A variant of Wicca in which all members are female and virtually all emphasis is placed on the Goddess, without attention to a male God. In this it contrasts strongly with its roots in mainstream Wicca, in which the God is given equal focus and male-female polarity is seen as an essential cosmic dynamic.
Dianic Covens are largely restricted to the United States and may be distinguished into two main groups. The first of these encompasses the feminist movement whose membership has established covens all over America. Some of these have rejected significant principles of mainstream Wicca and have sought to politicize witchcraft. These Covens may, or may not, include a predominantly lesbian membership.
In 1968, the organization WITCH (Women's International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell) was founded with the declared aims of melding the spiritual aspects of the Craft with political activism and feminist militancy. The best known of these Dianic Covens has probably been Zsuzsanna Budapest's Susan B Anthony Coven, formed in Los Angeles at the Winter Solstice, 1971.
Other Dianic covens are more liberal, encouraging membership drawn from both sexes. Some of these originate from the witchcraft tradition developed in Dallas, Texas, by Morgan McFarland and Mark Roberts. McFarl,and's interest had developed through more conventional witchcraft covens in the American south that placed much emphasis on the White Goddess aspects of lore promoted by Robert Graves. In his Craft interests, Roberts split from McFarland and went on, in 1978, to develop another Craft movement that he called Hyperborea.
In the United States most Dianic Covens start up by themselves, using Miriam Starhawk's Spiral Dance or Zsuzsanna Budapest's books.
One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.
Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans. Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.
Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church. Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.
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