The Spiral Dance–and a broken bridge!

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photo credit: Michael Rauner


“Let it begin with each step we take

And let it begin with each change we make

And let it begin with each chain we break

And let it begin every time we awake…”

Throughout the year, Reclaiming, the Wiccan tradition I cofounded and work with, celebrates moon and sun rituals and rites of passage.  In San Francisco, most of our rituals are simple, informal, full of spontaneity and improvisation, done at the park or out at the beach.   

But once a year, we do the big, blowout ritual—The Spiral Dance.  This is our chance to honor the arts as sacred endeavors, the work of musicians, dancers, altar makers, to create a true temple for a night, albeit in a basketball gym.

So this week I’m meditating on the ancestors and my email box is full of questions like “Will you bring the adaptor for the powerpoint projector?”  I’m leading a complex multiple-voiced trance with my housemate and dear friend Rose May Dance and our magical young friend Julian, who is twelve.  Our theme this year is ‘The Next Generation”, so we have many young people and teens taking roles.  We also have singers weaving in an eerily beautiful but rhythmically complex new chant my brother wrote, a full chorus singing us across the sunless sea to the Isle of the Dead, and my beloved percussion teacher Mary Ellen Donald on the hand drum, and our sound crew who will hopefully help us all be heard!

You can see lots of photographs and videos at our new website, created by that selfless, saintly stellar website designer Laurel Green, even though she lives on the East Coast and won’t even get to come to the dance.  But she has earned enough good karma to absolve her in advance from at least fifteen sins she hasn’t yet committed.  (If we had sins—which we don’t, or rather, the kinds of things we consider sins she probably wouldn’t want to do anyway, like drone-bombing wedding parties of innocent civilians, or dumping toxic waste into major river systems.) 

Here’s her websites:   web hosting work   Goddess art

You can see the video I made at:

And here, from the indefatigable Cypress, is a list of all the current videos:

The main Spiral Dance video for the 30th anniversary

Kala really steps up to help us understand...
What's up with those pointy hats?       NEW!

This includes photos of the six Macha has chosen to call in, a great way to start linking in with the magic...
Invocation of the Mighty Dead Interview with Macha Nightmare   NEW!

I'm totally inspired by these whirling dancers and Luna's story of generational healing through ancestor work...
The Yoruban Ancestor Tradition and Rituals - with Luna Pantera - NEW!

Fun, spooky & informative...
Who is Jack O'Lantern?

This is beautiful, a lovely tribute, and a way to know some of our Reclaiming history...
Reclaiming Tradition of Altar Building at Spiral Dance Interview with Macha Nightmare   NEW!

This would totally make me want to come to the Spiral Dance if I hadn't been before...
Yule @ Equinox re: Being in the center of a cone of power with 1000 witches
Interfaith work is deep magic in this world at this time, let's start here...
Our Interfaith Friends Interview with Macha Nightmare - NEW!

A great description of the Spiral Dance and some of the story about the transition from a small event to what we have now...
Madrone  re: producing the Spiral Dance

Reflection on personal experience of dancing the Spiral and looking into all those eyes...
Brook re: What it is like to dance the Spiral Dance.

Spidees?  How did they get in on the act?
Danni Lee on What do Spiders have to do with Halloween?

Sometimes improvisation is the magic that is worked...
Pavini - Building the Fire altar

But last night, just before our final organizing meeting, a big metal chunk broke loose from the Bay Bridge and crashed on the roadway.  By some miracle, no one was hurt—but now the bridge is closed, indefinitely, and we are all wondering how that might affect attendance on Saturday night.  Maybe it’s the Goddess’ way of telling our friends in the East Bay to use public transportation?  Maybe it’s the Goddess way of telling our public transport people to keep BART running later than midnight on Halloween?  Maybe the bridge will be fixed by then, although everyone is saying ‘it could be weeks….”

If the bridge is down…will our friends from the East Bay come?  If not, will we actually break even on the costs of this ritual?  Our budget is over  $17,000–space rental, sound system, a thousand other things, and we are really hoping this year to also raise some much needed funds for Reclaiming’s programs and projects.  (By comparison, the tenth anniversary Spiral Dance, twenty years ago, cost around $15,000 to put on.  I produced that one–and the week before the event, we had an earthquake that closed the bridge for a month.)

Money is not the reason we put on the ritual.  We create this ritual because we love it–and we do to create a moment together to share our grief, our losses, and our hopes, to support each other through the process of mourning, to envision the world we want and to pump that vision full of magical energy. 

But money sure helps!  It is a necessary precondition, and we need to cover our costs and then some if we want to create this ritual again next year, and the year after that.  None of us who organize the ritual and who put in massive amounts of time get paid to do the work.  In good years, sometimes we fling a tiny pittance at our devoted chours director, Evelie Delfino Såles Posch, who puts in hundreds of hours of work.  But amy extra money we raise goes right to Relaiming’s slim coffers, to help support all the other teaching, ritual making and community work we do all year.  It pays for things like  Reclaiming’s insurance policy, seed money for next year, scholarship funds for classes…

Okay, I’m taking a deep breath, visualizing safety, abundance, open roads, strong bridges…

I’ll keep you posted!

3 comments to The Spiral Dance–and a broken bridge!

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