Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dianism In A Nuit Shell

Dianism In A Nuit Shell Cover Recently, I got back in touch with my teacher after nearly two years and
dropped a couple of bombshells on her: I had changed gender identity and had
come together with two other women to form a Dianic coven. When the initial
shock wore off, Rita sent me a complete run of Protean Synthesis and a
solicitation for this article.
Several years ago I subscribed to several stereotypes regarding "those
peculiar Dianics". They were thealogically unbalanced, they hated men, they
denied that men had souls, they were all lesbians, they couldn't spell (in the
orthographic sense; no one has yet accused Dianics of inability to work
magick), etc. etc. When I came together with my covensisters, I realized that
these notions were at most partially true and some cases were patently false.
I believe there are only three valid generalizations that can be made
about Dianics: 1) We are all feminists. 2) We all look to the Goddess(es)
far more than to the God(s). 3) We are all eclectics. Note well that there
are plenty of non-Dianic feminist Witches, non-Dianic eclectics, and non-
Dianics who are primarily Goddess-oriented. There are also doubtless a good
many feminist, Goddess-oriented eclectics who do not choose to call themselves
Dianic. In my own case I use the "If it quacks like a duck, it probably is a
duck" argument, as well as the fact that my HPS learned the Craft as a Dianic
and runs Dianic rituals.
Some of the stereotypical generalizations I can dismiss out of hand. I
don't know of a single Dianic who denies that men have souls. Even Z Budapest
doesn't believe that piece of tripe anymore! It is true that Dianism is
particularly attractive to separatists, and many separatists actually hate
men. Many Dianics are lesbians. Some misspell words like "woman", women",
"egalitarian", and "holistic" on purpose. Not all fit these, however, and I
think that Z Budapest in her younger, or spiritual bomb-throwing, days
represents an extreme and a small minority. There are a number of males
involved in Dianism, and some of those are men [NB: I use the terms "man" and
"woman" to indicate gender identity, that is, how one's heart, mind, and/or
soul are configured. I use "male" and "female" to indicate physical sex, that
is, how one's plumbing is configured. I hope this dispels confusion.].

Thealogical and magickal imbalance is not so easily dismissed and needs
to be addressed further, as that is the most valid objection that thoughtful
Witches have to Dianism. The apparent imbalance comes from the Dianic
emphasis on Goddess-worship, often to the complete exclusion of God-worship.
This upsets many Witches' sense of polarity balance. The resolution of this
apparent imbalance lies in the consideration of other polarities than
sexual and/or gender as the primary polarity. There are indeed many other
polarities to consider: true-false, life-death, dark-light, rational-
mystical, creation-destruction, order-chaos, and good-evil, to name but a few.
One problem with the masculine-feminine polarity is that there is a strong
tendency to express all other polarities in terms of it. The Chinese were
particularly fond of this, and mapped everything they liked into the yang
side, and everything they disliked or feared into the yin side, the
patriarchal no-accounts!
One thing I have discovered is that if you look hard enough, you can find
goddesses to fit both ends of most polarities. Some even occupy both ends
simultaneously. Inanna, my matron goddess, is a good case in point. She is
the Sumerian goddess of love, war, wisdom (which she won in a drinking bout!),
adventure, the heavens, the earth, and even of death (in the guise of her dark
aspect, Ereshkigal). A very busy lady indeed is Inanna. At this point it
becomes largely a matter of personal preference rather than of polarity,
whether one chooses a god or a goddess to occupy a particular place in a
No Dianic I know of denies the existence of the God. Indeed, He gets
mentioned as the consort of the Goddess with some frequency in Z Budapest's
HOLY BOOK OF WOMEN'S MYSTERIES, which is close a thing as there is to a Dianic
version of the Gardnerian Book of Shadows. He is there, and sometimes we will
invoke Him, when it is appropriate. He makes His own path, and we follow our
own, and when they cross naturally we honor Him and do not avoid Him. We also
do not force the paths to cross simply to lend an artificial balance to a
ritual where none is really needed.

Now that I have spilled a good deal of ink over what Dianism is not, I
should now say a few words about what it is: a movement of feminist,
eclectic, Goddess-oriented Witches.
Feminism: This covers a vast multitude of virtues and sins. I do not
think the stereotypical radical lesbian separatist is as common as is
believed. Moderate to liberal feminism is probably far more common, even
among Dianics. Certainly my own coven contains no separatists! There are too
many nice men out there, even though surveys have shown that 70% or more of
all men are potential rapists. The nice ones are found among those who are
not in that repulsive majority; you just have to look to find them. One of
the places you might find such nice men is in Dianic covens! Some are mixed
groups, at least some of those of the branch founded by Morgan McFarland. My
own is something of a mixed up group, I suppose. While we do not currently
have any men in the coven, two of the three of us were born male and still
have original-equipment plumbing. The Goddess and our HPS accept us
unreservedly as women.
Eclecticism: If there is one dictum of Z Budapest's that bears repeating
to everyone in the Craft, and which gets followed by many, it is "When in
doubt, invent." Dianics tend toward creative ritual, drawing from any and all
possible sources. I have yet to see a Dianic equivalent of the Gardnerian
Book of Shadows, nor do I ever hope to see one.
Goddess Orientation: I've discussed this at some length while talking
about polarity. There are some wags who have said that Dianics are nothing
but matriarchal monotheists. I tell you three times: The Dianic Goddess is
NOT Jehovah in drag! The Dianic Goddess is NOT Jehovah in drag! The Dianic
Goddess is NOT Jehovah in drag! A much closer analogy would be that Dianics
have taken the Classical pantheon and reclaimed most of the roles. This,
too, is oversimplifying, but it is not nearly as wide of the mark as the usual
criticism. At some point I may write up a long exegesis on the Dianic
Goddess, but not here. My own personal involvement with Her comes from a
great feeling of comfort I do not find elsewhere. She feels right. I have a
great deal of difficulty accepting known rapists (most of the Olympian males
are this, especially Zeus, Hades, and Pan!) into my personal pantheon. I also
feel a personal vocation from the Mother; it is rather incongruous to me to
embrace a male deity wholeheartedly when the Goddess comes to me and calls me
Her daughter. This goes doubled, redoubled, in pentacles, and vulnerable for
lovers of women.
I hope this little discussion of Dianism-in-a-Nuitshell has proved
enlightening to you. It is not a path for everyone, but it is a valid path
for some, and in considering it I hope that you can now ignore the garbage
that has been put forth in the past as "data" regarding it.

Inanna Seastar
Birdsnest Coven

Books You Might Enjoy:

Naomi Janowitz - Magic In The Roman World
Tuesday Lobsang Rampa - As It Was
Aristotle - On The Soul
Anonymous - Book Of Spells
Marian Green - A Witch Alone