Zsuzsanna Budapest

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Zsuzsanna Emese Mokcsay
Born (1940-01-30) January 30, 1940 (age 81)
Budapest, Hungary
Nationality American
Other names Zsuzsanna Budapest, Z. Budapest
Alma mater University of Vienna
Occupation Author, activist, journalist, playwright and song-writer.
Known for Founder of the Susan B. Anthony Coven
Parent(s) Masika Szilagyi
Symbol of the Goddess with the Pentagram.

Zsuzsanna Emese Mokcsay (born 30 January 1940 in Budapest, Hungary) is an American author, activist, journalist, playwright and songwriter of Hungarian origin who writes about feminist spirituality and Dianic Wicca under the pen name Zsuzsanna Budapest or Z. Budapest. She is the founder of the Susan B. Anthony Coven, the first feminist, women-only, witches' coven.[1][2][3]

She is the founder and director of the Women's Spirituality Forum, a nonprofit organization featuring lectures, retreats and other events, and was the lead of a cable TV show called 13th Heaven.[4] She has an online autobiography entitled Fly by Night, and writes for the religion section of the San Francisco Examiner on subjects related to Pagan religions. Her play The Rise of the Fates premiered in Los Angeles in the mid-seventies. She is the composer of several songs including "We All Come From the Goddess".[5] She lives in Oakland, California.

Early life

Z. Budapest was born in Budapest, Hungary. Her mother, Masika Szilagyi, was a medium, a practicing witch, and a professional sculptress whose work reflected themes of Goddess and nature spirituality. In 1956, when the Hungarian Revolution broke out, she left Hungary as a political refugee. She finished high school in Innsbruck, graduated from a bilingual gymnasium, and won a scholarship to the University of Vienna where she studied languages.[1]

Budapest immigrated to the United States in 1959, where she studied at the University of Chicago, with groundbreaking originator of the art of improvisation, Viola Spolin, and the improvisational theater group The Second City.[1] She married and had two sons, Laszlo and Gabor, but later divorced. She realized she identified as a lesbian and chose, in her words, to avoid the "duality" between man and woman.[6]


She moved to Los Angeles from New York City in 1970, and became an activist in the women's liberation movement. She was on the staff of the first Women's Center in the U.S. there for many years,[7] and became the Founder and High Priestess of Susan B. Anthony Coven #1, the first documented women-only coven.[1][2][3] She was responsible for the creation of an Anti-Rape Squad[8] and the Take Back the Night Movement in Southern California, and facilitated many of their street marches.[9][10]



In 1975, she was arrested for "fortune telling" at her candle and book store in Venice, California following a "sting" by an undercover police woman Rosalie Kimberlin, who received a tarot reading from her. Subsequently Budapest was charged with violating a municipal by-law, Code 43.30, which meant fortune telling was unlawful. Budapest and her defense team described the event as "the first witch prosecuted since Salem," [11][12] and the ensuing trial became a focus for media and pagan protesters. Budapest was found guilty.[12]

Duly, Budapest and her legal counsel set out to establish Wicca, and more specifically Dianic Wicca, as a bona fide religion. The state's Supreme Court repealed the guilty verdict as unconstitutional and in violation of the Freedom of Religion Act.[11][13]

Following her conviction, she engaged in nine years of appeals on the grounds that reading the Tarot was an example of women spiritually counseling women within the context of their religion. With pro bono legal representation she was acquitted, and the laws against "fortune telling" were struck from California law.[13][14]

"We All Come From The Goddess"

In 2012, Budapest requested via Facebook that the song she wrote, "We All Come From The Goddess" be performed as written and not be altered to include male gods. She initially stated that anyone changing her song was cursed, but clarified in comments section of this post that she was joking.[15]


Budapest claims that her first job in television was as a Color Girl for the CBS Network in New York; that she was assigned to The Ed Sullivan Show, and it was her face that CBS adjusted their camera's settings to.[16] In the eighties, she created the TV show 13th Heaven, which ran on syndicated cable in the San Francisco Bay area for seven years.[4] She was also interviewed by Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show" surrounding her "witch trial".[10]



  • The Rise of the Fates: A Woman's Passion Play 1976


  • Winter: The Goddess Monologues (with Béla Bartók and the Hungarian Women's Chorus from Győr) 2003[17]
  • Glad Woman's Song on Robert Gass's Ancient Mother CD
  • Grandmother Moon CD
  • Goddess in the Bedroom CD


  • The Occult Experience 1987 Cinetel Productions Ltd (released on VHS by Sony/Columbia-Tristar August 5, 1992)
  • Gathering the Goddess, a documentary of her first festival (in south central Texas)
  • Gathering the Goddess '08 (held in LaHonda, California) - in development.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Lesbian Pride Website. Lesbian-pride.com (1940-01-30). Retrieved on 2011-06-23.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Witchcraft Today: An Encyclopedia of Wiccan and Neopagan Traditions by James R. Lewis ABC-CLIO (1999)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Voices from the Pagan Census: A National Survey of Witches and Neo-Pagans in the United States by Helen A. Berger, Evan A. Leach and Leigh S. Shaffer. University of South Carolina Press (2003)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Feminist Foremothers in Women's Studies, Psychology, and Mental Health, Volume 1 edited by Phyllis Chesler, Esther D. Rothblum and Ellen Cole. Psychology Press (1995)
  5. The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft by Ronald Hutton. Oxford University Press (Nov 4, 1999)
  6. Nevill Drury, The History of Magic in the Modern Age ISBN 0-09-478740-9 (pg. 161)
  7. Women's Periodicals in the United States: Social and Political Issues by Kathleen L. Endres and Therese L. Lueck. Greenwood Publishing Group (Jan 1, 1996)
  8. Between the Worlds: Readings in Contemporary Neopaganism by Sian Reid. Canadian Scholars’ Press (2006)
  9. Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America by Cynthia Eller. Crossroads Press (1993)
  10. 10.0 10.1 L.A.’s Superstars of the Soul by Tess Whitehurst, Whole Life Magazine
  11. 11.0 11.1 The Last Great American Witch Trial article, Bobby Grenier, 2008
  12. 12.0 12.1 In Full Bloom: Tales of Women in Their Prime by Sharon Creeden. August House (1999)
  13. 13.0 13.1 The Visionary State: A Journey Through California's Spiritual Landscape by Erik Davis. Chronicle Books (June 22, 2006)
  14. BlogTalkRadio Website. Blogtalkradio.com (2008-03-07). Retrieved on 2011-06-23.
  15. Facebook. Facebook.com (2013-04-17). Retrieved on 2013-01-23.
  16. Z. Budapest Website Press Kit
  17. ''Priestessing on the Edge of Chaos: The Goddess Monologues – Zsuzsanna E. Budapest'' by Letecia Layson, Morphogenesis Website. Morphogenesis.info. Retrieved on 2011-06-23.


External links