Sunday, December 03, 2006


“Witchcraft has always been a religion of poetry, not theology. The myths, legends, and teachings are recognized as metaphors for “That-Which-Cannot-Be-Told,” the absolute reality our limited minds can never completely know.” So says Starhawk in The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess (1989); this statement greatly appeals to my agnostic sensibilities.The book is an excellent introduction to what goddess religion (actually what many consider to be a revival of the most ancient religions), Wicca, paganism whatever you want-to-call-it is all about. It does include exercises, rituals, etc. and that might seem a little odd to those who are not ready to embrace the them or are frightened off by words like witchcraft; but the philosophies presented around these exercises make an incredible amount of sense and are most interesting reading. I believe that if you are interested in the ideas behind this (and just some general historic perspective) you can skip over the ritual stuff and read the rest.
My copy was new when i bought it in 1989 and I have been procrastinating reading it since then so it seems i have been interested in these ideas for quite some time (as i have been in all religions~and it is interesting that, as i read The Spiral Dance, just how encompassing of so many religions it seems to be). This copy is the tenth anniversary edition and there has been a twentieth edition published in the meantime so our culture’s spiritual thirst has not yet been quenched (which seems obvious enough by the publishing boom in the spiritual and metaphysical areas).
I loved being a theatre major in college when i was unsure of what i wanted to do with my life because i felt like theatre embraced all aspects of our culture and other cultures~because all of our histories were wrapped up in trying to express ourselves through the ritual of performance. Starhawk presents a similar all- embracing of goddess and god in this book. She sees Western religions as "encouraging individual effort and involvement with the world" while Eastern religions encourage "withdrawal, contemplation, and compassion". She claims that Witchcraft sees the validity of each view, embraces both, while seeming paradoxical, and holds to the truth of that paradox. In the beginning was the great mother, she gave birth to the son, at the moment, it seems the son is in control.
Starhawk points out that "Science and religion are both quests for truth-they differ only in their methodology and the set of symbols they use to describe their findings. The field of inquiry is the same." and also that "Scientific knowledge, like religious knowledge, is a set of metaphors for a reality that can never be completely described or comprehended." This is something that also speaks to me; i am always trying to make the point that some scientists can be as dogmatic and unseeing in their “faith” as religious zealots. I’m not sure anyone has the answers and this book doesn’t claim to give them, just a framework to help you find your own, for yourself.
Maybe i’m being sucked into something here~i’m still holding strong to my agnosticism, and this book is written for coven practice~if anything i would be a solitarian~i could never go for Any kind of organized religion~but i think a little ritual, focused meditation, can help you focus.

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