I have to admit, in my world the mere mention of Szuszanna Budapest is often followed by a heavy sigh and an eye-roll. I haven't taken her seriously since the whole pantheacon debacle a few years back. Like many contemporary pagans I feel that she has been less of an ally the past few years and more like the crazy aunt at the party we all try to avoid. She is famous for her stance against anything Y chromosome related and has on several occasions been verbally abusive to members in the trans-community. I had grown almost comfortable with my distaste of all things Z Budapest, after all each time she opened her mouth she only reaffirms my opinion. Then she goes and ordains a man.
I think like many of you I just mentally wrote it off as an obvious attempt to save face in the public eye. Currently you can’t google her name without a bunch of hate speech coming up and that has to be bad for book sales, right? Then I looked a little closer and found that the man she ordained was not just some poor sap but a well established author and a fellow priest of Diana from Brazil named Claudiney Prieto.
For years I have followed his work because his take on Dianic worship and service is very similar to my own. He and I share values in community service, Goddess worship, feminism, and we both draw heavily from the work of Fazer. “How could a guy like him allow this to happen?” I thought. “Surely he must not know of who this woman really is.” I squirmed silently for several moments as I read through the posts from the recent Goddess conference where it had taken place and then decided to send him a message to get his take on what it all means.
Over our conversation I learned that this wasn’t a full-fledged initiation into the Budapest Dianic tradition, but more of a blessing and acknowledgement for his work within the Goddess community. It is the pagan equivalent of receiving an honorary diploma from an all women's college. He later would tell me that he thought of it as a chance to build bridges between the mostly segregated Goddess community. I loved the sentiment of building bridges, but I couldn’t help but feel it was all a little too naive. After all, I was there for all of the hate speech, and most of it was directed at the groups I work with or at me personally.
For days I told myself I shouldn’t have an opinion, especially regarding someone els’s tradition. I wouldn’t be sharing it with you now had I not come to a very different conclusion than I was expecting.
Heres a quote from the press release she sent out on August 11.
“ In a decisive move that nullifies the recent accusations of misandry towards her and her Dianic Tradition, Zsuzsanna Budapest has awarded a man, Brazil’s own Claudiney Prieto with a blessing for the work he does within his own Nemorensis Dianic Tradition, while the Dianic Tradition in Budapest’s lineage remains for female-born women and girls.”
Obviously, this doesn't nullify anything but it does give this Dianic priest hope for the future. The truth is, we won. Our collective push for change has actually yielded some result. No this isn’t going to take away the hurt she has caused, no it’s not the apology we have all been holding our breath for, but this is the direct result of our collective push for an inclusive future.
In a later press release on August 18 she writes:
“This was a different ordination, meant to be for a Kouretes of the Goddess, a legitimate male (Budapest) Dianic tradition, written up in the Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries (see Chapter 5: The Sacred Sons). Its as orthodox as anything else, I have broken no (Budapest) Dianic rules. We just never found any male who deserved such a distinction. Not that I was actually looking for the first Kouretes.”
Claudiney may not be a full-fledged Budapest Dianic priest with all the bells and whistles but he is a Nemorensis Dianic priest who has done a lot of incredible work. I don’t think his faith in a better future is actually naive at all. He has something that the rest of us have forgotten in the wake of all the spiritual terrorism, hope that the future can be blended in the worship of the Goddess. As a priest of the Goddess I can’t help but feel empowered by this.
What does Z’s ordination of Claudiney mean for the rest of us? There is still hope.