Author Topic: Starhawk - Miriam Simos - Trespasser in NDN Country, Ceremony-Seller  (Read 22964 times)

Offline Defend the Sacred

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Re: Starhawk - Miriam Simos - Trespasser in NDN Country, Ceremony-Seller
« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2016, 07:16:51 pm »
The well-known, sensationalized witchunts (called by Wiccans "the burning times") that were aimed at wiping out people who threatened the establishment, or who were obstacles in land grabs, have nothing to do with Celtic spirituality. Though it's common for Neo-Wiccans* like Starhawk/Simos to say otherwise. The witchhunts as a widespread phenomena against normal people were mostly a phenomena on the European continent, not in the Celtic Nations.

The lore about protection from witches in the Celtic nations is about dealing with harmful sorcery and those who practice it. It's a living tradition, like in the Americas, and it's taken seriously by those who work to protect people from evildoers.

So anyone who confuses or conflates the two is causing problems for themselves, and for the interconnected communities where these terms have vastly different meanings (or in the cases of real Celtic communities and Native ones, the same meaning).

Anyway, that's a tangent. I suggest if you want to discuss the Wiccan misinformation you make another thread in etc, or just add it to the Wicca threads we already have, and keep this thread about the person in particular.

*Neo-Wiccan because Starhawk's Wiccan group is even newer than the "BritTrad" Wicca groups that were started in the 1940s in England. Hers was started in California, either in the 1960s or 1980s, depending on which variation you consider the full tradition. This is covered in the threads on here that mention Victor Anderson, one of her teachers. His back story varied significantly, and he created his tradition out of eclectic readings, so it's really hard to put an exact date on any of it.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2016, 07:23:03 pm by Yells At Pretendians »

Offline morgain

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Re: Starhawk - Miriam Simos - Trespasser in NDN Country, Ceremony-Seller
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2017, 02:04:14 pm »
I would like to suggest a more balanced view of Starhawk (Miriam Simos).
By this I do not mean to question anything about the anger that she trespassed a native land and held her own kind of ceremony on it as part of a protest. I believe she apologised for that. But verbal apology is easy to make especially for a public figure, so I would comment that a donation from the wealth of Reclaiming to the native land would have made the apology more substantial. A personal penance of some kind would also be appropriate: a request to make a discreet, private visit to a clan representative, to meditate together and accept a ritual punishment.

I met Starhawk in 1986 in London, UK, when she visited. I was then a leader rather like her, in British terms. I was a Craft priestess, and a Goddess follower. I was writing my first book about the Craft. I went on to become fairly well known (House of the Goddess, London; and the national Pagan Halloween Festival). I met Starhawk a couple more times over the years and worked with her in ritual Circle. I retired as a community priestess in 2010 and I am now doing a PhD in Celtic (Welsh) studies about the Mabinogi, Swansea University, Wales. I live in wales, married to a Welshman for 30 years.

Both Starhawk and I described a history of the Craft (western witchcraft) in our early books, which was inaccurate. It was a sincere inaccuracy as back in the early 1980s there was almost no serious scholarship on it. The standard narratives available were that witches were sorcerers who worked with demons (from the Church); or pathetic victims, old, ugly, despised scapegoats for community spite and a source of entertainment when tortured.
Later studies from feminist scholars asserted witches were often midwives and herbalists. (See Witches, Midwives and Nurses, by Ehrenreich) The politics of this was that the new male doctors wanted to close out village women practitioners, at the same time as they stole women's techniques.
As commented on here, the women concerned would not have called themselves witches. They would have considered themselves Christians, because everyone was, although they'd have known they were not mainstream.
What each approach does is shut out the others. I would not see the 'witches' as blameless healers, mere victims, or demonic meddlers, though I'd guess all of these existed. Some were probably good healers, midwives, nurses. Some were weak old women. Some were undoubtedly users of magic, the esoteric arts. The politics of takeover is well documented.
But at the time of our early books neither Starhawk or I, or anyone else, had access to this kind of reasoned knowledge. That came later.

What we did, though, is provide a much needed vision for our own people. Christianity has enfeebled and terrorised ordinary white people as well as native people. Starhawk and I are part of a movement to reclaim our own ancestral traditions, relearn native pride, body acceptance, and reject a foreign faith that serves the white master group. I think other native peoples might see a common pattern.
But there is a big difference. Other native peoples have a lot more surviving in records and practices. We have little, just fragments of myths, heavily contaminated folk customs and folk songs, some sayings. No ceremony at all. So we are forced to invent. Some invention is cautious, plodding, scholarly, while some is jolly, and careless of accuracy. Most of it aims at happiness and spiritual connection so the value of it is does it work?

