Dianic Wicca, also known as Dianic Witchcraft and Dianic Feminist Witchcraft, is a tradition, or Religious denomination, of the Neopagan religion of Wicca. It was founded by Zsuzsanna Budapest in the United States in the 1970s, and is notable for its focus on the worship of the Goddess, and on feminism. It combines elements of British Traditional Wicca, Italian folk-magic recorded in Charles Leland's Aradia, feminist values, and ritual, folk magic, and healing practices Budapest learned from her mother.
It is most often practiced in female-only covens.
Beliefs and practices
Most Dianic Wiccans worship the Goddess only, believing that She is the source of all living and contains all within Her. There are Dianic witches who practice other forms of paganism (possibly including honoring a male deity or deities) outside of their Dianic practice. Some Dianics are monotheistic, some are polytheistic, some are atheist.
Most Dianics worship in female-only (as defined by Dianics usually as cisgender women, which excludes transgender women from their sisterhood) circles and covens, but there are mixed-gender Dianic traditions. Eclecticism, appreciation of cultural diversity, ecological concern, and familiarity with sophisticated concepts of psyche and transformation are characteristic. Originally lesbians formed the majority of the movement, however modern Dianic groups may be all-lesbian, all-heterosexual or mixed.
Most Dianic Wiccans as "positive path" practitioners do neither manipulative spellwork nor hexing because it goes against the Wiccan Rede; other Dianic witches (notably Zsuzsanna Budapest) do not consider hexing or binding of those who attack women to be wrong.
Differences between Dianic and mainstream Wicca
Like other Wiccans, Dianics may form covens, attend festivals, celebrate the eight major Wiccan holidays, Samhain, Beltane, Imbolc (or Imbolg), Lammas, the solstices and equinoxes (see Wheel of the Year) and the Esbats, which are rituals usually held at the full moon or dark moon. They use many of the same altar tools, rituals and vocabulary as other Wiccans. Dianics may also gather in more informal Circles.
The most noticeable differences between the two are that Dianic covens are usually female-only while other Wiccan covens are usually mixed, some aiming for equal numbers of men and women, and that most Wiccans worship the God and Goddess, while Dianics generally worship the Goddess as Whole Unto Herself; or if they worship the God, it is as a consort of the Goddess, rather than an equal.
It should be noted many Wiccans do not consider the Dianic path to be Wiccan at all as they only venerate, and sometimes espouse only the existence of, the Goddess.
Other Dianic traditions
Broadly speaking, Dianic tradition refers to the beliefs, practices, practitioners and history of woman's mysteries, earth-religion, Neopagan Goddess worshippers. It is synonymous with the Neopagan religious traditions that place emphasis on the feminine divine. The term Dianic is derived from the Roman goddess of the moon, hunting and childbirth, Diana whose companion Nymphs were female.
The three main branches of Dianic Neopaganism are known as:
- Dianic Wicca, a feminine tradition of Wicca started by Zsuzsanna Budapest and her 1980s book, The Holy Book of Women's Mysteries.
- McFarland Dianic, a Neopagan Fairy lineage tradition started by Mark Roberts and Morgan McFarland. One of relatively few Dianic traditions which accepts male members.
- The Living Temple of Diana, an emerging shamanic witchcraft tradition of Dianic witchcraft started by Devin Hunter. The Living Temple of Diana's practices center around empowerment, sovereignty, and carries the motto "We were created whole" as its creed. The Living Temple of Diana does not recognize gender or gender variation as a point of interest in its worship or witchcraft and as such accepts male, female, and transgendered members. Its lineage pulls from the Cult of Diana and was created as an alternative method of Dianic worship and witchcraft for those who are not concerned with CIS only circles.
- (Non-Wiccan) Dianic Witches, who may have been inspired by Z Budapest, the New York Redstocking's W.I.T.C.H. manifesto, or woman's spirituality movements, who emphasize self-initiation, womanism and non-hierarchical organization. Most Dianics fall into this category, even if some acknowledge Z. Budapest as a foremother, because they do not participate in the initiation/ordination lineage of Dianic Wicca.
Dianic tradition is difficult to define because it has a limited historical basis and no formally defined doctrine. For some, Dianic Wicca is every day folk religion, hedge-witchery or kitchen-witchery; for others, Dianic tradition is more formal, with highly developed liturgy and cosmology. For most, in its essence Dianic tradition is a Woman's Mysteries tradition, linked to such traditions across time and across cultures. They are a celebration of woman's bodies, woman's experiences, the Divine Feminine, and the biology and culture of womanhood, rather than rejection or dismissal of men and masculinity.
Most Dianic's conceive of and experience the pagan Wheel of the Year in terms of both seasonal reality and also the life stages of women and of the Great Goddess: maiden, mother, queen, crone and hag.
Some Dianics, like other Wiccans, celebrate together in large-group rituals and spell-crafting on the sabbats (seasonal holy days) or the esbats (full-moon days). There are Dianic covens and circles, however many Dianics are solitary practitioners by preference or circumstance.
- Goddess movement
- Feminist theology
- Sacred feminine
- McFarland Dianic
- Interview with Starhawk in Modern Pagans: An Investigation of Contemporary Pagan Practices, ed. V. Vale and John Sulak, Re/Search, San Francisco, 2001, ISBN 1-889307-10-6.
- Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today. Boston: Beacon press, 1979; 1986. ISBN 0-8070-3237-9. Especially "Ch 8: Women, Feminism , and the Craft".
- Budapest, Zsuzsanna. Holy Book of Women's Mysteries, The. 1980 (2003 electronic). ISBN 0-914728-67-9.
- www.witchvox.com articles on Dianic Tradition, Dianic Wicca, MacFarland Dianic Tradition, and (for a non-friendly pagan reaction to women-centric paganism) http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usnv&c=words&id=10792.
- On Starhawk, the Reclaiming Tradition and feminism, M. Macha NightMare http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usca&c=trads&id=3212. (A better citation from one of her or Starhawk's books will be provided in time.)
- Ochshorn, Judith and Cole, Ellen. Women's Spirituality, Women's Lives. Haworth Press 1995. ISBN 1-56024-722-3. pp 122 & 133 referring to Z Budapest, Diane Stein, and Shekinah Mountainwater among others in a discussion of Dianic Witchcraft.
- Dianic Tradition
- Dianic Wicca
- Susan B. Anthony Coven, Dianic Wicca
- Circle of Aradia
- Dianic Cosmology
- The Living Temple of Diana
- Dianic Wiccan Tradition
- Re-Formed Congregation of the Goddess, International
- House of the Goddess (Center for Pagan Wombyn)
- Dianic Cosmology
- The Apple Branch – A Dianic Tradition