Raven Grimassi is a well-respected Elder in the Wiccan community, having come to it in the late 60s after years of studying the folklore of Italy. His training was formal and he has been initiated into several traditions, ultimately blending all of his knowledge into his own: Aridian. There are few people qualified to discuss the creation of a tradition, and he is one of them. Crafting Wiccan Traditions: Creating a Foundation for Your Spiritual Beliefs and Practices does a good job of living up to its title.

The book is clear, well-organized and written in Grimassi’s usual engaging style. There are decades’ worth of knowledge here: suggestions and guidelines, as well as areas of caution the reader would be wise to heed. The reader is told right at the start that doing a lot of hard thinking about his/her own personal beliefs regarding Deity and ethics will be crucial to forming a personal practice of Wicca. S/he is also well-advised to research the tenets and philosophies of the landscape the tradition will spring from. Each chapter provides opportunity for the reader to examine his/her beliefs and to modify them with new information and insight, all the while avoiding the notion that anything and everything can be thrown into the practice and it will work.

The preface alone, describing the basic format of Wicca and its evolution from the 1950s until now is well worth reading, and recommended for any newcomers to the Craft. But very little of the rest of the book is for beginners, and that is a very good thing. As a Wiccan who has created a Tradition of my own, I am glad to see so much thought and insight given to how to translate the mystical and experiential practice that is the core of Wicca into a methodology by which we may create something new.

Some readers may object to the relativistic aspect of Grimassi’s writing – the process of starting from the beginning and examining all beliefs and keeping only those that are absolutely necessary may feel like ‘anything goes’ in a religion where right and wrong do not exist. But this is clearly not the author’s intent. Other readers may find the emphasis on polarity, including gender, old-fashioned. I say, take it with a grain of salt and don’t throw the book out with the recycling. Finally, for some of us the explanations of circle casting and a whole chapter on creating a book of shadows will be incredibly simplistic and undermines the overall feel of this being a book for people who’ve been practicing their craft for long enough to want to create our own tradition.

Overall, this is a good book, and one many long-time witches will want to have on their bookshelves.

Four tomes on a shelf of five.


~review by Lisa Mc Sherry

Author: Raven Grimassi

Llewellyn Worldwide, 2008

pp. 264, $15.95