were not as expected.  Llewellyn felt that the inclusion of  "Strega" in the title was not clear enough to the average person as to what the book was about (the term "strega" was not as well known back in 1994).  So it was decided that the book should be re-titled Italian Witchcraft ( a title clearly indicating to anyone what the book is about).

There are several amusing things about the allegation of the "real strega" and their efforts.  First, it would take a very large number of people to cause a publisher to go to the expense of re-titling a book and creating a new cover.  The number would far exceed the population of Strega.  Second, there is no central authority to rally the Strega to such an action, and so the claim that hordes of Strega descended upon Llewellyn is utter nonsense.  And, even if anyone complained to Llewellyn, how would Llewellyn know who is "real strega" and who is not?  Are we to believe that these so-called  "real strega" presented Llewellyn with diplomas from Strega University along with their official photo ID cards and certificates of authenticity?  See how ridiculous such an allegation this whole thing is? And yet there are people who believe it is true.

The earliest appearance I can find of this false allegation shows up on the Internet, being posted by a person calling himself "Brock" and by another person supporting the allegation who goes by the name "Lark" (a husband and wife team).   From public  information posted in their bios, and from public  information appearing in websites from organizations these individuals belong to, the real names of these people appear to be Blake and Carol Kirk.  They reportedly reside in Tennessee  in or around the Clarksville area (although one bio has Brock living in Atlanta, GA).

I first encountered these individuals on the old Compuserve forums sometime around 1994 (give or take a year). At that time I personally found Brock to be quite ill mannered,  unreasonably challenging, and often completely wrong about the things he was posting.  Lark was less abrasive, although her attacks were frequent and unwarranted. When addressed in reply, Lark seemed inappropriately defensive in her posts.

My recollection is that few people on the forums felt they were credible back in those days.  This caused them quite a bit of flak.  Because I was a frequent poster and earned a certain  status of respect, Broch and Lark often targeted me in negative posts.   I suppose they felt that if they could discredit me it would then elevate them.  It is an  unfortunate element of human nature.

We frequently locked horns and  the two of them often came across looking pretty bad. Instead of taking any responsibility for how their own behavior in a public forum had its consequences, they apparently instead blamed me for their poor reputation among fellow members.  From ongoing and recent posts, it appears that Lark and Broch never got over it, and have seemingly waged a vendetta against me and my writings for many years. This is evidenced in a statement made by Brock on the site known as Live Journal Wiccan Community.

On June 2nd, 2008 (at 2:44 pm) Brock replied to a post confronting him about the unsubstantiated allegations he made, and pointing out that such attacks on an author's reputation can harm his ability to make a living. Broch remarks:

"And I've been making these unsubstantiated allegations for more than ten years now, and it doesn't seem to have had any effect on Raven's career"


So here we see an admission that Broch has purposely kept up his allegations since the late 1990s. This makes it apparent that he is also the origin of the false story since it does not appear earlier by anyone other than Broch.


3. ALLEGATION:  Grimassi never received any initiations in any tradition.

FACT: Actually my first Wiccan initiation was in 1970 into a tradition claiming to be Gardnerian.  While the lineage claims later proved to be false, the system itself was common place Wicca.  I was initiated into this system by a woman named Lady Heather, in the San Diego area. I consider the material she taught to be sound and valuable. It is only the false claim of lineage to Gardner that has tainted the experience.

In 1974 I was initiated into a system called Brittic Wicca by a couple named Phil and Joanne Wayne (or was it Wade?) who lived in the San Diego area.  They claimed to practice an old tradition that was a blend of Basque and British witchcraft.  Later in 1983, I was initiated into the Pictish-Gaelic tradition of Wicca by a man in San Diego named Mel Fuller (verifiable by the Elder of that tradition, a person named Marilee Bigalow who lives in the San Francisco Bay area. I was also initiated into the Traditionalist Celtic tradition through The First Celtic Wiccan Church (Escondido, California) and was bestowed the third degree initiation on July 26th, 2001 by Bill Eade. These can all be easily verified.

