It was the late 1960's, and revolution was in the air. The Vietnam police action was beginning to be recognised by a few to be a tragic mistake. Young men were being asked to occupy and kill the citizens of that small country for the sake of a paranoid, patriarchal world vision. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement were becoming a major force, and the Women's Movement was building toward the passage of an Equal Rights Amendment in congress. There was hope. There was a sense of urgency and despair.

In 1974 Z Budapest founded, together with three friends, the Susan B. Anthony coven, and a year later she was arrested for reading Tarot cards. Her Tradition was called Dianic, to emphasize a Goddess and Woman- oriented, life-affirming path. She wrote _The Feminist Book of Lights and Shadows_ to make available to everyone what she was thinking and feeling about her religion. She dared to be considered a criminal in her practice of religion, and one of the first to publicly reclaim the word "witch" as her own.

At about the same time, Morgan McFarland founded her own tradition. Inspired by a reference in Margaret Alice Murray's book, _The Witch Cult in Western Europe_, to the ancient European nature-religion as a "dianic" cult, she called her tradition "Dianic". Morgan was well aware of Z Budapest and admired her courage. It was the desire to affirm a spiritual base to Feminism that guided Morgan and Mark Roberts to make available to a growing number of seekers a series of lessons and guided developmental exercises. Their coven grew into many covens in the Dallas area, with correspondence courses being sent through the mail as well.

Margot Adler, in her book _Drawing Down the Moon_, a basic primer of Pagan paths, mentions them as having one of the most organised systems of teaching in the US. By the 1980's there were Priestesses training new Priestesses and groups experimenting with combinations of ideas that reached for the edge of imagination. There was no dogmatic practice, no requirement of belief beyond the Rede and the Law of Three. There was a basic ritual framework, a systematic presentation of Moon Mysteries, Solar Mysteries and Initiation required. Spreading like the limbs of a tree, the Dianic Tradition maintains this framework of excellent ritual observance, and an ample space for innovation and exploration that makes us unique. If an Initiate travels to a distant city and experiences a Dianic ritual observance there will be a familiarity and possibly enlightening new addition, and a sense of belonging.

The core belief that distinguishes Dianic Tradition from other Pagan paths is a focus upon the Immortal Goddess in Her threefold aspects of Maiden, Mother and Crone. Her Son and Consort is the Mortal principle that exists in relation to the Goddess in a beloved and quickening gentleness. The patriarchal obsession with who is on top, who decides for the others, has no place in it. In our Dianic Path, male persons are welcomed members of all covens, yet there is a need to release the common "take charge" attitude that is often expected of men in our culture. In ritual matters, the High Priestess, as the representative of the Goddess, rules supreme. The High Priest, as the representative of Her Son and Consort, functions to assist, protect, and serve the coven. Outside the ritual circle, all coveners are equal and most group decisions are made on a consensual basis. There is sometimes a sense of frustration if one cannot directly influence the decisions of others. Women will sometimes sense this as well. How can the allowance of personal innovation and consensual decision making be described or taught if we do not release our instinctual control of others, based upon the belief that we are powerless? We must give up something in order to give space for something new, opening our hands to let drop whatever binds us and accepting the unlimited energy within us.

Insistence upon an "equal standard" for masculine and feminine principles displays an unfamiliarity with Dianic ritual observances.


1997 Haezl

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