I freely admit that many in my community exploits and tramples on native traditions and I hate that. They do it to my adopted people the Welsh and I especially hate that. Americans crash over here and yell their arrogance and mucked up versions of native American customs which they chuck in with Celtic stuff in an eclectic mush. They don't even try to learn a few words of our language. My husband John Davies was the first to call them out as "spiritual strip mining" (Three Things There Are ... 1993).

But while I criticise a great deal, and admit Starhawk and I were ignorant of history along with everyone else back in the day, I stoutly maintain Starhawk has done a great deal of good. The suppression of women's spirituality has been greatly cleansed. Huge numbers of people whose lives were blighted by Christianity have found a healthier and saner outlook. While a lot of this modern western spirituality is damn silly, it does serve a purpose. Most of all it enables us to go to a native place, perhaps the local woodland, and there talk quietly to our ancestors. Before Starhawk and I did our work, the vast majority of Western people would not imagine doing that. There is also a spiritual arm to the ecology movement.

But but finally I do criticise Starhawk's vision as authoritarian. In her recent fiction for example she describes a wonderful future people living in harmony with the Earth, where women and men work together, where colourful ceremony and myth feeds the soul. However, there is no room for dissent, for the outsider,who is pushed into exile. That I do criticise. It reflects the sometimes far too narrow outlook of the new Paganism which sets up its own orthodoxy. That it's based on values I like doesn't make it better to outlaw disagreement.
(You probably have similar problems in native councils as this is all too human.)

There you are. I would offer you a plea to see someone like Starhawk in  a balanced way. By all means critique her for her trespass on native land - and demand real reparation. But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater about someone who has done much good for thousands and thousands of otherwise lost people.







Offline Defend the Sacred

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Re: Starhawk - Miriam Simos - Trespasser in NDN Country, Ceremony-Seller
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2017, 07:35:25 pm »
Many of us here actually do know Starhawk and other people from her community. As we live here in the U.S. I'm going to hazard a guess we actually know her far better than you do. So please understand that you are not educating or informing us here. You are not enlightening us or giving us any new information. What you are doing is coming into an Indian-run community and whitesplaining.

I would like to suggest a more balanced view of Starhawk (Miriam Simos).

Whitesplaining by a non-Native acquaintance who also has a personal stake in the b.s. Simos sells is not more "balanced" than the combined knowledge of our volunteer, grassroots group of Natives and non-Natives, including elders, a number of whom have known this person since the early 1980s.

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By this I do not mean to question anything about the anger that she trespassed a native land and held her own kind of ceremony on it as part of a protest. I believe she apologised for that.

No, there was no apology. You go on to say that she should be allowed to apologize in private. No, she transgressed publicly, many times now, so it is appropriate to critique her public actions and public writings and photo ops on the topic.

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But at the time of our early books neither Starhawk or I, or anyone else, had access to this kind of reasoned knowledge. That came later.

This is simply untrue. The newage and occult communities didn't know about the living traditions in the Celtic Nations and diaspora, and the misinformation promoted by occult groups has done a lot of harm and even displaced the real traditions among some who really should know better. Traditional people tend to shun Wiccans, newagers, pay to pray, and those who call themselves witches. This is true among traditional people in the Celtic Nations as well as in Native communities on Turtle Island.

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What we did, though, is provide a much needed vision for our own people.

The amount of misinformation neopagans need to unlearn argues against that. Many of us here were exposed to that misinformation. I'd say most of it did, and still does, far more harm than good. Some of the worst colonists at Standing Rock this summer were and are the neopagans (see the Frauds and Exploiters Profiting or Promoting Themselves off NoDAPL thread). I'd say all you've done is give white people a boost in self-confidence as they run roughshod over Indians. And now you've come here to justify it and do it some more.

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Starhawk and I are part of a movement to reclaim our own ancestral traditions, relearn native pride, body acceptance, and reject a foreign faith that serves the white master group. I think other native peoples might see a common pattern.

Non-natives on Turtle Island, or Americans who move to a Celtic Nation, are not "other native people" and it's racist to imply you are native because you are a neopagan. Wicca is not an ancestral tradition. Neopaganism is not "native pride". Most of what we see from that community is misappropriation and pretendians. You are not teaching us anything here; we have many survivors of that scene in our communities.

I'm not going to quote your long post about how white people have nothing ancestral to return to because it's simply not true. If you believe that it  just means you're not part of the right community, haven't been accepted or trusted by the right people, or you haven't been willing to do the work. That kind of harmful disinformation is what leads white people to think they have no other choice than to steal from people of color. Just stop it.

Look, I'm not doing this to hurt your feelings, but your long rant whitesplaining and spindoctoring about neopaganism just shows that you didn't bother to do what we ask all new members to do here - to read the pinned threads and get up to speed. It's clear you didn't even read this very thread you are commenting in. You are obviously diving right in to defend someone you like without understanding who we are and what we do, as well as the deep background people here have, including in the areas you are trying to "educate" us about. You may not realize it or consciously intend it, but you are being incredibly condescending.

