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Spiral Dance, The - 20th Anniversary: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Goddess: 20th Anniversary Edition

Overview

The twentieth anniversary edition of The Spiral Dance celebrates the pivotal role the book has had in bringing Goddess worship to the religious forefront. 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. Starhawk's brilliant, comprehensive overview of the growth, ...

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Overview

The twentieth anniversary edition of The Spiral Dance celebrates the pivotal role the book has had in bringing Goddess worship to the religious forefront. 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. Starhawk's brilliant, comprehensive overview of the growth, suppression, and modern-day re-emergence of Wicca as a Goddess-worshipping religion has left an indelible mark on the feminist spiritual consciousness.

In a new introduction, Starhawk reveals the ways in which Goddess religion and the practice of ritual have adapted and developed over the last twenty years, and she reflects on the ways in which these changes have influenced and enhanced her original ideas. In the face of an ever-changing world, this invaluable spiritual guidebook is more relevant than ever.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062516329
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/1/1999
  • Edition description: 20TH ANNOTATED
  • Edition number: 20
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 188,854
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Starhawk is the author of nine books, including her bestselling The Spiral Dance, The Pagan Book of Living and Dying, and Webs of Power, winner of the 2003 Nautilus Award for social change. She has an international reputation, and her works have been translated into many different languages. Starhawk is also a columnist for beliefnet.com and ZNet. A veteran of progressive movements who is deeply committed to bringing the techniques and creative power of spirituality to political activism, she travels internationally, teaching magic, the tools of ritual, and the skills of activism. Starhawk lives part-time in San Francisco, in a collective house with her partner and friends, and part-time in a little hut in the woods in western Sonoma County, where she practices permaculture in her extensive gardens and writes.

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Witchcraft as

Goddess Religion

Between the Worlds

The moon is full. We meet on a hilltop that looks out over the bay. Below us, lights spread out like a field of jewels, and faraway skyscrapers pierce the swirling fog like the spires of fairytale towers. The night is enchanted.

Our candles have been blown out, and our makeshift altar cannot stand up under the force of the wind, as it sings through the branches of tall eucalyptus. We hold up our arms and let it hurl against our faces. We are exhilarated, hair and eyes streaming. The tools are unimportant; we have all we need to make magic: our bodies, our breath, our voices, each other.

The circle has been cast. The invocations begin:

All-dewy, sky-sailing pregnant moon,Who shines for all.Who flows through all...Aradia, Diana, Cybele, Mah...
Sailor of the last sea,Guardian of the gate,Ever-dying, ever-living radiance...Dionysus, Osiris, Pan, Arthur, Hu...

The moon clears the treetops and shines on the circle. We huddle closer for warmth. A woman moves into the center of the circle. We begin to chant her name:

"Diana..."

"Dee-ah-nah..."

"Aaaah..."

The chant builds, spiraling upward. Voices merge into one endlessly modulated harmony. The circle is enveloped in a cone of light.

Then, in a breath-silence.

"You are Goddess," we say to Diane, and kiss her as she steps back into the outer ring. She is smiling.

She remembers who she is.

One by one, we will step into the center of the circle. We will hear our nameschanted, feel the cone rise around us. We will receive the gift, and remember:

"I am Goddess. You are God, Goddess. All that lives, breathes, loves, sings in the unending harmony of being is divine. "

In the circle, we will take hands and dance under the moon.

"To disbelieve in witchcraft is the greatest of all heresies."

Malleus Maleficarum (1486)

On every full moon, rituals such as the one described above take place on hilltops, on beaches, in open fields, and in ordinary houses. Writers, teachers, nurses, computer programmers, artists, lawyers, poets, plumbers, and auto mechanics--women and men from many backgrounds come together to celebrate the mysteries of the Triple Goddess of birth, love, and death, and of her Consort, the Hunter, who is Lord of the Dance of life. The religion they practice is called Witchcraft.

Witchcraft is a word that frightens many people and confuses many others. In the popular imagination, Witches are ugly, old hags riding broomsticks, or evil Satanists performing obscene rites. Modern Witches are thought to be members of a kooky cult, primarily concerned with cursing enemies by jabbing wax images with pins, and lacking the depth, the dignity, and seriousness of purpose of a true religion.

But Witchcraft is a religion, perhaps the oldest religion extant in the West. Its origins go back before Christianity, Judaism, Islam--before Buddhism and Hinduism, as well, and it is very different from all the so-called great religions.

The Old Religion, as we call it, is closer in spirit to Native American traditions or to the shamanism of the Arctic. It is not based on dogma or a set of beliefs, nor on scriptures or a sacred book revealed by a great man. Witchcraft takes its teachings from nature, and reads inspiration in the movements of the sun, moon, and stars, the flight of birds, the slow growth of trees, and the cycles of the seasons.

According to our legends, Witchcraft began more than thirty-five thousand years ago, when the temperature of Europe began to drop and the great sheets of ice crept slowly south in their last advance. Across the rich tundra, teeming with animal life, small groups of hunters followed the free-running reindeer and the thundering bison. They were armed with only the most primitive of weapons, but some among the clans were gifted, could "call" the herds to a cliffside or a pit, where a few beasts, in willing sacrifice, would let themselves be trapped. These gifted shamans could attune themselves to the spirits of the herds, and in so doing they became aware of the pulsating rhythm that infuses all life, the dance of the double spiral, of whirling into being, and whirling out again. They did not phrase this insight intellectually, but in images: the Mother Goddess, the birthgiver, who brings into existence all life; and the Homed God, hunter and hunted, who eternally passes through the gates of death that new life may go on.

