Official Biography of Raven Grimassi

Raven Grimassi is a published author of many titles on Witchcraft, Wicca, and Inner Mystery Traditions. He brings over 45 years of personal experience in the practice of ritual, magic, spell-casting, and occult mysticism.

Raven is/was the Co-Founding Elder of the Ash, Birch and Willow Tradition, a system reflecting the commonality of European rooted traditions of Witchcraft. The ABW system is based upon the Thorn Path of Witchery, which is an Old World practice of Witchcraft. Raven began focusing on this system in 2004 when introduced to the inner ways of the Thorn Path.

Raven was born April 12th, 1951 in Pittsburg, PA to an Italian immigrant who came to the United States as a War Bride in 1946. At an early age he began to study the folklore and Witchcraft of Italy, the Old Religion of Italy’s past. His early training was a curious construction of a Catholic veneer fitted over archaic elements of Italian folk magic, folk customs, and peasant Witchcraft. Having been born on the festival day of the goddess Ceres (Patron of the Mysteries) Raven maintained a shrine in her honor.

By age 18 it became Raven’s passion to deepen his study of the Old Religion in an attempt to unlock its innermost secrets. In the summer of 1969 Raven discovered Wicca and was intrigued by the similarities between it and the Italian Craft. Seeking out like-minded people closer to his own age, Raven met a young woman who managed an Herb Shop in Old Town San Diego. She eventually introduced him to a woman who claimed to be a Gardnerian witch High Priestess called Lady Heather. She later initiated Raven into Wicca, but he was eventually to discover that her claims to Gardnerian Wicca were unfounded. However, Raven considers her teachings to be sound and in keeping with known and accepted elements of traditional Wicca.

In 1974 Raven studied Wicca under Lady Sara Cunningham for the traditional “year and a day”. He then formed his own system of practice, which was a blend of Lady Heather and Lady Sara’s teachings mixed together with elements of Italian witchcraft. Raven later formed a small group known as the Coven of Sothis, which operated for a few years in the San Diego area. In 1975 Raven became a member of the First Temple of Tiphareth and began a serious study of the Kabbalah, a mystical Hebrew system.

It was during his study of the Kabbalah that Raven met and became friends with Donald Michael Kraig, author of Modern Magick and Modern Sex Magick. That same year (1975) Raven was introduced to a High Priestess and High Priest (Phil & Joanne) in the San Diego area where the couple were well known. They became friends, and Raven was initiated into their tradition of Brittic Wicca, a system claiming to be a blend of Basque Witchcraft and English Wicca. It contained elements of traditional Witchcraft along with folkloric elements reflective of the regions where its foundational roots originated.

By the summer of 1979 Raven felt that this period of exploration into Wicca was complete and he returned to the sole practice of Italian witchcraft. In the fall of 1979 he started classes on the Italian Craft at Ye Olde Enchantment Shoppe in San Diego. One of the people attending was Scott Cunningham. Raven and Scott became friends, and in 1980, Scott was initiated into the Aridian Tradition of Italian witchcraft, a system formed by Raven that same year. The Aridian tradition was a construction of Wiccan elements mixed into the ways of the Italian Craft that was part of Raven’s own training. Scott remained a first degree initiate during his three years of study with Raven. Because of growing differences it was mutually agreed that Scott should be released, and he moved on from the Aridian Tradition in favor of a heavily self-styled view of modern Wicca. Scott was later to publish his self-styled “Wicca” through a series of books.

In 1981 Raven was a writer and editor for The Shadow’s Edge, a magazine focused on Italian witchcraft. He was later a contributing writer and editor for two other magazines, Moon Shadow and Raven’s Call. This same year Raven wrote several booklets including The Book of the Holy Strega, and a two volume set titled Book of Ways, published by Nemi Enterprises in San Diego, California. These books came to be referred to as “the blue books” because of their covers. Many photocopy versions of this book manifested and have been passed through the Craft Community for many years.

In 1983, Raven accepted third degree initiation into the Pictish-Gaelic Tradition in order to help preserve its teachings, but served as a guardian of the material rather than a full participant in the tradition. In 2001 Grimassi received third degree initiation into the Traditionalist Celtic Tradition through the First Wiccan Church (Escondido, California).

In 2004, Raven ceased practicing Stregheria and stepped down as the directing Elder. He then devoted his time to exploring non-specific cultural themes.

In 2006, Raven and Stephanie founded the Ash, Birch and Willow tradition of Witchcraft, which is a system rooted in the primal perspectives of our distant human ancestors. He is devoted to preserving and teaching the Mystery Tradition of pre-Christian Europe.

Raven formerly served as editor/writer for Raven’s Call magazine. He is the author of twenty five books on Wicca and Witchcraft, including The Wiccan Mysteries, which was awarded Book of the Year and First Place – Spirituality Book by the Coalition of Visionary Retailers in 1998, Ways of the Strega (re-released as Italian Witchcraft), Wiccan Magick, Hereditary Witchcraft, Encyclopedia of Wicca and Witchcraft, Beltane – Springtime Rituals, Lore, and Celebration, The Witches’ Craft, Crafting A Wiccan Tradition, Witches’ Familiar, Spirit of the Witch, Witchcraft – A Mystery Tradition, The Cauldron of Memory, The Book of Ways I and II, The Book of the Holy Strega, Old World Witchcraft, and Grimoire of the Thorn-Blooded Witch. He finished editing his last book, What We Knew in the Night, the night before he crossed the veil on March 10th 2019.

It’s my pleasure to announce that Raven’s out of print titles are being re-published by Cross Crow Books; The Cauldron of Memory, The Witches Craft, Wiccan Mysteries, Wiccan Magick, Crafting Wiccan Traditions, and Witchcraft: A Mystery Tradition.