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Dianic Wicca, also known as Dianic Witchcraft, is a neopagan religion female-centered goddess ritual and tradition. While some adherents identify as Wiccan, it differs from most traditions of Wicca in that only goddesses are honored (whereas most Wiccan traditions honor both female and male deities).
While there is more than one tradition that calls itself Dianic, the best known is the female-only variety, founded by Zsuzsanna Budapest in the United States in the 1970s. It is notable for its worship of a single Goddess and focus on egalitarian matriarchy. It is named after the Roman goddess Diana, but Dianics worship goddesses from many cultures, seeing them as "aspects" of a monotheistic goddess. Dianic Wicca is an eclectic combination of elements from British Traditional Wicca, Italian folk-magic as recorded by Charles Leland in Aradia, the importance of womanhood, folk magic and healing practices from a variety of different cultures.
Dianic Wiccans of the Budapest lineage worship the Goddess, who they see as containing all goddesses, from all cultures; she is seen as the source of all living things and containing all that is within her. Dianic covens practice magic in the form of meditation and visualization in addition to spell work. They focus especially on healing themselves from the wounds of the patriarchy while affirming their own womanhood.
Rituals can include reenacting religious and spiritual lore from a female-centered standpoint, celebrating the female body, and mourning society's abuses of women. The practice of magic is rooted in the belief that energy or 'life force' can be directed to enact change. However it is important to note that rituals are often improvised to suit individual or group needs and vary from coven to coven. Some Dianic Wiccans eschew manipulative spellwork and hexing because it goes against the Wiccan Rede. However, many other Dianic witches (notably Budapest) do not consider hexing or binding of those who attack women to be wrong, and actively encourage the binding of rapists.
Like other Wiccans, Dianics may form covens, attend festivals, celebrate the eight major Wiccan holidays, and gather on Esbats. They use many of the same altar tools, rituals, and vocabulary as other Wiccans. Dianics may also gather in less formal Circles. The most noticeable difference between the two are that Dianic covens of Budapest lineage are composed entirely of women. Central to feminist Dianic focus and practice are embodied Women's Mysteries - the celebrations and honoring of the female life cycle and it's correspondences to the Earth's seasonal cycle, healing from internalized oppression, female sovereignty and agency. Another marked difference in cosmology from other Wiccan traditions is rejecting the concept of duality based in gender stereotypes.
When asked why "men and gods" are excluded from her rituals, Budapest stated:
It's the natural law, as women fare so fares the world, their children, and that's everybody. If you lift up the women you have lifted up humanity. Men have to learn to develop their own mysteries. Where is the order of Attis? Pan? Zagreus? Not only research it, but then popularize it as well as I have done. Where are the Dionysian rites? I think men are lazy in this aspect by not working this up for themselves. It's their own task, not ours.— during a 2007 interview
There is therapeutic value inherent in Dianic ritual—many women use it to overcome personal trauma and raise awareness about violence towards women, earning comparisons to female-centered consciousness-raising groups in the 1960s and 70s. In fact, some groups develop rituals specifically to confront gendered personal trauma, such as battery, rape, incest, and partner abuse. In one ethnographic study of such a ritual, women shifted their understanding of power from the hands of their abusers to themselves. It was found that this ritual had improved self-perception in participants in the short-term, and that the results could be sustained with ongoing practice.
Dianics pride themselves on the inclusion of lesbian and bisexual members. It is a goal within many covens to explore female sexuality and sensuality outside of male control, and many rituals function to affirm lesbian sexuality, making it a popular tradition for women who have come out. Some covens exclusively consist of same-sex oriented women and advocate lesbian separatism.
Dianic Wicca developed from the Women's Liberation Movement and covens traditionally compare themselves with radical feminism. The majority of Dianic groups reject transgender women due to the tradition's foundation in biological essentialism. This is why some groups are strongly against transgender rights.
Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches claims that ancient Diana, Aphrodite, Aradia, and Herodius cults linked to the Sacred Mysteries are the origin of the all-female coven and many witch myths as we know them. Dianic Wicca began on the Winter Solstice of 1971, when Budapest led a ceremony in Hollywood, California. Self-identifying as a "hereditary witch," and claiming to have learned folk magic from her mother, Budapest is frequently considered the mother of modern Dianic Wiccan tradition. Dianic Wicca itself is named after the Roman goddess of the same name. Ruth Rhiannon Barrett was ordained by Z Budpest in 1980 and inherited Budapest's Los Angeles ministry. This community continues to thrive through Circle of Aradia, a grove of Temple of Diana, Inc.