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Starhawk 2.JPG
Starhawk at a Sicilian workshop
Born Miriam Simos
(1951-06-17) June 17, 1951 (age 62)
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Education Trained with Victor Anderson and Zsuzsanna Budapest
Alma mater UCLA, B.A.
Antioch University West, M.A.
Notable work(s) The Spiral Dance
Religion Neopagan
Awards Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award

Starhawk (born Miriam Simos on June 17, 1951) is an American writer and activist.[1] She is known as a theorist of feminist Neopaganism, and ecofeminism.[2] She is a columnist for and for On Faith, the Newsweek/Washington Post online forum on religion. Starhawk's book The Spiral Dance (1979) was one of the main inspirations behind the Goddess movement. In 2012, she was listed in Watkins' Mind Body Spirit magazine as one of the 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People.[3]

Early life[edit]

Starhawk was born in 1951 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Her father Jack Simos, died when she was five. Her mother, Bertha Claire Goldfarb Simos, was a professor of Social work at UCLA. Both her parents were the children of Jewish immigrants from Russia.

In high school she and fellow feminist Christina Hoff Sommers were best friends.[4] Starhawk received a BA in Fine Arts from UCLA. In 1973, while she was a graduate student in film at UCLA, she won the Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award for her novel, A Weight of Gold, a story about Venice, California, where she then lived. She received an MA in Psychology, with a concentration in feminist therapy, from Antioch University West in 1982.

The Spiral Dance[edit]

Following her years at UCLA, after a failed attempt to become a fiction writer in New York City, Starhawk returned to California. She became active in the Neopagan community in the San Francisco Bay Area, and trained with Victor Anderson, founder of the Feri Tradition of witchcraft, and with Zsuzsanna Budapest, a feminist separatist involved in Dianic Wicca.

She decided to try her hand at nonfiction, and wrote a book, The Spiral Dance, on Goddess religion, which she finished in 1977 but was unable to publish at first. Her luck changed when feminist religious scholar Carol P. Christ included an article on Witchcraft and the Goddess movement in the anthology Womanspirit Rising (1979). Christ put Starhawk in touch with an editor at Harper & Row, who eventually published the book.

First published in 1979, The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess became a best-selling book about Neopagan belief and practice. A 10th-anniversary (second) edition was published in 1989, followed by a 20th-anniversary (third) edition in 1999. The original text of The Spiral Dance was left largely intact for these editions, expanded primarily by introductions and commentaries reflecting on the book's origins, the rituals described, and the evolution of the author's beliefs and practices. Since its publication, The Spiral Dance has become a classic resource on Wicca and modern witchcraft, spiritual feminism, the Goddess movement, and ecofeminism. The work is distinguished by its visionary mysticism, "broad philosophy of harmony with nature," and ecstatic consciousness.


In 1979, partly to commemorate the publication of The Spiral Dance, Starhawk and her friends staged a public celebration of the Neopagan holiday of Samhain (Halloween) incorporating an actual spiral dance. This group became the Reclaiming Collective, and their annual Spiral Dance ritual now draws hundreds of participants.

Starhawk continues to work with Reclaiming, a tradition of Witchcraft that she co-founded. This now international organization offers classes, workshops, camps, and public rituals in earth-based spirituality, with the goal to "unify spirit and politics".

She also works internationally as a trainer in nonviolence and direct action, and as an activist within the peace movement, women's movement, environmental movement, and anti-globalization movement. She travels and teaches widely in North America, Europe and the Middle East, giving lectures and workshops.

She was influential in the decision by the Unitarian Universalist Association to include earth-centered traditions among their sources of faith. She led numerous workshops for, and was an active member of The Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS), an interest group of Unitarians honoring goddess-based, earth-centered, tribal, and pagan spiritual paths.[5]

Starhawk has taught in several San Francisco Bay Area colleges and universities, including John F. Kennedy University, Antioch University West, the Institute of Culture and Creation Spirituality at Holy Names University, and Wisdom University. She is presently adjunct faculty at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and is currently affiliated with United for Peace and Justice, the RANT trainers' collective, Earth Activist Training, and other groups.


Starhawk has written a number of books, and has also contributed works in other media. Her works have appeared in translation in Spanish, French, German, Danish, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Czech, Greek, Japanese, and Burmese.


As co-author[edit]

  • With M. Macha Nightmare and the Reclaiming Collective: The Pagan Book of Living and Dying: Practical Rituals, Prayers, Blessings, and Meditations on Crossing Over (1997)
  • With Anne Hill and Diane Baker: Circle Round: Raising Children in the Goddess Tradition (1998)
  • With Hilary Valentine: The Twelve Wild Swans: A Journey Into Magic, Healing, and Action (2000)


Other media[edit]

Starhawk has contributed to films:

She participated in the Reclaiming CDs Chants: Ritual Music, and recorded the guided meditation Way to the Well.

On YouTube Starhawk speaks on spirituality and activism at UUA. She also wrote the call-to-action for the women's peace organization Code Pink.

Personal life[edit]

Starhawk married Edwin Rahsman in 1977. They subsequently divorced. She is currently married to David Miller, and they live in San Francisco.



  1. ^ Starhawk (2002). Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising. New Society Publishers.
  2. ^ Blumberg, Antonia (11 December 2013). "Celebrate The Winter Solstice With Los Angeles' Own Eco-Pagans". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ [1][dead link]

External links[edit]