The Raven Watched is an occult fantasy about a family of witches who belong to the Strega spiritual tradition of Italy. Their heritage reaches back to the earliest civilizations, following women through history who have been either revered as Goddesses or persecuted as Witches for their healing and mysterious spiritual traditions. Women of the Rimini clan in Italy, have been the leading lights in the Strega tradition for many generations. But now, Sophia, the current High Priestess, is dying and the next Priestess is yet to be found and trained. Sophia is distraught, for she has no daughters of her own and the tradition holds that the line must pass into the same family or it dies out. At last three grand-nieces arrive from America with their parents at the family’s ancient villa in Italy. Each one is drawn into discovering mysteries of this magical place. Fourteen year-old Kara struggles with her doubts and suspicions against magic and witchcraft in order to face some very dangerous challenges. Nine year-old Mimi meets and makes friends with a number of magical creatures immediately. Seventeen year-old Joanna is introduced to the mysteries through a romantic connection with members of an underground spiritual theatrical movement. All three girls as well as their mother and aunt experience dreams and visions in which they learn stories of revered women from their ancestry. Their father, however, is adamantly opposed to the spiritual witch traditions and creates a constant obstacle to their progress. At last, the Festival of Beltane brings everyone face to face with the Malandanti and the evil Wizard.
This is a young adult novel in the occult fantasy genre of magical realism. It takes place in the 1970’s in Italy, in the Campagnia coastal and Apennine mountain region between Rome and Naples. The focal site is an ancient villa built into the hills overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. Near the villa is a hidden grotto accessed by three diverse tunnels: one from the villa, one from a mountain meadow, and one from a run-down cottage some distance north of the villa higher in the mountains. All are sites of ancient secrets traditional to the legends of the Rimini witches, a family of founding lines of the shamanic nature religion of Strega, in Italy. Their lineage is traced back to the first Etruscan settlements on the Italian peninsula. Sophia, most recent of the Rimini shaman-priestesses, has run a mystery school from her villa for decades. She has now died, and is concerned to pass the heritage to her three grandnieces who are newly arrived from America with their parents to oversee the estate. While the father of this family, John, is a rigid patriarchal Catholic and strongly set against the old nature traditions, his wife, Barbara, is guilt-ridden at her betrayal of her rich heritage and struggles now to retrieve her own faith in its magic. Meanwhile, each of their three daughters stumbles into the mysteries on her own. Seven-year-old Mimi immediately senses magic and soon follows her animal guide straight into the secret places. Thirteen year old discovers an ancient Grimoire and reads about Strega traditions, then meets a special companion who leads her to the secrets. Seventeen year old Joanna falls in love with Giuseppe, who opens her heart and mind to the ancient truths.