Published by Barnabas Anglican
Volume 2 Number 4, October-December 1988 (17 years later)
by the Rev Ed Hird, Rector of St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver (ACiC)
Starhawk came to my attention a few months ago
noticed her name listed as a faculty member of a ‘Matthew Fox’ workshop
July 10th to
In reading Starhawk’s book ‘Spiral Dance’, I was
discover that she was not just a nature mystic.
She was a self-declared practicing witch. Starhawk
has also written two other books on
Witchcraft entitled ‘Dreaming in the Dark’ (1982) and ‘Truth or Dare’
(1987). The back cover of ‘Spiral Dance’
Starhawk as the “...founder of two covens in
Some people are shocked when you describe someone as a witch. Yet this is a name that Starhawk freely accepts and uses in describing herself. On the back cover of her second book ‘Dreaming in the Dark’, it says “...in Dreaming in the Dark, Starhawk, the witch, brings her mystic gifts to the burning social concerns of the day.” On page 135 of the same book, Starhawk says very clearly, “We are witches”. On page 7 of ‘Spiral Dance’, Starhawk comments: “The word ‘Witch’ carries so many negative connotations that many people wonder why we use the word at all. Yet to reclaim the word ‘Witch’ is to reclaim our right, as women, to be powerful; as men, to know the feminine within as divine.” Starhawk even quotes Malleus Maleficarium: “To disbelieve in witchcraft is the greatest of all heresies” (page 2 Spiral Dance).
In defending the appearance of Starhawk at a
Christian conference, several apologists said that Starhawk is not
much into witchcraft; rather she is part of the Wicca tradition. Matthew Fox himself said in the December 1987
issue of the ‘Anglican Magazine (
Witchcraft and the Church
This Summer of 1988 ‘Matthew Fox/Starhawk’ Conference has been widely advertised in mainline church circles. I personally have been sent mailouts of the conference leaflet from three different church sources, including twice from the now defunct Anglican Bookshop. Several people have defended such practices by saying that having an avowed witch as a faculty member of Matthew Fox’s workshop is a form of interfaith dialogue. The Rev. Gary Paterson of the BC United Church Conference Office holds that such conversations with Starhawk the witch “...hopefully will help us be better Christians.” Matthew Fox said in his magazine, “Creation” (Volume 1, No. 5 Nov/Dec. 1985): “I have no desire to become a witch but I have no doubt that there is a wisdom to learn from that tradition for I have tasted it in our encounters.”
I believe that the concept of interfaith dialogue has value, when clearly defined, with strict guidelines to avoid interfaith syncretism. To hide Starhawk’s involvement in Matthew Fox’s workshop behind the guise of interfaith dialogue is to do a disservice to the concept. At the very least, the conference leaflet should have let people know that she was an avowed ordained witch. To not do this is to invite people to hear her under false premises.
Matthew Fox said in the Anglican Magazine (December 1987) that “I (Matthew Fox) am just pleased to be here with my kind of people. This is to say, a motley crew, like myself – not easily categorized. Combinations of artists, social activists, feminists, witches, and catholics, protestants, ex-this, ex-that. This is the kind of grass-roots group where the action is happening.” Even though Matthew Fox is very popular in certain theological circles, his syncretistic inclusion of witches as part of his ‘grass-roots group’ makes me wonder what happened to Matthew Fox. In Starhawk’s latest witchcraft book entitled ‘Truth or Dare’ (1987), Matthew Fox publicly endorses this book on the back cover describing it as “...an important contribution to the development of that deep ecumenism which is required if we are to have a spirituality which can speak to the urgent needs of Mother Earth and her children”. To describe a book on witchcraft as a form of ‘deep ecumenism’ is an insult and setback to true ecumenism. Ecumenical relations between churches will not be fostered by encouraging the involvement of witches.
The only hint in the conference leaflet of her being an avowed practicing witch was contained in the word ‘thealogies’ next to Starhawk’s name. Starhawk (page 11) says that the word ‘thealogy’ is “a word coined by religious scholar Naomi Goldenberg from ‘thea’, the Greek word for Goddess”. Dr. Donald Bloesch noted on page 11 of his book that “Naomi Goldenberg calls for a restoration of the religion of witchcraft, which is more in tune with the cycles of nature.” Once again we see that possible conference attenders are not alerted to what they’re opening themselves up to. If Matthew Fox was honest, he would openly admit in his workshop promotional leaflet that Starhawk is an avowed witch.
It is very trendy among certain
The relationship between nudity and sexuality is alluded to, but never definitively. Starhawk does not seem to say in this book whether sexual relations actually occur during the witchcraft rituals. A symbolic expression of sexuality is found on page 163 where “the apprentice is brought back to the altar. The High Priestess kneels, and gives her the five-fold kiss, on the parts of the body named, saying Blessed are your feet that have brought you in these ways. Blessed is your sex without which we would not be. Blessed are your breasts, formed in strength and beauty. Blessed are your lips, which shall speak the sacred names.” On page 94, Starhawk says that the Horned God of witchcraft is “untamed sexuality – but sexuality as a deep, holy, connecting power.” Starhawk claims that the Horned God that witches worship is not the devil, for they don’t believe in the devil. She says that “our God wears horns – but they are the waxing and waning crescents of the Goddess Moon, and the symbol of animal vitality. In some aspects, he is black, not because he is dreadful or fearful, but because darkness and the night are times of power, and part of the cycles of time.” Starhawk holds that “The Horned God...is born of a Virgin Mother” (page 96). On page 1000, she teaches that the Horned God “is the goat – Pan, lust and fear, the animal emotions that are also the festering powers of human life.” Starhawk writes that “only through that bittersweet realization, through the embrace of Pan whose hairy thighs rub us raw even as they bring us to ecstasy, can we learn to be fully alive.” From my perspective, if the so-called Horned God is not the devil referenced to in the bible, he’s a remarkably good look-alike.
