Women's Mysteries

Women's Mysteries

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

When the Moon Goddess Diana fell in love with the Sun Goddess Lucina, their daughter was Aradia, the first female avatar in our times. Upon the request of the moon, Aradia manifested herself as a human woman and came to teach Witchcraft. It was a time when there were too many poor people in jails unjustly; when landlords abused their powers and oppressed the working poor. Our avatar Aradia came and gathered the women and taught them the mysteries, the esbats and blessings and cursings, using the power of the moon.

According to Zsuzsanna Budapest, one of the original forces behind the Feminist Wiccan movement, the above is the legend at the core of the Dianic Tradition today. She does not give a source for the above passage. It is not in Leland's Aradia, although it does carry the flavor of that vangelo or gospel. Budapest says, "It's time to lift our collective female will against the abusers, hence the rebirth of the Dianic Tradition in the seventies; lifted upon the mighty back of the phenomenon called `women's liberation'."

The Vestal Virgins survived into Roman times, and the Women's Mysteries traditions were still alive into the fourth century. Seven-year-old girls were initiated into the rites of Athena, and there were the schools of Artemis. But the destruction of the shrine of the two goddesses at Eleusys by the Christians signaled the end of the goddess culture in Europe. To consciously reclaim the Goddess and her female mysteries, Budapest and her followers had to infuse the neo-Wiccan tradition with a modern feminism.

She did this by pledging to be at every sabbat, esbat, full moon and seasonal celebration. She held her rites whether alone or with a group of other women. Gradually, the ritual Circles built to as many as a hundred women or more. Straight women and lesbians alike found peace and solace in the Circles. As Budapest says,

"The pure female energy we generated in these circles taught us that we are whole and powerful without the men. Nothing is out of balance. Women are healed."

After two decades, Dianic Wicca became the fastest growing tradition in the Craft. Like the rest of Wicca, there was no centralization, no single leader nor rules and regulations. All covens are autonomous. Despite the propaganda, all-women circles formed even within Christian churches. Female journalists found their voices and wrote supportive articles about the Goddess work. The Goddess Movement swept across the country. From Budapest's early, self-published books on feminist Wicca, today there are significant books on the subject published by major publishers. There are even university departments of Women's Studies teaching women's spirituality.

There are still no rules as to what a woman must or must not do to be considered of the Dianic Tradition, other than that her circle should be all female and that no male gods may be invoked. But today, in addition to these purely Dianic covens (all women), there are also Goddess groups that include men who favor the emphasis on the Goddess to the near total exclusion of the God.

According to Raven Grimassi, the Women's Mystery Tradition arose from primitive women trying to understand such things as menstrual bleeding, pregnancy, and childbirth—the things which separated women from men and seemed to point to female power. There seemed to be some primitive magical force at work in women that was not in men. Women's Mysteries evolved as fertility rites pertinent to women—their knowledge of conception and birth, along with secrets of love magic and the nurturing of the family. In Greek mythology, there are the Morae, or Moirai, who are goddesses of fate and rule over the three decisive moments of life for a woman: birth, marriage and death. They also align with the three stages of womanhood: Maiden, Mother and Crone.

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
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