What are the different classification names for the Dianic Tradition?
There are many different paths, denominations, or traditions within the Wiccan faith as well as beliefs and practices. Here are some general questions and answers related to Wicca’s Dianic Tradition. This denomination or tradition is sometimes referred to as Dianic Wicca, the Dianic Path, Dianic Wicce, Dianic Witchcraft, the Dianic Craft, Feminist Dianic Witchcraft, Dianic Faerie Faith, McFarland Dianics, and/or Dianic Feminist Wicce.
What is the Dianic Tradition?
On the outside looking in, Dianic Witchcraft might appear to be a single tradition or religious system. In actuality, it is an intertwined and interrelated group of traditions that have influenced each other over many centuries.
There are two distinctive branches of Dianic Wicca/Witchcraft in the Neo-pagan era:
The first branch (often called Feminist Dianic Witchcraft or Wicca), focuses exclusively on the Goddess Diana and the female rites of passage from Maidenhood, Motherhood, to Cronehood. Each of the three stages is considered as equally sacred and powerful. The term Dianic was first pinpointed by Margaret Murray in 1921, in her literary work The Witch-Cult in Western Europe, at a time when witchcraft was still banned and forbidden in Britain. Murray’s work also indicates that the Dianic path appears to have included a mixture of various traditions such as Gardnerian and Faery. Its members are primarily women. These circles are usually very loosely structured, non-hierarchical, and politically feminist by nature. These groups are very supportive of and active in socio-political issues regarding women and considered to be what equates to the modern feminist movement in Wicca and Witchcraft started by Ann Forfreedom in Oakland, California. Forfreedom’s Dianic Feminist Wicce emphasizes female leadership and insists that a Priestess must be present for all ceremonies and rituals.
The second branch (sometimes called Old Dianic Witchcraft) was formed, in Dallas, Texas, by Morgan McFarland and Mark Roberts in the late 1960's. This branch recognizes the Goddess Diana (or the Lady) as the primary spiritual force yet honors the Horned God, Cernunnos (or the Lord), as Her Beloved Consort. Dianic coven members of this “sect” consist of both women and men. McFarland also founded The Council of High Priestesses (McFarland Dianics) in Texas.
Who is Diana?
In the spiritual philosophy of Wicca, a woman evolves over three stages during her lifetime: Maidenhood, Motherhood, and Cronehood. The Maiden is a very young woman in growth and development stage. Once she conceives a child, she becomes the Mother or when her life goals achieve fruition. At menopause, she becomes the Crone who is older, wiser, giver of wisdom, bringer of death and closure. In conjunction with the Moon, the Goddess comes into play and personifies the embodiment of the Moon Goddess Diana. The three phases of the Moon correspond directly to the three stages of a woman's life. The Maiden is the Waxing Moon, the Mother is the Full Moon, and the Waning and New Moons represent the Crone. Moreover, the Moon is associated and corresponds with a woman's menstrual cycle (28 days in length).
Many theories and interpretations abound regarding this equation women and the Moon because to some Diana is seen as an ancient Roman or Greek goddess. During the Roman Empire, Diana became identified with Artemis thus taking on many of the characteristics and myths of that Greek Goddess.
During this same time period, Diana became the Goddess of Light and the Moon, Queen of the Heavens, Lunar Virgin, and the Divine Huntress and Protector of the Animal kingdom.
Charles G. Leland, who authored Aradia: Gospel of the Witches (1899), points out that Aradia is seen as the Italian Witch Goddess and the daughter of Diana and Diana's brother Lucifer/Dianus (i.e., of the Moon and Sun). Aradia came to earth to teach the Witches of her Mother's magic, love, healing, and power. Through her teachings and stories, Aradia became the symbol for modern day witches and through which many are drawn to worship Diana and her consort Dianus (or Cernunnos) in order to become one with the Earth, Moon, Sky, and Universe.
What is Neo-Paganism?
According to B.A. Robinson of Religious Tolerance.org:
“Just as the term ‘Eastern religions’ refers to Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, etc., the terms ‘Neo-Pagan’, ‘Neopagan,’ and ‘Pagan’ refer to a collection of separate religions that share a few common themes.
A Neopagan religion is a modern faith which has been recently reconstructed from beliefs, deities, symbols, practices and other elements of an ancient religion. For example, the Druidic religion is based on the faith and practices of the ancient Celtic professional class; followers of Asatru adhere to the ancient, pre-Christian Norse religion; Wiccans also trace their roots back to the pre-Celtic era in Europe. Other Neo-pagans follow Roman, Greek, Egyptian or similar ancient tradition.
Many Wiccans and other Neopagans refer to themselves simply as ‘Pagans’. Unfortunately, the word has many different meanings -- some quite negative. The term ‘Neopagan’ is less ambiguous.
Many people are confused between Neopaganism and Satanism:
To some Fundamentalist Christians, all religions other than Judaism and Christianity are actually varieties of Satanism. To them, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Taoism, and the various Neopagan religions are all forms of Satanism, or at least are led by Satan or his demons.
To almost everyone else, Neopagan religions are simply individual faith groups with little or no connection to Satanism.”
Who or what is the Horned God?
The Goddess, in Neo-pagan witchcraft, is highly emphasized but the Horned God, or Cernunnos, has equally importance because He contributes and represents the male role or part in the male-female polarity. During rituals and ceremonies, the Horned One is worshipped as a deity (or the God) and personified as being the High Priest whereas the Goddess is personified as being the High Priestess. In some circles, the high priest might don a horned helmet or an antlered headdress similar to what the Norsemen might have worn in ancient times. Cernunnos is believed to represent male sensuality, vitality, the hunter, logic, and power.