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on 15 December 1999
This is a book on the history and spiritual legacy of ancient pre-Christian religions and their impact on the evolution towards modern Wicca. It is written from the perspective of a long practicing Witch and artfully presents a fascinating micro-history. Modern scholars draw their conclusions concerning Witchcraft largely from material contained in trial transcripts and from writings by various monks and other Church agents who wrote about demonology and satanic worship. The problem with this "official" history of Witchcraft is that few if any people convicted of Witchcraft were actually witches. Therefore the information extracted from them cannot realistically be viewed as representative of the beliefs and practices of Witchcraft. And yet, this information is what scholars use to "prove" the non-existence of Witchcraft as having any credible relationship to the ways of modern Wicca.
As a contrast to the Judaic-Christian history of Witchcraft, Grimassi offers the views of those who actually practice the religion of Witchcraft. As Grimassi points out in the introduction he is an initiate of several Witchcraft traditions, and therefore draws from the common elements contained within all of them to reconstruct the tenets of the ancient Mystery Traditions that influenced the evolution of Witchcraft.
But the focus of this book is not on history, it's on the spiritual and religious beliefs in modern Wicca and the ancient concepts that contributed to them. A few reviewers here have expressed serious questions about many of Grimassi's historical references while at the same time complaining that Grimassi offers no historical support at all. This seems to reflect some personal agenda on their part rather than an authentic criticism of this author's work.
If you're genuinely interested in the magick, religion, and spirituality of modern Wiccans and Witches, then buy this book.
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on 24 February 1999
This book is a classic in its field and one that will stand the test of time. Grimassi has artfully blended together the agricultural mysteries of paganism along with the metaphysical principles of ancient occultism. In this book Grimassi ties all the essential elements of pre-Christian European religion into a splendid presentation of Wiccan religious beliefs and practices. He does the same with magical and ritual concepts. His historical research is sound, and is supported in the bibliography, listing over a dozen University press publications along with many other impressive reference works. This alone was a refreshing change of pace from many of the books we see written today on modern Wicca. The Wiccan Mysteries is not a book that you can skim, it requires even a second read in order to fully appreciate the secrets within, otherwise the casual reader is likely to miss what is ultimately revealed in this superb text.
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on 16 July 1999
What I enjoyed most about this book is that Grimassi draws heavily upon University Press books, and the works of some of the most respected authors of our time. Many Wiccan authors speculate, particularly when it comes to Celtic religion, and all too often present theory and conjecture as fact. Grimassi avoids this nicely and deals with things from a historical background while at the same time blending spirituality into the work as a whole. Some readers may object to the author's research because it presents truth rather than romanticizing Wicca. Grimassi speaks with authority based upon many years of study and practice, and in effect he has committed the greatest sin in all of Wiccandom (meaning that he knows what he is talking about!). For those readers who want to faithfully explore the ancient mysteries and expand their current perceptions, this book will not be a disappointment.
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on 23 August 1999
The Pagan community is hungry for sound and genuine historical scholarship, but this just isn't it.
Grimassi makes the claims that have been floating around the Pagan community for years, and none of them are documented. The historical works that show up on the extensive bibliography are mostly tertiary sources -- the sort of things readily accessible in public libraries to any high school student writing a term paper -- or sources mired in deep academic controversy.
Most of the "history" in this book is the Sacred History of Wicca -- the myth of ancient origins, long-hidden traditions, and Inquisitorial persecution. The problem is that it's not true.
There are a few good sources on the history of Pagan religion (Ronald Hutton's _Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles_ is a good book.
But this book simply rehashes stories that have no evidence behind them. That may be acceptable for theology, but history is a matter of facts, not faith.
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on 21 March 1998
i wouldn't suggest this book as a beginner's guide. it was my first book on the subject and i found it kind of long-winded and dry. however, i am glad that i have it. i put this one aside for a little bit,and i read some other easier, quick reading books. then i came back to this one and found it is an indispensible source of information an history.