Male shamans dressed in skins and horns in identification with the Go and the herds; but female priestesses presided naked, embodying the fertility of the Goddess. Life and death were a continuous stream; the dead were buried as if sleeping in a womb, surrounded by their tools and ornaments, so that they might awaken to a new life. In the caves of the Alps, skulls of the great bears were mounted in niches, where they pronounced oracles that guided the clans to game. In lowland pools, reindeer does, their bellies filled with stones that embodied the souls of deer, were submerged in the waters of the Mother's womb, so that victims of the hunt would be reborn.

In the East--Siberia and the Ukraine--the Goddess was Lady of the Mammoths; She was carved from stone in great swelling curves that embodied her gifts of abundance. In the West, in the great cave temples of southern France and Spain, her rites were performed deep in the secret wombs of the earth, where the great polar forces were painted as bison and horses, superimposed, emerging from the cave walls like spirits out of a dream.

The spiral dance was seen also in the sky: in the moon, who monthly dies and is reborn; in the sun, whose waxing light brings summer's warmth and whose waning brings the chill of winter. Records of the moon's passing were scratched on bone, and the Goddess was shown holding the bison horn, which is also the crescent moon.

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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2001

    A Brief Word about Historical Revisionism

    It would have been better if the author had stuck to her own views on religion rather than attempting to attribute those views to historical people such as Joan of Arc. As a researcher who has translated a number of the documents relating to Joan's life, I would merely like to point out what generations of other scholars (and many Wiccans themselves) have already pointed out: the documents contain numerous quotes from Joan which indicate beyond a doubt what her religion was. Even the transcript of her trial admits that she identified Jesus Christ as, quote, 'the King of Heaven, son of Saint Mary' (see the letter entered into the record under Article XXII of the first set), despite claims made by a few popular authors alleging that she never defined who her 'King of Heaven' was; her other surviving letters are even more explicit, not only containing phrases such as 'King Jesus' and 'King Jesus, King of Heaven' (in letters dated July 4, 1429 and July 17, 1429), but there's also a letter to a faction called the Hussites (addressed as 'the heretics of Bohemia') dated March 23, 1430, in which she threatens to lead a crusading army against the group unless they return to orthodox Catholicism, which she describes as, quote, 'the original Light'. These are the sources which have always been used by professional historians, along with the transcript of the posthumous appeal of her case (generally referred to as the Rehabilitation Trial) in which the men who had taken part in the original trial admitted that she had been convicted for political reasons rather than out of any genuine belief that she was a heretic, a point which is rather obvious even from the transcript of the original trial itself. The verdict was therefore annulled on July 7, 1456, with the presiding Inquisitor describing Joan as a martyr. At any rate, historians can establish that Joan was a Catholic with the same degree of certainty as we can establish that Julius Caesar was a pagan, and it would be nice if people of all faiths respected the historical record rather than trying to appropriate people who belonged to other religions: the author of this book has plenty of ancient cultures available from which to find role models.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2004

    A Delightful Book

    This book ia packed with many excer. that you will enjoy. I love the way she relates her own life into what she teaches..people that have already wrote an online review are picking little things in her book but not looking at the overall picture. This is a wonderful book and don't let anyone tell you different. She focuses on the Goddess tradition a bit but she has generalized it to everyone and is a wonderful writer. I hope you buy this book..see for youself how great it is?! If you don't like it at least you will know yourself instead of everyone elses review on it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2004

    Nessecity

    Being fom a family with a long 'wicca' tradition I´m very sceptical when reading books on wicca and wihtchcraft since they far too often seem to be directed at the less than serious members of the public and therefor ften contain many faulty 'facts'. This book is ,however,the most accurate,informative and interresting one that I have managed to get my hands on. If I hadn´t memorized everything that is pressented in this masterpiese I would definately read it again. If you are just staring out as a wiccan ,or is just curious, you should read this read one book on the subject. Blessed Be Saga

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2003

    A classic of eclectic practice

    If you divide Wicca loosely into 'traditional' (structured) and 'eclectic' (freeform), then this is the best of the eclectic books. It presents its point of view clearly and persuasively. The meditations and ritual exercises are superb. I don't think you'll want to confine your practice to this one book; but *no* one book is enough. It is a great way to understand this kind of Craft.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2003

    One of best books on the goddess

    I find that i read this book years ago and still a great book if ya looking in wicca more on the goddess aspect this one of better book outthere . I had this book used as a teaching manual when i was trained by my coven for a year and a day whew anyway still this is one best books i have read and must the book has alittle bias but so do they all do 'rite of odin * that book as even more biased .My point all books have opinion but do not let stop you from getting the info from the book My thoughts Blessed Be;

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2011

    A must for any library

    I've had to order a new copy of The Spiral Dance, the last copy got used to a point it fell apart.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2000

    Great Book In understanding witchcraft

    This book is great!! 4 understading withcraft

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2000

    Beginners Best

    If you are just beginning to study wicca, this book is for you!It gives alot of information on ceremonies,as well as guidance on being a solitary practitioner

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