Friday, June 8, 2012

Stark Raving Mad

I know it's bad form to say anything perceived to be negative in public about an individual who's considered a Pagan elder in most quarters. It will certainly be judged as bad form particularly if that person is known a a  forerunner in contributing to the development of a tradition. But what if that individual has crossed all the lines of etiquette and common sense? What if that individual has begun to disassociate from the scholarly personality she has so carefully cultivated over the years? What if that individual has not only embarrassed herself but the entire  Pagan Community with her pronouncements of who is and is not worthy to worship the Goddess?

Sigh...Yes, I am talking about  Zsuzsanna Budapest, the name most associated with Dianic Wicca. It seems everyone is talking about Z Budapest's refusal to allow trans women to attend a female-only ritual at PantheaCon last year, with a repeat 'performance' at the same conference this year. And I say 'performance', because I sincerely hope this wasn't a publicity stunt dreamed up by  Z's  publicist, because it has become incredibly poor public relations for her with the Pagan community at large.  Zsuzsanna Budapest  has up until now been a respected name, a woman who came into to her own during the Feminist Movement of the 70s. A woman who has inspired countless others to become wholly the woman they deserve to be through her writing and many personal appearances. Someone who was revered as the expert on women's mysteries in the Pagan community. Z Budapest, the person to turn to when you need to deeply explore your womanliness and find your inner strength. A keeper of the Goddess....and for some, the Goddess personified.

No more. In the last few months, Z Budapest has become an anathema and the butt of jokes in the Pagan Community. This was caused first by her openly spewing personal hatred of men, and then by expressing her bigotry toward transsexual women. Her rhetoric has become so hysterically hate filled that she has become a 'character', an oddball, someone who we point at and say is not all quite there in the head. Her diatribes on the subject of  who is and is not a real woman is not only hateful, it's laughable and downright embarrassing.

While it is true that women have been discriminated against since the dawn of time, that discrimination has come from those in social, political, and economic power, particularly by those in the hierarchy of  specific religious institutions. It is also true that 99% of those in power have been men. The fact is  that these despicable acts have also been wrought upon other less powerful, less influential men as well. It is also true that many times those men in power were supported in this endeavor by women-wives, mistresses, mothers and siblings-who desired to reap the benefit of that ultimate authoritative power. Ms. Budapest seems to have conveniently forgotten that part of history in lieu of the history she is promoting.

My life has been a nightmare at the hands of men. That is a shocking statement, even to me. It is also quite misleading. My childhood was a nightmare due to the behavior of particular individuals, several of whom were men, and I was gang raped by three men at the age of 47.  The opening statement holds it's own legitimacy, but it is too broad a comment. There is a literal, defining difference between the facts and what is stated. Do I hate all men because of what I have suffered at the hands of a few? Of course not. Could I be justified in hating all men because of what I have suffered at the hands of a few? I could choose to be a victim, but I have chosen, instead to move on. That doesn't imply forgiveness on my part, it means that I choose not to become stuck in the past.  I used that particular opening statement as an illustration, because it sounds very much like the kind of bombastic quasi-truth Z Budapest has been pedaling as of late. While not a wholly dishonest statement, it is indeed inflammatory, plays on the emotions and garners support from those who have their own axe to grind in that area.

I have a difficult time framing where the  level of vitriol Z has for the male of the species originates. Perhaps knowing a little more about her background and point of reference would be helpful toward making me a little more empathetic. Hating half the human race because they are biologically different than you is madness, sheer, unadulterated madness.  Heaping the sins of some on everyone else is in  the same vein of behavior we as non-Abrahamic people see and love to self-righteously finger point at in the instance when the JudeoChristian God condemned all of the human race for the actions of Adam and Eve. It is generalized, systematic guilting of the masses for the actions of a few. But it seems to make good press, if only good in the way it has been passed through the publications and online resources normally used by our community. Other wise, it is a terrible disservice to us, because to the general public it comes off as the ranting of a crazy old woman, or worse, sounding like the stereotype of the occult practitioner who is less than mentally stable.

