Raven Grimassi, 67, crossed the veil peacefully on March 10, 2019, after deciding to cease treatment for pancreatic cancer following a long struggle with the disease. Grimassi spent his last months with family and friends. The announcement of his crossing came from his wife, Stephanie Taylor-Grimassi, via a public post on Facebook.
Grimassi was an exceptional teacher and scholar within the Pagan community. The author of twenty books, he began writing on Witchcraft in 1979 and published continuously for the next 45 years on Italian Witchcraft. He founded his own system of practice in 1980, the Aridian Tradition.
Grimassi was born to an American father and Italian mother. His father was a paratrooper during WWII and met his mother in 1944 during a campaign in Gragnano, a town south of Naples on the Amalfi Coast. After the war, the couple married and came to the United States. The youngest of three children, Grimassi began exploring Witchcraft at the age of 13, moving away from Catholicism. In 1969, at the age of 18, he began his formal studies of Witchcraft, specifically Wicca. He became fascinated with the similarities between Wicca and the version of Italian Witchcraft that he learned about through his mother.
Grimassi continued his studies through 1974, observing traditional Wicca practice and teaching. Afterward, he started the Coven of Sothis in San Diego and also became of a member of the First Temple of Tiphareth, where he augmented his occult knowledge by studying the Kabbalah. Through that study, he met Donald Michael Kraig, author of Modern Magick and Modern Sex Magick, and through Kraig’s connections was subsequently initiated into Brittic Wicca.
Grimassi would, however, ultimately remain focused on Italian Witchcraft. He met Scott Cunningham, another prolific Pagan author, and they were initiated in into Grimassi’s Aridian Tradition of Italian Witchcraft in 1980.
Grimassi had written on Italian Witchcraft for The Shadow’s Edge, a magazine on the subject that he managed and edited, as well as other publications like Moon Shadow and Raven’s Call. In 1981, Grimassi began his serious exploration of Italian Witchcraft with the publication of The Book of the Holy Strega and a two-volume set entitled The Book of Ways. These breakthrough texts fully demonstrated Grimassi’s command of Witchcraft and his rise to becoming one of the most recognized modern Pagan authors.
Grimassi had a central objective to his writing: “to preserve the Old Ways.” He saw himself as a “tender of the roots of tradition.” He was an educator on the “old ways” of pre-Christian European religion, not only writing extensively but appearing for interviews in television and radio. He traveled extensively to teach and appear at festivals and conferences across the country.
In an interview with Wiccan/Pagan Times, Grimassi remarked, “My books are about the spiritual roots that nourish us. My basic theme is that we are the spiritual descendants of those who cleared the road before us, the well-worn Path. It is up to us to extend the Path further now, and to leave the continuing legacy to yet another generation. I advocate seeking a balance, embracing the traditional teachings left in the wisdom of our ancestors while at the same time looking inward for discernment and relativity.”
Grimassi was deeply committed to education and teaching. He co-founded the Ash, Birch and Willow Tradition (ABW) whose purpose is “to aid the training of practitioners and clergy in the religious and spiritual traditions of Witchcraft, Wicca, Paganism, Heathenism and other Earth based traditions.” Grimassi was also the co-director of the Fellowship of the Pentacle – an umbrella organization for his work through various sources.
Christopher Penczak, author and co-founder of the Temple of Witchcraft with Raven Grimassi, commented:
[Raven Grimassi] has been a friend and mentor since the start of my writing career. His books were some of the first I encountered after my initial training in the Craft, so getting to not only meet him, but later become his friend was a true honor. While I will always treasure his advice and words of wisdom, my favorite memories are sitting by a fire at a festival, or relaxing in one of our homes, talking over some sloe gin about life, families, magick and geeking out over the occult significance of comic books and movies. While I know he is never far, I will miss his physical presence here greatly.
Longtime family friend, and author, Dorothy Morrison commemorated his passing by saying:
Raven Grimassi wasn’t just an author, a priest, or a teacher who shared his wealth of magical knowledge with the world. He was my friend. More importantly, though, he was my family – and I was fortunate enough to know a side of him that few people rarely saw. He was a jokester. A story-teller who could elicit gales of laughter or streams of tears, often both at the same time. He was the concerned brother who took me to the emergency room when I broke my foot. He was strong and kind, gracious and loving, loyal and trustworthy. He was someone who did the right thing because it was the right thing to do, even when such action wasn’t popular. He was, indeed, the sort of person we should all aspire to be.
I will miss all those parts of Raven more than words can say. But most of all, I’ll miss his silly grin, his laughter, and the spot he occupied in my heart. My life is so much richer because he chose to be a part of it – and the world is much, much emptier due to his passing.
Along with the esoteric arts, Grimassi was an avid appreciator and lifelong collector of comic books and comic memorabilia, with a particular passion for Marvel’s Dr. Strange.
Stephanie Taylor noted that a service will be held on March 23, 2019, from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM at Hafey Funeral Service, 494 Belmont Avenue, Springfield, MA 01108. White and red roses have been requested and may sent to the funeral service. In lieu of flowers, a donation in Grimassi’s name may be made to the Temple of Witchcraft.
Grimassi is welcomed on the other side of the Veil by his mother and his father. He is survived by his wife, daughters, and brothers. The Wild Hunt joins his family in their sorrow and in their celebration of Raven’s extraordinary life.
What is remembered, lives.