"The earth is a living, conscious being… We name these things as sacred: air, fire, water and earth…for nothing can live without them. To honor the sacred is to make love possible."
It’s very easy when we talk about environmental matters to fall into a kind of environmental moralism. A lot of our solutions involve exhorting people to be good, to give up things, to make sacrifices. We make people feel guilty and wrong. Well, maybe we should feel guilty and wrong for destroying the planet, and when we’re grubbing for flaccid, dying roots in the melting tundra in small, starving bands escaping the suffocating heat of the lower latitudes, we’ll wish we’d made greater sacrifices–but exhorting people to be good has limited effectiveness. And maybe a bit of it, just a bit–is a holdover of patriarchal religious conditioning that pleasure is suspect and goodness involves austerity. I wonder what an ecological movement might look like that truly embraced Pagan values–that pleasure is good, the body is sacred, life should be full of beauty and delight, that all of life is alive and speaking and communicating and inviting us to join in the song? If we said, “Come join us in a world that is alive with enchantment, throw off the shackles of the poisonous world and the chains of production and run wild, eat fabulous food, have ecstatic sex, swim naked in clean-running rivers, restore the life and health of the world?”
One of the Pagan Values I hold is to embrace the dark. We don’t identify dark with evil and light with good, but see light and dark as parts of the balance. The dark of the womb, the dark of fertile earth, the dark of the night sky all hold mystery, creativity, life.
Not that I don’t love electric light to read by, my computer and even the occasional movie or TV night. But I wonder—is our fear of the dark—which is connected to our fear of the wild, of the body, of nature, our fear of mortality and our denigration of the women’s bodies which bring us into this mortal life, our oppression of people whose skins are dark and our disdain for those who work with their hands in dark earth—is that connected to the denial and the disconnect that is letting us continue to destroy the very systems that sustain our lives?
So—Pagan values: the great erotic, passionate, wild love for life, that embraces dark and light and the whole cycle of birth, growth, death, decay and regeneration.
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, permaculture and the skills of activism. In addition to The Fifth Sacred Thing, Starhawk is the author of the essential text on modern earth-based spirituality, The Spiral Dance, as well as ten other books including her guide to earth-based spirituality, The Earth Path: Grounding Our Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature. Her first book for children: The Last Wild Witch. Her writings have been translated into Spanish, French, German, Danish, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Greek, Japanese, and Burmese.
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BOOK The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Goddess: 20th Anniversary Edition