Many of my Craft sisters have looked to Z Budapest for guidance in the formation of their personal paths. They are well read, intelligent women, not easily taken in by gender biased nonsense. The majority of them aren't out to make the male half of the human race into villains. They do not view the possession of a penis and testicles as a crime, any more than having a uterus and ovaries. It is ridiculous to say so, and yet in her own recent words, this is what Z Budapest has said: Men are not only inferior creatures, they are out to take over and take away that which is Goddess in women. The implication that men are dirty and wanton is nearly palpable in her speech:"My conflict? Imagine a group of males banging on the door to be allowed into a all women skyclad circle. There is no sense of decency amongts them. Its occupy, and bother naked ladies."* 
Sorry, that doesn't cut it for me. It's a trite excuse for prejudice. It is a ridiculous attempt to garner sympathy from the Sisterhood. Men are not out to invade our sacred spaces . They are not out to steal the sanctity of those places. They are not out to get us. They are not out to "occupy and bother naked ladies". This is crying victim where there has been no crime committed.

These are the words of someone who is carrying around the baggage of a lot of unhealed hatred, who has been wounded and is now picking at old scabs to continue the psychological bleeding. It is most certainly wrong to lay blame on every man for what another has done.  This is, unfortunately, a perfect example of someone who is playing 'the victim' to the max and enjoying every minute of attention it gets her... and believing it will work. It is promoting the now unacceptable head games women of a certain era used to play when they thought they could get sympathy. It says, " Look, he hurt me, the bastard. Punish him!" I am glad to say we have indeed come a long way, baby, because we no longer have need for these games. I share the disdain for this type of grandstanding with many women of my generation who have found more constructive ways of solving our internal conflicts and unabashedly reply:" Suck it up, Buttercup and put on your Big Girl panties.Get over it!" Indeed, we have transcended that immaturity and channeled our personal power into making genuine inroads to improving our lot...without histrionics and public outbursts about what others have done to us.

Z Budapest's loathing of men is so enveloping that it extends to transsexual women. It is so complete that she denies the existence of such: "You cannot become a woman. No doctor can change your male brain. Nor can they create a woman on the famous operating table. So where are you transiting to? Its a illusion."*

Fact: Some individuals are psychologically tuned to be the sex opposite of that into which they were born. Your gonads are only half of the picture. Having lady parts or guy parts does not determine who you are.  That individual can be male in a genetic sense, yet be wholly female in gender identification. 
Trans women are not out to subjugate biological women, because trans women are biological women. My friends who have gone through years of  conflicting mental anguish and suffered the humiliation of being labeled as freaks by society- and have gone through multiple transitional surgeries to become the woman they are inside their mortal shell- are not just dressing the part as if their lives were some sort of street theater. They are not out to threaten the sacredness of womanhood, as Dr.Budapest suggests:"Be careful how easy it is to quilt trip you sisters. Think what is your universe like? You get transprobes into your vagina? Where are these so called "women" when the chips are down like they are now for the real women? Nowhere. its not their concern. They are only out to "invade" womens space. Everywhere."* ( Excuse me, but just WTF is a 'transprobe'?)

And a yet another quote, which I find humorously ignorant:"The transies fight us like Marines with lipstick."*

Really Z? Is that the best barb you can come up with to get your point across after being a  writer for 30+ years? Did that bit of snark make you feel uber-fem and powerful? Because what I think you accomplished  was not so much insulting trans women than negating the legitimacy of female Marines in the exact manner often used by their male detractors. In other words, you just lowered yourself into making  the same sort of gender insult you've been fighting against for so many years....not to mention an implied derogatory remark that women who have served in the fight for freedom of this country are some how less than women.  This is not just an unfortunate choice of words, but a stupendous back flip off your celebrity pedestal onto the cement. Way to go! 

And this most recent post from her on Facebook is just over-the-top in the 'They're-out-to-get-me' level of paranoia:"Ladies, please look around you. Anybody could put me in touch with lawyers who care about women's issues? We need to build a global network, in order to defend ourselves. The trannies are powerful, foul mouthed and hating us women because they are never going to be us, but they can push us aside if we whimp out. There are many issues here for lawyers to ponder. I would just feel safer ." *  This is just pathetic. It kind of makes me hope she's suffering from some sort of dementia rather than her actually believing this delusional rant is reality. You would think that someone who has championed  being a woman to be the first one to celebrate transsexual women committing to becoming who they truly are. I can't for the life of me come up with a solid reason for her unwarranted fear of transsexuals...except maybe she's in fear of all the crap she's put out in the last year rebounding and coming home to roost. Just my opinion, but I suspect she might need more than an attorney's help with that one.

