OK, ya’ll. I already confessed that I love me some country music. But I’m about to tip you off to another fact about myself by coming out of the broom closet and telling you that I’m a Wiccan. I wouldn’t be doing my beliefs any justice without celebrating Starhawk during Women’s History Month.
A member of the Reclaiming Collective (a Pagan spiritual organization), Starhawk is an author, teacher, and activist/organizer. One of her best-known books is The Fifth Sacred Thing, a utopian novel that features earth-based spirituality. Starhawk has written nonfiction as well, and her book The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess provides practical advice for incorporating Pagan practice into your daily life.
Starhawk was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1951. Her parents were Jewish, and Starhawk was very educated as a child about the Jewish tradition. But as she reached adulthood in the late 1960s, Starhawk started to question her beliefs and the role of women within the Jewish faith. In Spiral Dance, Starhawk explains that she was attracted to the Goddess tradition because:
The Goddess tradition opened up new possibilities. Now my body, in all its femaleness, its breasts, vulva, womb, and menstrual flow, was sacred. The wild power of nature, the intense pleasure of sexual intimacy, took center stage as paths to the sacred instead of being denied, denigrated, or seen as peripheral . . . To me, there seemed to be a natural connection between a movement to empower women and a spiritual tradition based on the Goddess.
Starhawk gives a summary of her spiritual beliefs in an interview with RE/Search:
The core of my spirituality is the understanding that the earth is alive–we’re part of a living, interconnected system, a web of life that is sacred. By “sacred,” I mean in the sense of what’s most important to us, what we stand for, what we want to protect. Deity/spirit/sacred is not something outside of the world, it’s immanent and embodied in the living world.
Starhawk further develops that definition in Womanspirit Rising by Carol P. Christ.
I am a witch, by which I mean that I am somebody who believes that the earth is sacred, and that women and women’s bodies are one expression of that sacred being. My spirituality has always been linked to my feminism. Feminism is about challenging unequal power structures. So, it also means challenging inequalities in race, class, sexual preference. What we need to be doing is not just changing who holds power, but changing the way we conceive of power. There is the power we’re all familiar with — power over. But there is another kind of power — power from within. For a woman, it is the power to be fertile either in terms of having babies or writing books or dancing or baking bread or being a great organizer. It is the kind of power that doesn’t depend on depriving someone else.
This description of Wicca’s pull mirrors my own motivation to develop a feminine-centered form of spirituality. Pagan beliefs can take on many forms – there is not one right way to be a Pagan. Many people belong to a developed group (or coven), but many people, myself included, are solitary practitioners, because Wicca is perfect for those of us disillusioned by organized religion.
If you’ve adopted Goddess worship, what has been your motivation? How has Starhawk’s writing influenced you?
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Serena is a freelance writer who enjoys baking, protesting, and playing with little dogs.