Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Dianic Priest Conundrum

Dianic Wiccans seem to be one of the most indefinable branches of the smaller Wicca umbrella of Paganism. The biggest problem in answering some of the questions about Dianic Wicca doesn't seem to be in the actual definition of the term, but in the varying degrees to which the definition is applied. Feminism is a strong part of being a Dianic Wiccan. A reverence for the life cycle of women, as well as a reverence for those physically born a woman, also seem to be core to the beliefs.

Now, admittedly, what I know about Dianic Wicca could maybe fill half of one of those little plastic buckets kids use to make sandcastles. I've read about it in Drawing Down the Moon, online, talking to other folks in the pagan community, and little bits and pieces from books and articles whose titles and URLs I've forgotten over the years. Basically, as I understand it, it is a women's mystery tradition that was resurrected from what seems to be all that faulty research of Margaret Murray about Dianic cults by everyone's favorite raving High Priestess: Z. Budapest. According to Margot Adler, Budapest's Susan B. Anthony coven was the first Dianic coven in the Neo-Pagan movement.

There are a lot of people that fight about what it means to be a Dianic Wiccan. At this past year's Pantheacon a big uproar occurred when a group of transgendered women were not allowed to participate, as it was considered to be a ritual for those who were born women and have menstruated. Many folks believe that, unless you are someone who has menstruated, you cannot be a Dianic Wiccan. Many folks also extend the idea to include individuals whose gender identity is female.

According to Adler, there is a stream of the Dianic Tradition that hails from Dallas, TX and began with Morgan McFarland who allowed men into one of her covens. However, they do not seem to be able to take positions of leadership, and are truly there at the whim and pleasure of the High Priestess who can revoke their membership at any time for any reason. McFarland herself recounts that when compared to women-only Dianic covens, her mixed gender covens do not seem to be as empowering an experience for the women.

We have found that women working together are capable of conjuring their past and reawakening their old ascendancy. They are capable of putting together many of the pieces. This does not seem to happen when men are present. Perhaps this is a societal thing. It seems that in mixed covens, no matter how 'feminist' the women are, a kind of competition begins to happen. Among the women, alone, none of this occurs, and a great reciprocity develops, unlike anything I have seen before.

This from the woman who is credited with allowing men into the "Women's Mysteries" Club. Most of the resources I've found online say that women don't like the idea of men getting involved in the women's mystery traditions. So... I have a bit of a conundrum.

What is the deal with Dianic Priests? Like...Why? What? How? Did I mention 'Why?'

Ok. Let me explain my confusion. Do you remember that really old Simpson's episode where they make a No Homers Allowed club? Homer doesn't understand why he can't be in it, but it's explained they already have one Homer and he simply cannot join. Hilarity ensues, and I think there was something about a soda machine and a nearly naked Homer dragging a rock by a chain. I look at Dianic Wicca the same way. No nearly naked with a giant rock, but...well... It was founded, originally, on principles of being a "women's mysteries tradition." A by women for women kind of thing.

When someone puts up a sign that says "No Boys Allowed," what compels a guy to say, "but...but I wanna know what goes on behind that door?" I get how, given some of my recent ideas about secret knowledge this might be a bit confusing, but I also am an advocate for not trying to push when someone says no.

So, I guess I'll come out and say it. From the research that I've done, and from what I understand, I currently think of Dianic Priests as oxymoronic. I'm sure there are plenty of very good reasons why a guy attempts to get into the girls club, but I guess I don't understand them or the principle behind the desire.

But, of course, I put this to the Rioters. Explain Dianic Priests, for I am at a loss. I by no means know or understand all there is to know or understand and my view is not fact. It's my opinion formed from lots of head scratching and going "huh?".

What do YOU think about male Dianic Wiccans/Dianic Priests?

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

6 comments:

  1. I tend not to go where I am not wanted, so I am at a loss to understand why a male would specifically even want to join a Dianic coven per se. Now, if a male wants to worship Diana, yes, I can see that easily.

    But in the context of a Budapestian/McFarlandesque tradition, I can't see why anybody would want to go for instant rejection unless they liked stirring up fecal material in general. However, like I said, if somebody doesn't want me somewhere I don't go there. Their loss, not mine. The bad science and worse archaeology behind most Budapestian-McFarlandism isn't really attractive to me either.

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  2. Dianic Wicca aside, Dianic Witchcraft predates Murray. Not even including Leland's Aradia, Witches, priests, and priestesses alike have been associated with both Hekate and Diana in the ancient world, and the two seem blended at times as well. Men have been associated with Diana long before Z Budapest and company came along. She just appropriated it, as did others, as a feminist commentary and I detest the idea that Witchcraft is devolving into just another political statement. Where is the magic??? ;-D

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  3. The person in question is not part of the Budapest or McFarland tradition, as was expressed quite clearly on my show. Dianic Witchcraft and religion are both far older than what either Budapest and McFarland have done. Consider this bit of history from Page 246 of Magic, Witchcraft, and Ghosts in the Greek and Roman Worlds: A Sourcebook, by Daniel Ogden:

    ** 238 Clarian Apollo tells that Artemis will melt an evil
    mage's wax dolls to deliver Sardis (?) from plague **
    “[Approach] Artemis of the fair quiver, born from the same stock as I am, for she is the leader of the whole city, nurse of your family, increaser of men, giver of fruits. Bring in her image, shining with gold, from Ephesus, and set it up in a temple, with joy in your hearts. She will ward off your sufferings and dismiss the man-destroying spells/poisons [pharmaka] of the plague, melting the wax-molded dolls by night with the flames of her firebearing torches, the evil tokens of the mage's craft. But when you have carried out my instructions for the goddess, worship the arrow-pouring goddess, invincible, straight-shooting, with hymns and sacrifices, the glorious girl who watches over you. Girls and boys together, celebrate the maiden in dances and feasts everywhere above the salty lands of Maeonian Hermus, garlanding yourselves with broad myrtle, after summoning chaste Artemis from the land of Ephesus, so that she may help you forever, in her undefiled state. If you do not accomplish these rites, then you will suffer the punishment of fire. ” This oracle was given by Apollo.

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  4. Personally the whole boys-only girls-only thing seems silly to me. I'm all about balancing gender within yourself. Getting in touch with the side you are least in touch with. That's different for everyone and it is rarely defined solely by genitalia. It seems a religion so defined by individuality shouldn't group people by stereotype anyway. For instance, the women-only groups I've seen are very focused on birth and reproduction. As a woman who never plans to give birth this seems really pointless to me. I find I get very little out of women's groups in comparison to groups that are made up of men and women.

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  5. Clearly here, the author does not know anything about what it is like to be a male in a mixed gender Dianic circle. There is a balance of power with each leader holding certain responsibilities. As for honoring the female - - has that too left our world consciousness?

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  6. I really do think men want to join just because they've been told no. It's weird. I see nothing wrong with women only groups.

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