Friday, May 27, 2011
Raven Grimassi,Llewellyn World Wide
Since Gerald Gardner revealed Wicca to the world in the early 1950's the religion has been at the center of controversy ever since. Is Wicca something that Gerald Gardner came up with? Or is it a surviving religion from the Ancient past. Raven Grimassi in this books shows that he believe it is an Ancient Religion based a fertility cult. He does a good job laying out the origins of the religion and supports his contentions with scholarly works. Himself mastered in several Wiccan tradition including Stregheria Italian witch craft, Raven has a passion for his heritage which contains Italian witchcraft.
Back in the Neolithic times in Southern Europe stretching all the way up to southern Poland was a matrifocal society that had women as their center. Women were deified because procreation was a mystery. Woman was the head of house and the main deity. Their menstrual blood was considered magical and holy not something to be despised and derided.
With the coming of the Kurgans from the Indo-European lands things changed. They were warriors were as the matrifocal society was peaceful. The Kurgans were also patrifocal. The cult of putting the woman at center stage began to fade and the remnants of that went into Italy and Greece. There amongst the Latins, Etruscan and Greeks the Old Religion was allowed to thrive. When the Romans went out on their conquest and Roman farmers started settling Europe they brought with them the old religion.
Many people thought that the Celts and their Druidic philosophy were the basis for Wicca. Raven goes on to thoroughly prove this theory wrong. The Celts arrived on the seen much after the Kurgans destroyed the matrifocal society. They were also head hunter and believe in human sacrifice. Something which Wicca detests. The Celts were warriors and they were not the first people to arrive in Britan. when the Celts came there the Cult of the Dead was established. They buried their people in mounds. It was believed that the souls of these dead could come back and that they had wings like faeiries, hence the birth of the fairy legend. The "Cult of the Dead" would later morph into the Druids and be absorbed into Celtic society. The first mention of faeries though is after the Anglo Saxons arrived. Faeries were not a Celtic invention.
In Italy the fertility cult was represented by a moon goddess called Diana and sometimes Artemis and Hekate. She was a triple moon goddess representing the moon phases and the phases of a woman's life.Maiden, mother and crone. The horned god was a fertitlity god who perished around the time of October. This is all to familiar for Wiccans of course in Italy the God was called Dionysus. He was a horned fertility god.
Raven provides ample evidence through similar rituals and legends that the Roman fertility cult is the basis for both Wicca and that it was a major influence on Celtic religion and life. There is a great similarity of legend and religious practice that cannot be ignored. Wicca is based on an ancient fertility cult with bits and pieces of other systems thrown in. His viewpoint is different from that of Ronald Hutton, who contends that Wicca is a modern invention.
after reading this book I am convinced that the truth falls some where in between. there are other theories out there attesting to the ancientness of witchcraft that are equally convincing. Of course the mists of time have a way of enshrouding things in mystery.
No less this is an excellent book that deserves a 4.5 out of five. Half stars are difficult on the Amazon rating system. I leave half a point for improvement. The map which shows the influence of the Matrifocal society is rather poor quality and hard to read. Modern Wicca also has many outside influences ranging from Indian religion all the way to Kabbalah and ceremonial magick. Those could have been covered a little bit more in depth. My next comment maybe beyond the scope of this book but Italian and Greek religion was strongly influenced by current coming from the Middle East. Although Raven touched upon it I think it would have been nice to be able to read more in depth about.
Excellent book and this author is highly recommended.
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