Starhawk, the writer, activist and co-founder of the Reclaiming Tradition of Witchcraft, has just published her ninth book, The Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature. Her first book, The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess, first published in 1979, has been a foundational book for the growth of eco-feminist Witchcraft in the United States, with over 350,000 copies sold. The Earth Path provides a thorough updating of the applied spiritual practice that Starhawk has continued to develop.
Earth activism, with both political and scientific aspects, has led Starhawk to the study of permaculture and its practice on her land in California. This book brings the science of permaculture to the spiritual practice of honoring and living in harmony with the earth.
The Elements: Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Center
The elements of Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Center are foundational to this spiritual practice, and provide an organizing principle for the book. Taking each element in turn, Starhawk offers suggestions for observation, which she sees as critically needed in addition to meditations, rituals, and exercises.
Blessings and Science
Each chapter concludes with a blessing that reads like an extended appreciation and is grounded in the scientific realities. In this religious tradition, there is no conflict between science and religion; more scientific knowledge leads to a more in-depth appreciation of the gifts of the natural world. Science, often verified through observation and other direct experience, offers models that inform permaculture ideas and practices.
Resources for a Wide Audience
This book has the potential to speak to a very wide audience. Those who seek to reclaim their connection to the land will find many useful suggestions here, as well as short, cogent explanations of very practical science. Spiritual practices such as acknowleding gifts received with gratitude need not be limited to those who consider themselves Witches. All those who feel deep concern over environmental degradation, those who struggle to live with a conscious relationship to the natural world, those who concern themselves with recycling, composting, gardening, and those who enjoy being in nature will find provocative analysis and tools to take next steps in re-aligning with the natural world.
Globalization shrinks our sense of the vastness of the planet, and environmental change points to the vulnerability of eco-systems. We know that water circulates around the globe, as does air. There is no question but that the toxins in air that are killing trees in one location may well have been released in another location. The devastation that follows deforestation is not always limited to the particular country or county suffering from flooding and mud slides; the economic repercussions can be felt around the world. For those whose connection to nature is a source of their spiritual life, the sense of connection and active responsibility will be enhanced by the offerings in The Earth Path. For those whose lives have gotten more removed from nature, this book offers a powerful wake-up call.