by Raven Grimassi
Llewellyn 2000, $14.95 US
Review by Daven
I initially got this book so I could study another form of witchcraft, one that is different from the typical British version of Witchcraft. Well, this book definitely fulfilled that niche for me.
Having read other works by Mr. Grimassi, when I started this I was a bit concerned. There are times when the reputation of “fluffy” is appended to his name. But in this book, he is actually teaching what he knows and lives, therefore I don’t think that term is accurate to class this book.
“Light” would be better. There are times when in this book, it is written deliberately to appeal to the young and inexperienced, but as far as factual information I could find very little to criticize. Don’t mistake this to mean there is nothing to criticize, however.
First, the good things. Raven does a good job of recondensing this book (for this is the second edition and revised edition of this particular work) and presenting the material. He corrects minor mistakes with the first edition, and he also answers some criticisms that were generated by the previous version of this book. Having never read the first edition of this, I can not state what has been and has not been revised in the content.
He writes this in sections, with the first major section being historical and factual verification. He goes into a discussion of ethics and philosophy in this section as well, and it is here that I have my objections. In this section he talks about specific aspects, and repeats the same information multiple times in different chapters, almost word for word. One example of this was the Lord of Misrule. He mentions him in one of the first chapters, does an excellent job of discussing the Lord and telling us just what he did and why. Then goes on to give us identical information again three chapters later, then the same information once again near the end of the section. Emphasis on the information I can understand, but this is overkill. And I fear that if there is new in these sections that the reader may miss it since when you start reading the same information, there is a tendency to skip to the next section, totally missing the information that could be in there.
However, this changes with the sections after the first. This is where he gets into the meat of the book, and starts discussing the actual practice of the Stregani. I have glanced through Ardria; Gospel of the Witches by Charles Leland, and I can’t see where this has changed much from that. Wiccans will find the rituals reminiscent of their own rites, and this has prompted criticism that he stole the rites and rituals from Gardner. So, Mr. Grimassi goes to the trouble to find pre-Gardner evidences to prove that the “theft”, if that is what it was, was the other way around.
The last section I did enjoy, the inner teachings of Ardria. I thought it appropriate to this work, and found myself looking for more wisdom from that part.
In all, I like this book a lot. Since he is a practitioner of Strega I would hope his own tradition would be accurately reflected in his work. I’m glad to say that this is true. There was one point that stood out to me, and that was when he said that whether or not the tradition is ancient, it doesn’t matter to those who follow these practices and that debates on antiquity should be left to those who have a need to prove their way as valid. A profound statement indeed.
I’m giving this book 4 stars out of 5. If you as a reader wish to have a good working knowledge of another form of witchcraft, one based on Italian culture, this is one of the primary books you need to get.