Dianic Wicca, also known as Women's Spirituality, Feminist Spirituality, Feminist Witchcraft, and Feminist Wicca.
Beliefs and practices
Several different flavors of Wicca are self-named "Dianic." This article describes the most widespread, that is, the Neopagan Feminist Dianic tradition.
Dianic Wicca is very similar to traditional Wicca in practice (see section below for a discussion of their differences), but differs significantly from it in beliefs. Dianic Wiccans worship the Goddess only, acknowledging that She is the source of all living and contains all within Her, including the male principle. Most Dianics worship in female-only circles, but there are mixed-gender Dianic traditions. Most Dianic Wiccans are heterosexual, though some are lesbian. Political action is very important in Dianic Wicca. Dianic Wiccans generally are "positive path" practitioners and do no manipulative spellwork.
Many Dianic Wiccans believe that before recorded history there was a universal matriarchy which worshipped the Goddess, had matrilineal family structures, and had equality between the sexes. This universal matriarchy was slowly supplanted by violent patriarchal groups that worshipped a "war god". Dianic Wiccans hope to one day restablish the matriarchy. They believe strongly in the saying "the personal is political" which means that they view their choice to be Goddess worshipers as a political statement as well as a religious choice. They believe that worshipping a male god (like God in Christianity, Islam and Judaism) is particularly harmful to girls because if the model for perfect human exisistence is male, then half of the population can never even hope to achieve perfection and will always be inadequate.
This religion draws on pre-Christian Roman cults of Diana, on all Goddess-centered, matrifocal traditions worldwide, and on Gardnerian Wicca, but the 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 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 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 lead every ritual. In most Dianic Wiccan covens, everyone is on equal ground and often the position of High Priestess is given to a woman for one ritual and then passed on so that every woman in the coven gets a chance to lead rituals.
There is no initiation into Dianic Wiccan covens, though several Dianic groups do offer initiations into their tradition. In traditional Wicca there is often a period of initiation (sometimes for a year or more). 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 this is necessary 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.