(Prose) What is Apple Branch Dianic Witchcraft? By Deanne Quarrie, D. Min. HPS

Diana the Huntress
Image – Guillaume Seignac, Diana the Huntress – published in the U.S. before 1923 and public domain in the U.S

Dianic Witchcraft

For every woman who calls herself Dianic, you will receive a different response to that question.  Rather than quote other sources, let me just create for you who we are.

We are a Goddess-centered, earth-based, feminist denomination of the Wiccan religion revived and inspired both by author and activist, Zsuzsanna Budapest.  In addition, we find tremendous value in a structure founded on ancient teachings learned from our kindred on the web of life, and material which comes from Druidic sources and The Ogham, Her Sacred Alphabet.

Our beliefs include:

  • Belief in female divinity, who we call “Goddess.”
  • Celebration of eight solar celebrations and thirteen lunar cycles.
  • A solid foundation of feminist ideology.
  • A belief in the sacredness of our bodies.
  • An understanding that the patriarchy we live in does not accurately reflect authentic experience.
  • The basic beliefs of Dianics are shared by most Wiccans.
  • Belief in the Wiccan Rede.
  • We hold the principle of cause and effect as a foundational principle.
  • We celebrate the holiday’s common to Wiccans.

Mark Roberts and Morgan McFarland created a mixed-gender tradition that also identifies as Dianic and is Goddess based. At its inception, it was simply called “Dianic, but in 1999 the name McFarland Dianic was adopted.  We also include the Mysteries offered by Mark Robert in his Faerie Faith Tradition.  We believe that the teachings honoring the Earth by living in a holistic way, in harmony with the Earth are critical in these times. The rituals and practices are based on teachings from the Ogham, an ancient magical alphabet used by the Druids. All rituals honor Woman as Sacred as unto the Goddess. From these roots, our rituals have been adapted and expanded, as we believe nothing in life is static.

There are many who identify as Dianic.  You will find quite a list at Witches Voice on the Internet. (www.witchvox.com ) There is no one Way.  There is no right Way.

The Apple Branch is a tradition within Dianic Witchcraft.  Within our women only circle, we honor our Women’s Mysteries as well as the seasons and cycles of the Sun, Earth, and Moon.  We, as women, require our woman only space in which to heal and come into our own fullness.  Both men and women have grown up in and are living in a patriarchal society.  We have been taught both overtly and subvertly, behavior patterns that apply to how we interact with each other.  The true value of woman only space is that it gives women a venue to just “be” – to be themselves, without the role playing inherent in our interaction with the opposite gender.  Isolate us from those gender roles and we are more able to tap into our authenticity.  By looking into the eyes of our Sisters and seeing Goddess and reflections of ourselves, we strip away those societal norms and come to our true nature and find our Sacred Center.  It is a healing we can find nowhere else as spiritual beings.  It also serves as an authentic support system giving us much needed affirmation, energy and love.  Regardless of spiritual beliefs and practices, women, in time honored tradition have always come together in woman only space for the sharing and telling of our stories.  We have come together to honor the Mysteries of our bodies in ways that only women can fully appreciate.  As women, it is imperative to reclaim our bodies as sacred.  As women, it is imperative that we reclaim our personal power and work together to overcome thousands of years of oppression.

We understand that we do not live in a world made up of women only and know that our relationships are critical to our lives.  We take time to honor our friends and family by coming together where men, women, children are all welcome.  In these Rites, we make no separation as to gender, age, or sexual identity.  This is our family, or Clan.  We come together at such times to celebrate the Sabbats of the Year or other life events where we would wish to share with all.  These are our family gatherings.

In my heart of hearts, I choose to believe that there is much beauty in both men and women and that all are of Goddess.  Our conditioning and ways of being, for both, have been twisted and formed, and shaped by the patriarchy in which we live.  But deep within the core, both are beautiful.

We already know that those difficulties in relationships do not seem to be associated with the sex of the parties.  The same difficulties arise with same sex and opposite sex unions.  We both have so much to learn and one day I trust we will all be learning how to be together in harmony.

