Tag: strega

Review: Spirit of the Witch, by Raven Grimassi (2)

By Mike Gleason | December 19, 2003 | Leave a comment

Spirit of the Witch: Religion & Spirituality in Contemporary Witchcraft, by Raven Grimassi
Llewellyn Publications, 0738703389, 264 pp. (incl. bibliography), 2003

While there is no question that the author is knowledgeable about his own particular branch of Wicca (Stregheria), this very knowledge presents a problem. Because of his knowledge and background, and because (I suspect) of the length of time he has spent teaching, he slips into the habit of making pronouncements (i.e., “The pentacle platter is made of stone or clay.” While this may be true in his branch of Wicca, it doesn’t hold true for all branches.

Granted, in the next paragraph he does acknowledge that some Witches do use metal (of which he appears tolerant) or even wood (of which he appears less tolerant).

I truly like and appreciate Raven’s style of writing. It is, in most cases, clear and unambiguous. It is too bad that Wicca is not so clean cut and obvious. He acknowledges that trying to organize Witches is like trying to herd cats. Witches are entirely too independent and contrary to be easily pigeon-holed.

The author does his best to present a variety of points-of-view, in contrast to many other authors today, in spite of his own bias in favour of his own particular branch of Wicca. Unfortunately, there are pluses and minuses to this approach, and he will draw criticism from both sides of the debate. Those who follow Strega will complain that he compromises their beliefs, and those who follow other traditions will complain that he doesn’t fully understand their tradition.

This book accomplishes what it sets out to do, which is to provide an overview of the spirituality which is inherent in the religion of Wicca. It is not the be-all and end-all on the topic. It is a starting point.

The rituals he provides will certainly give you a starting point. They are not complex, nor are they drawn from any particular tradition. They are simple and moving and, most importantly, effective in beginning a lifetime’s experience in relating to the Wheel of the Year.

This is one of the first books I have seen which is devoted to the spirituality of Wicca and not just the forms. If this is what you want to know about, this book is an excellent starting point. I would hope to see more books on the same topic, by many other authors. The more points of view the populace can be exposed to, the more comfortable people will be in finding their own spirituality.


Review: Aradia or The Gospel of the Witches, by Charles Godfrey Leland

By Mike Gleason | August 6, 2003 | Leave a comment

Aradia, or The Gospel of the Witches, by Charles Godfrey, Leland, introduced by A.J. Drew
New Page Books, 160 pp., 2003

It is primarily in the Preface, Introduction, Commentaries, and “Final Word” that this edition differs from earlier copies. Basically, this is a reprint of Leland’s original publication.

Although many of the younger generation of Witches (and, I suspect, most of the Wiccans) will never have seen this book (or even heard of it), it is the second copy of it that I have owned. My first copy was produced by Hero Press with an introduction by Dr. Leo Louis Martello, well over a quarter of a century ago. At one time it was considered required reading for all students of the Craft. It forms the underpinning of much of the teaching and mythology of Strega (in fact, it was often the first exposure many of us had to that branch of the Craft).

The Witchcraft expounded in this small volume is not the White-light, politically correct Wicca of the modern world. Witches, in this volume, are encouraged to return good for good, but if someone slaps your face – punch his lights out! No meekness or mildness here.

Published originally in 1899 (that’s right folks, half a century before Gardner, Valiente, et. al.) it contains the essence of “The Charge of the Goddess,” which Doreen Valiente later reworked in Gardner’s Book of Shadows. It contains conjurations in both Italian and English, as well as commentaries throughout by Mr. Drew.