About the Fellowship of the Spiral Path
The Pagan Revival and the Fellowship of the Spiral Path
During the centuries when the official religion of Europe was Christianity, country people retained folk practices whose importance they sensed even when they had forgotten their original pagan meaning. Many people of education pursued, with various degrees of wisdom, occult sciences such as alchemy and astrology. In the Age of Enlightenment the great ceremonial Lodges were founded, and the nineteenth century saw the foundation of esoteric movements such as Theosophy and the Order of the Golden Dawn.
In the twentieth century the environmental and feminist movements stimulated awareness of the need for theologies which value the earth for its own sake, and which honor the Goddess as well as the God. Especially in the United States, groups evolved to recover the interrupted Native European traditions, and to explore new ways of worship. Many of these groups were inspired by the traditions of Religious Witchcraft (Wicca) developed in Britain and call themselves witches (please note that this has nothing to do with Satanism), while others use the techniques of ceremonial magic or shamanism, or are working to reconstruct the traditions of specific cultures such as those of the Celts (Druids and others), Greeks (Hellenic), Egyptians (Kemetic) or Germanic peoples (Heathen or Asatru).
Northern California in general and the San Francisco Bay Area in particular have always been a supportive environment for the development of new religious ideas and organizations such as the Covenant of the Goddess, Reclaiming, and NROOGD. In 1978 women from the Aquarian Order of the Restoration, a ceremonial lodge founded by Marion Zimmer Bradley and her husband Walter Breen, started Darkmoon Circle and began to make contact with other Bay Area pagans.
By 1981 Darkmoon was well established, but a number of its members wanted to work with men as well as with women, and gods as well as goddesses, and so the co-ed Equinox Circle was formed. At the same time a number of other covens and other pagan groups were developing in the area, all of which needed meeting space. Marion decided to renovate the second floor of her garage (an old carriage house) as a temple, and incorporate as the Center for Non-Traditional Religion (CNTR). By the following year, several of the core members found themselves serving as clergy to a larger community, the first priestesses were consecrated, and the clergy training program began. In 1981-2, Diana Paxson wrote the Liturgy of the Lady and its regular presentation began.
In 1986 The CNTR was reorganized as the Fellowship of the Spiral Path, a new tradition of the Old Religion, offering worship and other activities for both women and men. Additional circles hived off of the originals, but remained part of the Spiral community. A newsletter was begun. In order to give participants a greater voice in the organization elections were established, and a Board of Advisors consisting of representatives of the member Circles was established to work with the Board of Directors. Spiral took its place as a vital member of the Bay Area pagan community, and Spiral members created and led a variety of public rituals and workshops. The Clergy Training program continued to graduate students, some of whom have moved away and continued their ministry, while others remain active in the Spiral community.
Today Spiral includes up to dozen circles serving women, men and women and families and sponsors public events and services such as Gateway (a monthly series of rituals), the Liturgy of the Lady, and seasonal celebrations.