I chose women only space for my deep work with Goddess because that is where I can open and be true to my most holy center.  I chose that arena to offer myself in service to women around the world.  I could just as easily have stayed in mixed gender groups.  However, as my love for Goddess grew, I knew that my work had to be with Her women.  It is in this sacred space that we create together, that we women become whole, trusting, and healed.

Ultimately however, for most women it is critical that we then take this whole and divine woman back out into the world where men and women need to learn to be together in healing and trusting ways.   We will always need and return to our woman only space for replenishment.

There is inherently something very special and unique in women’s magic.  Women’s Mysteries belong to women and are held sacred in women only space.

To be Dianic is to be empowered by the Goddess in all that is. We know that time moves in a never-ending spiral of energy and love. We see the Mother’s face in the world all around us, in the Original Earth Mother, in the wild, independent Virgin Goddess, Artemis, in the wildness of Kali Ma, and in the darkness of our Blessed Hekat.

We see the Earth, she who birthed and nourishes us, as female. We revel in all aspects of life on the planet and feel unbounded joy in living this life. We honor Her as our Mother. She is wise, ancient, full of deep mysteries and ultimately, unknowable.  We honor Her as the womb of life. We also respect her as immensely complex and constantly engaged in acts of creation and destruction.

We call ourselves Witches. We practice magic.  We are co-creators of our lives.  We honor what is often called the “three-fold law.”  We recognize that everything we do has an effect.  Much like the small stone thrown in a pool – the ripples go on and on and on…

Structurally, we are non-hierarchical.   We come to our Circles with many diverse strengths and weaknesses.  Each voice counts, every voice heard.  We use consensus building as a part of our decision-making practice.

We honor two levels of service within our tradition, that of Priestess and that of High Priestess. From the Branch is the educational arm of the Tradition where we all learn and grow together in Goddess.

We meet in groves and covens and our work is as inclusive of all present as possible. The High Priestess functions as Ritualist, Guide, and Mentor for the group.  She may work with a priestess-in-training (sometimes called the Maiden) or she may work at the altar alone. We have Covens who meet in person and those that meet in cyber-space.

What about men in Circle?  Is it not possible that men can be called to honor the Goddess? How wonderful for them to find community that offers opportunity as co-creators in a non-threatening environment to explore who they are, a place that is both non-competitive and non-hierarchical where they can stand in awe of the universe and learn to work in harmony, removing stereotypical and archetypal responses to that interaction. Why could they not find a place of deep personal connection with Goddess and experience a healing and joyous homecoming? I believe it would be foolish to think that those things that brought me to the Goddess would not also call to her sons.  While we do work our Lunar Rites as women only Circles, our tradition does offer an open and loving place for men at our celebratory Sabbat Rites.  We have our women only solar passages, as well, but also provide sacred space for the coming together of families in joyous celebration. We honor life passages for all members of the human family.  Through our work alone and in our coming together, we are creating new and better ways to live and grow together in Goddess.

I am often asked about the question of duality, as a matter of balance. I am told all the time by traditional Wiccans that one must honor both Goddess and God as reflective of the ways of nature where all things are balanced as female and male, that as a Dianic, I am not in balance.  But you see, Dianics perceive energy differently. We find the idea of “male and female energy” uncomfortable and limiting, and also impossible to define. We view Goddess as Whole, containing all.  We also view ourselves as Whole, containing All.  I do not need someone, outside of myself to be whole.  I do not need another to provide balance in my life.  I know that I am a blending of all energies, and balanced, just as I am.  I question the beliefs of Carl Jung that teach that inside of every woman is a male side or that inside of every man there is a female side.  Because I am a woman, all that I am is female.

Our concept of energy comes to us by observing the world around us, for in reality all of life is energy.  Energy is in the tides or the ocean and in the cyclical seasons of the year.  We see and feel energy in our Circles and see how it flows in the Spiral. Energy surges and retreats again and again. We observe it in our cycles of birth, growth, death and rebirth. We watch it in the in the phases of the moon and in the stars. We don’t see everything as linear, but rather view life as a spiral.  We look at everything around us.  We look at the trees and mountains, at the stars and the clouds, the seas and rivers, the sun and the moon. In them is the pulsing music of the One Force that not only runs the Universe, but IS the Universe. Dianics name it Goddess and honor it as feminine, as Birth Giver. The Goddess is love, honor, and power. She is forceful and She is yielding.  Order and Chaos are Hers. She both turns the Wheel and is turned by it.

