October 11th, 2004
|11:10 am - Spiraling down. . .|
Recently, I came upon a question that seemed extremely pertinent, though you may disagree.
It appears that part of the idea of the Spiral Dance is to emulate the structure of the universe.** If this is the case, then it's lacking something.
Most importantly, the universe isn't really built on a spiral. At least, no one seems to claim it is. There are open universes and closed universes, universes shaped like saddles and like boxes.
So, really, if the Spiral Dance is emulating anything, it's emulating our own galaxy, not our universe.
If that is the case (and we'll ignore the idea that primitive man was unlikely to have a concept of "galaxies" and "universes" that comes remotely close to modern concepts), then is the Spiral Dance a useful construct for worship in galaxies that are not spiral in shape?
I know, it sounds stupid. I realize that people will consider the question moot, as we aren't in another galaxy; but I think we should think about it anyway, if for no other reason than so we can realise what we're tapping into.
Some ideas I was thinking about:
1) If Paganism truly is earth-based, and perhaps bound to this planet, then the point really is moot.
2) I've never seen Paganism as an Earth-centered spirituality, though. I've always seen it as a cosmically-centered spirituality, in which we order the cosmos around us in ritual, and sometimes including a strong sense of certain locative elements, such as the "Great Chain of Being", the "Seven Planes of Existence", or dealing directly with the sun, moon, and stars. If we're cosmically oriented, perhaps the point is moot again, and we create the cosmos in whatever way we see fit.
3) Part of ritual is a recreation of sacred space, and that might very well mean invoking patterns that are familiar to humans. It's easier to work a rite if we are dealing with these patterns. It's entirely possible that humans, being creatures of this galaxy, will only ever see the patterns of the universe as spirals, and so we may be forced to, even when we're several galaxies away, continue to utilize the same metaphors and ritual keys.
4) Invoking a spiral worldview might be a way to connect to the ancestral homelands that Earth will/has become.
5) Perhaps developing alternate views of the cosmos now might inform our Paganism in a new, more interesting way. Should we consider ways of seeing the universe that reflect, say, binary stars, or nebulae, or black holes? Would these rituals be effective on Earth?
At the moment, it's all kind of half-formed speculation and question, but I find it interesting and fun to think about. Honestly, though, if that last question is fully explored, I think we might see an explosion in magical thought.
p. 17, Starhawk. Spiral Dance. "they became aware of the pulsating rhythm that infuses all life, the dance of the double spiral, of whirling into being and whirling out again."
p. 17, Starhawk. Spiral Dance. "The spiral dance was seen also in the sky: in the moon, who monthly dies and is reborn; in the sun, whose waxing light brings warmth and whose waning brings the chill of winter."
Current Mood: contemplative
Current Music: "Everlasting Moon", -JB
Starhawk's The Spiral Dance, and the exercises therein, are mostly inspired by the Faery/Feri Tradition as taught by Victor and Cora Anderson circa the late '70s, when Starhawk was trained and initiated. A lot of the "whys" to the exercises are pretty self-evident once you do them -- they're about experiencing the divine and reaching ecstacy.
Victor focused a lot on the universe being the body of a living being -- the Star Goddess; universe and galaxy were probably used interchangably. There was also a focus on there being a connection to the human DNA strain with this spiral imagery. There are no "seven planes of existence" in Faery lore/metaphysics, so Starhawk would not have any inclusion or ritual focus with this. And I'd definitely say that within the context of the Spiral Dance, Paganism is an Earth-centered spirituality, as well as cosmically centered.
I should also mention that when Starhawk wrote The Spiral Dance she released what was considered at the time pretty protected material, and that made a lot of Faery initiates very uncomfortable and some outright angry -- but Starhawk apparently did it innocently/unintentionally.
|Date:||October 11th, 2004 10:27 pm (UTC)|| |
Interesting; reading Spiral Dance I always felt like I was missing the backstory of just what Faery Wicca actually is. I think I got more of that answer from your three paragraphs than from the entire book.
The part about experiencing the divine and reaching ecstasy reminds me that the most powerful ritual I've ever experienced was put on by the Reclaiming group that Starhawk co-founded.
I should also point out that the Faery tradition is by no means Wicca. It is what Victor calls "Witchcraft before Gardner got it all wrong."
Here's a short essay by an initiate of the tradition pointing out why and how Wicca and Faery Craft are not the same: http://feritradition.org/witcheye/feriandwicca.html