My First Published Novel. Published in November 2014 by Create Space, a branch of Amazon.com.
The book can be viewed and purchased online at:
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 fiction novel in the occult fantasy genre of magical realism. It takes place in the 1970’s in Italy, in the Campagnia coastal and Apennines 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. Fourteen year old Kara 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.
READ THE REVIEW OF “THE RAVEN WATCHED” ON KIRKUS REVIEWS:
REVIEWS AND FEEDBACK ON AMAZON:
Great Story Reviewed By The Bohemian Housewife “Blogger” on March 21, 2015
The Raven Watched is a fictional book looking into Witchcraft/Wicca/Paganism. I haven’t done much research on the subject, so I’m not sure what this book would fall under. The story follows a Strega witch family. The main Witch of the family, Sophia, passed away. She had no daughters to pass her gifts onto. After her death, Sophia’s niece Barbara and her family fly from New York for the summer so Barbara could say her last goodbyes. Sophia raised her nieces, Barbara and Gina, as her own after their parents died. Due to having no daughters of her own, Sophia hoped one of Barbara’s daughters would take over the family tradition/Craft. Barbara’s Daughters, Mimi, Kara, and Jo have been raised Catholic for the most part. Their Father is extremely against all of his wife’s (Barbara) family traditions/religion because he is very Catholic. Visiting Sophia’s house was the first time the girls had really been around any type of Witchcraft but it comes natural to them. They all have a magical touch but who will be taking over for Sophia?
Karin E. Weiss focused more on the culture and mysticism, which is fine with me. I feel like I got a look into their beliefs. This is the first fictional book I’ve read that portrays Pagan religions in a somewhat realistic fashion, I enjoy the perspective it gives. If you’re a fan of Pagan Religions or practices you would probably enjoy this book. It’s full of imagination. Karin E. Weiss is a good story teller, with my limited knowledge of the subject I followed along easily. I found that to be very impressive with such a topic.
The Raven Watched moved slowly in the beginning but picked up around the middle of the book. It had a great story. I found myself very immersed in the culture of this family. The plot was different from any other book I’ve read, it left you guessing throughout the whole book without having to need huge twists from the start. The Characters were very well thought out as well. The all had pretty different personalities, I rarely see this when a novel has so many different main characters. All around I enjoyed this book. I would recommend this to fans of Wicca/Pagan beliefs.
A TIMELESS PIECE
Feedback By Jan Kilian on March 10, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
The Raven Watched confirms some of my experience as a member of a Roman Catholic religious order. Centuries of struggle by women have not changed the dominance of men in the world of spiritual practice and ceremony. We continue to negotiate and dialog with male hierarchy in order that we might continue to celebrate in this church which fears feminine leadership. Just as the women of the Rimini clan experienced the effort to suppress them, so we have recently been through a mysterious investigation of U.S. communities of women religious by Rome. In addition, the U.S. Leadership Conference of Women Religious has just come through patriarchal scrutiny (initiated prior to curial changes made by Pope Francis) for teaching that God’s life among us continues to unfold and expand. God does not live in bounds.
The portrayal of this age-old misogynistic attempt to destroy anything that threatens male “orthodoxy” in The Raven Watched is a strong parallel to our current Catholic struggle. I was deeply touch by the compassion of women in the Rimini clan. I continue to be impressed with the patience and compassion of contemporary church women. We make every effort to stay in dialog with our male “adversaries” and to serve as Jesus served in keeping with our integrity.
I enjoyed this book and recommend it particularly for all women. (Perhaps that statement will tease the curiosity of some men, too. They would not be disappointed.)
The Door has been opened for us to step inside. A true gift for all.
Feedback By Bill Seabloom on March 8, 2015
I have known Dr. Karin Weiss for over 45 years and have been gifted by her presence, her wisdom, her sharing and her example and now her gift is in the printed words of The Raven Watched. In this book she brings into our life the realities of spirituality and power that exists in our history and all aspects of nature, the wolves, the birds, the trees and grasses and the air, rocks and soil and the secret places in our minds that culture closes out. Others have pointed to the door and have challenged us to grab the latch. And now there is the daily teaching from Nature 365 by Jim Brandenburg. Karen now opens the door wide and brings in the fresh air and knowledge that has so often been blocked from us. Thank you Karin.
