The Spiral Dance
The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess by Starhawk came out in 1979 and was reprinted in 1989. This bestselling classic is both an unparalleled reference on the practices and philosophies of Witchcraft and a guide to the life-affirming ways in which readers can turn to the Goddess to deepen their sense of personal pride, develop their inner power, and integrate mind, body, and spirit.
In the introduction Starhawk introduces herself. In 1968 she spent the summer hitchhiking and camping along beaches in California. She went to college at UCLA and formed a Coven. Though she was raised Jewish, she embraced Wicca. She learned to appreciate her body and sexual intimacy. Soon she began teaching and training women in the ways of Feminism and Wicca. She majored in film making, but wrote the book The Spiral Dance at age 21. She received many rejection slips and took a year long bicycle trip to New York. When she saw the sea, the star and the hawk in a set of tarot cards she became Starhawk and moved back to the West Coast.
The three core principles of the Goddess religion are immanence, interconnection and community. Immanence is the manifestation of the God or Goddess in nature and life and everything. Everything—nature, animals, humans and the cosmos are all connected. And it is important for everyone to work together with nature.
There is no good and evil. There is only an understanding of cycles. There is birth, death and rebirth.
Witchcraft is not to be feared. It is older than Christianity and older than even Buddhism. The Spiral Dance is the dance of life and death, the moon and the sun and the seasons. Unfortunately the Goddess culture gave way to Warrior cultures. The Goddess Worship was driven into the mountains and hills. They were often called the Sidhe, Picts, Pixies or the Fair Folk by those in Scotland and Ireland. The Celtic Druids adapted to the Greek and Roman Gods and Goddesses.
The Goddess is important to women. She inspires us to get in touch with out divine selves. For men it allows them to get in touch with their femininity—that deep and sensitive part of themselves. Do not believe in the Goddess. Know the Goddess. The Goddess is the first of all the earth and the heavens. She waxes, wanes and is full like the moon. While she waxes she is the full maiden, when she if full she is the mother and when she wanes she is the wise crown.
The God of the Pagans is the Horned God. He is they dying God, gentle, tender and comforting. He is also the hunter and untamed sexuality. It is the image of men that women would see if they were liberated from patriarchy. He is the undivided self.
Magic is the art of sensing and shaping the subtle unseen forces that flow through this world—awakening deeper levels of consciousness. We have an unconscious mind that often operates in flashes of pictures and memories. We have a conscious mind that is are rational talking self. The 3rd self is the deeper self or the higher self. That is our inner divinity.
A spell is a symbolic act done in an altered state of conscious in order to cause a desired change. To cast a spell is to project energy. Spells work like psychotherapy in a way. Symbols are not spells though. They are a metaphor for the swirling energy of inside of us and throughout the universe. Spells can change attitudes and even change the physical world. Directed emotions can act like a laser beam.
Witches have a difficult time coming out of the broom closet. Covens are a good way to feel safe and create a community. You need a place that you can call your sacred space. First you cast your circle by pointing your dagger in each direction and changing. East is represented by air and the sword, South by fire and the wand, West by Water and North by earth and the pentacle. The pentagram points can mean sex, power, self, pride and passion or love, power, wisdom, law and knowledge. They may also represent birth, initiation, consummation, repose and death.
The dangers of magic stem from our own defense strategies—not from the shadow self or the Guardian. People run from the shadow self and use drugs or alcohol, which can cause great problems. Say to yourself, “Powers of Evil Be Gone!” Get you to the Outer Darkness! I will have both Power and Love!” Remember other people can manifest your inner conflict, so pay attention to that and try to change yourself instead of lashing out at them.
You can expand your awareness by paying attention to your dreams. Keep a dream journal and talk about your dreams with other people. Learn to take conscious control of your dreams.
Starhawk speaks of the ritual of cleansing. Allow yourself to be taken blindfolded to a river, ocean, lake or pond for a ritual bath. Use herbs, oils, incense and candles and look for a new name. Later an apprentice will come and guide you through a symbolic death and rebirth.
The Wheel of the Year is the Calendar of Pagan or Wiccan Holidays. Yule is the Winter Solstice which is December 20-23. Candlemas is February 2nd. Beltane is May Eve. Litha is the Summer Solstice of June 20-23. Lugnasad is in August. Mabon is the fall Equinox September 20-23 and Samhain which is October 31-November 1.