More Than Money
Issue #11

Embracing Our Power

Table of Contents

“A Spiritual Model of Power”

The author Starhawk maintains that how we exercise power will be profoundly different depending on our spiritual understandings and world views.

"Power-over comes from the consciousness I have termed estrangement: the view of the world as made up of atomized, nonliving parts, mechanically interacting, valued not for what they inherently are but only in relation to some outside standard. It is the consciousness modeled on the God who stands outside the world, outside nature, who must be appeased, placated, feared, and above all, obeyed....

This power is wielded in the work place, in the schools, in the courts, in the doctor's office. It may rule with weapons that are physical or by controlling the resources we need to live: money, food, medical care; or by controlling more subtle resources: information, approval, love. We are so accustomed to power-over, so steeped in its language and its implicit threats, that we often become aware of its functioning only when we see its extreme manifestations. For we have been shaped in its institutions, so that the insides of our minds resemble the battlefield and the jail.

Power-from-within stems from a different consciousness--one that sees the world itself as a living being...where there are no solid separations and no simple causes and effects. In such a world, all things have inherent value...and are interrelated in patterns too complex to ever be more than partially described. Immanent value cannot be rated or compared. No one, nothing, can have more of it than another. Nor can we lose it. For we are, ourselves, the living body of the sacred..."

From Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority and Mystery by Starhawk, Harper Collins, NY, 1987. The author goes on to offer exercises and rituals that enable individuals and groups to build more power-within. We highly recommend Starhawk's novel The Fifth Sacred Thing (Bantam Books, 1993), which vividly portrays two societies embodying these different kinds of power.

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