The Author's Corner
Summoning the Fates:
TWPT: How long have the Biannual Goddess Festivals been going on now?
Z Budapest: This is going to be our fourth biannual Goddess 2ooo International Festival.
TWPT: How have they changed and grown since you had the very first one? Where do the people come from that attend our events? Do you draw mainly from California or do you have a more nationwide/worldwide reach for this festival?
Z Budapest: The festival started with a huge success. We had eleven countries represented and all the states! We had presenters from all seven continents. This political/spiritual correctness is hard to keep up consistently. The next festival still had a good international presentation, but we lost China.
The circles were consistently high. The space we use is perfect, a Greek theater, called Gaias Bowl, built into the earth , windshaded, tree crowned. Gaias Bowl is a Greek theater, sunken earth, with a safe center for fire. All around it are wooden seats.
The third festival was very high quality because we changed the focus and sharpened the image. I began my work with the Fates, and stirred the event towards more worship. This gave way to a format we can follow a long time very similar to ancient pilgrimages.
For the fourth, I expect better attendance than what we could muster up via snail mail. I think this time drawing on the Internet webbings will give us a brand new audience. An audience we can prepare ahead of time via my webpage which will contribute to everyone having the same state of mind when we step on the land. I see it as a pilgrimage, at the edge of the millennia. All women and girls can now come and partake of the communal heritage we built for the last thirty years.
TWPT: What does someone take away from this gathering?
Z Budapest: Women and girls take away from the festival individual gifts, some a sense of community, however temporary, some skills about circling, or hands on knowledge of something from the workshops. We always have space for purification, honoring, celebration but also for grieving.
TWPT: Do you see the turn of the millennium as special for the Goddess movement?
Z Budapest: The millennia will take us up into mainstream. For women there is no other way to go. The churches have lost them and the Goddess has recruited them.
TWPT: You mentioned in an interview that you did for the book "People of the Earth" by Ellen Hopman that in some ways acceptance into the mainstream waters down the Goddess movement. Do you feel that the next 10 years or so will continue to see the Wiccan/Pagan/Goddess movements watered down by their own acceptance into the mainstream?
Z Budapest: The mainstream is always watered down, but in the case of a folk religion such as I see Women's Mysteries, its no biggie. Watered down its still cool and all things must pass.
TWPT: Do you have anything special planned for the Goddess 2000 gathering? What type of workshops, lectures and/or rituals will someone coming to the goddess 2000 event find there?
Z Budapest: We have discounts for family members or covens, any number three and up. We have a ground crew for helping the fly-ins to get settled in, we hire the teachers, performers. In order to do a workshop we need to be contacted ASAP with a description of the workshop. But this festival is not workshop supermarket. It's a ritual and praying kind of festival. However we are looking for the top teachers who may not have been acknowledged, especially women of color.
The fates work is very complicated, and it's all in my latest book "Summoning the Fates". Suffice it to say, we divide the festival into destiny groups. Each age has something to ponder, they create their own sessions and create a ritual for the last night. However the workshops offer all kinds of insights to do this task well. It's awesome to see the different age groups work together and cheer each other on.
And last, theater is the child of ritual. I believe that first was ritual, talking to good luck, asking the gods for help, etc. later these rituals became more elaborate, and the gods interacted with mortals in the plays. Finally just mortals interacted with each other, with the occasional gods. But again who knows for sure. It's a mystery.
TWPT: Are all the rituals you do improvisational?
Z Budapest: My background is in Improv theater. I see theater as a child of ritual. The techniques I have been using and continue to use leave a lot of room for the life of the circle to take its sacred direction. I leave rituals planned so that all persons present can contribute to it. We all do something at all times. A Dianic Circle is participatory. If nothing else the members are humming and/or toning. There is an uninterrupted vibration going on . Rituals must have skeletons that support the improv.
This is a big beef of mine, boring circles. I have been in many circles where you had to stand about for a long time, waiting for somebody's long invocation to wind down. Long is not better. Poetic is better. But that's rare. Truth is it's not worship. Worship is when time stops in prayer. Worship is not theater. I can talk about this for hours.
I think we should watch the quality of the circles. I am convinced nothing can hurt the Goddess Movement like boredom. I popularized Women's Mysteries because it was never boring. The circles formal parts lasts an hour and a half and that's with fifty ,sixty women. Then entertainment was part of the feasting and dancing. Circles must be closed before people get tired.
TWPT: Rosemary Guiley , in the "Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft credits your book "The Feminist Book of Light and Shadows" as being the basic text of the Dianic Wicca Movement. Do you consider yourself to have been the founder of this movement?
