Budapest, Z. (January 30, 1940—) - Witchcraft Hall of Fame

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

Budapest, Z. (January 30, 1940—)
Witchcraft Hall of Fame

Magical practitioner, author, and founding mother of Dianic Wicca—an important, influential feminist witchcraft tradition—Z. Budapest was born Zsuzsanna Emese Moksay in Budapest. Her mother, Masika Szilagyi, was a ceramics artist and medium, palm reader, and psychic. Through her mother, Budapest derives from a long line of herbalist witches.

She left Hungary following the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, eventually immigrating to the United States in 1959. In the US Budapest studied improvisational theater with the Second City theatrical school in Chicago for two years. When her marriage broke up in 1970, she moved to California.

In 1970, she discovered the Women’s Liberation Movement; she writes that she then became a “conscious woman.” She connected witchcraft with feminism: on the Winter Solstice of 1971, Budapest formed the Susan B. Anthony Coven in Los Angeles in honor of the suffragist leader. She opened a store “The Feminist Wicca” in the Venice area of Los Angeles, where she was arrested in 1975 by an undercover policewoman for violation of laws against “fortune telling for a fee.” Budapest was arrested for reading tarot cards. She was put on trial and lost; the law would be repealed nine years later.

Dianic Wicca or Wimmin’s Religion is a feminist religious and spiritual tradition. Women’s rights and rites are combined in celebration of the Goddess. Most covens are exclusively female. The focus is on female divinity, especially Diana, hence the name Dianic. Dianic Wicca may be considered similar in essence to women’s ancient mystery traditions such as that of Rome’s Bona Dea.

Also in 1975, Budapest self-published The Feminist Book of Light and Shadows, a collection of rituals and spells that became the basic text of Dianic Wicca; it was subsequently republished as The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries: Feminist Witchcraft, Goddess Rituals, Spellcasting and Other Womanly Arts (Wingbow Press, 1980, revised 1989).

In the early 1980s, Budapest moved to Oakland, California, where she hosted a radio show serving the San Francisco Bay area and became director of the Women’s Spirituality Forum in Oakland, a nonprofit organization sponsoring a monthly lecture series about the Goddess, spirituality retreats, and annual spiral dances on Halloween.