William Seabloom, M.Div., M.S.W., Ph.D., LICSW
Fun, mystical, magical and captivating
Feedback By Cordelia Anderson on February 3, 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Karin Weiss managed to write a book that is fun, mystical, magical and captivating. Toss in a thought provoking narrative that pulls the reader into the lives and struggles of the main characters (human and animal) while also providing fuel to think creatively about what is. All and all a good read and super gift!
A ROMP THROUGH THE TRANSCENDENT
Feedback By The. Rev Dr. Jim Siefkes M.Div.; D.D. on January 30, 2015
The RAVEN WATCHED is many things: It is a romp through transcendence and
reaches beyond traditional human experience. It is religious. It is ecumenical. It takes into account concurrent activity with Old (Jewish) and New (Christian) Testament biblical texts. Names like Mary Magdalene, Joseph, David, Tamara, Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Sarah, Deborah, and words like Jericho, crucifixion, Song of Songs, a child floated down the Nile in a basket (Moses) all pop up as part of the RAVEN narrative. It is heresy in that it provides a choice at variance with the orthodox. “Heresy” is a very good and useful word. Heretics like alternatives.
The listing of the genealogy of the Rimini witches from 700 BCE right down to the present day is very much like the genealogy from Abraham to Jesus in the first Chapter of the N.T. gospel of Matthew. Magdalena’s narrative is a parallel piece to the words of praise (called the Magnificat) uttered by Mary (the mother of Jesus) after the announcement “you will conceive and bear a son” (Luke Ch.2.)
The RAVEN like most religious narratives is concerned with the Salvation (salving/healing) business (soteriology). In this regard it is GENDER specific. The struggle is between good and evil. Seems that males took over one time in prehistory and there developed separate male and female spiritual foundations. Male a more “rational” reasoned approach. Female more magical, mystical, with access to the sacred and “supernatural”. The orthodoxies and unquestioned doctrines of the church are seen as the “enemy”.
Reader: Ready yourself for challenging experiences with fairies, miracles as a part of nature, moon and goddess worship practices, reincarnations, speaking and communicating with the rest of the animal kingdom, fantasies, and visions of peace on earth. “The lion laying down with the lamb”. Give some serious thought about male fear of the power and control of women through the ages that has brought us to this present day with the possibility of a day breaking when all things might become new. Something very powerful is going on and no one is in charge of it. It is on a roll, Taken seriously it generates HOPE! Psych it out, and hang on for the ride.
Feedback By T. Jones on January 26, 2015
I really liked this book, I thought it was great. I hope she has started on the next book. Good job on this one. Thanks…
I espcially enjoyed the link with Fancesca da Rimini and her tragic …
Feedback By mario a petrini md phd on January 12, 2015
Outstanding story. My parents grew up in Tuscany amid Etruscan ruins. Their stories and the role of the Strega as witch and healer were very interesting and faithfully captured in this fascinating book. I especially enjoyed the link with Francesca da Rimini and her tragic history. Karin’s writing is ALWAYS interesting. Mario A Petrini MD. Ph.D
I Was Spellbound!
Feedback By Sandra l Nohre on January 12, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
The book “The Raven Watched” was amazing to me. It went beyond my expectations! I read it spellbound! The way in which Karin Weiss wrote the book and the descriptive phrases she used to make the story come alive kept me turning the pages and returning to the book as soon as I could! I was particularly enchanted by the way in which she wrote the descriptions of events and scenery, and it kept me fascinated through the entire book. I highly recommend this book.
Great original gift
Feedback By ettie on January 6, 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book invited me into new territory, uncovering through fact based fiction, the history of generations of wise women who were witches. Feeling into the adventurous, mysterious twists and turns especially when seen through the eyes of three young sisters, wove a compelling storyline. I think that young women and girls would particularly adore this book. Great original gift.
Adventurous And Wonderful!
Feedback By whatever on December 21, 2014
Love this book! The teens in my life thought it was awesome and so did I! You get lost in the numerous supernatural moments of the girls and their swirling magically charged lives in Rome. Great read for anyone that loves adventure and history!
