Why A Teaching Altar?

I remember the first time I attended the Spiral Dance. It was 1992, and I was a 21 year-old novice. I had been practicing magic on my own, mostly learning from books by Starhawk and Scott Cunningham. I was definitely winging it. Let’s just say that my rituals and spellwork were met with varying degrees of success.

I remember entering the building that night, taking in the visual feast of all of those Witches. Capes and cloaks and gowns, oh my! The colors, the faces. Cackling could be heard. I could feel the power and energy emanating from those beautiful people. I wandered around the room, dazed. A little voice in my head kept saying, “These are my people.”

I sat down in the middle of the room, alone. I had no idea what to expect. My first group ritual! I was completely open. Fascinated.

I remember very little about that night, except dancing the spiral, twice. After the first spiral, witches were crying out that they didn’t get to dance. Starhawk took it in her stride, and we did another one. I remember
her saying that she wanted the energy from the second dance to go toward people living with AIDS. Magic and activism? How very interesting. And the magic? It blew the top off of my crown chakra, not that I knew what a crown chakra was at the time. I was completely cooked and extremely ungrounded when I left to drive back to Petaluma. I don’t remember the drive at all, for all I know, I went home on a magic carpet. I only remember thinking that solitary work wasn’t going to cut it anymore. I knew that I had to find a community.

Subsequently, I spent several years working with another pagan community, then another several years working solitary again. The time came once more when I was ready to work in community, and I came to Reclaiming and found my home. How did I do this? I volunteered at the Spiral Dance! From that seedling, roots grew and now there is a healthy and vibrant garden growing. Working in Reclaiming has given me more fulfillment than I can possibly say.

Because of these experiences, it is my special desire to welcome newcomers into the community and into the craft. Therefore, at The 30th Annual Spiral Dance, there will be a teaching altar. It was an idea that I heard and ran away with, gathering co-creators all along the way. This year, there will be a designated place for newcomers to be welcomed. Here, there will be teachers from Reclaiming and other traditions. There will be novice-friendly books and resources. You may ask questions, sign up for a mailing list and receive support and grounding after the ritual if you desire.

I invite all who read this to stop by the altar and say hello. Come and dance with us, and stay to play throughout the Wheel of the Year. We welcome you!

Bright blessings,
Tara McFarland

  • 2014 Intention


    With the help of Ancestors, Descendants, and the great powers of Nature, we weave Magic and Action to save our Home!

  • Admission

    This ritual is Bay Area Reclaiming’s largest fundraiser for the year, and supports many of our other activities, courses, ritual, and resources.

    Thanks to all who bought Early Bird tickets!

    Thanks to those who made donations through Paypal.

    Online donations for the Spiral Dance is now closed. Please bring cash for admission later today, Oct 26.

    Admission is sliding scale $25 to $125+. Again, this is sliding scale. $15+ for Disabled, Elder (60+), Youth (12 to 17).

    For Online tickets:You should have received an email response to confirm the purchase and number of tickets. Be assured! Your tickets will be held at Will Call under your name.

  • When and where

    755 Stanyan Street
    Here's a map

    Doors open at 6 PM for Altar viewing, Prelude music, and Listening Meditation of the Reading of the Names of the Beloved Dead.
    Ritual begins at 7:30 PM


  • Photography on this site

    Clicking on photographs will bring up a larger version. Please do not use the images you find on this site without permission. We are grateful to the amazing photographers who have allowed us to use their work here, please visit them online at:

    Richard Man, ImageCraft

    Michael Rauner Photography

    Michael Starkman Photography