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Author Topic: Dilemma surrounding Coven Head  (Read 3089 times)
Phoenix_Rae
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« Topic Start: November 12, 2009, 05:16:51 pm »


My local coven is going to be losing our founding Coven Head in the next 7 months (dang med school and relocation!!), and we are contemplating what the coven should look like afterward.

We have had one High Priestess/leader since 2006, and we are considering whether to continue with one Coven Head, or to have two leaders when we transition.

I am curious to get imput from those of you who have experience in this from either side: How does having 2 leaders work? It seems to me that if you have 2 leaders there is always one person that becomes dominant. Is it possible to actually have a completely 50-50 working relationship? Also, if the co-leaders do not live in the same town how does that affect things (our coven draws people from a 2 hour drive radius)?

What are the pros and cons of either being a co-leader, or being co-lead? What are the important things to consider?

Thank you for your contemplation!
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« Reply #1: November 12, 2009, 05:32:12 pm »

I am curious to get imput from those of you who have experience in this from either side: How does having 2 leaders work? It seems to me that if you have 2 leaders there is always one person that becomes dominant.

While I'm not coming from a coven POV, I have a lot of experience as a group leader. Multiple leaders are certainly possible. How it is divided depends on the leaders involved. In some cases one becomes dominant, in other cases who is dominent depends on the task at hand, in other cases one will appear dominant but the other(s) actually are, etc. This really isn't something that can be legislated by the group as what will work at all -- let alone best -- depends on the personalities involved.
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« Reply #2: November 12, 2009, 06:31:23 pm »



I'm not a member of any religious groups (not being religious), but I am on a couple of committees.  Is unequal power really a problem so long as all parties concerned happy with the distribution of power?  Some people may do a lot of the organization and leg-work.  Others may support more, or organise specific things.

[I think I'm just saying what Randall has already said, but less well]
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« Reply #3: November 12, 2009, 07:10:37 pm »

My local coven is going to be losing our founding Coven Head in the next 7 months (dang med school and relocation!!), and we are contemplating what the coven should look like afterward.

We have had one High Priestess/leader since 2006, and we are considering whether to continue with one Coven Head, or to have two leaders when we transition.

I am curious to get imput from those of you who have experience in this from either side: How does having 2 leaders work? It seems to me that if you have 2 leaders there is always one person that becomes dominant. Is it possible to actually have a completely 50-50 working relationship? Also, if the co-leaders do not live in the same town how does that affect things (our coven draws people from a 2 hour drive radius)?

What are the pros and cons of either being a co-leader, or being co-lead? What are the important things to consider?

Thank you for your contemplation!

One group that I worked with was Alexandrian Wiccan & the whole structure was based on 'working partners'. Every High Priestess had a High Priest. If the High Priestess stepped down or became an Elder, so did the Priest, and a new pair would be elected. The other group I worked with took turns, with a new High Priest or Priestess elected every season. The previous season's Priest/ess became the new one's assistant/mentor, depending on how experienced the new one was at providing leadership.

A natural advantage to having a couple of people leading things is that there is always someone to provide a check-and-balance - it's harder for an individual to launch an attack on a disliked person, or to change the direction of a coven in a way others are uncomfortable with. It also takes the work load off an individual and gives the group members an extra point of contact. But, if it's not a truly equal partnership, there can be some 'mom and popping' - "Mom told me I could!" or "I'll go ask Dad instead". It's unfair if one person is seen as the 'fun' one all the time.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2009, 07:14:29 pm by Perzephone, Reason: Original post not very helpful :/ » Logged

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« Reply #4: November 12, 2009, 07:16:29 pm »

The other group I worked with took turns, with a new High Priest or Priestess elected every season. The previous season's Priest/ess became the new one's assistant/mentor, depending on how experienced the new one was at providing leadership.

Wow, changing that often seems like it could lead to instability. We rotate circle facilitation every time, but we have the HPS basically as the "hub of the wheel", as well as the elder go-to person for wisdom and counseling, and the overall behind the scenes researcher and director of where we are going (example--we started as an Alexandrian trad, and now we are blending it by working through Thorn Coyle's "Evolutionary Witchcraft" for some fresh perspective and growth--it was HPS's suggestion/direction since she was working one or more steps ahead of us).

Thank you for your comment.

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« Reply #5: November 13, 2009, 03:44:25 am »

We have had one High Priestess/leader since 2006, and we are considering whether to continue with one Coven Head, or to have two leaders when we transition.

I am curious to get imput from those of you who have experience in this from either side: How does having 2 leaders work? It seems to me that if you have 2 leaders there is always one person that becomes dominant. Is it possible to actually have a completely 50-50 working relationship? Also, if the co-leaders do not live in the same town how does that affect things (our coven draws people from a 2 hour drive radius)?


