Raven Grimassi
Raven's Loft


This website is 1995 - 2009 by Raven Grimassi and Clan Umbrea, all rights reserved.  Reprints of these pages are not allowed without written permission of Raven Grimassi or the appropriate author.  We take copyright violations seriously and are dismayed by the amount of plagiarism on the web, especially of Raven's materials.  


Raven Grimassi and the Arician Tradition of Italian Witchcraft is not associated or affiliated with the following individuals, organizations, or traditions:

Aradia Earth & Sky (Canada)

Fabrisia (Fabrisia's Boschetto)

Stregoneria Italiana

Rue's Kitchen

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Project Stregoneria Italiana is the dream child of Kyle De Franco aka Solitario.  While the project purports to provide information about Italian Witchcraft, it actually works with common folk magic and folk traditions that appear in the Catholic-based practices of sorcery known to exist within Italian subculture.  The project fosters widespread misunderstanding through its use of the umbrella term "Stregoneria Italiana" to group together a variety of practices that do not qualify as "stregoneria" (a term in Italy for the magical practices of Witchcraft).  The organization erroneously refers to its material as "traditional Italian witchcraft" which it is not.

Folklorists and social anthropologists have long noted the curious folk practices found in many Italian Catholic families in Italy.  Italian immigrants brought such practices with them when they relocated in regions like North America and South America.  Although fewer families still retain the Old World folk magic traditions, it was once widespread and was carried on by the generation born as late as the early 20th century.

Many Italians and Italian-Americans have, or had, an old grandmother who believed in the power of the Evil Eye, the Malocchio. She knew how to detect this using drops of olive oil in a bowl of water.  She also knew various techniques designed to cure the affliction.  In her arsenal of weapons against evil, the folk magic practitioner used such things as a pair of scissors placed under the bed mattress to protect against phantoms.  The scissors were placed opened at the foot of the bed with the tips facing outward.  Salt was scattered on the floor and then swept out the door to remove any contamination brought into the house by a visitor.  A broom was left by the front door to protect the threshold.  Various Saints were given offerings in exchange for special favors such as personal healing or help with finances.  These and many more practices were common in the Catholic-based folk magic traditions of Italian families.  However, they were not (and are not) a practice of Witchcraft.

Professor Sabina Magliocco, a native Italian who has researched Italian magical systems points out that the term "stregoneria" is not commonly used to refer to the kind of folk magic and healing practiced in families and generally associated with popular Catholicism. She further points out that in Italian folklore studies and ethnography, these practices are called "guarigione popolare" or "cure popolari" (popular healing/ cures), although these specific references are academic rather than folk terms.

It is easy to erroneously conflate such practices with Italian Witchcraft, as do the supporters of the Stregoneria Italiana project.  But authentic folk magic practitioners in Italy would be horrified to be told that what they practice is actually Witchcraft.  For them this is not the case, and few would even acknowledge that what they practice is a form of sorcery.  The Italian folk magic practitioners see this as simply "the things we do."  To call this Witchcraft is to insult the folk magic practitioner (who self-labels as a Catholic, not a Witch).

Confusion between folk magic practices and Witchcraft easily arises due to the fact that the two systems use similar methods, symbols, and objects that have long been associated with Italian culture.  Historically, Witchcraft is an older tradition than the folk magic traditions that feature Catholic elements and saint veneration.  This is evidenced by the simple fact that Witchcraft existed in pre-Christian times but folk magic traditions containing Christian elements can date no earlier than Christianity itself. However, it is extremely unlikely that folk magic traditions sprang up suddenly within the Christian era with no connection to earlier beliefs and practices.  It is more likely that people continued to use elements of pre-Christian traditions but with modifications to comply with Christian theology.  In this way the old folk traditions evolved from essentially pagan roots into a Catholic-based system of magic and ritual. In this way they became Christian practices as opposed to pagan practices.

