Dianic Wicca is a type of witchcraft that exclusively celebrates the divine feminine, and is named for the Roman goddess Diana.
There are two well-known forms of Dianic witchcraft. The best known branch is that formed by Zsuzsanna Budapest in the 1970s from a conglomeration of British Traditional Wiccan practices, folk magic from a variety of cultures, and feminist ideals.
There is also McFarland Dianic Wicca, which was based on Gardnerian Wicca and Rovert Graves’ work The White Goddess.
Because it isn’t a purely Wiccan tradition, some practitioners prefer to call it “Dianic witchcraft” and don’t identify as Wiccan at all.
Differences From Other Wiccan Traditions
Dianic Wicca has some key features that distinguish it from other traditions:
- It exclusively celebrates the divine feminine. The divine masculine is acknowledged, but not given the same amount of attention.
- It worships a single Goddess, and views all goddesses as facets of a single divine matriarch.
- Covens of the Budapest lineage are open only to cisgender women. Some other Dianic covens also accept transwomen, and McFarland Dianic covens allow people of any sex or gender at the discretion of a coven’s High Priestess.
- Dianic Wiccans generally don’t see a problem with hexing or cursing. Budapest was a proponent of binding or hexing men who perpetuate violence against women.
- Leadership may be limited to High Priestesses. Most McFarland covens have a High Priestess, High Priest, a Maiden, and initiates.
Dianic Wicca has been the subject of some controversy. Some covens identify strongly with radical feminism, and those of Budapest’s lineage have received criticism for excluding transgender individuals from their covens and rituals.
Practices & Rituals
The Dianic Wiccan tradition takes a lot of its practices from Wicca. Dianic witches celebrate eight Sabbats, work according to the phases of the moon, and have an altar and its accompanying tools.
Beyond that, Dianic covens can vary widely. “Dianic” is less of a label for a specific set of practices and rituals than it is an indicator that a coven follows a feminist, Goddess-centered path.
Dianic covens practice magic, as well as meditation and visualization exercises. Many of these are centered around helping women affirm their feminine power while healing trauma that stems from patriarchal abuse.
Magical work may revolve around both healing women, and binding or hexing those who cause harm to women.
Many Dianic rituals focus on re-enacting historical or mythological scenes from a feminist perspective. Since much of Dianic Wicca also focuses on healing trauma, ritual work tends to be highly individualized depending on the needs of the coven and its members.
This is part of why many Dianic witches don’t identify as Wiccan — beyond the Sabbats, altar, altar tools, and moon-based practices, their ritual structure, purpose, and attitudes toward “baneful magic” bear little resemblance to mainstream Wicca.
Dianic Wicca is highly individualized, with initiatory rituals and practices governed largely by a coven’s High Priestess. The High Priestess guides the coven, and it’s her discretion that leads the training, initiation, and elevation of coven members.
In McFarland Dianic Wicca, neophytes join a group called a grove for a year of training in the tradition’s history and lore, as well as the lessons of their individual coven.
After the High Priestess and High Priest agree that the student has completed the training to their satisfaction, the student is initiated into the circle.
After thirteen moons as an initiate, the High Priest and High Priestess may decide that the initiate has met the requirements to become a Priest or Priestess. At this point, a Priestess may undergo further training to be elevated to High Priestess.
A Priest may train to be elevated to a High Priest at the High Priestess’ discretion.
Origins & History of Dianic Wicca
Dianic Wicca is a young tradition. The McFarland Dianic tradition began in the early 1970s. Morgan McFarland and Mark Roberts formed a partnership and pooled their resources to create this path.
McFarland’s feminist beliefs and work for the Women’s Movement formed the basis for McFarland Dianic witchcraft. In 1971, she wrote down the path’s oral tradition, rituals, and practices. To this day, McFarland Dianic Wiccans continue to use her rituals.
Zsuzsanna Budapest formed her Dianic Wiccan tradition in the 1970s as well. Budapest identifies as a hereditary witch, having learned her family’s traditional witchcraft from her mother.
The tradition formally began on the Winter Solstice in 1971, with the formation of the Susan B. Anthony coven.
Budapest’s lineage of Dianic Wicca continued to grow, with the creation of 13 “Queendoms,” each headed by a High Priestess, between the years 1980 to 2016. These High Priestesses were required to train and elevate another High Priestess each year in order to continue and grow the tradition.
In 2011, Budapest and Dianic Wicca came under fire when a group of transgender women were barred from participating in a ritual held by a Dianic coven. Budapest defended the group, and maintained that membership in covens of her lineage was open to cisgender women only.
Because of this, many Dianic covens have sought to distance themselves from Budapest in the years since.
Dianic Wicca, as a tradition, covers everything from goddess-centered solitary folk magic to formal covens. The ever-changing landscape of gender identity has made this tradition shift and evolve, coalescing and splintering as coven members’ needs similarly change.
For feminist witches, those wishing to explore a deeper relationship with the divine feminine, and those looking specifically for a spiritual path to heal patriarchal trauma, Dianic Wicca has much to offer.