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Home > Books & Reviews > Pagan > Witchcraft and the Mystery Tradition Search

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Book Review:
Witchcraft and the Mystery Tradition

Author: Raven Grimassi
Trade Paperback, 288 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn
Publication date: 2004
List: US$14.95, C$19.96
ISBN: 0738705969
Price & More Info: Click Here

Whatever your feelings about Raven Grimassi's writing on Italian Witchcraft, there is no doubt that he is a prolific author on the subjects of Witchcraft and Wicca in general. He has written numerous books and has been involved in the public aspects of the Craft for many years.

Before I had even started to read this book I noticed an editing glitch. The title on the cover does not match the copyright notice and inner title (Witchcraft: A Mystery Tradition on the cover vs. Witchcraft and the Mystery Tradition on the inside). Obviously, this is a problem with the publisher and is not Raven's fault.

This book is designed for multiple readings. It is written on many levels and every time you read, you will find something new and different. Raven appears to subscribe to the philosophy expressed years ago by the Pagan magazine Earth Religion News: "Guard the Mysteries - Reveal Them Daily." He believes that a person will learn what they are ready for. If someone isn't ready for certain information, they won't recognize it.

Throughout the book the author repeats themes, although in each case it is rephrased. In this he follows the dictum of "Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you've told them." This type of repetition is amongst the most durable methods of teaching, since it insures that important information is conveyed and retained.

This book is, most definitely, not a "how-to" book. It explores meanings, symbolism, and background of thoughts, but never mentions the mechanics of the worship. You won't find invocations, directions for casting circles or making amulets, or correspondence charts here. It is a book which is valuab le at every level of experience. And will become more valuable with each reading. The novice will benefit from the overview it provides, while the more experienced reader will find connections they may have missed. Pick it up for another reading after a year or so, and you are liable to find yourself asking "How did I miss that the last time I read this book?"

I take exception with some of Raven's positions. For instance, he says (in the Preface): "There are many solitary witches who may not have the means of finding an experienced teacher or of being initiated." While I can accept the latter part of that statement (they may not have the means of being initiated), with the explosion of Craft teachers and resources on the Internet and in big cities, I find it hard to believe that one can't find a teacher. I did it over 30 years ago without access to the Internet or big cities. It may not be easy to find a teacher, but the search can be a learning experience in itself.

The final chapter serves as a recap of all that has gone before, in broad outline. It helps to "set" the information and to make it more permanently a part of your memories. However, as I said earlier, this is a book designed to be read more than once. Don't just read it and stick it on a shelf. You will find plenty of stimuli contained here.

Raven Grimassi has produced a book which moves well beyond the "Wicca 101" books which are so common today. Whether you are a Seeker just starting your search, or an Initiate with decades of experience, you will find valuable thoughts and insights between these covers. Do yourself a favor - Buy (and read!) this book.

Reviewed by Mike Gleason

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