In my last post, I shared that I had joined a Dianic study group and that we would be reading and discussing “The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries”.

For me to be able to intelligently discuss anything, I usually have to do some thorough research and then write a short essay-like journal to keep track of my thoughts. You see, even if I am really excited or interested in something I still get distract— Ooh, shiny!

See what I mean?

According to the back cover of the book:
“In the early 1970s, pioneering witch and teacher Z Budapest and her Susan B. Anthony Coven self-published a little red paperback called The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries. More than thirty years later this now-not-so-little bookcontinues to educate, entertain, and enlighten, providing a treasure trove of information and rituals for modern pagans, witches, and other women looking to bring a little magic into their spiritual practice.”

Reading that, I have a certain expectation that I will learn at least a bit about the history of  paganism and witchcraft. I should also find humorous, dramatic, and/or romanticized snippets that should delight me and keep me reading.  And I should walk away from this book feeling like I have learned something about the people in the book, paganism in general, and quite possibly myself.

That is an awfully tall order to fill.

I won’t go too much into the forwards and introduction. I read them because I knew this is a newer edition of the book and I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

Let’s get into this; shall we?

Chapter 1: Feminist Witchcraft
This chapter is broken up into 13 small sub-chapters (a few paragraphs to a few pages), beginning with…

“The Politics of Women’s Religion”.
I expected something of a short essay on women’s use of religion governs their daily lives. And while it wasn’t an essay, the attitude was what I expected.
This section reveals the manifesto of the Susan B. Anthony Coven. It is a series of statements reflecting the groups outlook on attitude and commitments to their craft, their sisters, and themselves. As a whole, they are strong and powerful statements. Calling this the “politics of women’s religion”, though, is a bit of a stretch. It’s a view of the group’s own religious beliefs, and not an all-encompassing thing.

“Women’s Religion, As in Heaven, So on Earth”
Here’s my problem with some all-female pagan groups – They completely discount the importance of men in the very same way some Christian faiths discount the importance of women. It is hypocritical and frustrating.
As I read this section of chapter 1, I found myself clenching my jaw in anger. While I follow the ideal that there is no all-powerful male deity controlling our lives, I also don’t believe there is an all-powerful female deity doing the same.

“The Turning of the Tide: How We Lost It”
There are some great anecdotes about ancient civilizations, their once-female dominated spirituality and the loss of their power by greedy, power-hungry men. It creates an overwhelming alarm in me, as in most women I expect, about the injustice brought upon our ancestors.
I’d like to do a bit of research into the Greek hierarchy and it’s origins to see if what the author says is even close to truth, or if this section of the book is and exaggeration of history. Maybe it’s both. That is the beauty of history, isn’t it?

“The Slothwoman as Ancient Magician”
I really enjoyed this sub-chapter. The idea that our ancient, instinct-driven brain still controls some of our daily life is fascinating to me. Deep down, engrained in our long-forgotten memories there is a force, a beginning that never ended… astounding, don’t you think?
Slothwoman is a term coined by Budapest. I’m not particularly fond of it, but I don’t think I could have come up with anything better. The author believes that we can appease her – this simple creature – through song, poetry, dance, and pretty shiny things. Slothwoman is our base instinct and needs to be loved and honored. In turn, she can provide us with ancient knowledge and guidance.

“Dangers of Magic”
For any woman who practices magic, this section is a pretty important read. It’s a short, 8-paragraph note-to-self guide to not getting an ego. It’s a sort of “How To Not Be a Jerk” section.

The rest of this chapter includes sub-chapters on tools, setup and spell-casting as well as sources for herbs, oils, and incense. This is a helpful resource for women who choose to follow that path of pagan spirituality.
The Slothwomen section of chapter 1 was really the only part that had me interested. And I truly appreciated the resource section. Though I don’t practice traditional spell-casting, I do use aspects of it in prayer and meditation. I don’t feel like I need to burn candles or incense, but having a poem or song to sing to myself helps me feel centered and clears my mind of worry.

I am excited to read chapter 2, as it looks to focus on Dianic tradition and rites. I am a big fan of religious histories, so this should be right up my alley.

Until next time, everyone; stay safe, stay happy.

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