The coven that I was in had both a High Priest and a High Priestess, and it worked pretty well. They both shared the responsibilities, and rituals were always very well balanced as we had the male and female aspects of whatever we were doing. The co-leaders were both from different towns, but we had a car pool set up, so it was not an issue. There was never a problem of one trying to dominate the other, but I guess that we were lucky in that respect because I know that it doesn't always work that well.
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« Reply #6: November 13, 2009, 07:45:25 am »

I am curious to get imput from those of you who have experience in this from either side: How does having 2 leaders work? It seems to me that if you have 2 leaders there is always one person that becomes dominant. Is it possible to actually have a completely 50-50 working relationship? Also, if the co-leaders do not live in the same town how does that affect things (our coven draws people from a 2 hour drive radius)?

The first thing to remember is that "equal" and "equitable" are two different things. It's not necessary for two leaders to have the exact same amount of work, division of tasks, etc - as long as they are fine with the division, and neither of them feels either overwhelmed or underappreciated.

In the group I trained in, our HPS did a lot of the planning and organising, but our HP was the one who'd be up for spending time on the phone or in person if people had specific problems, and he designed a lot of the more complex classwork. They'd split ritual planning (the group overall did so: initiates rotated responsibility for moons, and various combinations of people would volunteer to plan most Sabbats.) and teaching.

I think it's important for co-leaders to have some leadership-focused time together on a regular basis. That doesn't have to mean a special trip: I know people who do it by phone, or online (assuming both of them are comfortable communicating about complex issues that way.) Sometimes it's dinner once a month before or after another group event, or the co-leader showing up an hour early for group events gives enough time to touch base. (Staying late can be tricky, because then you're hoping that no one else is going to want to stick around and chat.) The group I trained with had leadership meetings about twice a month (the HPS, HP, and people with other major responsibilities in the group like teaching) to keep everyone on the same page, and that was about right for a training circle with 15-20 active people (i.e. various stuff coming up as people hit various personal issues or baggage). Once a month would probably be just fine for a smaller or more stable group.
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« Reply #7: November 13, 2009, 10:14:47 am »

Wow, changing that often seems like it could lead to instability.

It wasn't a highly structured group and the members tended to drift in and out, so it did work. Some people were interested in starting covens/groves of their own & wanted to experience what organizing & administrating a group and leading rituals was like, others would push for longer appointments & sometimes that was granted if no one else really wanted to take over.
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« Reply #8: November 16, 2009, 09:22:10 pm »

My local coven is going to be losing our founding Coven Head in the next 7 months (dang med school and relocation!!), and we are contemplating what the coven should look like afterward.

We have had one High Priestess/leader since 2006, and we are considering whether to continue with one Coven Head, or to have two leaders when we transition.

I am curious to get imput from those of you who have experience in this from either side: How does having 2 leaders work? It seems to me that if you have 2 leaders there is always one person that becomes dominant. Is it possible to actually have a completely 50-50 working relationship? Also, if the co-leaders do not live in the same town how does that affect things (our coven draws people from a 2 hour drive radius)?

What are the pros and cons of either being a co-leader, or being co-lead? What are the important things to consider?

Thank you for your contemplation!


The local group that I am a part of (and co-lead) has always had 3 or 4 co-leaders. This helps with voting and keeping one person from becoming dominant. It has always worked well for us. We enjoy harmony. We are not a coven though. We are simply a local eclectic group of Pagans and friends. I am not sure if there is a reason a coven couldn't have 3 or more co-leaders.
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« Reply #9: November 16, 2009, 10:22:35 pm »

What are the pros and cons of either being a co-leader, or being co-lead? What are the important things to consider?

I think the biggest thing to consider is how the co-leaders would get along. I run my local Star Trek group with my husband, and that works out very well. He keeps me balanced and I throw stuff on him when I can't deal with it.

Group dynamics, especially in a coven, are tricky as it is. I'd be sure if you're going to have co-leaders that you choose people who complement each other well and are comfortable working together closely. If you just go with a single leader, make sure you choose someone who can get things done but isn't afraid to delegate, and is someone who gets along well with everyone else in the group.

The last thing you want to do is create a situation where the new leadership dynamics are going to work against you. Watch out for anyone going on a power trip over who might be chosen as the new leader. And I'd talk to the outgoing founder and get his/her thoughts on who a suitable replacement (or replacements) might be if you haven't already.

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« Reply #10: November 17, 2009, 06:37:10 am »

I am not sure if there is a reason a coven couldn't have 3 or more co-leaders.

Depends on the coven, but more than 2 leaders can get complicated in terms of making necessary decisions. It's also a matter of how the coven roles play out - for example, in my tradition, the HPS is the final arbiter when someone needs to make a decision, though it's rare that she'll go against her HP's advice.

There's also the practical issue; the HPS and HP as the ones doing rituals like initiations - or even taking on students - need to have final decision powers on what they're willing to do, and when they're willing to do it, because the energetic commitments and connections have extremely long-lasting considerations for them. Decisions like that therefore need to be up to the people making that commitment, not up to committee, at least as a final decision (though others may have useful feedback and ideas.)

However, there's lots of room for advice and consultation - the group I trained in had a small leadership meeting of the HPS, HP, plus 2-3 other people who were actively and heavily involved in group work (major teaching and ritual responsibilities.) so the HPS and HP could get a wider perspective, issues that affected large areas of the group work could get aired, and so on - but we were also all aware that we weren't the final decision makers, and my HPS did make a few decisions I disagreed with for various reasons.
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