The false allegations regarding my initiation background appear to originate with Lark as I can find no earlier source for the unsubstantiated claims.  Her most recent allegation appeared on a website called Wiccan Together. In a reply dated November 19, 2008 at 5:17pm, Lark writes:

"I will point out that Raven Grimassi's take on the history of Wicca is highly inaccurate. It's kind of funny that now he choses to write about Wicca. When I first met him back in the early 90's he lost no chance to denigrate Wiccans and claim he was Stregha. Then his claimed initiation into Stregha was proved false. Later his claim to a 3rd Degree in Wicca was likewise proved false. Let's see...twice proved a liar, and a poor historian. Not an author I have on my recommended list."

When confronted on the forum and asked for the evidence to support her unsubstantiated allegations, she fell silent and shortly afterwards deleted her post. I think that speaks volumes. Fortunately the website page was copied before it was deleted and it was added to my legal file as a libelous public accusation against my reputation and personal character as an author.


4. ALLEGATION: Grimassi never earned the right to be called a Strega.

FACT: My early training was by native Italians who are lineage bearers of Italian witchcraft.  From this line I am descended from a witch named Calenda Tavani, who lived in the Naples area several generations ago. The Strega tradition is my birth right and is carried in my blood.

The unfounded attacks on my Italian witchcraft training appear to originate with Broch and Lark.  The falsehoods are also perpetrated  by members of the organization known as Stregoneria Italiana.  None of these people have direct personal knowledge of me but make personal allegations despite the absence of any evidence.

To date, the origins of all of the unsubstantiated claims against my background of training in Italian witchcraft appear traceable to the following individuals in chronological order:

Broch and Lark  (Blake and Carol Kirk)

Solitario  (Kyle de Franco)

Rue  (Grace Fahrun, aka Mary-Grace Roselli, aka Rue Roselli).

These individuals have actively posted misinformation about me and my writings on many website forums, various discussion groups,  and a variety of chat rooms. Their unsubstantiated allegations have been regarded by some people as facts, and this misinformation has then been spread on the Internet like a cyber virus.  This  would make an  interesting study for social anthropologists.


ALLEGATION:  Grimassi claims that the Triad Clans (Tanarra, Janarra, Fanarra) dominate all of Italy.

FACT:  Nowhere in any of my writings do I state such a thing.  I simply state that these  traditions reside in different regions of Italy.


ALLEGATION:  In his books and writings Grimassi believes that anything associated with Italian folk magic is witchcraft.

FACT:   In all of my writings I argue that there is a difference between folk magic and folk traditions versus witchcraft. While I  believe that pagan magical systems are the foundational roots of   contemporary Italian folk magic systems, I don't regard the modern traditions as pagan or witchcraft.  Instead I view them as Catholic-based sorcery systems.

I believe that the  old witchcraft and pagan traditions were arrogated by Christian culture in an intentional ethnocide against the pagan people and their beliefs and practices.  Their ways were displaced, transformed, or eliminated as best suited the needs of Christian culture.

I believe that witchcraft is not folk magic. It is a pre-Christian system of archaic religion and magic.  Its power base is pagan theology, not Catholicism.

- POSTED  12/26/09





Posted January 10, 2008

I'm writing today about the theft of an author's work by another person who passes it off as his or her own book. This is known as intellectual theft, and is illegal under copyright law. I want to write about this because I recently became the victim of plagiarism.

In December of 2007 I was alerted to the publication of a book titled The Complete Book of the Holy Strega. Word came to me that this book is a compilation of my writings compiled by a woman presenting them as her own. She calls herself Aradia della Toscana, and also uses the alias Lady Strega, and Aradia de Toscana. The book was offered for sale through Lulu.com but has since been removed from their website, as has the Lulu storefront for "Lady Strega".

Through a series of events I was sent a copy of this book, The Complete Book of the Holy Strega. I quickly discovered that the material is my own, word-for word, verbatim (but never mentions my name). The fact is that the material in the above mentioned book (The Complete Book of the Holy Strega) all came from a book I wrote in 1980 and had published by Nemi Enterprises in 1981, which was titled The Book of the Holy Strega. It should be noted that the person who stole my work did add Italian translations to my previously published book (which contained only English). However, the added Italian translation appears to have been done through a translation program, and is very poor and inaccurate. This is clear because tense, gender assignment, and sentence structure are frequently incorrect in this book, The Complete Book of the Holy Strega, which often happens when relying on a translation program.

