This book is an excellent blend of lore, history, and mythology, fully supported by excerpts from ancient historians, witch trial transcripts, and the writings of several prominent folklorists. A reviewer has suggested that Grimassi made up the system he writes on, however the documentation of a well established 19th century tradition of Italian Witchcraft is quite evident in the research material contained within Grimassi's book.
Italy, like most regions of Europe, has many diverse folk traditions and beliefs. For example, the traditions of Witchcraft on the island of Sicily historcially differ from the traditions on mainland Italy, as do many folk beliefs and practices. No one can reasonably lay claim to the One True path of Italian Witchcraft. Grimassi certainly does not, but simply writes on the tradition he knows best. Some reviewers have claimed that Grimassi's material is Gardnerian Wicca with Italian seasoning. However, anyone of reasonable intelligence (and not buried in their own agenda) will easily see the compelling counter evidence presented in Grimassi's book. Grimassi demonstrates that many of the so-called Gardnerian aspects of Wicca are found half a century earlier than the writings of Gardner. Grimassi draws on the 19th century writings of several key folklorists who wrote on Italian Witchcraft, fully documenting a pre-Gardnerian system of Witchcraft that resembles modern Wicca.
Like any credible author, Grimassi has pointed out revisions to his earlier work, stating that he wished to reveal more information in a less watered-down version as time passed. I think the author is to be applauded for his openess and willingness to share, instead of hiding behind claims of unspoken secrets he knows of but cannot speak of.
In Grimassi's book he focuses on Diana and Dianus as the deity forms for the ritual work contained in the text. First century BC writings, such as those of Horace, Lucan and Ovid, speak of Diana and Proserpina, often equating them as one and the same deity. The descent of the moon beneath the horizon was symbolic of the descent of the goddess into the Underworld, linking the goddesses together. Grimassi does an excellent job of gathering the ancient myths and legends into one cohesive system for modern practice.
This is a great book and a must read for anyone seriously interested in the Old Religion. The appendices alone are worth buying the book!
In this book Grimassi draws upon the works of several folklorists who investigated Italian witchcraft during the late 1800s. He also incorporates traditional material that once resided exclusively within family traditions.
Although the author does refer to Leland's Aradia material, there is less of this in this book than appeared in his previous work - Italian Witchcraft. One reviewer complained that Grimassi is "intent on proving that Leland's book is a big fat lie." This is incorrect. Grimassi claims that although Leland's material is based upon pre-existing Italian Craft material, Leland's account is an altered version with Judeo-Christian overtones. The myths and other material that Grimassi uses from Leland's book are the pre-existing portions with which Grimassi agrees was in the original form. Therefore Grimassi presents it in order to educate the reader as to what is authentic Italian Craft lore. The portions with which Grimassi disagrees, he attributes to Christianization of the older material.
This is a great book for a look at authentic Italian Witchcraft. But a warning, if you skim read this book (which is always a pointless way to try and learn anything) or don't have the ability to comprehend intellectual text, you'll most likely come away with a sense that you've found some treasures but see some flaws.