This Side of Sanity


Dianic Witchcraft

    Dianic Witchcraft is a woman oriented form of Witchcraft. It is the only form of Witchcraft that is exclusively female. While most Dianic Witches are lesbians, there are also straight and bi- Dianic Witches. Dianic Witchcraft is an earth-based, peaceful religion. Modern Dianic Witchcraft is feminist.

    To an outside observer, Dianic Witchcraft may appear to be a single tradition, but actually it is an intertwined group of traditions that have influenced each other over the centuries and millenia.

origins of Witchcraft

    Witchcraft is as old as humanity (and older than modern humans). Witchcraft originated as a practical method for dealing with women’s health issues, especially fertility, pregnancy, and childbirth. Over tens of thousands of years, Witchcraft expanded to include male health and most every part of daily human existence.

    The practical nature of early Witchcraft can be demonstrated by the origins of the giving of roses as a romantic gesture.

    Ancient Witchcraft taught that women should eat rose hips (dried or fresh) during their menstrual period. A woman’s lover would gather roses for this purpose. The earliest known gardening was the planting of roses along the most travelled routes of early nomadic humans.

    Modern science has identified the rose hip as having the single highest concentration of iron of any plant. Iron is a major component of red blood cells, and without iron supplements, many women feel lethargic during their periods.

    Contrary to Christian and Muslim propganda, this is the practical nature of real Witchcraft.

Italic Dia Anna

    In the pre-Roman Italic peninsula, one of the most important deities was Dia Anna, Goddess of the forest and childbirth, Lady of Beasts. Dia Anna was associated wtih women, particulary lesbians. Many pre-Roman Italic Witches considered Dia Anna to be their patron deity.

Roman Diana

    The Romans worshipped Dia Anna as Diana (or Diane). The Roman religion was rather primative and very few native deities (Diana, Saturn, the Lars, and a few others). When the Romans conquered the Greeks, it became common for the Roman patricians (wealthy, ruling male citizens) to have Greek tutors. Greek culture oozed into almost every aspect of Roman, including religion. Roman deities took on the characteristics and myths of similar Greek deities (and Greek deities supplemented the original Roman, with new Latin names).

    During the Roman Empire, Diana became identified with the Greek Artemis, taking on many of the characteristics and myths of the Greek Goddess. During this period, Diana became the Goddess of Light and the Moon, Queen of Heaven. Diana also became the Divine Huntress and Protector of Animals.

    In classical Roman Dianic worship, the priesthood were single women (not necessarily lesbian, many left the priesthood to be married).

Greek Artemis

    Artemis first originated as a Goddess of the Anatolian people (in modern Turkey). Artemis entered Hellenism (the Greek religion) when the Greek people conquered Anatolia (recounted in Homer’s Illiad — the story of Helen and the Trojan War).

    The Greeks were a highly patriarchal culture, to the point of denying women any civil rights and considering women to be property (livestock). Hellenism started out with only male deities (initially, variations on the angry invisible sky father). Because of the dim view of women, Hellenism had no Goddesses (you see the same thing in other patriarchal religions such as Zoarastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam).

    As the Greeks became more civilized, they added female deities by adopting the various female deities of the cultures they had conquered. Among the deities added was the Anatolian Artemis.

Kore archetypes

    There are three basic roles that Gods and Goddesses can fill: deity, archetype, and token. As deity, a God or Goddess fulfills the all encompassing divine role, usually as creator and sustainer of life and the universe (as in Christian hymns). as an archetype, a God or Goddess represents a fundamental truth (as in “what would Jesus do?”). As totem, a God or Goddess empowers a magick spell (as in Christian prayer magick).

    Kore is the Greek word for “virgin”. In ancient Greek culture, virgin meant a woman who had not yet given birth, not the Christian meaning of a woman who had not yet had sex.

    The Greeks believed there were three basic Kore archetypes: Kore Persephone, Kore Athena, and Kore Artemis.

    Kore Persephone was the “young maiden”, a girl who was Kore because of youth.

    Kore Athena was the career woman, who remained Kore because of dedication to some craft-based business.