Learning about the Culture of Witches
Feedback By Sherry Sweetnam on December 2, 2014
Karin is a gifted, creative writer. She shows great skill in creating engaging scenes by using fresh language that flows and conjures up clear images. She backs up her occult and witch fantasy with historical timelines that go back to 700 BCE. A good read for learning about the culture of witches.
SOME WORDS ABOUT MY PROCESS OF WRITING AND, FINALLY, PUBLISHING MY FIRST NOVEL: by Karin E Weiss on March 29, 2015
“The Raven Watched”
My readers are often curious about how I wrote the book… where I got my ideas. Those are complicated questions that have no simple answer but I will try to distill an impossibly long explanation into a brief accounting of my journey with “The Raven Watched”.
For a long time, from my pre-teen years and through high school and college, I felt a growing sense of resentment and distrust with the male-ordered and dominated world I saw. For the 1940’s-50’s era, my mother and father were unusually liberal-minded and free of gender bias or discrimination_ even in their religious beliefs. So I grew up encouraged to form and express my own opinions, questions, and observations. I have rarely felt any sense of doubt for my beliefs in a more mystical universe and nature-based female deity. However I learned to keep those ideas to myself around my parent’s and my own Christian friends. Later, in my work and writings, I learned to speak about these radical ideas in an inclusive language that affirms the right of every person to hold their own spiritual beliefs and faith, but without judging those of others that may be different.
This novel was triggered by my desire to share these ideas in a work of fiction as well as in those pieces of non-fiction I had already published during my therapy career and workshops.
The seed for the actual story sprouted from a simple short tale I submitted for an on-line writing course I took around the early 1990’s from Barnes and Noble. The story described a scene in which an old woman lay on her deathbed in a cottage in the woods. She was attended by her three daughters and one small grandchild, a cat, and a raven sitting on a tree branch nearby.
For many years, I wrote articles and workbooks for my dual careers as a sex therapist and also as an astrologer. I began taking more advanced on-line writing courses from Writers Digest University in 2000. I wrote a short ‘young adult’ story of a family of girls who travel with their parents to visit relatives living in a large Villa in Italy. It was a simple tale of these girls exploring and learning secrets of old-world history and traditions in Italy. My instructor liked the story and encouraged me to stay with it and develop it further into a full-length book. So I developed a story line that included the old woman’s death as well as the villa in Italy, and then built in the magical occult fantasy along with the tales from women in history. All of this drew together my own several “life-threads” but without making it personally mine.
My notes show how I continued to develop the story and how it evolves through countless editing and re-organizing. I worked on it until 2005 when it fell off the rails of my thought-train, so to speak. I had heard some lecture on “the proper organization of a novel” which only tied my thinking in knots and I put the story aside. A core part of my interest in this book was the side-stories of ancient ancestors. The “proper” novel organization did not allow for this, so I felt discouraged and gave it up as a bad idea.
Years later, in 2012, I happened upon the notebook and re-read it. Feeling more confident of my own tastes and ideas, I was amazed at how good I still thought the story was. I pulled it up on my computer, brushed it off in a few places and sent it to an editor at the “indie” publisher I had found online, Create Space. The review I received was very encouraging, but suggested several changes that I felt I just wasn’t up to tackling. So, once again I put aside all writing and immersed myself in art projects.
Finally, in 2014 I stumbled upon the manuscript once again when cleaning out my study. I decided to give it one more shot since the book itself seemed determined to make me remember it and not let it die. So I gave it another thorough revision-edit and, in October, 2014, submitted it directly to the publisher online. I had them do the interior formatting and cover.
Now I have a notebook that is filled with pages of ideas, and I can track how I worked with this story to evolve the more complex tale. It is a fascinating thing for me to look back on now that the book is published and I can no longer tweak and play with it. In fact, the notes show me at least three other possible books that could grow from them… perhaps as sequels to the original, and a prequel. Those are ideas gelling in me now, but it is amazing to see how much of what I wrote in the final book I had already thought of fifteen years ago.
The photo for the cover was taken by Gothicrow, a woman whose photography work I admired online and purchased. I was delighted that she agreed to let me use that photo for my book. In my mind, that cover is what really sells the book. I was delighted with it! And, yes, I do feel proud that it is actually now a ‘real book’!
A MAP OF THE VILLA AND SURROUNDING AREA: Sketch by Karin E Weiss Unpublished