Michele Burke July 1st, 2009
Heredity Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi has bestowed upon us his readers the inspiration to pass our own traditions on to the next generation. Trained in the Old Italian family tradition of Witchcraft Raven Grimassi has dedicated his life to passing on the wisdom of the old religion throughout his writings. Hereditary Witchcraft is a heartrending testimonial to what our past has to offer the future.
~ Michele Burke, Pagan Pages.org (2009)
Courtesy of Raven Grimassi
Interview with Raven Grimassi
Pagan Pages: What were the driving forces that led you to write Hereditary Witchcraft?
Raven Grimassi: The book was essentially an attempt to correct some misunderstandings surrounding my previous work on Italian Witchcraft. I also wanted to provide a complete working system for my readers, and so I further developed the Aridian Tradition for the new book.
PP: From which mystery school do you draw your knowledge?
RG: There really isn’t one school per se. I draw upon what I call the Mystery Tradition itself, which is the core commonality expressed in various mystery schools; but that being said, the mystery schools of Greece and Rome are the primary models for me personally. I have a particular focus upon the grain mysteries as they apply to the cycle of life, and of course this connects with the idea of the Harvest Lord and the Lady of the Harvest. One form of this or another does seem to appear in most European cultures.
PP: How has the Old Italian religions brought you to where you are today?
RG: My background from the early years was in what I call the “peasant Witchcraft” of Old Italy. I regard this as the remnant of a pre-Christian system that survived underground, and was hidden in plain sight by dressing it over with Catholicism. But since I regard Catholicism itself as “paganism with a Jesus on top” there really wasn’t much cloth needed to sew it together.
The Italic roots of seasonal celebrations, and the associated mysteries, have been the most influential on my spiritual and religious development over the years. But I like to think that there is much more to me than just my Italian roots. I also trained in Celtic systems and sent some time involved in Eastern mysticism as well.
PP: Did it take you a long time to write the Heredity Witchcraft?
RG: If I recall correctly it took about six months, which is the average time for me to produce a book.
PP: What are the main principles of Hereditary Witchcraft, and what would be a prime example of a these principles?
RG: I do not feel that the book really focuses on any prime principles other than what is outlined in the teachings of the Holy Strega. These address the spiritual values that are worthy of attainment. In essence these are about living “in common cause” with each other and with the planet we all inhabit. The spiritual message is that we should strive to be united by the things that make us the same, and not be divided by the things that make us different.
PP: Can you give the readers a little insight into the magical universe of Italian Witchcraft and the secrets of the old religion?
RG: Italian Witchcraft, as it was taught to me, is rooted in the almost forgotten past of the Etruscans, who are said to have been the heirs to Neolithic religion. At its core the Italian Craft is primal and involves contact with forces and spirits. The idea of “mimic magic” is strong in Italian Witchcraft. This is essentially the teaching that if you want something then you have to make a connection between the ritual act and the desired magical affect. On cave walls our ancestors placed images of animals being hunted as a type of ‘mimic magic” intended to draw game. This is mimic magic 101.
It is an intimate part of the Old Religion that everything is joined together within an etheric web, if you will. Spirits, force, and deities are also part of the web. There is an intimate bound between mortal kind and the immortals. They need us as we need them; so the old saying goes.
According to the teachings all things are conscious and have power. It is this light that we use herbs, stones, and various items to enhance our ritual and our magic. Allies are an important component in Italian Witchcraft.
PP: Who was your teacher and how did their teachings stand apart from those of others?
RG: I had no single teacher per se, which is typical within family traditions. I learned from aunts, uncles, and cousins who visited from Italy, and of course from my mother who shared the old lore of Italy with me from a very young age. There is a touching line from the movie Stardust that says something to the effect of “I grew up on all the old stories. Later, people tried to tell me they were just fairytales, but in my heart I knew they were true.”
In my late teens and early twenties I explored other practice outsides of Italian culture, and eventually became involved in Wicca. This led to a variety of experiences and training opportunities. I can’t say that any single teacher stood out over this period, but they each contributed something unique and important. And in truth, I consider everyone I meet to be a teacher, and some of the best ones have been my own students.
PP: What does the metaphor ‘without the Strega, the sun and moon will no longer rise” mean to you?
RG: It refers to a reverence for Nature, and it means that when this love and “common cause” is gone among the earth religion people, then the end of Nature is on the horizon.
PP: What is the Stregas story?
RG: Ah, the great question. The short answer is that the Strega’s story is the living tale of the spirit of Witches, and one that is passed on from initiator to initiate. In Bardic style this story comes from the heart of the storyteller. The words may change, and often do, but what is conveyed can never change.
The tale of Aradia is the vessel that carries the Strega’s story. This is the Witches’ tale of endurance, power, and survival against all adversity. Aradia is the individual who takes the hero’s journey as mythologist Joseph Campbell would phrase it.
The teachings of our ways are woven into the Strega’s story, but we do not regard this in a biblical way. We understand that the “Witches’ Gospel” is inspirational versus dictatorial.
PP: Do you believe that regardless of our heritage we all “connected as one “, if so how?
RG: Yes, I do believe that. I believe we all share the commonality of connection to the Source of All Things whose emanated spark we bear as that which we call the soul.
PP: If we are all one what is the connecting factor that makes us so?
RG: The connecting factor is the Divine Source itself. In essence we are all the offspring of that which created the Universe. Therefore we are related just as human families are related through their lineage.
PP: Can you explain to the readers what you meant when you said “We are the possibilities and the unshattered dream, we are what gives life magick”?
RG: Scholar Ronald Hutton once commented about how ancient Greek philosophers were frustrated that the common people held to their personal views and beliefs despite the offered wisdom of the learned class. This spirit is, at its core, the unshattered dream. But it isn’t foolishness, it’s experiential. Let me explain.
When we are in a dream where, for example, a car we are driving turns into a bicycle, what do we most often do? We start peddling the bike. This is because it is not about the car or the bike; it is instead about the experience. In dreams we can breathe underwater or fly in the air. In material reality we are confined and limited by the dense properties of the material plane. But in non-material reality we are liberated by the realm wherein all things are possible.
So, we, as Witches of the Old Ways, are the subconscious mind in the world of humankind. We maintain the limitless possibilities by keeping potentially, and therefore magick, alive.
PP: Do you believe that there will be someone else to come and carry on the old traditions?
RG: No, I think the Old Ways are all but dead now. Tradition has become something akin to a swear word these days. Today it is all about self-styled, progressive, evolved and so forth. So I feel that I am essentially the last of my race, and that with me will go all that has been passed to me. But if that is the natural order of things then who I am to complain.
Bountiful Blessings go out to Raven Grimassi, thank you so very much for granting the readers and myself such a fortuitous chance to get a firsthand look into Hereditary Witchcraft. It has truly been awe inspiring. Again thank you.
Upcoming Works of Raven Grimassi:
October 2009 -The Cauldron of Memory: Retrieving Ancestral Wisdom & Knowledge
- Interviews & Reviews