Dianic Wicca, also known as Women's Spirituality, Feminist Spirituality, Feminist Witchcraft, and Feminist Wicca.
Beliefs and practices
Dianic Wicca, Dianic Witchcraft, and Feminist Dianic Witchcraft are all common titles for the Neopagan Feminist Dianic tradition. Dianic Wicca can be very similar to traditional Wicca in practice (see section below for a discussion of their differences), but differs significantly from it in beliefs. While some Dianics self-identify as Wiccans, some prefer the term Witch or priestess of the Goddess. Dianic Wiccans worship the Goddess only, acknowledging 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 non-theistic.
Most Dianics worship in female-only circles, 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. Contrary to some characterizations, most Dianics are heterosexual women, though some are lesbian, and some are associated with the position of lesbian separatism.
Many Dianic Wiccans believe (contrary to the field of archaeology) that before recorded history there were widespread or universal matriarchy or matrifocal cultures which worshipped the Goddess, had matrilineal family structures, had social equality between the sexes, and did not practice war. These cultures were slowly supplanted by violent patriarchal groups; the original myths of the Great Mother and goddesses were subsumed into mythology honoring the conquerors and war gods.
Political action is very important to many Dianic witches; personal empowerment is important to all. The saying "the personal is political" can be taken to mean that they view their choice to be Goddess worshipers as a political statement as well as a religious choice. Some Dianics have suggested that monotheistic worship of a male god (like God in Christianity, Islam and Judaism) is particularly harmful to girls and women because if the model for perfection and goodness and authority is male, then half of the population will always be perceived as inadequate.
Some Dianic Wiccans as "positive path" practitioners do neither manipulative spellwork nor hexing; other Dianic witches (notably Zsuzsanna Budapest) do not consider hexing or binding of those who attack women to be wrong.
This religion draws on pre-Christian Roman cults of Diana, on all Goddess-centered, matrifocal traditions worldwide, on wise women and women's mysteries traditions, and on Gardnerian Wicca, but the re-birth of this religion can also be traced back to the feminist movement of the late 1960s. In 1968 a group of radical political women formed a protest organization called W.I.T.C.H. which stood for "Women's International Terrorist Conspiracy From Hell" and called themselves a coven. Although W.I.T.C.H. was almost purely a political organization, it inspired covens around the country, some of which became spiritual as well as political in nature. Soon after, Z. Budapest a hereditary witch from Hungary formed the Susan B. Anthony Coven No. 1 in California and opened the first Women's Spirituality book and magic shop called the "Feminist Wicca". Women's cultural festivals began in 1973 and became a networking organization for women interested in Dianic Wicca.
Differences between Dianic Feminist Wicca and Mainstream Wicca
Like other Wiccans, Dianic Wiccans 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 held at the full moon. They use many of the same altar tools, rituals and vocabulary as other Wiccans.
The most noticeable differences between the two are that most Dianic Wiccans form female-only covens while other Wiccans usually try to form covens with equal numbers of men and women (though they rarely achieve this); and that most Wiccans worship the God and Goddess, while Dianic Wiccans worship the Goddess as Whole Unto Herself.
Other differences are less remarkable and may not be noticeable to an outsider. Traditional Wiccan covens are led by a High Priest and a High Priestess who are often married to each other, and have been in the coven the longest; they often lead every ritual and make all decisions regarding coven management. In most Dianic Wiccan covens, equality and personal empowerment of all is the rule; often the position of High Priestess or ritual leader(s) rotates among the woman for each sabbat, so that every woman in the coven gets a chance to lead. Group decision making will often be consensual rather than hierarchical.
While several Dianic groups do offer initiations into their tradition, some Dianic Wiccan covens do not offer initiation rituals in general or "degrees", preferring a less hierarchical group practice. In traditional Wicca there is often a period of initiation (sometimes for a year or more), before advancement to more full practice, and there can be systems of 3, 5 or more degrees of rank within a coven or tradition. In the drawing down the moon ritual in traditional Wiccan covens a man usually draws down the moon on a woman who assumes the role of the goddess; in Dianic Wiccan covens, a woman draws down the moon on herself and shares it with all of the members of the group.
Openness to outsiders is another large difference between the two groups. For many years Wiccans have been very secretive about their religion, (sometimes as a safety issue as there still are many misconceptions about Wicca). With the formation of Dianic Wicca in 1960s, Wicca in general was thrust into the public's view. Dianic Wiccans held public rallies, protests and even were involved in court cases. Zsuzsanna Budapest took on the State of California and got the law against fortune telling overturned. These actions helped to bring Wicca in general out into the open and helped to make it more of a mainstream religion. Despite this, there has been friction between some traditional Wiccans and Dianics; some Wiccans have expressed their concern about "imbalance" in Dianic practice by invading women's groups, shutting down rituals, and denouncing Dianic practitioners. Most pagans are now much more respectful of each other, and consider such behavior extremely inappropriate.
Last updated: 05-07-2005 09:39:05
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04