As for babies and bathwater... Starhawk has "empowered" a whole lot of white people to follow her example to ignore Native leadership, to choose as a white outsider who is and isn't an Elder, and to violate Indigenous boundaries and tradition if she doesn't agree. That's not a baby or bathwater that helps Indigenous people.

On a personal note I will disagree with you about her fiction. I think some of her fiction has been inspirational in that it proposes a vision for the future that encompasses both the dystopian and the utopian. It's still appropriative and at times unintentionally racist in the way that most white liberal viewpoints are, but at least, unlike her other published work, it's clearly labeled as fiction.

Offline Smart Mule

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Re: Starhawk - Miriam Simos - Trespasser in NDN Country, Ceremony-Seller
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2017, 10:50:53 pm »
I would like to suggest a more balanced view of Starhawk (Miriam Simos).
By this I do not mean to question anything about the anger that she trespassed a native land and held her own kind of ceremony on it as part of a protest. I believe she apologised for that. But verbal apology is easy to make especially for a public figure, so I would comment that a donation from the wealth of Reclaiming to the native land would have made the apology more substantial. A personal penance of some kind would also be appropriate: a request to make a discreet, private visit to a clan representative, to meditate together and accept a ritual punishment.
.
It's not for you to suggest or decide. It's up to the now multiple communities she's offended

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I met Starhawk in 1986 in London, UK, when she visited. I was then a leader rather like her, in British terms. I was a Craft priestess, and a Goddess follower. I was writing my first book about the Craft. I went on to become fairly well known (House of the Goddess, London; and the national Pagan Halloween Festival). I met Starhawk a couple more times over the years and worked with her in ritual Circle. I retired as a community priestess in 2010 and I am now doing a PhD in Celtic (Welsh) studies about the Mabinogi, Swansea University, Wales. I live in wales, married to a Welshman for 30 years.

I'm sorry. I've had the unfortunate circumstance of having met her as well.

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Both Starhawk and I described a history of the Craft (western witchcraft) in our early books, which was inaccurate. It was a sincere inaccuracy as back in the early 1980s there was almost no serious scholarship on it. The standard narratives available were that witches were sorcerers who worked with demons (from the Church); or pathetic victims, old, ugly, despised scapegoats for community spite and a source of entertainment when tortured.
Later studies from feminist scholars asserted witches were often midwives and herbalists. (See Witches, Midwives and Nurses, by Ehrenreich) The politics of this was that the new male doctors wanted to close out village women practitioners, at the same time as they stole women's techniques.
As commented on here, the women concerned would not have called themselves witches. They would have considered themselves Christians, because everyone was, although they'd have known they were not mainstream.
What each approach does is shut out the others. I would not see the 'witches' as blameless healers, mere victims, or demonic meddlers, though I'd guess all of these existed. Some were probably good healers, midwives, nurses. Some were weak old women. Some were undoubtedly users of magic, the esoteric arts. The politics of takeover is well documented.
But at the time of our early books neither Starhawk or I, or anyone else, had access to this kind of reasoned knowledge. That came later.

In the United States there has been academic studies of the witch trials since at least 1840. One of the most comprehensive books which includes legal redress is What Happened in Salem? by David Levin which was published in 1960. There's also the fact that Judge Sewall apologized, accepted all of the blame for the wrongness of the trials and begged pardon. I mean, that right there calls bullshit on the whole witches in the new world thing (which still happens to be a huge money making business for the uninformed ignorant witchy-wiccan-wannabe masses). You're been duped mam.

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What we did, though, is provide a much needed vision for our own people. Christianity has enfeebled and terrorised ordinary white people as well as native people. Starhawk and I are part of a movement to reclaim our own ancestral traditions, relearn native pride, body acceptance, and reject a foreign faith that serves the white master group. I think other native peoples might see a common pattern.

No, they were provided with make believe.

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But there is a big difference. Other native peoples have a lot more surviving in records and practices. We have little, just fragments of myths, heavily contaminated folk customs and folk songs, some sayings. No ceremony at all. So we are forced to invent. Some invention is cautious, plodding, scholarly, while some is jolly, and careless of accuracy. Most of it aims at happiness and spiritual connection so the value of it is does it work?

Really? Really? Are you sure? Are you absolutely sure?

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I freely admit that many in my community exploits and tramples on native traditions and I hate that. They do it to my adopted people the Welsh and I especially hate that. Americans crash over here and yell their arrogance and mucked up versions of native American customs which they chuck in with Celtic stuff in an eclectic mush. They don't even try to learn a few words of our language. My husband John Davies was the first to call them out as "spiritual strip mining" (Three Things There Are ... 1993).

What do you do about it?

