Truth Or Dare
Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority and Mystery by Starhawk came out in 1987. Truth or Dare is about the roles we play that society places on us.
Magic is a liberation type of psychology. How do we break free from others control and set ourselves free? Witchcraft is a mystery religion based on ritual and on consciously structured collective materials that allow us to experience the immeasurable.
“If I call myself a witch even though I am fully aware the word often produces fear,” says Starhawk. Where there is fear, there is power. Where there is power, there is fear. Until we confront the fears and stereotypes evoked by the word we cannot contact the powers that are also embedded there. To be a witch is to make a commitment to the Goddess and to the protection, preservation, nurturing and fostering of the great powers as they emerge in every day beings.
We are afraid of the pain. We are afraid of seeing how deeply we have been shaped by the system of control. The insides of our minds resemble battlefields and jails. A teacher may have skills to empower us or another may treat in a way to make you feel inferior to them. It just depends on the teacher.
There are three types of power. There is the power over which motivates through fear. There is the power from within which is magic or divinity. There is the power with which is the world pattern of relationships. The power over is based on material goods and the material world. The power from within is spiritual.
Spiritual often promotes passivity when the domain of the spirit is defined by the outside world. When this world is the terrain of the spirit we ourselves become actors in the story and this world becomes the realm in which the sacred must be honored and freedom created.
Language is political. Language can be magical as well. The goal of language and magic is balance. Our way to get out from under others control is through both resistance and renewal. The truth goes beyond any description of it. Starhawk is daring us to tell the truth and resist the powers that be.
Women once gathered herbs and plants. They learned their uses and were able to heal children and even animals. Shrines to the Goddess turned into temples for the Gods. The matriarchal society all but disappeared and was replaced the current patriarchal one. These healers and worshipers of the Goddess were called witches and condemned out of fear.
Consider these questions: 1) When in my life have I complied or obeyed when I didn’t want to. 2) What did I feel at the time? What was I thinking? What choices did I perceive? 3) What other choices might have actually existed? What might have happened if I’d taken them?
Then consider these questions: 1) When in my life might I have rebelled? How and with what success? At what cost? 2) What choices did I see I had? What other choices might have been possible? 3) What might have been different? Withdrawal is another way to something intolerable. When have you withdrawn? How could you awaken and take action? When did you do this and how did you feel?
Often we suffer from self hate. We need to grieve over and cry over missed opportunities. Power over us has life and energy all its own. Patterns of power and control are never accidental. They are manifestations of our self-hate. We need to do a cleansing, grounding and creating of sacred space.
Guilt does not encourage us to change. Instead, it paralyzes us. Guilt is the internalized hatred of one’s self instilled through fear of punishment. Guilt is how we punish ourselves. We need to see and value ourselves as well as others.
We can build an alter, draw a circle and banish the power by calling on the four directions. We can invoke a name and give it power over us no more. Starhawk talks about the cone of power, the energy dance, going places, going to place of personal power, feasting and the transition of return rituals.
There are four groups to consider: Myth Making, Personal Myth, Tales from the Elders and Children’s Stories. There are three gifts to consider as well: Gift of Power, Gift for the Newborn, Gift of Chance.
Authoritarian figures have been our models in child-rearing. Parents exert power over children in disciplining them. We can easily over power children, but instead we need to respond by communicating, making suggestions and doing some critical thinking instead of lashing out. We value what we protect and we protect what we value.
A person doesn’t change after you try to help them. They will only change when they are willing to talk about it and change it themselves. They need to find a voice. They need to break the silence on their own. In truth or dare Starhawk dares you to talk about all those things that are forbidden to talk about and take responsibility for your own personal truth.
War once meant rape. Power has always been tied to sexuality. Men often identified their sexuality with aggression. The master or powerful man became the abuser, rapist or child molester who hates other because he does not see them as having independence or a valid existence on their own. Often these men often had their own needs denied. They felt powerless and were victims themselves. But instead of ending the cycle, they continue it by victimizing others.
Even if you have been a victim of rape or abuse you can reclaim your body. You can cleanse it and renew it and enjoy it once again. Starhawk describes another ritual. She talks about Snakes, Dragons, Crows and Grace representing each of the four directions. She talks about the Rite of Passage, which includes Preparing for the Struggle, Returning From the Struggle and the Spiral Dance, which is the sacred space.
We can create a new culture of life together if chose to do so.