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on 23 January 1999
Raven Grimassi would be the first to say that Wicca has no established sacred writings. Yet she makes a bold contribution to the field with this fascinating view of the history of the Craft from pre-history through the modern era. Nonjudgmental (or not much), and thoroughly researched, this book is a history of the "olde religion," its myths and archetypes, its myriad beliefs and practices, written with style and verve. This book is a history, a reference, and guide to the path of the Wiccan. Although the illustrations are a bit crude, they do not detract from Grimassi's witty prose and knowledgeable style. A must have for every student of the Craft and its history.
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on 13 February 1999
On the back of this book Raven Grimassi states that most of the information within this book has never been exposed to most practitioners. Hmmm...if it trult is a book of Witchcraft, then why is more new ager than paganism. Grimassi has basically just put together a book that is loaded with detail detals details. And since there is so much detail, he can easily get people to think that the information is genuine. Gimma a break. Most of this book is your basic highly elaborate, very occult-based Gardnerian/Alexandria crud. There's nothing in this book that you couldn't find elsewhere. The only difference is that now it's finally all in a single volume. So much for a book that claims to hold top secret info. It could be worse though, since he almost never uses the word Witchcraft, and this book is anything but a book about Witchcraft. In fact, with all the new age, energy transfering crap found within, a person virginal to Wicca might read through it and never gather that Wicca is an Earth based religion. The first chapter on the history is also very detalied, but somewhat inaccurate. There is almost nothing at all concerning Witchcraft in the agri-villagers of the middle ages. But with as much detail that this book goes into, it would be very easy for someone to get the impression that this book is the answer-all ultimate Wicca volume. The worst part of this book is where he states that Scott Cunningham was mostly responcible for the addition of new age elements to Wicca. EXCUSE ME!!! This obviously a simple ploy because Grimassi knows his book is a rip off to paganism. Scott Cunningham wrote some of the best books on magick and paganism ever published, and NEVER talked about the new age crud that Grimassi indulges in. You can see here that this book was intended for beginners, since just about anyone can tell that Grimassi's idea of Wicca, which is now considered foolish to the modern pratitioner, as well as his definition of new age, are as crooked as you can get. He's mostly one the dying out Gardnerians who is mad at the way Witchcraft is getting back to what it was in the agri-villages, and misses the early days of Wicca where it was all about power and occultism. Forget this book, and try Scott Cunningham if you want a book with a no-crap approach.
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on 23 August 1999
Buy this book, read it, and have a highlighter ready!! This is an excellent text, and it really helped me to understand the Mysteries.....Grimassi knows what he is talking about. Get this book!!
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on 9 July 1997
Raven Grimassi's Wiccan Mysteries is a must have book for anyone serious about discovering the ancient roots of modern wicca. The book outlines with incredible depth, the philosophies, principals, mythologies and traditions of the Old Religions.

Grimassi's section on the Descent of the Goddess Mythos is beautifully written, giving the reader a sense of how Myth can give us purpose and meaning in the struggles of every-day life. His discussion of Women and Men's Mysteries and his openness about sexuality and magick rose above the pettiness of many our politically correct dogmas.

The sections on rites not only give detail on how rites should be performed, but also gives the metaphysical reasoning behind the acts.

In conclusion, I found this book thought-provoking, beautifully written, with inner depth that will require multiple readings to absorb. I strongly recommend it to anyone who is interested in what the Wiccan *faith* is really all about.
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on 24 January 1999
I must agree with the reviews I have read so far that this is one of the best books covering the real theology of Wicca. While it is dry at times, and the author can border on preachiness, the information is more substantial than in most books. While most books on Wicca just give the rituals with only a very insubstantial brief on why something is done, this book ties it all up and makes it clear why we do what we do in ritual. I also recomend Grimassi's "Wiccan Magick" which does for Wiccan Magic what "Wiccan Mysteries" does for Wiccan theology.
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