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Dreaming the Dark : Magic, Sex, and Politics Paperback – April 30, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Dreaming the Dark is [Starhawk's] best book; it offers myths of fulfillment, rituals of healing, an unusual but perhaps ultimately pragmatic cultural perspective, and a vision for survival and growth. --The Bloomsbury Review

"This book is the story of a journey, its author's movement from a place of despair to one of action. . . . It is ultimately a message of hope and optimism, for Starhawk shares not only a vision but tools for personal empowerment, the building of community, and the transformation of culture. . . . A thought-provoking book that is a pleasure to read." --Carol Haber, New Directions for Women

"Reading this book is in itself transformational. . . . You're sure to come away from [Starhawk's] work richer, deeper, and more truly informed." --Pam Pacelli, New Age

"These are recipes for real change, filled with humor and good sense, protected with safeguards against the reassertion of our old habits of using power and against the temptations to overload and burnout." --Judith S. Harrow, Association for Humanistic Psychology Newsletter

"A marvelously empowering and energizing book." --Aunt Edna's Reading List

About the Author

A writer, activist, and witch, Starhawk is the author, most recently, of The Fifth Sacred Thing and Walking to Mercury. She lives in San Francisco.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 15 Anv edition (April 30, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807010375
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807010372
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #366,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Starhawk is one of the most respected voices in modern Goddess religion and earth-based spirituality. She is the author or coauthor of twelve books, including the classics The Spiral Dance and The Fifth Sacred Thing. Her latest is The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups, forthcoming in November 2011.

Her web site is http://starhawk.org, her blog "Dirt Worship is at http://starhawksblog.org, and her Facebook page is http://facebook.com/pages/Starhawk/165408987031?v=wall.

She is a cofounder of Reclaiming, an influential branch of modern Pagan religion http://reclaiming.org.

Starhawk is a veteran of progressive movements, and deeply committed to bringing the techniques and creative power of spirituality to political activism. She travels internationally teaching magic, the tools of ritual, and the skills of activism. She directs and teaches Earth Activist Trainings, http://earthactivisttraining.org, which combine a permaculture design certificate course with a grounding in spirit and a focus on organizing and activism.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Jaratura G. on March 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
Enter the mysterious world of magic, sexuality, and the deepest part of yourself. This is the goal of "Dreaming the Dark" by Starhawk, author of the bestselling book "The Spiral Dance", considered essential reading in most Wiccan circles. Picking up where her other books leave off, "Dreaming the Dark" is a guide for putting one's beliefs into practice, an attempt to reach out to a world largely deprived of spiritual experience and reclaim the sacred within and fuse it with political activism.

Starhawk co-founded Reclaiming, a tradition of Witchcraft that emphasizes spirituality and political action, and a majority of the text is focus on examining structures of power. She separates power into two categories: "power over" and "power from within" and discusses how such structures have been used throughout history to suppress and control. Magic, as Starhawk defines as "the art and practice of changing consciousness at will", can be teamed with political action to cause effective change in our society and help to preserve what we hold as sacred.

For those unfamiliar with Paganism, "Dreaming the Dark" is the perfect collection of stories, chants, and bits of information that will give the reader and accurate portrayal of Pagan paradigm. Starhawk clearly examines what Witches and Pagans hold sacred, specifically Nature and how it is essential that action is taken for preservation. Beautiful and often poetic descriptions of the Goddess and rituals paint vivid picture of the triumphs and struggles of many in the Pagan movement.

"Dreaming the Dark" is not a book for the faint of heart, but it is necessary. It is challenging yet inspiring and deeply moving. For anyone interested in modern religious movement and especially those interested in politics, it is an essential read. "Dreaming the Dark" is not a book of spells, meditations, or ritual, it is an invitation, a calling to take a stand in the face of injustice and reclaim the whole of our being.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Seed Crystal on August 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
The writing skillfully integrates annecdotes with philosophy and there are exercises useful to any group of pagans. For Starhawk, Witchcraft and environmentalism and activism and gender awareness are natural companions; what Witch doesn't care about the earth and nature? What Witch would not know the power of the individual and of people together? How can anyone who honors the Goddess not strive to be aware of gender politics, sexism, and the power of sex? What Witch would not know the power of will, awareness, perspective? But as natural and integrated as these themes are for her, some traditional Wiccans and other pagans are very hostile about Starhawk. There is a lot for even non-pagans to learn from her, and I think every serious pagan should read her work. If it upsets you - please, ask yourself why; what exactly does she threaten? This book is dated, and the history is only as good as we (all) knew when it was first published, but if you want to understand group dynamics, if you ever wondered if Witches should be political, or environmentalist, or activist, or gender aware - read this book.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
Dreaming the Dark was the first book I was able to read as I healed from a severe traumatic depression. It was an offered hand of a friend. It was wisdom, hope, and inspiration. Starhawk offers a guide to positive action, to change. Do you want to know HOW to save the world and yourself? Read this book. It will give you the confidence to change yourself and affirms, by stories rich with technique, the attitude that you are an important factor in social change and the evolution and adaptation of the human race.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Andrew on January 18, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dreaming the Dark is without a doubt my favorite book. It has been unbelievably touching and helpful for discovering the right Pagan/nonviolence/earth-based path for me. I first discovered Starhawk through a friend who lent me another one of her books, The Spiral Dance, which I absolutely adored. In this book, I particularly enjoyed the section that describes various roles that come about in a coven or communal living situation and how to help the relationships develop so that they're less hierarchical and how to determine what role I'm currently playing and how to improve my own interactions with everyone. This is my favorite book my Starhawk and my favorite book overall. And that's saying a lot.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Granolaboy on August 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
In this inspiring book, legendary Starhawk combines the wisdom of the women's spirituality movement with anarchism and radical environmentalism. It should be required reading for anyone involved in peace and social justice activism.
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17 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 23, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this book Starhawk somehow managed to put together everything I've ever thought or felt. She intertwines the aspects of our culture that are designed to make us slaves and gives them a name. This book was, for me, the AHA! experience so many occultists speak of. I had a copy of it that I had highlighteted extensivly. Now, as I prerpare to replace it, I realize that if I highlighteted evwrything important, I would highlight the whole book.
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By AvidReader on April 14, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved the philosophy, but Starhawk was kind of all over the place on this one. Maybe "magic, sex, and politics" is too much to consider adequately in 219 pages. I didn't feel like she really finished any of her points. I did think that the Appendix, "The Burning Times" was excellent and brought out some perspectives I had not read elsewhere, nor considered. The price of the book was worth it for that segment. With many of her books, I feel I get a lot out of the beginning, too, and this book was no exception. The middle, though, was not as useful to me. The other thing I will use this book for is her chapter on group structures. I struggle with helping my college students make small group discussions meaningful. I will try some of her ideas with the next class I teach. I think they will keep the students more engaged, and prevent one student from hijacking the conversation! I would recommend approaching this book with a very open mind, and a willingness to go where it takes you.
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