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The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Goddess: 20th Anniversary Edition Paperback – September 22, 1999

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Editorial Reviews Review

The original book that brought Goddess worship to the public eye has marked its 10th anniversary, yet it still remains an integral part of the Wiccan canon. The Spiral Dance leans heavily toward the feminist aspects of Wicca, but Starhawk's comments on the new edition make it clear that she is aware of the growing male presence in witchcraft. However, this edition is not some watered down, politically correct revision of the original. Very little is changed aside from the addition of Starhawk's observations on how the book has weathered its first decade, and what few changes she would make if she were writing it today. Readers interested in learning more about contemporary witchcraft, whether considering Wicca as a way of life or simply desiring to understand this earth-based religion, will find a wealth of information in The Spiral Dance, and will notice that it becomes one of the most frequently consulted books in their Wicca libraries. --Brian Patterson --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


"A very beautiful call for a worldly spirituality."

-- -- New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 20 Anl Sub edition (September 22, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0676974678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0676974676
  • ASIN: 0062516329
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (211 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,610 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, her blog "Dirt Worship is at, and her Facebook page is

She is a cofounder of Reclaiming, an influential branch of modern Pagan religion

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,, 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

126 of 137 people found the following review helpful By RoseWelsh on July 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
I am 33 years old. I've been practicing the Craft and neo-paganism for 12 years with diviations from the path to study Buddhism, Pantheism & Athiesm. I own the first edition of this book. It was my first introduction to the Craft along with Drawing Down the Moon. At the time it was one of FEW books on the subject of Witchcraft and Goddess Religion. I have extremely fond memories of it. When I read it I couldn't put it down. It described so many of my feelings about religion and spirituality and it didn't talk down to me like so many of the books I read later like stuff from Llewellyn Publishing. It spoke to my heart as no other religion had. Also, I kept expecting the chapter on magic to tell me that it was a state of mind not a thing that you could actually do and have it work! I have kept my tattered copy through seven moves. It survived a purging of my Craft books when I had moved beyond 101 stuff and decided not to keep hauling a huge library around for other people.
Now that I'm moving back to focus on the Craft again it was the first book I picked up, of course. And I was disappointed. Since I read it 12 years ago I have gotten a degree in History. It has become common knowlege that Margaret Murray's history is at best nice mythology. There is now a real debate going on about the Goddess utopia in ancient prehistory that is leaning HEAVILY towards the assertion that the concept is again, nice mythology. YET she still uses this bogus/controversial history as fact--in the main text!
She did not rewrite the chapter on The God at all for the *newest edition*, and it needed it because most of her information comes from Murray.
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446 of 505 people found the following review helpful By Charles R. Grey on June 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Spiral Dance is not an easy book for me to evaluate. Or to live with either. Add the pluses and minuses together, and the two extremes of what's good and what I find troubling pretty much cancel each other out.
First the pluses. Nobody nowhere can *ever* measure just how influential this book has been on the modern neopagan movement. I would guess that just about every pagan I know, myself included, has a copy on the shelf. I'd also venture to guess that it's also been responsible for more women starting up their own covens than any other single book in the United States. (Scott Cunningham's Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner may be the most popular beginner's book these days, but Spiral Dance is still likely to be the #1 coven source book around.) The hugely important thing that Starhawk did was to take some of the basic ideas of modern Witchcraft as it was being exported from Britain to the United States and to marry those concepts with the developing feminist/earth-first/spiritual sensibilities that were active out on the West Coast in the early to mid 70's. Put the two together and in a blaze of white light you've given birth to the Goddess Movement. The Goddess movement, its core ideas and sensiblities, expanded the vocabulary of American Witches and allowed those Witches to continue to develop their own spiritual forms independently from the traditional Garnderian structures. Much of this was going on anyway, (check out the 13 Principles of Wiccan Beliefs, as promulgated by the Council of American Witches in 1974) but the Spiral Dance gave it an immediately accessible shape.
However, in that innovation itself lies some of the problems I have with Starhawk's work. Simply put, the Goddess Movement is not the same thing as Witchcraft or Wicca.
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69 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Duffy on April 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Spiral Dance is a complex myriad of thoughts, dreams, creation and spiritual exercises that can challenge even the most experienced magical practicioners. This is not a light'n'fluffy read, definitely not a basic introduction to witchcraft, wicca or paganism in any of its forms. For many years, this book was the only widely available text on the Great Goddess religion and, with two updates to the original work, remains relevant to this day. This book challenges the reader to take their spiritual path more seriously and can be a truly life-changing and mind-expanding experience. All readers will find exercises to suit them, as there are plenty to choose from. The feminist aspects teaches respect for the feminine to both men and women, being honest and confronting without going to excess. I'd recommend this to anyone seeking to find/understand themselves and their spiritual path, however this is not really a starting point but a way to expand your knowledge and practices. Beginners would be better off looking at Scott Cunningham and Jennifer Hunter first. Starhawk's book goes into more depth on the Goddess aspect and on meditation and ritual, and it is useful to have a little grounding in the basics before moving into more complex intellectual and experiential territory. Fiona Horne's books are also great basic guides, with extra information for those of us in the southern hemisphere.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Spiral Dance remains one of the most important and influential books on modern American NeoPaganism and one that I highly recommend.

Starhawk essentially married some core Wiccan beliefs and practices to the social and political ideas of the 70s -- feminism, environmentalism, gay rights, civil rights, and the peace movement. In doing so, she created a new path that is less concerned with secrecy and tradition and more with a sustainable future. Her tradition continues to thrive.

Many criticize Starhawk unfairly, forgetting that The Spiral Dance was published in 1979 and is clearly a product of its time. Starhawk makes no distinctions between Paganism, Wicca, and Witchcraft, but few writers did in the 70s. She also presents Wicca as an ancient religion and the Burning Times as a persecution of Witches. These ideas have since been debunked, but they were prevalent at the time. Starhawk is well aware of this and she revisits these issues in her commentary.

With The Spiral Dance, Starhawk presented an entirely new model of spirituality in an era where there were scarcely any models of women's spiritual power and leadership. It may be hard to see now just how mind altering the very concept of a Goddess is, but at the time, it was a radical, illuminating idea. So, yes, Starhawk spends a lot of time talking about the Goddess and what a liberating path this is for women. But by no means is this a women-only book. On the contrary, Starhawk emphasizes that Wicca is for everyone and is clear about her position: that a female-only model of the universe would prove to be as constricting and oppressive, to women and men, as the patriarchal model has been.
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