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But while I criticise a great deal, and admit Starhawk and I were ignorant of history along with everyone else back in the day, I stoutly maintain Starhawk has done a great deal of good. The suppression of women's spirituality has been greatly cleansed. Huge numbers of people whose lives were blighted by Christianity have found a healthier and saner outlook. While a lot of this modern western spirituality is damn silly, it does serve a purpose. Most of all it enables us to go to a native place, perhaps the local woodland, and there talk quietly to our ancestors. Before Starhawk and I did our work, the vast majority of Western people would not imagine doing that. There is also a spiritual arm to the ecology movement.

"Women's Spirituality" has to be one of the most appropriative oppressive colonial things I have ever encountered. It's horrific. It has been so thoroughly cleansed that you will rarely see people of color involved.

Are you aware of how oppressive the ecology movement has been until NoDAPL? Actually it's STILL problematic within NoDAPL because white people just can't give up that control.

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But but finally I do criticise Starhawk's vision as authoritarian. In her recent fiction for example she describes a wonderful future people living in harmony with the Earth, where women and men work together, where colourful ceremony and myth feeds the soul. However, there is no room for dissent, for the outsider,who is pushed into exile. That I do criticise. It reflects the sometimes far too narrow outlook of the new Paganism which sets up its own orthodoxy. That it's based on values I like doesn't make it better to outlaw disagreement.
(You probably have similar problems in native councils as this is all too human.)

I have never read her fiction though I did read one of her books that was a compilation of her friends writings. It included Francis Talbot aka Medicine Story aka Manitonquat a ceremony seller who makes his living off pretending to be a Wampanoag Elder.

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There you are. I would offer you a plea to see someone like Starhawk in  a balanced way. By all means critique her for her trespass on native land - and demand real reparation. But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater about someone who has done much good for thousands and thousands of otherwise lost people.

See if somebody repeatedly screws indigenous peoples over with no qualms it speaks a lot about them as a person. There is no baby, there is no bathwater, there is a woman out for herself who is willing to use Natives over and over abusively. Abusers abuse.

Offline Defend the Sacred

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Re: Starhawk - Miriam Simos - Trespasser in NDN Country, Ceremony-Seller
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2017, 11:50:18 pm »
"Morgain"s long tangent and a few replies to it, have been moved to her intro thread, here: http://www.newagefraud.org/smf/index.php?topic=3442.msg43325#msg43325

Offline Sparks

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Re: Starhawk - Miriam Simos - Trespasser in NDN Country, Ceremony-Seller
« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2017, 03:06:30 am »
I am bumping this thread because some non-Natives interested in Idle No More are citing Starhawk as an influence, and I want them to be aware of her history.

I am aware of, and have been watching her history unfold, for some 30 years now. She was invited to give a lecture in Oslo, Norway, at the time, and I was invited to attend, probably because I was considered a student of Indigenous Religions. If memory serves me right, it turned out to be more than a lecture, it was also some kind of ceremony, and everyone was asked to follow some silly (IMO) instructions. This made me extremely uncomfortable, and I had to leave the room after a while.

Others were not abhorred. A Norwegian academic went to San Francisco to study and live with Starhawk and the likes of her. This resulted in a PhD dissertation (in English) in Oslo 1996: "I am a Witch – a healer and a bender. An expression of women’s Religiosity in contemporary USA”. In 2002 a shortened version was published as a book in the U.S.:

Enchanted Feminism: Ritual, Gender and Divinity Among the Reclaiming Witches of San Francisco
This is the first major study of the most famous Reclaiming Witch community, founded in 1979 in San Francisco, written by an author who herself participated in a coven for ten years. Jone Salomonsen describes and examines the communal and ritual practices of Reclaiming, asking how these promote personal growth and cultural-religious change.

The same author later wrote the article about Starhawk in the Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, 2003, pp. 1595—1596.

Offline Sparks

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Re: Starhawk - Miriam Simos - Trespasser in NDN Country, Ceremony-Seller
« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2017, 03:11:34 am »
Enchanted Feminism: Ritual, Gender and Divinity Among the Reclaiming Witches of San Francisco

It is possible to look inside the book and see the TOC. At the top of the back cover Starhawk recommends it.

Offline Defend the Sacred

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Re: Starhawk - Miriam Simos - Trespasser in NDN Country, Ceremony-Seller
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2017, 03:38:25 am »
Given recent information that's come to our attention I'd like to clarify this statement:

Non-natives on Turtle Island, or Americans who move to a Celtic Nation, are not "other native people"

More accurately: Non-natives on Turtle Island; or Americans, English people or other non-Celtic folks who move to a Celtic Nation, are not "other native people".

English people aren't Welsh, either. 

(Anything more on this is a tangent and can go in the tangent thread. Only clarifying this bit here due to the response still being in this thread.)