(1951 - )
Starhawk (born Miriam Simos in St. Paul, Minnesota on June 17, 1951) is an American writer, activist and Witch.
She is well known as a theorist of Paganism and is one of the foremost voices of ecofeminism. Starhawk lives in San
Francisco, where she works with the Reclaiming tradition of Witchcraft she helped found, through classes, workshops,
camps, and public rituals in earth-based spirituality, with the goal to "unify spirit and politics".
She is internationally known as a trainer in nonviolence and direct action, and as an activist within the peace
movement, women's movement, environmental movement, and anti-globalization movement. She travels and teaches
widely in North America, Europe and the Middle East giving lectures and workshops.
She is currently working with United for Peace and Justice, the RANT trainers' collective, Earth Activist Training, and
Starhawk is the author of numerous non-fiction best-selling works: The Earth Path (2004), The Spiral Dance (1979,
1989, 1999), Dreaming the Dark (1982, 1988, 1997), Truth or Dare (1988), Webs of Power: Notes from the Global
Uprising (2003). She is the author of a widely read essay, How We Shut Down the WTO as well as her web writings.
With Hilary Valentine she wrote The Twelve Wild Swans: A Journey Into Magic, Healing and Action (2000) a resource
book for Pagans. With M. Macha NightMare and Reclaiming Collective, she wrote The Pagan Book of Living and
Dying (1997). Circle Round: Raising Children in the Goddess Tradition (1998) was co-written with Anne Hill and Diane
Baker. Starhawk's fiction includes The Fifth Sacred Thing (1993), and Walking to Mercury (1997) ISBN 0553102338.
Starhawk has been consulted or contributed to the films Signs Out of Time: The Story of Archaeologist Marija
Gimbutas, Goddess Remembered, The Burning Times, and Full Circle. She participated in the Reclaiming CDs
Chants: Ritual Music, and recorded the guided meditation Way to the Well.
Starhawk's father, Jack Simos, died when she was 5. Her mother, Bertha Goldfarb Simos, was a professor of social
work at UCLA. Both her parents were the children of Jewish immigrants from Russia. While a film student at UCLA in
1973, Starhawk won the Samuel Goldwyn Award for her novel, A Weight of Gold, a story about Venice, California,
where she then lived. Starhawk married Edwin Rahsman in 1977. She is currently married to David Miller
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.
As quoted in Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion (1979) by Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow.
Much of what is written on the craft is biased in one way or another, so weed out what is useful to you and ignore the rest. I see the next few years
as being crucial in the transformation of our culture away from the patriarchal death cults and toward the love of life, of nature, of the female
principle. The craft is only one path among the many opening up for women, and many of us will blaze new trails as we explore the uncharted
country of our own interiors. The heritage, the culture, the knowledge of the ancient priestesses, healers, poets, singers, and seers were nearly
lost, but a seed survived the flames that will blossom in a new age into thousands of flowers. The long sleep of Mother Goddess is ended. May
She awaken in each of our hearts — Merry meet, merry part, and blessed be.
As quoted in Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion (1979) by Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow.
The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Goddess (1979)
In the Craft, we do not believe in the Goddess — we connect with her; through the moon, the stars, the ocean, the earth, through trees, animals,
through other human beings, through ourselves. She is here. She is within us all.
This is the stillness behind motion, when time itself stops; the center is also the circumference of all. We are awake in the night. We turn the Wheel
to bring the light. We call the sun from the womb of night. Blessed Be!
The tide has turned!
The light will come again!
In a new dawn, in a new day,
The sun is rising!
Io! Evohe! Blessed Be!
Dreaming the Dark: Magic, Sex and Politics (1982)
To live with integrity in an unjust society we must work for justice. To walk with integrity through a landscape strewn with beer cans, we must stop
and pick them up.
Toward an Activist Sprituality (October 2003)
Online text, from Reclaiming Quarterly (Fall 2003)
No sane person with a life really wants to be a political activist. When activism is exciting, it tends to involve the risk of bodily harm or incarceration,
and when it's safe, it is often tedious, dry, and boring. Activism tends to put one into contact with extremely unpleasant people, whether they are
media interviewers, riot cops, or at times, your fellow activists. Not only that, it generates enormous feelings of frustration and rage, makes your
throat sore from shouting, and hurts your feet.
Nonetheless, at this moment in history, we are called to act as if we truly believe that the Earth is a living, conscious being that we're part of, that
human beings are interconnected and precious, and that liberty and justice for all is a desirable thing.
When we founded Reclaiming two decades ago, our intention was to bring together the spiritual and the political. Or more accurately, some of us
for whom the spiritual and the political were inseparable wanted to create a practice and community that reflected this integration.
Now, with the Bush forces pushing into an aggressive war, with horrific environmental and social problems left un-addressed, the need for activism
is stronger than ever. The stakes have never been higher, and the sense of urgency is palpable.
Spirituality and ritual are not something removed from the world, but are deeply embedded in it.
Reclaiming is founded on Earth-based spirituality, which rejects the split between spirit and matter, and claims nature and the physical, material
world as equally sacred with the spirit.
