The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Death of a ‘Dianic High Priestess’

Posted on | October 1, 2016 | 3 Comments

“Wicca refers to the practice of European paganism popular throughout Europe and North America. . . . Dianic Wicca refers to a more radical women-only practice, named for the Goddess Diana. The novels of Marion Zimmer Bradley have been influential for Dianic Wiccans . . .”
Meredith Miller, “Dianic Wicca,” in Historical Dictionary of Lesbian Literature (2006)

“Dianic Wicca is quite nearly a synonym for ‘lesbian paganism’ or ‘feminist witchcraft.’ It was founded by a crazy Hungarian-born woman known as Zsuzsanna Budapest who became a feminist, divorced her husband, abandoned her two sons and turned lesbian.”
Robert Stacy McCain, “Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Son Describes Abuse by Feminist Pagan Fiction Author,” 2014

“I am a 56 year old Dyke Leather witch. … I am a member of the National Leather Association-Dallas. … I hold the titles of Ms. National Leather Association-International 1994 and Ms. Texas Leather Pride 1993.”
Artemis Silverowl, 2013

“Gee, Stacy, where do you find this stuff?” People ask me this question whenever I stumble onto one of those really weird stories from the bizarre fringes of feminism, but really, isn’t feminism just one big weird pile of bizarre fringes? Still, sometimes my research turns up something so genuinely strange that even I am impressed by its weirdness, as was the case today when I found the 2013 obituary of an esteemed member of the Dallas chapter of the National Leather Association:


Last week the tragic news of the untimely death of Artemis Silverowl rocked both the Women’s and Leather communities. Artemis was a long time member of both, beginning in the early days of the “feminist wars in the 70s” . . . She leaves behind her fiancée, Denice, members of her Leather Families, and hundreds of other Leathermen and Leatherwomen.
To quote her own words from her bios, “I have been an out Dyke since 1975 and an OUT Leather woman since 1976. I came out as a dyke at the age of 18 years old and I came out as a leather woman at the age of 19 years old.”
A “Yankee” by birth, she was born in Massachusetts and began her involvement with the Dallas Leather in 1991. She served as the female co-chair of NLA-Dallas from 1992–1994 and was a member of the Beyond Vanilla Committee during the same period of time. . . .
In her profile, Artemis she wrote, “I firmly believe that the future growth and survival of the Bd/Sm/Leather/Fetish community depends upon coalition building, tolerance, integrity and service. We must become adept at respecting our differences while building bridges for our common good.” . . .
Artemis was also a Dianic High Priestess and member of the Wiccan community. Dianic Wicca, sometimes known as “feminist Wicca,” began in the 1970s as an outgrowth of both the feminist and “new age” movements. It worships Diana, the daughter of Jupiter and Latona, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Roman goddess of the hunt, wildlife, wilderness, childbirth, lakes and streams, roads and harbors, and the moon. She was also the goddess of protection of women and children. Dianic Wicca celebrates the feminine aspect of the divine and the aspect of the ”divine feminine.”

“Artemis Silverowl” was actually Cynthia Babbitt, the daughter of Fred and Doris Babbitt of Worcester, Massachusetts. “Silverowl”/Babbitt was an employee of the University of Texas-Austin, and her “life partner” Denice Wong was also evidently known as “La Lioness” in the Dallas “leather community.” There was a memorial service for “Silverowl”:

The memorial, held at the Interfaith Chapel of the Cathedral of Hope and attended by over one hundred people, included an honor guard which presented the gay pride and Leather pride flags. Artemis’ boots, vest and cover, along with a photograph of her, were displayed at the front of the chapel. The Honor Guard consisted of Sir Lacey, Terrie Anderson, Master Mack, Master Gator, Fred A., and Raven.
The service was officiated by koneko and paid tribute to Artemis’ Wiccan faith. Artemis’ fiancee, La Lioness, as well as long time friends Jim Richards, Hardy Haberman and Master Lanie, remembered Artemis as a strong, courageous and loving woman.

The tribute to “Silverowl”/Babbitt by “La Lioness”/Wong:

I’ll never resign myself to having lost you. I know that we shall meet again and continue with a new chapter in our book of life.
Artemis I know you loved me and that you never meant to hurt me. Your absence makes it difficult to breathe.
I understand now the significance of your final destination. The river from which you came has reclaimed you to heal you emptiness, loneliness and brokenness. I now know that you had to go because this was not a place for a soul a like yours.
The life and love that we shared flows to be depths of our souls. I am a better person because of the unconditional love that we shared and the spirit of forgiveness that blossomed within our relationship.

What more can we say about Cynthia “Artemis Silverowl” Babbitt, “Dianic High Priestess and member of the Wiccan community”? Perhaps it would be appropriate to quote her own self-description:

“I am a decidedly butch woman.
I am an alpha slave who identifies as a boy. …
I am a switch and I am a pansexual player.”

A fitting epitaph for the “Dyke Leather witch” who believed in “the future growth and survival of the Bd/Sm/Leather/Fetish community.”


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Feminism is about weird people and bizarre ideas. Readers who wish to express gratitude for my service in finding this strange tale should remember the Five Most Important Words in the English Language:



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3 Responses to “The Death of a ‘Dianic High Priestess’”

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    October 9th, 2016 @ 3:45 pm

    […] The Death of a “Dianic High Priestess” Still, sometimes my research turns up something so genuinely strange that even I am impressed by its weirdness, as was the case today when I found the 2013 obituary of an esteemed member of the Dallas chapter of the National Leather Association. […]

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