Feminist Spirituality, springing up in the late '60s out of the many Civil Rights movements of the time, has developed some major differences from traditional Wicca or WychCraft, but their origins are the same and their ultimate goals and practices are similar. The central difference is Feminist Spirituality's focus on Wombyn and Goddess, and traditional Wicca's use of male and Female together ~ Goddess and god dualism.
Dianic Covens (after the Roman Goddess Diana) are Wombyn~only and the male aspect is neither mentioned nor invited, whatever the sexual preferences of the Wombyn. A few gay male Covens consider themselves Dianic, also, and invite only female energy. Dianic Covens are non~hierarchical and focus on the individual; there are few rules or requirements for membership and little emphasis on initiation.
Dianic Covens have a Priestess, but She is only Priestess for the purpose of leading a specific Ritual. She often has no formal training, but is chosen by the group and/or is self~taught (or sometimes she has had training through a traditional Coven.) No one runs the Coven, it is operated by the consensus of its members, and hierarchy is abhorred. Each Wombyn with a skill to teach is given time to teach it to the group, but most training and learning are self~pursued. A Dianic Coven encourages the concept of leadership shared equally by the members, and this, in reality, is often hard to make function; consensus is a slow process.
In Feminist Spirituality, any Wombyn who chooses to be a Wych and names HerSelf as such IS a Wych. No training or initiation is required, and few Dianic Covens do initiation rituals. No one's authority is needed for membership in the Craft, and no validation but one's own. Wombyn who lack commitment drop out sooner or later; those with it learn in every way they can.
Feminist Archeologists have established that Goddess was present in virtually all pre~patriarchal cultures. Wombynz Spirituality goes back to envision those cultures, discover what they were like, and apply and ReCreate their lifestyles today. Dianic Wicca bases its emphasis on Matrism (equalitarian society) and these early Goddess religions; the way things may have been not only before the Burning Times but before patriarchy and the patriarchal religions began.
Feminist Spirituality takes its development from the political Wombynz Movement. Wombynz oppression, and our refusal to accept any more of it under patriarchy, is a central theme in Dianic Wicca. Dianics point to Activists such as Z. Budapest, StarHawk and Shekhinah MountainWater, as well as Thealogians (sic) like Mary Daly and Archaeologists like Marija Gimbutas as our ForeMothers.
In Dianic Covens like ours, Ritual~making is seen as important for everyone to learn, so planning for a Ritual is usually done by the group and by consensus. New Rituals are created for each occasion, though we keep records of what has gone before. Wombynz Rituals are designed to celebrate the occasion and are also designed for the ReEmpowerment of the Wombyn who participate. We encourage creativity and spontaneity.
Secrecy is rarely practiced in Dianic Covens. We feel that education of non~Wiccans about the positive nature of Feminist Spirituality and Wicca is important. Openness about our involvement is a way to prevent discrimination and prevent future Burning Times. While the "broom closet" still exists, it exists much less often in Dianic Wicca than in Paganism as a whole.
For Dianics, the most troubling aspect of the traditional Craft is its occasionally still~existing homophobia. Some Fe/male Wiccans refuse to acknowledge Dianic Wicca as part of the Craft because Dianics invoke Goddess only and/or because many of us are Lesbians. Given the concept of Parthenogenesis, (Goddess impregnating HerSelf,) Dianics have no need of a male aspect for fertility. This seems to encourage the homophobia and misogyny that separates the two branches of the Craft.
Another emphasis of Dianic Wicca is our outreach to all Wombyn. The Wombynz Movement learned early on that ANY Wombynz oppression is ALL Wombynz and that EVERY Wombyn, from whatever experience, is every other Wombynz syster. Within Matristic societies Goddess was worshiped everywhere, in every culture. In Feminist Spirituality knowledge of all cultures and outreach to Wombyn of every culture is important.
Dianic real values and principles of peace refuse racism, age~ism, fat~ism, able~ism and all other~isms as a major tenet of the movement. Goddess in all Her colors and from all cultures is welcomed to Rituals, the Maiden, Mother and Crone are honored equally. If a Wombyn can't attend a Ritual because of an infirmity, the Wombyn move the Ritual. Dianics are especially active in the Wombynz Movement as a whole, Gay Rights, Ecology and Peace work.
There is no emphasis in Dianic Wicca on hereditary Covens; most Wombyn who are interested in Goddess were not raised in the tradition. Unlike traditional Wicca, Dianic Covens happen when enough like~minded Wombyn choose to start one and they continue for as long as the Wombyn feel we are getting what we need from the group. Our Coven of The Silver Pythoness on Willoughby Spit in Norfolk, Virginia, has been operating, in one manifestation or another, for just over two years; we are Three Wychez, Burning Snow, Kostya Branwen Sudice and Pearl Moon. Groups come and go, though some are long~term, and it is not unusual to hear about a Dianic Coven that has been functioning for fifteen years. This is not to say that the Wombyn in such Covens, the work we do in them, or our intent in starting and maintaining them is not serious.
Where there are no males, as in Dianic Wicca, Wombyn take leadership and discover our own powers and abilities, often for the first time, and probably for the first time since 20,000 years of patriarchy began. Wombynz Healing and ReEmpowerment, a by~product of Feminist Spirituality's emphasis on Goddess~Within, Wombynz Consequence, and "You are Goddess," and a ReTurn of both Goddess and Matristic society are central issues in Dianic Covens.
Dianics are not man~hating, rather we are Wombyn~Affirming. A few Dianics are separatists, but man~hating is seldom the reason for our Wombyn~only stance. With the emphasis on Wombynz SelfEmpowerment in the Circle, Wombyn working with each other becomes essential. We need a totally safe space to explore Female Realities, to discover other Wombyn and OurSelves. Some Wombyn have a deep lack of trust of men ~ we have been abused by men sexually, physically and/or emotionally ~ and the Circle has to be a place of trust. Many of us go home to husbands, lovers or sons, but need a space for Wombyn~only in Coven.
When wombyn work together in Wombyn~only groups, we learn about each other, about working together, about our own potential for leadership, and about who we are inside. In a Wombyn~only space, we are free to be who we are without defenses or fear. When the group operates from that level of honesty and trust, real magick happens in the Ritual, in group dynamics, and in Wombynz Be~ing from within. The changes and transformations that happen in Dianic Ritual would not happen where there are men present. Other things, other transformations, may occur, but not the ones that happen in Wombyn~only space.
By invoking Goddess as Wombynz ultimate role model, Wombyn ReEmpower OurSelves. By invoking Goddess and a god, separating the energy into a duality, the possibility for Healing Wombynz damage from patriarchy is lost. Healing Wombyn from this damage is the major focus of Dianic Wicca. (Adapted from Stein, CTC, pp. 245~55) Originally published in PagaNet News, Vol. IV No. vi (September 1997). Copyright 1997 Constance A. Kingsley, Willoughby Spit, Norfolk, VA, USA. Fair use in copying and duplicating encouraged and Blessed. So Mote It Be!!!
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