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Starhawk (born Miriam Simos on June 17, 1951) is an American writer and activist. [1] She is known as a theorist of feminist Neopaganism and ecofeminism . [2] She is a columnist for Beliefnet.com and for On Faith , the Newsweek / Washington Post online forum on religion. Starhawk’s book The Spiral Dance (1979) was one of the main inspirations behind the Goddess movement . In 2012, she was listed in Watkins ‘ Mind Body SpiritThe Most Spiritually Influential Living People. [3]

Early life

Starhawk was born in 1951 in Saint Paul, Minnesota . Her father Jack Simos, died when she was five. Her mother, Bertha Claire Goldfarb Simos, was a professor of social work at UCLA . Both her parents were the children of Jewish immigrants from Russia.

In high school she and fellow feminist Christina Hoff Sommers Were best friends. [4] Starhawk received a BA in Fine Arts from UCLA. In 1973, while she was a graduate student in filmthere, she won the Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award for her novel, A Weight of Gold , a story about Venice, California , where she then lived. She received an MA in Psychology , with a concentration in feminist therapy, from Antioch University West in 1982.

The Spiral Dance 

Main article: The Spiral Dance

Following her years at UCLA, Starhawk returned to California. He became active in the Neopagan community in the San Francisco Bay Area , and trained with Victor Anderson , founder of the Feri Tradition of witchcraft, and with Zsuzsanna Budapest , a feminist separatist involved in Dianic Wicca .

She Decided to try her hand at nonfiction, and wrote a book, The Spiral Dance , we Goddess religion qui she finished in 1977 aim Was Unable to publish at first. Her luck changed When feminist religious scholar Carol P. Christ included an item is Witchcraft and the Goddess movement in the anthology Womanspirit Rising (1979). Christ put Starhawk in touch with an editor at Harper & Row , who eventually published the book.

First published in 1979, The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess became a best-selling book about Neopagan belief and practice. A 10th-anniversary (second) edition was published in 1989, followed by a 20th-anniversary (third) edition in 1999. The original text of The Spiral Dance was left largely untouched for these editions, book’s origins, the rituals described, and the evolution of the author’s beliefs and practices. Since its publication, The Spiral Dance has become a classic resource on Wicca and modern witchcraft , spiritual feminism , theGoddess movement , and ecofeminism . The work is distinguished by its visionary mysticism, “broad philosophy of harmony with nature,” and ecstatic consciousness.


“‘What do we do … those of us who do believe the earth is sacred, who do we believe we have a responsibility to care for of each other? ‘” [5] Starhawk believes that the earth is a living entity, and that faith-based activism can not be ignored. movements, as well as the broader environmental justice movement.

Starhawk advocates social justice issues with a nature-based spirituality that begins with spending time in the natural world, saying that doing so “… can open up your understanding to deeper and more subtle levels. ” [6] Starhawk’s activism is deeply rooted in an anti-war philosophy, as she believes that war teaches them to be culturally different than themselves as inhuman and dangerous. [7] Starhawk has written extensively on activism, including advice for activist organizers, reviews of white privilege within radical communities, and calls for an intersectionality of oppression that includes spirituality, eco-consciousness, and sexual and gender liberation. [8]


Starhawk’s feminism and spirituality are closely interconnected, and her belief that feminism should challenge power structures denotes her intersectional approach. [9]Her ecofeminism links life-giving Mother Nature with the life-giving of women through birth, oppression and underprivilege. She calls for a reconceptualization of the way we think about power, which is different from that of others, and believes that it is more the poets, healers, singers, and seers. Such matrilineal lineages, she argues, have been erased from history because of their “political implications.”

Starhawk argues that our patriarchal culture of domination has confused the erotic with domination and violence. [10] Sexuality, she says, “… is misused because it is misused and perverted when it becomes an arena of power-over, a means of treating another – or oneself – as an object. ” [11] Such analyzes of gendered power relations are explored in her books Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising (2003) and Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority and Mystery (1998). In the latter, Starhawk links the rise of kinship to patriarchal domination, and traces to the psychology of liberation in analyzing an oppressor she argues is embedded deeply in all of us, the ‘Self-hater.’[12] Again, Starhawk is interested in how such oppressions can be reformed into new sources

Starhawk’s feminist writings have been used to analyze the differences between mainstream rhetoric and feminist rhetoric, particularly in relation to her motive of writing rhetoric as revealing immanent truths rather than being used for persuasion. [13] The importance of mainstream rhetoric is seen in the context of the principle of empowerment, and the vision of ’empowered action’ – which involves rejecting the tenets of the oppressive and openly challenging – attempts to transform persuasive mainstream rhetoric to immanent feminist rhetoric.


In 1979 Partly to commemorate the publication of The Spiral Dance , Starhawk and her friends staged a public celebration of the Neopagan holiday of Samhain (Halloween) Incorporating an actual spiral dance . This group became the Reclaiming Collective , and their annual Spiral Dance ritual now draws hundreds of participants.

Starhawk continues to work with Reclaiming, a tradition of Witchcraft that she co-founded. This now international organization offers classes, workshops, camps, and public rituals in earth-based spirituality, with the goal to “unify spirit and politics”.

