Looking for something new to read to get my mind thinking in different directions than I might normally decide to take it, I basically did the equivalent of doomscrolling through books on Amazon that their crap AI thought I might like to read, but almost never provides suggestions for that I would actually consider purchasing. It’s a frustrating and usually pointless endeavor. In my defense, I’m pretty desperate for something that gets the synapses firing and undertaking this fruitless task gives me opportunities to maybe find something in a related genre that actually interests me at the moment I am scanning through things.
I was about to give up in frustration, when I stumbled upon an author that Amazon doesn’t know I’ve read, because I her books well before there was such a thing as the internet we know today, before dot.bombs, before iktomi (remember iktomi?), before Amazon was anything more than a hopeful static page still losing investor’s money as fast as it could raise it.
Back in the early part of my interest in paganism, I’d read Mists of Avalon, which turned me onto books by a woman writing under the pen name of Starhawk (it may have been an interview with Wayne Hussey, from the Mission, that turned me onto the book, but it was one of those two sources). I read The Spiral Dance sometime around 1988 or 1989 and I think it probably colored my concept of paganism more than any other source of information until I hung out with the local druids. And I read a shit-tonne of books on the subject from all kinds of traditions during that time, but I kept coming back to Starhawk as probably the most sensible of the bunch. I was always turned off by the “magic” books (candles, crystals, white/black spells, ritualism, kabbalist, Golden Dawn, etc.), and could groove more on her logic and sense about things. And so, that’s the direction I went, which lead me down myriad pathways to where I am today.
But anyway, I knew Starhawk continued to write books — I just felt I’d gotten everything I needed out of her after reading Dreaming the Dark and Truth or Dare. If I recall correctly, that’s about the time her fiction emerged and I had less use for her fiction, so I walked away. No bitterness, just time to move on.
So, as I was stumbling through a few “recommendations” that included the aforementioned books, I raised an eyebrow when I saw a more recent book, The Earth Path. I had already thought I might pick up a revised copy of The Spiral Dance, or reread Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon, just for something to read as I wait in the van for the twins to get picked up from school (aside; if I don’t show up 40 minutes early, I might as well wait for 20 minutes after they get out to pick them up — parent pickup is a disaster in the era of coronavirus). But the title caught my eye, mostly because I’ve been trying to get something out of my head along these lines, but I’m not sure what it is (if that make any sense).
So, like most books that are Kindle titles, I took advantage of the preview of the book to see what she had up her sleeve in this book. Sadly, most books gimp this feature so much as to be basically worthless, giving you a page or three too many times, often obfuscating the chapter lists, and basically making it a pointless effort to try and see what is on the horizon, should you buy the book. I still check anyway, as I figure if you’ve gone to great lengths to hide the Kindle content, or even the photocopied book preview, chances are your book is a turd anyway. If the publisher or author lets you really get a good overview, they don’t have anything to hide, in my opinion. Using that as an assessment of quality has spared me from quite a few bad purchases over the year. I’ve taken out enough books from the library that have been previously assessed as potential turds that turn out just that way, I feel like I’m onto something.
Anyway — it wasn’t just a decent preview of 10+ pages, it was the first chapter and a half. I read for quite a while and I’ll have to say that Starhawk’s writing still resonates with me. I don’t always agree with her, but I don’t mind allowing us to disagree because I can see where she is coming from when we do have divergent concepts.
I’m still deciding on the matter, but I think I may pick this up because, while there is a bit of over-emphasis on ritual (long-time readers already know I turn my nose up at ritual), much of what I saw wasn’t that kind of ritual, but suggestions about how to develop your own methods for connecting with whatever thing you connect with when you think of the spirit outside your own (goddess, god, spirits, totems, whatever). And I can get behind connective behaviors, as that is part of what I’ve been trying to convey lately. Feel the earth, dig in get your fingers dirty, get to know it, join it. That’s ritual, but not a stodgy weekly, monthly, high holiday thing based on the position of the sun or moon. It’s not celestial, it’s temporal.
What I read was not earth shattering so much as it was intuition-confirming. And, you know, it’s kind of nice to not feel like a freak anymore — because someone else has found the words you, yourself, are straining to speak. If one person is speaking to you, that means there are likely other people saying similar things.
It’s a connection, a linkage, a path towards better understanding of the stormy thoughts inside my head.