Z Budapest: I did not start the Dianic tradition, I have however revived it. Women's Mysteries already had a lovely long run in antiquity. I have a strong belief that women must claim back their Goddess and glorify the feminine. Without the reflection of women in divinity, women will be forever spiritual orphans. Orphans are vulnerable, dependent. Strong women must have a sense of their own divinity, a sense of what they are worth as part of the divine. No religion can tell her this but the Pagans. Dianic Traditions tell women that the female principle is the creative force in nature, the male principle is the stimulating principle in the universe. Both sexes are equal and sacred.
TWPT:Do you see Wicca and the Goddess Movement as being variations on a theme or as two separate paths?
Z Budapest: Wicca and the Goddess Movement are just part of the variety of a folk tradition that is global.
TWPT: How difficult is it to follow the Goddess Path and yet live in an urban or city environment? Or is it all simply in the mind and the heart of the follower?
Z Budapest: The Goddess path is a heart thing.
TWPT: Why start so soon promoting an event that will not take place until September of 2000?
Z Budapest: The reason we are starting so soon advertising for the Goddess 2ooo festival is because events in 2ooo will be filled up real fast. It's a landmark year. Hotels are filling up now. The other reason is that we switched to cyberspace advertising and we don't know how that will work out yet. Its a first. We used to send out snail mail to 37,000 women. Its costs us seven grand. I had to raise this money and give it to the post office for many years. I am tired working for the post office. I insist that we take advantage of the webbings and get the festival filled up with people via cyberspace.
TWPT:How much planning and preparation go into making one of these events a success?
Z Budapest:The planning is a non-stop two year long effort. We receive much mail and so once a week, the Mommies (two women who call themselves this due to the five kids they have) and I open mail. Then we pack off those to be answered to Iris, who is the scribe. She answers all letters. We send the new addresses (we only want e-mail) to the service. We clear the phone and answer the calls. Then we sit down and have a break and talk about the festival. We create "do it now" lists, and then we follow them up. We report on e-mail or on phone during the week. When we get closer to d-day, a landcrew is formed. This makes our small trinity blow up to twenty. The landcrew helps women to settle in, pick them up at the airport. Another order of women are the presenters and circle priestesses. I write/design the energy. We then engage with designers, cyber list moms and webs. We need the Internet to help us do normal advertising and to keep it on the screen. All in all there are about forty women who work the festival.
TWPT: Do you have volunteers to help prepare and promote this event?
Z Budapest: Volunteers are Goddess sent gifts, each year we get some, some return. To volunteer for the festival is mostly for helping to get the word out.
The Goddess 2000 festival is supported mostly by fly-ins. We have pick up service from the airport.
TWPT: In between all your activities do you still find time for your own private times with the Goddess? Do you have to set and enforce the time or does it just seem to surface at the exact moment that you need it?
Z Budapest: My private time with the Goddess is a daily practice. I walk in the cemetery with my Hungarian Puli dogs and meditate. This cemetery is a huge park. I love it there. Its true Hallowed ground.
TPWT: How does writing, speaking and teaching fit into your life these days?
Z Budapest: Writing is another form of spirituality, as is all creativity. I am working on a dog book right now, "Rasta Dog". I don't do many speeches. I never became the darling of the speaking circuit. I am invited to out of town places, or to set up my own workshops, but I prefer to stay at home and have my boring wonderful life. It is interesting. As an immigrant, I am used to being on the outside, but I have never quite understood how outside is outside until I got here. I never became the lesbian star, because I have been married and have male children. I never became the witch star, because I have advocated Women's Mysteries, and was quickly rejected as lesbian tinted. Lesbianism and Women's Mysteries should be like one, but they are not. Lesbians relate just like the general public, very diverse. Just because the Goddess traditions are female centered, lesbians have not made it their own religion. Many lesbians are Dianics, but most Dianics are straight women with children. Go figure. We don't know whom we are reaching on the Internet. I have my own list, which I find addictive. About a hundred like minded women are talking to each other, exchanging ideas spells, feelings and confessions. It's awesome. When they web out we are going to rock.
I do write every day. My brain hurts if I don't, if I'm not always publishing material. I love e-mail, for example. Any kind of writing trains the brain to do that task, and when it's not there it makes restless thoughts.
TWPT:Do you find the Internet another useful tool in the battle to stay in touch with everyone or do you see it as another drain on your tie and resources?
Z Budapest: The Internet was made for non-profits like us. It costs us 7 grand to use our mighty mailing list once. I had to raise that money all for the post office. I am asking women to help us link up my website with the festival information so I can fill all 3oo places for Goddess 2ooo Festival.
Just as a closing note, I have been in the Goddess Movement for over thirty years. I have not regretted any year, any move, any action. I've had a wonderful life so far. This is my sixtieth year, a young Crone. My fate is unfolding for the third destiny. I am excited. That's the best feeling