Book Review - Starhawk's The Spiral Dance

Wicca is a religion of poetry, more than theology.* This view shines through The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess .

This is probably the best introduction to Wicca spiritual practice you can get on paper.

Starhawk's classic Wiccan text is a book for the conscious, adult Wiccan.

There is a depth of insight into the theory and practice of Wicca that is difficult to find from other authors.

In her introduction to the 10th anniversary edition, Starhawk explains that she sees her book as "a tool chest for visionaries," and I must agree.

The Spiral Dance offers guidelines and ritual ideas, while avoiding the common trap of laying out dogmatic rules.

If you're looking for black-and-white dictates and all-or-none doctrine, then this isn't the book for you.

But if you're wanting to understand Wicca -- and yourself! -- more deeply, this is a powerful tool for that pursuit.

Yet without being autocratic, Starhawk still offers training for the chief skills that the beginner needs. A few examples of the hundred or so exercises are . . .

  • Grounding & centering

  • Sensing group energy

  • Seeing auras

  • Binding spells

  • Meditation & trance journeying

  • Invocations & chants

  • Spells & herbal charms

  • And of course, how to lead a spiral dance

Starhawk's informed and obviously deeply-explored vision of Wicca is inspirational, even after decades of my own experience in the Craft. There are insights within The Spiral Dance that one could spend a lifetime integrating.

The 10th anniversary edition is especially worth reading. In it, Starhawk has included comments from her current perspective, making a classic text completely relevant to today's Witch.

The Spiral Dance is simply the most important book on the foundations of Wicca spirituality that exists to date.

If you were only going to have one book on Wicca in your library, this is it.

Excerpts from The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess

Ultimately, the reemergence of the Goddess religion is a conscious attempt to reshape culture.

The Goddess continually offers us challenges, but knowing that she is within us as well as around us, we find the strength to meet them, to transform fear into power-from-within, to create communities in which we can grow, struggle, and change, to mourn our losses and celebrate our advances, to generate the acts of love and pleasure that are her rituals.

For she is no longer sleeping but awake and rising, reaching out her hands to touch us again. When we reach for her, she reveals herself to us . . . .

Once we have allowed ourselves to look into her open eyes, we can never lose sight of her again. For she faces us in the mirror, and her steps echo each time we place foot to ground.

Try to leap away, and she will pull you back. You cannot fall away from her - - there is nowhere she is not.

And so it is no accident that this is the moment in history when she arises again, and stretches. For great as the powers of destruction may be, greater still are the powers of healing.

May our dreams and visions guide us, and may we find the strength to make them real.

-- The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess, p 11 - 13 (All emphasis mine.)

* Paraphrasing Starhawk's words, "Witchcraft has always been a religion of poetry, not theology." p 22.

Rating: 5 Stars

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The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess , by Starhawk. HarperSanFrancisco, 1989. ISBN 0-06-250815-6.

Return from This Book Review to Silver Chalice E-Zine, Feb '08

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