Feminism, Politics, and Spirituality

“Feminism has fought no wars.  It has killed no opponents.
It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, and practiced no cruelties.  Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions…for safety on the streets…for child care, for social welfare…for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reforms in the law.  If someone says, ‘Oh, I’m not a feminist,’ I ask, ‘Why? What’s your problem?'”

~Dale Spender, For the Record: The Making & Meaning of Feminist Knowledge, 1985

I don’t believe there is any way to be involved in honoring and loving Goddess without being, in some way, involved in political action and or participating in trying to end oppression (my definition of feminism).  I will grant that there will be varying levels of involvement among individuals, and certainly, that involvement waxes and wanes throughout our busy lives. But our consciousness is always present in these activities in some way.

We come to Goddess because we have been searching for new and better ways to live in our world.  We all have come to agree with the old statement that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.  Those of us who do want a better world have learned that, in order for that to happen, we must be what we dream of being.  And if we cannot fully achieve this yet, we should at least give it whatever we can until we get there.

There are women all over the world who participate in political actions. They stage events, sit down for peace, march and rally, write letters, and campaign for candidates who represent their views.  All are working hard for a better world.  We have people in positions of power, people who vote in ways that are not in keeping with our beliefs because a minority of voters elected our government officials.  It is sad when less than half of the eligible voters actually vote.  Certainly, we do not have officials elected by a majority.  We have a silent majority.  It is our responsibility to know who our candidates are and do whatever we can to be represented by those who hold a healing, life-affirming worldview.

We also work very hard to end oppression of all kinds.  It used to be that feminism was about women’s rights, but no longer. Feminism is now about bringing the concepts of a more equal, egalitarian way of living into our world, where all are valued, each is given equal space, an equal voice, and equal opportunity to enjoy the abundance that life has to offer. This cannot happen until each of us examines our own prejudices, entitlements, and ways of interacting with others, including both privileged and oppressed peoples.  Then we work on those values, adjusting our actions and ways of living in the world.  And finally, we take that newfound awareness out into the world and ally ourselves with those who are oppressed, working with them as brothers and sisters to end the vicious cycle of oppression.

Become informed.  Know who your local politicians are.  Know your senators, congressional representative, and your mayor.  Participate as a knowledgeable voter.  Then vote.  Encourage others to become informed.  Encourage others to vote.  Help them get to the polls if you can!

Learn even more about oppression.  Read books by Bell Hooks such as Feminism is for Everybody!  Also try to look within yourself, see whether the values you were raised with can be considered those of the privileged or those of the oppressed in application.  Strive to undo programming and any cultural conditioning you may find.  Find your “hot spots.”  Get involved where your passion lies.  Become an ally to a group of those less privileged and/or oppressed.  Learn what being an ally means and how to be one effectively.

And finally, consider, how do you relate to our Mother Earth?  On a scorecard, how would you grade yourself in the measures you have taken personally to be in harmony with Her, in recycling efforts both at home and at work, by selecting products for your home that are not harmful to Her, and by being a voice and a helping hand in getting others in on this work?

We all have so much work to do.  By starting now, we are all making a difference, one witch at a time.

Meet Mago Contributor, Deanne Quarrie

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2 Comments on "(Prose) What is Apple Branch Dianic Witchcraft? By Deanne Quarrie, D. Min. HPS"

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“I chose women only space for my deep work with Goddess because that is where I can open and be true to my most holy center. I chose that arena to offer myself in service to women around the world. I could just as easily have stayed in mixed gender groups. However, as my love for Goddess grew, I knew that my work had to be with Her women. It is in this sacred space that we create together, that we women become whole, trusting, and healed.” I am in total agreement with this paragraph… however, exclusion of men puts… Read more »

Well said, thanks!