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
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
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.
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
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
- 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,
David Griffin's blog:
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.
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
I will start with
the allegation and then follow with the facts.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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
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
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.
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:
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"
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.
Grimassi never received any initiations in any tradition.
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
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
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.
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.
ALLEGATION: Grimassi never earned the right to be called a
My early training was by native Italians
who are lineage
bearers of Italian witchcraft.
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.
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.
date, the origins of all of the unsubstantiated claims
against my background of training in Italian witchcraft
appear traceable to the following individuals in
and Lark (Blake and Carol Kirk)
Solitario (Kyle de Franco)
Fahrun, aka Mary-Grace Roselli, aka Rue Roselli).
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
ALLEGATION: Grimassi claims that the Triad Clans (Tanarra,
Janarra, Fanarra) dominate all of Italy.
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
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
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.
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.
INTELLECTUAL THEFT & COPYRIGHT
Posted January 10, 2008
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
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.
information on this person's legal name, email address, or
physical address, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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:
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
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.