    Kore Artemis was the “wild woman”, who remained Kore because she was a lesbian.

    It is through the Greek influences of Artemis that Dianic Witchcraft became associated with lesbianism. At this time many lesbian Dianic rituals came into being.

Bast and Isis

    The Greeks already associated Artemis with the ancient Egyptian Goddess Bast before the Greeks were conquered by the Romans. Dianic Witchcraft, in turn, associated Bast with Diana.

    In the Roman Empire, the two most popular deities among women were Isis and Bast. The city of Paris was named for a large temple to Isis (Per Isis means the Temple of Isis). On orders from the Christian Roman Emperor, Christian soldiers raided the Temple of Isis, killed all of the priestesses, stole all of the temple treasures, and used the building as a Christian Church. Later, the Roman Catholic Church built the Notre Dame Cathedral on the same spot. The Roman Catholic Church even kept the original carved wood statue of Isis from the original Temple of Isis, until the 1500s when a woman stormed in, claimed to be a priestess of Isis, and demanded the return of the property. She pointed out the myth of Isis and Osiris was carved into the altar. The Roman Cahtolic priests immediately declared the altar “Satanic” and had it smashed into little bits and burned, as well as ordering that the woman be tortured and burned alive as a “Witch”.

See the Cosmic Orgasm for an ancient Egyptian creation myth featuring Sekhmet-Bast

See Morning Ritual for an ancient Egyptian ritual honoring Isis and Bast


    After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, many of the people of the Italic peninsula returned to a modified version of the pre-Roman Italic religion. The resulting form of Witchcraft is called Stregha (sometimes called Streghe). Medieval Italic Dianic Witchcraft was part of Stregha.

    In Streghe, Diana is believed to have been the mother of the Goddess Aradia. One of the most famous books on Witchcraft is “Aradia”, written in the late 1800s, recording many of the oral traditions of Stregha Witchcraft.


    As Goddess of Light, Diana became associated with the Germanic Goddess of Light, Lucia. In some places, the two Goddesses became interchageable.


    In the late 1800s, Christianity’s political power had waned enough that some Witches started to practice semi-openly again. In the 1930s a reconstituted British Witchcraft, called Wicca.

    Since then, Wicca has split into hundreds of varieties, placing modern Witchcraft ideas on the structure of a variety of ancient Witchcraft traditions, including Dianic Wicca.

    Unlike most forms of Wicca, which invoke the divine as a heterosexual male and female pairing of Lord and Lady, Diannic Wicca invokes the divine as essentially feminine, with just a Lady (usually Diana, but also Artemis, Bast, Isis, Lucia, and other ancient Goddesses from any ancient culture). Some Dianic Wiccans reject a masculine aspect to the divine, while other Dianic Wiccans recognize a masculine aspect but only invoke the feminine in their ritual.

American Dianics

    Zsuzsanna E. Budapest and three friends founded the Susan B. Anthony Coven in 1974, calling their tradition “Dianic”. In 1975, Z Budapest was arrested for reading Tarot cards. She wrote the book The Feminist Book of Lights and Shadows to share her “criminal” religion.

    Morgan McFarland founded her own tradition in the Dallas area. McFarland took the name “Dianic” from a reference to an ancient European nature-religion called the Dianic Cult mentioned in Magaret Alice Murray’s book The Witch Cult in Western Europe. McFarland was familiar with Z Budapest and admired her courage. McFarland’s version of Dianic Witchcraft includes both men and women (it is very unusual for any form of Dianic Witchcraft to include men).

Dianic Witchcraft

Dianic Witchcraft related web sites (Spiderwomon’s Dianic site — lots of cool stuff) (founder of American Dianic Witchcraft) (a personal Dianic site, including Goddess devotions) (Out of the Broom Closet — lots of cool stuff) (Dianic history) (a brief description of Dianic Witchcraft) (information about Diana) (Flash Silvermoon’s site, including her Wise Woman’s tarot deck

general Witchcraft related web sites (the Witch’s Voice — the Witchcraft site) (introduction to Witchcraft for teenagers) (Children of Artemis — Witchcraft and Wicca in the U.K.)


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