Biography

Raven Author PhotoRaven is an internationally recognized scholar and published author with 20 titles in print on witchcraft and Wicca.  He is currently the co-director of the Ash, Birch and Willow tradition of Old World Witchcraft.

Raven Grimassi was born in 1951 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 training over the years was a curious construction of a Catholic veneer fitted over archaic elements of Italian folk magic, folk customs, and witchcraft. At age 13 Raven shook off the surface coat of Catholicism.

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 Aridan 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 The 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). Raven currently lives in Masschusetts and divides his time between writing, teaching, lecturing, and directing the Ash, Birch, and Willow Tradition.  His wife is Stephanie Taylor, co-author of the Well Worn Path and The Hidden Path divination system. She also operates her online Witch Shop known as Raven’s Loft, which she and Raven once jointly owned as a physical shop in Escondido, California.

Raven formerly served as editor/writer for Raven’s Call magazine.  He now works as co-director of the House of Grimassi. He is devoted to preserving and teaching the Mystery Tradition of pre-Christian Europe.  Having been born on the festival day of the goddess Ceres (Patron of the Mysteries), Raven maintains a shrine in her honor in the Temple at the House of Grimassi.

He is the author of over a twenty 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, Italian Witchcraft (originally released as Ways of the Strega 1995), Wiccan MagickSecrets of Hereditary WitchcraftEncyclopedia of Wicca and Witchcraft, (also an award winning book),  Beltane, Springtime Rituals, Lore, and Celebration (now out of print), The Witches’ Craft, The Witch’s Familiar, Spirit of the WitchWitchcraft :A Mystery Tradition The Book of Ways: VOL I and II, The Book of the Holy Strega,  The Cimaruta and Other Charms from Old Italy Grimoire of the Thorn Blooded Witch, Old World Witchcraft , Cauldron of Memory and released February of 2016, Communing with the Ancestors.

In the summer of 2015, Raven and Stephanie completed a ground-breaking DVD titled ” Ever Ancient, Ever New: Witchcraft by the Hearthside“.  This is a 2 hour documentary-type interview style and the first of its kind in this genre

It is Raven’s passion in life to continue to bring new, enriching and a vital enchanted worldview to his work of keeping the Old Ways alive and relevant to the 21st Century. Ever ancient, ever new!