What is Dianic witchcraft….. ?
Growth of the pagan movement during the mid 20th Century was strongly supported by the rapidly escalating feminist movement of that time. The 1950s marked a 100 years of campaigning for women’s rights and the refusal to be treated by society as second rate citizens. Women were asserting their rights and finding their voices. Some went as far as to cut men out of their lives totally.
Commune-style, female only communities emerged. These communities were creative, non-hierarchical, spontaneous, non-violent, pro-earth, and pro-woman. Spiritually, there was no compatibility with the hierarchical patriarchal mainstream religions of the world. Gardner’s “Witchcraft Today” published in 1951 resulted in increasing the awareness of Witchcraft. The principle of a Goddess, whose consort is the God, appealed to most pagans as it offered respite from the patriarchy of the mainstream religions. Even so, some feminists were not willing to accept any form of masculinity in their spiritual path. For them “the Goddess grew in importance and the role of the God shrank into obscurity”.
This was however NOT the birth of the Dianic Tradition in its modern sense. Unbeknown to many, and unrecognised by most, Egyptologist, folklorist and anthropologist Margaret Murray (1863-1963) should be credited with the early formation of the Dianic Tradition. Murray published “The Witch-Cult in Western Europe” in 1921. In this work, she examined the Inquisition documents and argued that Witchcraft could be traced to pre-Christian times and appeared to be the ancient religion of Western Europe. She went on to explain the evidence that Diana, the feminine Roman deity, was worshiped throughout Europe in “Dianic cults.”
The Dianic Tradition, as it stands today, is covered by two schools of thought. The one is called Dianic Wicca, Feminist Dianic Witchcraft, or Women’s Spirituality and the other is Danaanic Wicca or “Old Dianic” Paganism. Both were seeds sown by the works of Margaret Murray.
The Dianic Witchcraft branch is believed to have been founded by a hereditary Witch called Z. Budapest. Z and three of her woman friends established the Susan B. Anthony Coven Number 1. This coven worshipped the Goddess in all her forms. Z. Budapest’s Dianic Witchcraft consists of women-only covens. There is a strong lesbian presence, although the majority of the covens are open to all women.
The Danaanic branch was founded by Morgan McFarland. This branch “gives primacy to the Goddess in its theology but honours the Horned God as Her Beloved Consort.” Covens can comprise of both male and female members or only of a single gender.