Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vinnie Russo on Grimassi and Streghe

Posted with permission.
From: Vinnie Russo
Subject: [traditional_stregheria] Moderator Note - Grimassi & Wicca bashing
Date: Aug 12, 2009 8:49 AM
Hello all,

First, I want to say that I am thrilled with all of our new members and the recent lively discussions. However, I need to step in both personally and as a moderator regarding Raven Grimassi as well as the recent attitude of "Wicca bashings".

I know Raven Grimassi personally. People who criticize his published material often don't have all the facts, have never talked to him, or have jumped to assumptions.

Raven's published material is just that published. You don't really think that he'd actually publish all the material that he has or what he uses to train personal students, do you? It's material that is appropriate to teach the public, he makes that very clear. However, what Raven teaches his students is both authentic and valid.

I would like to quote directly from Raven Grimassi:
"There is a rich legacy of ritual, lore, and magic in the teachings of Italian Witchcraft. It has always been my goal to share this with others in whatever way I can. This has been a challenge over the years because much of the material is protected by sworn oaths to not reveal various elements. I have pushed that envelope over the year and continue to do so today. Ironically this has brought charges from initiates that I am violating the oaths, and it has brought allegations from the public that I have nothing authentic to share and am simply using the "oath claim" as a shield. We are a fascinating community."

"The facts are that I plant the keys to initiate material in my non-initiate material. I use common material as a carrier for the inner workings. All that is required is for a person to sift through my books and join things together. The keys and the doorways are all there, it only takes a focused desire to reveal what resides within the written words. Is this the breaking of oaths? For some people it is, and some initiates feel that I am freely giving away keys that they have had to work for over the years."

"Some non-initiates look at my work, and because it contains some common Wiccan elements they dismiss it all as unauthentic. I guess this is like finding a fly in your soup; it ruins the whole thing. Except, of course, that the fly doesn't make chicken soup something else because the fly is mixed in. It's chicken soup with a fly in it. That's pretty much the situation with Wiccan elements in my writings on Italian Witchcraft. I was particularly amused one time to hear my book on Italian Witchcraft referred to as Wicca with marinara sauce. While inaccurate, the statement is still funny."

"I find that some of my critics invent things about me and work, which is really a misuse of valuable time for all concerned. While I appreciate respectful differences of opinion, and I value constructive criticism of my writings, I have little tolerance for unwarranted allegations and outright lies. But I do realize that being a public figure is going to draw attacks upon my work and my character. It's an unfortunate truth about human nature."
More can be read here.

OK, back to me now. In addition to responding to inaccuracies regarding Raven's work, I want to address the recent "Strega good, Wicca bad" attitude.

What's with all the Wicca bashing? There is absolutely no reason to denigrate or criticize another Path in order to compliment one's own. It is entirely possible to "sing the praises" of what Stregheria is WITHOUT the need to criticize what it is not.

Stregheria is a VERY diverse path and some families and branches have chosen to incorporate some Wiccan elements. So what? I applaud them. They are taking a long term look at things and incorporating elements into their own practices to ensure what they pass is a complete system rather than a fragmented system of lore and folk magic. Bravo.

The very culture of Sicily and Italy is syncretic in nature (Italian, Greek, Spanish, French, African, Phoenician, etc.) and there is no reason that our Craft shouldn't reflect that. As a matter of fact, it would be VERY surprising if our Craft DIDN'T reflect that especially as a living tradition. As many of us are American, English, etc. and NOT native Italian or native Sicilian, it only makes sense that we would begin to incorporate elements of the culture that we currently live in and make those elements our own. Just because something originally can be traced to another culture or Path doesn't mean that it can't also be part of Stregheria. It becomes part of Stregheria (at least in particular families) when the element in question becomes fully integrated into the composite fabric of the Craft.

Further, factual history of the Craft (of any culture) is almost non-existent. Most of the so-called facts are simple oral lore and stories but would not stand up to academic research to ascertain the validity of the various claims. Much of the initial modern Wiccan/Pagan movement started based on a fabrication of history (i.e. tweaking the truth and even outright lies). It's much better now with Wiccans becoming Academics and doing real research that will allow them to take a more honest look at themselves.

I don't want to see us (The Streghe) fall into the same trap that the Wiccans of the 1960's did namely, that of everyone claims to have a personal family tradition going back in an unbroken line for thousands of years; with unchanged material, lore, and mysteries; that is a complete system of magic and mystery; that was always secret which is how it survived; and is oathbound so no verifiable proof can be offered to corroborate. If we follow that path, it only makes us look like attention seekers and children that don't know any better.

So, let's all try to criticize others less and compliment good academic research, good heart, and honest discussion more.


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