This sample display of public hubris by Z Budapest from her Facebook page is enough for some of us to be justifiably offended, but she took her personal rampage against those of us who reject the hate to a new level when she threatened to curse anyone who dared to change a single word in the chant " We All Come From The Goddess",which she claims to have written. It is one thing to claim infringement on intellectual property and quite another to put a hex on anyone who makes a substitution in the wording of a piece in the public domain. Having many friends in the creative fields of prose and songwriting, I staunchly believe in crediting the author, credit where credit is due and monetary remuneration where appropriate...but a curse? How quaintly old-fashioned! Much quicker than litigation, but about 40 years too late by my calculation. This particular chant has been assimilated into the unconscious collective of the Pagan community, so everyone has their personal take on it who has ever used it. So now Z Budapest is childishly demanding that once again, things go her way. What I believe she fails to acknowledge while lost in this particular  delusion of grandeur is that there are quite a few of us who can match her  bitchiness witchiness.  Personally, I'm all for sending whatever negative she puts out back to her 10 times 10 and binding her.

There are those of us in the community who are willing to overlook Z's outbursts as coming from an old woman in her dotage. Truly this is a different world than the one Z was raised in, but I have a hard time believing that she's stuck in anachronistic thinking. And even if that were the case, it is no excuse for blatant hatred. Saying she has slipped a cog because she's getting along in years is too easy an excuse to make. The more she rages, the more of us will examine in earnest what she's raving about., and the more of us will formulate a dissenting opinion of our own. That actually saddens me, because this is becoming a tarnished end for her. Meanwhile, the Goddess cries.

The inadvertent lesson being taught by the projected of Z Budapest's amplified  bigotry  is tolerance and the rejection of fear of The Other. Perhaps the Universe has found something positive in this after all.

*Asterisk denotes quotes taken from Z Budapest on Facebook at


  1. *Sigh* My father-in-law has dementia and one of the first signs was paranoia. He would lose things and then vehemently declare that someone had broken into the house to steal them. He even called the police and had the locks changed twice in an effort to deny that he had a problem. I do sincerely hope that this is what is going on with Z because that would at least make sense (to those of us outside her head, that is), but it is not something I would wish on anyone.

  2. This a fantastically written, heartfelt, and honest blog. One thing has been coming to mind, repeatedly though. I know a number of Craft folks in Z's age group that are sharper than most people half their age, Lori Bruno being among them. I'm not saying that age does not affect some of us, but I also wonder if this is in fact dementia, or, could it be she's just always been this way and chose not to express it as publicly? From what I've been told by a number of people through the years, Z. was this way back in the 70's also and had since "toned it down." Well, maybe she didn't tone it down. Maybe she just tried to hide it for awhile. Either way, I think she's become a despicable shadow of a woman I used to idolize.

  3. This is an awesome wrote what many are thinking! Blessings to you!

  4. @ Christian- When I was studying for my doctorate, one of the points brought out in a geriatric psychology class was that as some people age they naturally loose the filters that keep them from making arbitrary and outrageous statements. We often see this in the stereotypical curmudgeon portrayed on sitcoms. I don't know if this is the case with Z Budapest, but I sincerely wish someone close to her who cares about her well being and public reputation would have the good sense to get her a psych evaluation for the public peace of mind. That way we would know for certain how to handle her outbursts as a community. If she is ill, then she needs compassion and patience, but if she is not, then I believe the next step is for the general community to censure her for what seems to be extraordinary hatred and bigotry which is emotionally and energetically damaging to the Pagan Community.

    Yes,I have heard the same stories about her from the 70s as you and have wondered at times if she did indeed "tone it down" simply to gain readership and a following. If that is the case, then it was a grand deception that should not be tolerated.

  5. It is sad that even in the Pagan/ Wiccan Community we have our Extremists who think they can Dictate who is a Real Pagan and who is not
    Z Budapest has Obviously Lost her Mind The whole Philosophy of Modern Paganism is we are Open and Tolerant toward Everyone and Love and Accept Everyone. It is sad that there are a Few with Bigoted Views like Z Budapest Thank the Goddess however she is only a Very Few with such Ignorance and Hate and People like this are in the very very tiny Minority. I am A Straight Male Pagan I love and Accept Everyone maybe in time she will Realize the Errors of her ways and Apologize to any she has harmed or insulted with her narrow Views... Thank you for this wonderful Article
    ☥☽✪☾ Love and Light☽✪☾☥