She also works in a 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 readings and workshops.

She was influential in the decision by the Unitarian Universalist Association to include earth-centered traditions among their sources of faith. She is an active member of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS), an interest group of Unitarians honoring goddess-based, earth-centered, tribal, and pagan spiritual paths. [14]

Starhawk has been taught in several San Francisco Bay Area colleges and universities, including John F. Kennedy University , Antioch University West , the Institute of Culture and Spirituality Creation at Holy Names University , and Wisdom University . She is presently adjunct faculty at the California Institute of Integral Studies , and is currently affiliated with United for Peace and Justice , RANT trainers’ collective, Earth Activist Training, and other groups.


Starhawk has written a number of books, and has also contributed works in other media. Her works have appeared in Spanish, French, German, Danish, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Czech, Greek, Japanese, and Burmese.


  • The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess (1979, 1989, 1999)
  • Dreaming the Dark: Magic, Sex, and Politics (1982, 1988, 1997)
  • Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority, and Mystery (1988)
  • Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising (2003)
  • The Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature (2004)
  • The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups (2011)

As co-author

  • With M. Macha Nightmare and the Reclaiming Collective : The Pagan Book of Living and Dying: Practical Rituals, Prayers, Blessings, and Meditations on Crossing Over (1997)
  • With Anne Hill and Diane Baker : Circle Round: Raising Children in the Goddess Tradition (1998)
  • With Hilary Valentine: The Twelve Wild Swans: A Journey Into Magic, Healing, and Action (2000)


  • The Fifth Sacred Thing (1993)
  • Walking to Mercury (1997) (prequel to The Fifth Sacred Thing )
  • The Last Wild Witch (Children’s book)
  • City of Refuge (2015) ( The Fifth Sacred Thing )

Other media

Starhawk has contributed to movies:

  • Signs Out of Time: The Story of Archaeologist Marija Gimbutas
  • Goddess Remembered
  • The Burning Times
  • Full Circle
  • Permaculture: The Growing Edge (2010)
  • United Natures (2013) directed by Peter Charles Downey

She participated in the Reclaiming CDs. Songs: Ritual Music , and recorded meditation Way to the Well .

On YouTube Starhawk speaks on spirituality and activism at UUA . She also wrote the call-to-action for the Pink Code women’s peace organization .

Personal life

Starhawk married Edwin Rahsman in 1977. They subsequently divorced. She is currently married to David Miller, and they live in San Francisco. Starhawk also resides in Sonoma , California. [15]

Starhawk identified as bisexual , and has also commented that its sexuality is fluid and “has something to do with a deep reluctance to be pinned down.” [16] Her writing and activism promotes equality for all sexual orientations and gender identities.

See also

  • Anarchism portal
  • Reclaiming (Neopaganism)


  • Salomonsen, Jone (2002). Enchanted Feminism: The Reclaiming Witches of San Francisco . London and New York: Routledge. ISBN  0-415-22392-X
  • Vale, V. and John Sulak (2001). Modern Pagans . ( Interview with Starhawk ). San Francisco: Re / Search Publications. ISBN  1-889307-10-6


  1. Jump up^ Starhawk (2002). Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising. New Society Publishers.
  2. Jump up^ Blumberg, Antonia (December 11, 2013). “Celebrate The Winter Solstice With Los Angeles’ Own Eco-Pagans” . The Huffington Post . Retrieved January 7, 2014 .
  3. Jump up^ “Watkins’ Spiritual 100 List for 2012 – Watkins MIND BODY SPIRIT Magazine” . Watkinsbooks.com . Retrieved 2016-11-08 .
  4. Jump up^ VideoonYouTube
  5. Jump up^ “Starhawk’s Tangled Web.” http://www.starhawk.org/.
  6. Jump up^ Blumberg, Antonia (December 11, 2013). “Celebrate The Winter Solstice With Los Angeles’ Own Eco-Pagans”. The Huffington Post.
  7. Jump up^ “Feminist, Earth-based Spirituality and Ecofeminism,” in Healing the Wounds by Judith Plant
  8. Jump up^ “Archived copy” . Archived from the original on May 5, 2014 . Retrieved May 13, 2014 .
  9. Jump up^ Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion (1979) by Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow
  10. Jump up^ The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Goddess (1979) by Starhawk
  11. Jump up^ Dreaming the Dark: Magic, Sex and Politics (1982) by Starhawk
  12. Jump up^ Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority and Mystery (1988) by Starhawk
  13. Jump up^ Foss, Sonja K., and Cindy L. Griffin. “A Feminist Perspective on Rhetorical Theory: Toward a Clarification of Boundaries.” Western Journal of Communication 56.4 (1992): 330-49. Print.
  14. Jump up^ [1] ArchivedMay 11, 2008, at theWayback Machine.
  15. Jump up^ Berta, Marilyn (August 15, 2012). “We Are Sacred As The Earth: An Interview With Earth Activist Starhawk” treehugger.
  16. Jump up^ Tucker, Naomi (1995). Bisexual Politics: Theories, Queries, and Visions . Routledge. p. 328.

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