The Feminist Subversion
One of the most disturbing links in the book is between radical feminism, gay liberation, and witchcraft. At first the link appears too shocking to be true. But on page 141 of ‘Dreaming in the Dark’, Starhawk endorses the vital role gay liberation is called to play in forwarding movements like witchcraft. She says “that is why the movements for lesbian and gay liberation are threatening – and why they are vitally important for any real movement for change.” Starhawk claims that “In the women’s movement, Dianic/separatistic Witchcraft has become the fashion...” (page 95) She claims on the back cover that witchcraft is “...a religion with special relevance to the women’s movement”. Starhawk comments that “At the present time, there are very few all-male covens; the ones I know of are gay, and more devoted to the Goddess than to the Horned God”. (page 106)
Why is the link between radical feminism and witchcraft so significant? The reason is because the feminist movement has made such inroads into the so-called ‘mainline churches’, and may unwillingly serve as a ‘Trojan Horse’ in introducing witchcraft rituals into the Christian church. Dr. Donald Bloesch believes that such radical Feminist theology is “only the tip of the iceberg. It is only one manifestation of the resurgence of the pre-Christian gods of ancient mythology, the gods of the barbarian tribes, as they seek to make a comeback in a time when our culture languishes in a metaphysical vacuum”. (page 12)
To dialogue and learn from Starhawk the witch is to further the current subversion of both the Holy Trinity, and the centrality and uniqueness of Jesus Christ. Starhawk says on page 101 that “Witchcraft also means losing the Great Man model of spirituality. Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Moses and the whole horde of preachers, prophets, gurus, and group leaders who claim to teach in their own names, or the names of secular descendants, lose their halos...in fact there is no more God the Father. In the Craft, the cosmos is no longer modeled on external male control. The hierarchy is dissolved; the divinely revealed texts are seen as poetry, not truth”. (page 101)
Starhawk clearly subverts these basics of the
Faith: the Holy Trinity, the centrality of Jesus Christ, the Fatherhood
and the Truth and Authority of the Bible.
In particular, the Trinity is subverted in a bisexual
polytheistic deity. Christian feminists
need to be aware of the agenda of many radical feminists when they
praying to the mother goddess. We are
dealing with a revival of the goddess religion of the fertility cults
Even more serious than a revival of Baalism and Gnosticism through the feminist/witchcraft link is the introduction of occult Hinduism in its classical monistic form. C.S. Lewis once said that there are really just two ultimate religions in the world, Judeo-Christianity and Hinduism. The Witchcraft of Starhawk is deeply in debt to Hinduism, with its emphasis on reincarnation (page 27) and monism. Starhawk teaches that reincarnation “is seen as the great gift of the Goddess, who is manifest in the physical world. Life and the world are not separate from the world – she is the world, and all things in it.” (page 8) And finally in page 2, Starhawk writes: “I am Goddess. You are God, Goddess”. To accept such monistic teaching is to signal the end of biblical Christianity. She is not merely saying that God is in us but that we are God. As Dr. Donald Bloesch puts it on page 41, “Whenever biblical theism is threatened by philosophical monism, whether this takes the form of pantheism or panentheism, theologians must be vigilant in reaffirming the biblical principle of the infinite qualitative difference between God and the world...and the absolute sovereignty of God over His creation.”
Witchcraft and the Bible
The final defense of Starhawk by certain church
that she is a ‘white witch’; therefore it’s okay to invite her to an
Christian conference. This defense is
based upon the fact that Starhawk is an ecumenical, social justice
witch. As Starhawk puts it, “Meditation on
balance of nature might be considered a spiritual act in witchcraft,
but not as
much as cleaning up garbage left at a camp site or marching to protest
unsafe nuclear plant.” I am obviously
arguing that Starhawk is a Satanist. But
all witchcraft, whether supposedly black or white, is rejected in
contrary to God’s intention for His creation.
Witchcraft, according to the Bible, may be used for ostensibly
purposes, but witchcraft in all its forms remains repugnant to the God
Bible. Here are just a few of the
innumerable passages in Scripture defining witchcraft as a sin and
God. (Leviticus 19:26b, Leviticus 19:31, Leviticus 20:6, Deuteronomy
Chronicles 10:13-14; Zechariah 10:2, Jeremiah 27:9-10, Malachi 3:5,
8:9-24, Acts 16:16-24, Acts 19:19, Galatians 5:19-21, Revelation
22:14-15). As Galatians clearly puts it, “The acts of
nature are obvious”. They include witchcraft (vs. 20).
Bible concludes in vs. 21 by saying “I
warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not
In conclusion, bringing Starhawk the Witch into an ostensibly Christian conference advertised widely in the Christian Church is repugnant to the Word of God and the historic traditions of God’s Church. I encourage Matthew Fox to reconsider this practice for the sake of the credibility of his own ministry. As Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters” (Matthew ).
The Rev. Ed Hird
Rector, St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver
Anglican Coalition in Canada
Past Chair, ARM Canada
To St. Simon's ARM page
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