Raven GrimassiPublished by Llewellyn (www.llewellyn.com) REVIEW BY NINA LAZARUS FOR The Esoteric Book Review
Grimassi states the intent of his book right from the outset. He writes “The purpose of this book is to restore the Wiccan Mysteries to their rightful place in the Community while providing a sense of the great antiquity of the Mystery Tradition within Wicca, the Old Religion…”. He then goes on to say that he will be providing the readers with a historical basis for many beliefs in Wicca.
So how well does he do towards achieving his goals?
The first obstacle he seems to fall at is trying to establish Wicca as a religion within the great community, this in itself when you give it proper thought is a contradiction in terms. A mystery tradition is not public, it might be known to exist to the public and might fulfil an outer function, such as festivals or celebrations, but it in itself must fulfil a private role, an initiatory role, to its initiates. I cringed at his use of terms such as “neo-Wiccans” is this just an Americanism which us Brits are unfamiliar with? I have not encountered it anywhere before, although I am of course very familiar with the term neoPagan coined, I believe, but Isaac Bonewitz to distinguish between modern Pagans and the Pagans of antiquity.
The book on a whole is a mish-mash of different magickal themes and traditions, mixed together to create a unique blend of magick, paganism and Wicca which Grimassi calls Wicca. Once I realised (but unfortunately the newcomer to Wicca will not) that he is simply using the term to describe his blend of paganism, Celtic spirituality and magick, I was ok.
His research is out of date, but then this book is currently in its tenth printing, having originally been published in 1997. As such it might be an idea to supplement the historical material provided in Wiccan Mysteries with that found in books such as “Triumph of the Moon” by Prof. Ronald Hutton, “Wicca Magickal beginnings” by Sorita d’Este and David Rankine and “Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration” by Philip Heselton.
Having reread the entire book ignoring the differences in linguistic use of the terminology, I found that I agreed with many of the points made by the author and many of his practical insights.
“Magick requires mental discipline more than it does anything else.”
The author provides the eager student with many such catch phrases which if pondered will certainly provide help and guidance on the path through the mysteries. This book is recommended by this old Priestess to students wishing to create their own system, as such seeing what others have done and created can be very useful – use this book for such inspiration that grabs you.
There are some gems to be uncovered here, information on subjects and practical insights on practices which are not usually found in books on the subject of Wicca (probably because it is not a traditional part of the tradition). Grimassi writing from a non-initiatory non-traditional point of view has done a great job of providing insights which may not be found in traditional Wicca, which is one of the great strenghts of the material presented herein.
Take what you like, leave what you like. Recommended.