We don't ideologically believe in the separation of spirit and matter, but in practice, we still tend to think that things that are too material, too real-
life, are somehow not as spiritual. So a trance to Faery is perceived as "spiritual," whereas a trance to a Brazilian favela slum is not. We can argue
about the reality of Faery, but the favela is undeniably real. If we truly believe that our spirituality is about deep interconnectedness, maybe it's
more important for us to grapple internally with the reality of the favela than to dance with the faeries.
Much of our magic and our community work is about creating spaces of refuge from a harsh and often hostile world, safe places where people can
heal and regenerate, renew our energies and learn new skills. In that work, we try to release guilt, rage, and frustration, and generally turn them
into positive emotions.
Safety and refuge and healing are important aspects of spiritual community. But they are not the whole of spirituality. Feeling good is not the
measure by which we should judge our spiritual work. Ritual is more than self-soothing activity.
Spirituality is also about challenge and disturbance, about pushing our edges and giving us the support we need to take great risks. The Goddess
is not just a light, happy maiden or a nurturing mother. She is death as well as birth, dark as well as light, rage as well as compassion — and if we
shy away from her fiercer embrace we undercut both her own power and our own growth.
There are times when it is inappropriate to feel wholly good. Now is one of them. As the saying goes, "If you aren't angry, you aren't paying
attention."This doesn't mean that we need to be in a constant state of rage or irritability or guilt. It means we need to use our magical tools to face
the stark and overwhelming realities that confront us, acknowledge our feelings, and transmute them into the energy we need for change.
Everyone has the right to their own opinion about a ritual, and to their own aesthetics. There's generally at least one invocation in every ritual that
I could personally do without.
The water we hold sacred is not some abstract image or fantasy of Water, but the real stuff that we need to drink and bathe and grow our
gardens, that provides the crucial habitat for fish and plants and thousands of other creatures, that is the Earth's literal life blood.
Another common, unspoken assumption is that spirituality is about calm and peace, and conflict is unspiritual. Which of course makes it hard to
integrate the spiritual with the political, which is all about conflict.
In New Age circles, a common slogan is that "What you resist, persists." Truly spiritual people are never supposed to be confrontational or
adversarial — that would be perpetuating an un-evolved, "us-them" dualism.
I don't know from what spiritual tradition the "what you resist, persists" slogan originated, but I often want to ask those who blithely repeat it,
"What's your evidence?" When it is so patently obvious that what you don't resist persists like hell and spreads all over the place. In fact, good,
strong, solid resistance may be the only thing that stands between us and hell. Hitler didn't persist because of the Resistance — he succeeded in
taking over Germany and murdering millions because not enough people resisted.
On some deep cosmic level, we are all one, and within us we each contain the potential for good and for destruction, for compassion and hate, for
generosity and greed. But even if I acknowledge the full range of impulses within myself, that doesn't erase the differences between a person
acting from compassion and love, and another choosing to act from hate and greed. Moreover, it doesn't erase my responsibility to challenge a
system which furthers hate and greed. If I don't resist such a system, I am complicit in what it does. I join the perpetrators in oppressing the victims.
I am often astonished at well-meaning, spiritual people who advocate beaming light toward world leaders, who scold activists for expressing anger
toward authorities or police, who define compassion as loving the enemy — but somehow lose sight of the need to love our friends, our allies, and
those who suffer at the hands of the perpetrators. I really don't feel much call to beam love and light at Bush or Cheney or the directors of the
International Monetary Fund. Whether or not they suffer from lack of love is beyond me. From my perspective, they suffer from an excess of
power, and I feel called to take it away from them. Because I do love the child in Iraq, the woman in the favela, the eighteen-year-old recruit to the
Marines who never dreamed he was signing up to bomb civilians. I can't love them, or myself and my community, effectively if I can't articulate the
real differences in interests and agendas between "us" and "them" — between those who have too little social power and those who have too
Systems don't change easily. Systems try to maintain themselves, and seek equilibrium. To change a system, you need to shake it up, disrupt the
equilibrium. That often requires conflict.
To me, conflict is a deeply spiritual place. It's the high-energy place where power meets power, where change and transformation can occur.
Our magical tools and insights, our awareness of energies and allies on many planes, can deepen and inform our activism. And our activism can
deepen our magic, by encouraging us to create ritual that speaks to the real challenges we face in the world, offers the healing and renewal we
need to continue working, and a community that understands that spirit and action are one.
Any ritual is an opportunity for transformation.
Each being is sacred — meaning that each has inherent value that cannot be ranked in a hierarchy or compared to the value of another being.
Spirituality leaps where science cannot yet follow, because science must always test and measure, and much of reality and human experience is
The cosmos is interesting rather than perfect, and everything is not part of some greater plan, nor is all necessarily under control.
The test of a true myth is that each time you return to it, new insights and interpretations arise.
We are all longing to go home to some place we have never been — a place half-remembered and half-envisioned we can only catch glimpses of
from time to time. Community. Somewhere, there are people to whom we can speak with passion without having the words catch in our throats.
Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us whenever we come into our own
power. Community means strength that joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us when we falter. A circle of
healing. A circle of friends. Someplace where we can be free.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
More info on Starhawk at:
Women and Spirituality - Starhawk Discusses the Witch
A clip from the DVD 'Women and Spirituality trilogy' from Alive Mind Media.