But for Aradia della Toscana (Lady Strega) the errors in translation present a much larger problem. This is because she claims that the Italian text is her grandmother's writings as passed down in her famly tradition from Italy. If so then this would mean that her grandmother did not possess the necessary command of Italian (and yet is described as a native who was raised in Italy). Another problem in The Complete Book of the Holy Strega is the English text itself. In my book I wrote in the Introduction that my text is a paraphrase of oral and written Italian material. In other words, the English is my personal creation. And yet, Aradia della Toscana presents the exact wordage from my book as the translation of her grandmother's material (which she states is hundreds of years old). How she thought she would get away with this deception is puzzling.

One might assume that this person lacks intelligence, but she actually appears to be clever and put some thought into how to craft a deception. For example, she put a copyright notice dated 1977 in her book, The Complete Book of the Holy Strega. My copyright is 1981, and I assume that when caught as a plagiarist her plan was to claim that I stole her book. There are a couple of problems here for her. One is that she would not be able to produce an official copyright in court but I can.

Another problem is that she included several drawings in her so-called 1977 copy that were actually drawn four years later by one of my initiates. The copy of her book, The Complete Book of the Holy Strega, that I now own states that it is a copy of the second printing, 1977. But of course that is impossible. One of the images used in this copy is an old Italian illustration from a fairytale book that I reworked in Adobe Photoshop in 2007 and placed on the Stregheria.com website early last year. Clearly this image was captured by Aradia della Toscana from the website sometime in 2007, and yet appears in the so-called 1977 printing of her book The Complete Book of the Holy Strega. Well, on second thought maybe we should question this person's intelligence afterall.

In the end the question of the day becomes why did this person steal my work and present it as her own? I can't answer that for her, but I do wonder how she reconciles the spiritual nature of the teachings in the book with her behavior of intellectual theft and plagiarism (not to mention perpetrating a lie).

I believe that a person should obtain the results of his or her labor. In this light, Aradia della Toscana (aka Lady Strega, and Aradia de Toscana) should receive what she has worked very hard for, and that is to be exposed for what she did. It is my hope that what I have written here will help accomplish such justice.

Anyone with information on this person's legal name, email address, or physical address, please contact me at: grimassi@earthlink.net


A Public Announcement Regarding Pagan Nation and The Real Witches Ball

Posted July 10, 2007

Due to what I regard as an intentional misrepresentation, being fostered by author A.J Drew, regarding my reasons for withdrawing from his event, I am posting the actual reasons here.

The following is a joint statement from several of the authors (myself included) who, with two additional authors, collectively withdrew from Mr. Drew's event.

We, the undersigned, were invited to the Real Witches Ball (RWB), and gratefully accepted. We hoped our participation would add to the event and encourage greater community attendance and involvement. Due to misinformation being spread regarding our withdrawal from the event, we feel compelled to make the following statement:

Recently, several months after our acceptance, we learned a ritual had been added to the event. We were not informed of the ritual prior to our acceptance of the invitation, nor did representatives of the RWB inform us of this change. We learned of it from outside sources.

Had we known that the RWB would focus (as indicated by the importance placed on it on the RWB website) on a political protest in the form of a negative ritual wherein living people are sacrificed in effigy, we would not have accepted the invitation. In our judgment the ritual is a type of black magic and vigilantism. The design of the ritual as described to us could have a negative impact on the community and may be psychologically deleterious to some participants. As a result, we have decided to not participate in this year's event. 

We take this ethical action at great cost to ourselves. The unilateral changes made without notification by the Real Witches Ball violated and voided our agreements, and as other venues will have already scheduled appearances by speakers for that time period, we are locked out. 

We wish to state, without hesitation or equivocation, that we denounce and decry any form of interpersonal abuse, including child abuse, spousal abuse, parental abuse, or destructive manipulation. We firmly support and encourage any who have suffered such abuse to seek aid from trained professionals in overcoming its insidious effects. We believe the support of the community can be highly positive when added to this professional healing work. This does not include participation in negative rituals.

Signed : Don Michael Kraig, Raven Grimassi, and Stephanie Ann Taylor

P.S.  Following my posting on the Pagan Nation website in order to bring to light why the authors actually withdrew in mass, we are told that changes are now being made to this ritual by Mr. Drew and some of his associates at Pagan Nation.  These changes are currently being kept secret from the general membership of Pagan Nation and are unknown to the above signed authors.  We hope that the changes are positive ethical ones not designed to harm anyone.