I'm rereading Starhawk's Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess for the first time in about 15 years. The pagan group I do holiday rituals with has added a book club to its activities and I'm excited to have more time with these good folks and to dig into some good books together.
Starting with the Introduction of this book I'm struck by how many of the same words and phrases are standing out to me now as when I first read, and underlined, the book. The ideas that held my attention then also speak to my life today. Maybe it's something about phases of transition in my life. Or maybe it's a testimony to my years long search for meaning.
"The concept of a religion that worshipped a Goddess was amazing and empowering." p.2
"Now my body, in all its femaleness, its breasts, vulva, womb, and menstrual flow, was sacred." p.2
"Maybe, in fact, deep transformation of society could only come from an underlying transformation of culture." p.6
"To create the changes in consciousness needed to transform society at a deep level, we need insights broader than those the issues of the moment can provide." p.7
Although, thinking about it a little further now, it's almost ironic that the same material has got my attention because I'm approaching it from such a different place. Fifteen years ago I was struggling with the evangelical tradition. I was specifically addressing the roles and possibilities for women in that culture. Today I've found a Christian church led by a woman and where women and men share visible and diverse roles. I'm less concerned now about changing culture and more concerned about changing my own mind, my heart, my life.
I can hear my psychiatrist telling me to "go inside" and I suspect that she would tell me that meaning won't be found in a book or a book club. But maybe this book, with its affirmation of the sacredness of life and the immanence of the divine, with its rituals and exercises, may offer a way inside. And maybe this book club, with its good company of smart, caring, spiritual women, may form a container of kind support as I make the journey inward.
The book isn't just a 'How To Worship the Great Goddess" guidebook. It's also an invitation to create religion, to change consciousness, and to change culture. These are big things. And in small ways I'm already part of them. Our little group of pagan friends creates ritual together 8 times a year. Together, through ritual and socializing we create a little pocket of culture where things are a little different from the mainstream. From that secure space we walk back into our daily lives, and hopefully bring some aspects of it with us. Nothing too radical. But still something very real and special in our lives. And I suppose that's where change, for a person or a group or a society, begins.