At some stage in the evolution of folk traditions in Italy various concepts and practices emerged that were new and unique to Christian culture as opposed to the earlier pagan culture.  Some examples are the use of the communion wafer and the rosary in folk magic.  The veneration of patron Saints, while clearly a vestige of the pagan veneration of spirits that presided over specific things, took on elements unique to a new culture. However in many cases the pagan roots are very apparent. One example appears in the feast day of San Domenico in Cocullo (Abruzzo region) whose statue is covered with living snakes and carried in a procession.  This site was earlier the home of the Marsi, a pagan tribe that worshipped the goddess Angizia, a type of snake deity. The customs associated with the feast of San Domenico strongly suggests that the pagan elements pre-existed in a readily adoptable form that fit the Christian veneer.

Members of the Stregoneria Italiana Project strongly oppose the idea that much of Italian folk magic evolved from earlier pagan beliefs and practices.  Not content to simply embrace their own beliefs, members of the project actively post messages in various Internet forums where they attempt to propagate their beliefs.  Part of this involves what can be regarded as libelous accusations against internationally acclaimed author Raven Grimassi and unwarranted criticism of his writings.  Various members, who appear to post under multiple names, seem to be carrying out a campaign of misinformation that is apparently intended to try and undermine Grimassi's credibility as a writer and teacher.  Such actions are regarded by many as intentionally harmful attacks on Grimassi's livelihood, reputation & personal character, and his good standing in the community.  Such tactics are very much like those used by subjugators to suppress subcultures and to deny their authenticity.

Suppressed subcultures in Italy have endured a long attitude of invalidation from Italian elitists, academicians, and commentators.  Breaking from this repressive tradition, scholar Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum addresses the unwarranted dismissal of authentic folk traditions in subcultures by Italian scholars in her book Black Madonnas.  She writes about how subcultural beliefs and knowledge "bypass" the established knowledge and belief of the mainstream culture in which they reside. Therefore a subculture can contain elements that seem, in comparison to the dominate culture, very alien and incongruous (but are actually authentic to the subculture's history and understanding). This may be the case with Leland's witches and their tradition, which can be viewed as a "denied culture" at the hands of Italian scholars intent on subjugating suppressed subcultures.

Birnbaum makes the following statement:

‘The recovery of suppressed cultures is proceeding on several levels in Italy. Women scholars recover ancient values transmitted by women persecuted as witches. Historians study the ‘systematic cancellation of peasant culture.’ Along with historians recovering suppressed peasant culture (who call its suppression ‘ethnocide’), a popular ethnic revival in Italy has stimulated the founding of museums dedicated to vernacular traditions.”

This practice of "ethnocide" has spread from Italy and surfaces among such organizations as the  Italian-American group  known as the Stregoneria Italiana project.   Members of this project attempt to actively suppress the subculture of Stregheria (the Witchcraft of Old Italy) and deny its culture through a campaign of misinformation and unwarranted allegations.

It is unclear as to how much opposition against the Wicca, Witchcraft, and the Neo-Pagan community in general exists among the members of the Stregoneria Italiana Project.  Some commentators have pointed out that Stregoneria Italiana members, as self-proclaimed Christian Witches, operate under the inherent flaw of this oxymoron.  Others have judged the project members as simply the kind of people who are always hostile towards any opposing views, an attitude demonstrative of the fear-based energy of anger.  In any case what seems very apparent is that the Stregoneria Italiana Project resembles the same anti-forces generated and controlled by the Catholic Church that were at the roots of the persecution of Witches in the Middle Ages and Renaissance period.  This is evidenced by their continued persecution of Stregheria (authentic Italian Witchcraft) and its followers.

Like most cults, the Stregoneria Italiana Project requires strict adherence to the views, opinions and teachings of its leader.  Outsiders are reportedly treated with suspicion and often with hostility, particularly when offering a contrary view.  Badgering, demeaning, and bullying are typical tactics used by cult leaders and their officers in order to maintain control.  In the case of the Stregoneria Italiana Project many people  have reportedly been ejected or driven out from the forums on the website by such tactics. For personal safety, mental and emotional health, caution should always be exercised when anyone is in contact with a cult, cult leaders, and their operatives.