Author: Amber K
Trade Paperback, 528 pages
Publication date: October 1998
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Amber K's Covencraft: Witchcraft for Three or More, now in its fourth printing and sporting a new cover, is a fairly rare type of book. First, because it's a book of advice on the mechanics of forming and running a Wiccan coven (as opposed to on the rituals and practices of a coven). Second, because it's a coven-oriented book aimed at eclectics -- when most books for eclectics today seem to assume that if one is an eclectic Wiccan, one's primary focus will be solitary. Despite a few odd suggestions and minor problems, Covencraft is a very good book -- proof that Llewellyn can publish quality Wiccan books that aren't aimed at the complete beginner.
As this book is divided into 27 chapters and 42 appendixes, I cannot review it as I usually do, by briefly commenting on each chapter or section. I can only talk about the contents in general. This book discusses organizing and operating a coven in great detail. There are chapters on where to meet, coven finances, coven officers, training new members, initiations, group dynamics, dealing with conflict, networking and much more. The appendixes provide sample coven bylaws, membership agreements, sample degree programs, a sample budget, a list of problem personalty types, lists of resources, and sample coven rituals.
Covencraft is a well written book. It is easy to understand and generally gives good advice. Unlike many books on forming groups, it is not dry and boring. However, on rare occasions this book's advice seems to reflect the author's personal biases more than reality as I know it. For example, the author seems to believe that people who do not keep a neat home are unlikely to be good coven leaders. In over thirty years in the Pagan community, I've seen good group leaders with very neat homes and some good group leaders with homes so messy I tried to avoid them -- and vice versa. Neatness counts, but not that much. However, if you use your common sense you can easily tell when the author's own way of looking at the world is intruding in the book.
This book is a must have for eclectic Wiccans who would like to start a coven. Reading it and putting its ideas into practice will help prevent many of the problems many covens of eclectics seem to have. Traditional coven-oriented Wiccans will probably not find all that much of use in this book as their traditions provide the specific information they need. Non-Wiccan Pagans interested in forming small religious groups might find some of the information on organizing groups useful. Covencraft: Witchcraft for Three or More is an excellent book that is as useful today as when it first appeared in the late 1990s.
Reviewed by Randall