  6. Very well-written, and outrageously sad to me. I think it's a sad commentary on the Craft that all the responses to ZB's rants have been so angry, condemning, and focused on re-directing hatred back at her. Why can't we as a community be more spiritual? This letter is the first I've seen that at least begins to explore why she's saying what she's saying. Let's focus on healing! Z Budapest is (and IMO has always been) in need of deep healing, compassion, understanding. I condemn what she says on the grounds that hers is a message of pain. I reject her message because my Spirit is fueled by love, not pain. So I won't react with anger. I react with love. I truly hope that she will seek healing. And I wish the same for myself and my Craft family. We are One, folks. I am not without pain, wounds, anger, and fear. I too suffer. But as I become healed, so too do the others around me, and the planet under me, and the sky above me. We as a spiritual community need to focus on love and healing. And also understanding and acceptance. Z's messages over 40+ years have resonated with a lot of women for a reason. And while I can't support her extreme views, I do recognize that her message has given many women strength and courage. Perhaps she touches our anger and pain, and in the past has given them voice and support. I hope she and we all can evolve towards respect, healthy boundaries, healing, nurturing, kindness, strength, beauty: the true nature of womanhood, and the Goddess.

  7. "I could choose to be a victim, but I have chosen, instead to move on. That doesn't imply forgiveness on my part, it means that I choose not to become stuck in the past."

    This!! I was sexually abused by men, but also by one of my grandmothers growing up. I was damaged for a long time, but I chose to heal. It's a long, hard process, and now I'm a strong, whole person again. But forgiveness is not something I'm going to give to someone who did something so despicable. So I've moved on, and I live my life the best way I know how.

    You are such an inspiration <3

  8. 100% agree with you Mrs. AmethJera
    I stop supporting her when I first heard about the chant stuff...
    But now I think the Pagan Commutiny in general should write a letter expressing public rejection of her statements...
    her hatred has become rampant and unnaceptable

  9. Oh, I found this via FB from a friend who knew about your blog, and I am so happy she linked to it. You have a new reader today.

    You wrote from a place of fierce compassion and honesty and I admire that. Thank you for doing so.

  10. I'm sorry that Z hurt your feelings and said some nasty things. A friend of mine was at that same Pantheacon and really wanted to attend that event, which was apparently ruined by the situation you describe. Although I am very tolerant of transgender women and men, it is somehow ironic to me that those who were born men--whether that was the correct choice of gender given by the gods or not--even want to infiltrate some of the only women-only ceremonies that still exist. I am not defending Z's hurtful and bigoted remarks, I am just asking that you look at the situation another way. I would also suggest that a person who was not born with female genitalia, or in some other way considered female from birth, cannot ever completely understand what it is to be discriminated against as a female in this society. I am a feminist and there are other feminists who agree with me, so don't think that just because some women want to have women-only rituals that define the word "woman" a certain way that they are bigots.
    As for whether or not Z has dementia or the onset of Alzheimer's or some similar disorder, well, isn't that an ageist thing to say, assuming that her bigotry is due to her age or her generation. Believe me, as a college teacher I have 18 year-old students who would express the same ignorant opinions as Z. That is why I took a course that certified my class as a "Safe Zone" for LGBT students so that they know that such bigotry will not be tolerated in my classroom.
    The biggest problem here, however, is none of the above. It's the fact that we're wasting time fighting with each other rather than spending valuable time fighting the real dangers in our society--for Americans, it is the right wing, which comprises all Republicans and many Democrats. I know so many pagans who are apolitical and they are just cutting their own throats by not getting involved with the issues that affect them on a daily basis. I'm just sayin'.

  11. @ DyanaAset- Z didn't hurt my feelings one bit....However she did insult and minimize the very existence of some members of our community.Considering how she as a lesbian has surely suffered the same fate at some time in her life, I would think she would be understanding and not stoop to the same form of gutter-name calling as her detractors.

    Our community wouldn't be talking about this if Z Budapest hadn't acted so outrageously. Maybe we should all simply ignore her, not buy her books and stop supporting her as an elder until she withers away and dies. Is that the answer? No. We need to address these issues so we can grow toward unity in our community.

    I feel your last paragraph was purposely added as a distraction from the subject, although I do agree that as citizens we need to become more politically involved in the process. Thank You for your comments.

  12. It is sad that something like this is coming from someone like Z. Part of it could be blamed on a medical reason but not numerous out burst. Once again I wonder what this world is coming to.

  13. Thanks for bringing this to sharper attention. I had no idea she was repeating it again this year. I'm glad I know. And you're commentary was brilliant. Thanks so much.

  14. Very well said! And an important lesson I needed myself. It is not only women who have suffered at the hands of men. As a gay man I have been the victim of violence and heartache and the hands of men as well. Hate does not heal. Ignorance is not bliss. Avoiding problems don't make them go away.

    It seems that Z has taught us much not only by her good works, but by her mistakes and faults as well. Let us not forget these lessons as she has forgotten that love is the law.


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