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Author Topic: The Spiral Dance -- Good or bad?  (Read 1411 times)

Violet Skies

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The Spiral Dance -- Good or bad?
« on: February 25, 2013, 08:48:06 am »
Hey everyone, I`m just wondering about Starhawk`s The Spiral Dance.  The first several reviews I read about it said that it was extremely faulty in its history and basically bad.  But, I keep seeing it reccommended all over the net (including here) for pagans, and Wiccans specifically.  So, I`m trying to figure out what the general consensus is on it (i.e. is it worth my time to read).  Is it all around falty or is the history bad but the rest is good information?  Any and all comments would be great.  Thank you! :)

Jenett

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Re: The Spiral Dance -- Good or bad?
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2013, 09:03:24 am »
Quote from: Violet Skies;98271
Hey everyone, I`m just wondering about Starhawk`s The Spiral Dance.  The first several reviews I read about it said that it was extremely faulty in its history and basically bad.  But, I keep seeing it reccommended all over the net (including here) for pagans, and Wiccans specifically.  So, I`m trying to figure out what the general consensus is on it (i.e. is it worth my time to read).  Is it all around falty or is the history bad but the rest is good information?  Any and all comments would be great.  Thank you! :)

 
It's a great example of "We learn more stuff over time."

It was written at a point when our understanding of witchy history was - well, rather flawed. But it's actually a fascinating book to read *for* the history, because as Starhawk did updates, she put the changes into endnotes for each chapter, so you can see how her take has changed over time. (Which is to say, if you're going to read it, read the 20th anniversary edition, not the original, to get the benefit of two sets of changes.)

I think it's worth reading for anyone interested in the history of American witchcraft and community.

I think the exercises are still pretty useful (they don't work for everyone, but they're a good foundation - though if someone's looking *specifically* for 'things to do/practise' in the Reclaiming style, I recommend Starhawk and Hilary Valentine's _Twelve Wild Swans_ instead/as well.)

That said, Reclaiming - and particularly the integration of political considerations into one's religious practice - is not everyone's cup of tea. If you know it isn't yours, there may be other things that are a better use of your time outside the historical perspective.
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Darkhawk

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Re: The Spiral Dance -- Good or bad?
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2013, 09:16:29 am »
Quote from: Violet Skies;98271
But, I keep seeing it reccommended all over the net (including here) for pagans, and Wiccans specifically.

 
It is worth explicitly noting that some of the giant hash that is "Wicca" in the United States derives in parts from people having the impression that The Spiral Dance is a Wiccan book.  However, Starhawk's lineage is to Anderson, not Gardner, and her tradition is Reclaiming, not any form of Wicca.

That's not to say that the tools aren't useful ones, but it's important to know where things come from!
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Jabberwocky

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Re: The Spiral Dance -- Good or bad?
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2013, 09:43:20 am »
Quote from: Violet Skies;98271
So, I`m trying to figure out what the general consensus is on it (i.e. is it worth my time to read).  


I haven't read it for ages, but from what I remember, it's definitely worth your time to read it.

Possibly take some stuff with a pinch of salt (that generally applies to Pagan books but maybe a bit moreso here), but overall it's interesting and well-written.
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Lokabrenna

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Re: The Spiral Dance -- Good or bad?
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2013, 09:47:02 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;98279
It is worth explicitly noting that some of the giant hash that is "Wicca" in the United States derives in parts from people having the impression that The Spiral Dance is a Wiccan book.  However, Starhawk's lineage is to Anderson, not Gardner, and her tradition is Reclaiming, not any form of Wicca.

That's not to say that the tools aren't useful ones, but it's important to know where things come from!


I've moved on from my Wiccanesque feminist Goddess worship days, but if you take the history with a truckload of salt, there are some useful exercises (although, as Jenett says, read all the notes, as her views have definitely changed since she first wrote the book). I would also echo the point about how she blends religion with politics, as she can become a bit "preachy" at times in this regard.

Overall though, I'd say it's worth a read, if only for the historical value.

Violet Skies

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Re: The Spiral Dance -- Good or bad?
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2013, 01:01:03 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;98279
It is worth explicitly noting that some of the giant hash that is "Wicca" in the United States derives in parts from people having the impression that The Spiral Dance is a Wiccan book.  However, Starhawk's lineage is to Anderson, not Gardner, and her tradition is Reclaiming, not any form of Wicca.

 
Oh, wow.  This I did not know. :eek:  I assumed it was from a Wiccan heritage because the two words Wiccan and Starhawk seem to be almost synonymous a lot of the time.  

Thank you for the reviews, everyone!  I might pick it up at some point then, but definetly the 20th Anniversary edition (thank you, Jennet!)

dragonfaerie

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Re: The Spiral Dance -- Good or bad?
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2013, 09:35:32 pm »
Quote from: Violet Skies;98477
Thank you for the reviews, everyone!  I might pick it up at some point then, but definetly the 20th Anniversary edition (thank you, Jennet!)


The 10th Anniversary edition was a heavy influence on my early solo days of being Wiccan. You can probably pick up that or the newer edition used on Amazon or Powell's for cheaps. If nothing else, it's good to read because it has been so influential to the Wiccan "community", such as it is.

Karen

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