I've had periods of frustration when I wished I had someone, anyone, to share knowledge and magick with me. Especially starting out, I was anxious to surround myself with people who knew what they were doing. Eventually, I got over it. Something else was in store for me.
While I found it sometimes difficult to practice solitary, it has turned out to provide a great opportunity to grow without externally imposed limitations. Having come out of a structured church environment, I needed to learn to rely on my own perceptions and ability, instead of looking to somebody else to feed me enlightenment like a babe. Someday I expect I will be ready to join a coven. When I am, I'll have had the time to learn what to look for.
The first thing a person should consider is…
Why Join a Coven?
Like most things, I believe there are good reasons to join a coven and there are bad reasons. Here are a couple of the worst reasons for joining a coven:
Let's start with the power trip. Are you just dying to get into a Circle where you can do some real serious fireworks? Maybe, you want to conjure spirits. Maybe, you want to win the lottery. The point is, you want to do Magick with a capitol M (you just aren't sure why)!
Look out! In covenwork as well as in solitary magick, firework spells are a waste of energy. They can drain you and serve no purpose. They can also be addictive. Beware putting yourself in the position of looking for the next big thing. Real power isn't in firework spells, but in being able to accomplish your goals in life.
Then there's the proverbial sheep syndrome. It's very common to find people flocking. They seem to need someone to tell them what to believe and what to do. They don't trust their own observations, or they've become so accustomed to having others do their thinking for them that they don't know where to start.
I believe we all need a level of structure in our lives; however, I caution people who want to be told what to do. If you are looking for a High Priestess to tell you how to live, perhaps you need to stop and consider some alternatives. By really working on your beliefs, piecing them together from what you observe about life, your faith is going to be strengthened. You'll know not only what you believe, but why you believe it.
You'll also be able to choose your minister or priest(ess) by the faith you already have. We grant our leaders (especially our religious leaders) much power. When you accept a leader without testing what they say against what you've already learned, you grant them even more. The more you learn, the more your leader has to account to.
Now there are some excellent reasons for joining a coven. I've taken the time to list some below:
For example, it can be amazing what is accomplished with teamwork. In magickwork as well as in social work, a coven usually has a lot more strength than a single person does. For making a real difference in the life of each coven member, as well as in the community, it is unlikely you will be able to do better than to have a close-knit group of people who share responsibility for the outcome.
Also, the close companionship we receive from covenmates can be a good reason to join. In a good coven, your brothers and sisters will be people you can trust with your personal issues, who can offer advice and a helping hand. When you have five or six people you can call if the bank threatens to foreclose, you don't have to worry about where your emotional support is coming from, or who to call to help you move. (Lord and Lady forbid it should come to that!)
You will usually find more opportunities to learn in a coven. We all have different learning and teaching styles, and different members of the priesthood have different leading styles; however, in a group of people where ideas are exchanged freely, a lot of learning can take place. Okay, so maybe a coven isn't exactly required for this type of environment, but having a lot of feedback, coupled with the intimacy of a coven, can be a very valuable thing.
Once you know why you want to join a coven, you probably will want to make a decision regarding…
What type of Coven to look for
Naturally, you are going to want to select a coven that matches as closely as possible what you already believe about the Universe and Divinity. It might not be possible to find and unite several people who worship your god, especially if you have been chosen by a specific deity. If you can, that is wonderful. Otherwise you might want to look at some of these things below:
In a coven based on a Pantheon, everyone in the group relies on the same pantheon. Some types of covens might include Celtic, Egyptian, Greek, Roman or Hindu. This group has an advantage when it comes to unity in appealing to their Deities for favors, and gathering information about them.
Choosing a group based on the way in which it's organized has a lot more to do with personal preference than anything else. Do you prefer a lecturing Priestess or an open discussion? How much authority do the coven leaders have in the group? Do you agree with the level of commitment required by the coven members? The advantage to selecting a coven according to the way it is managed is that there will be much less friction between yourself and the rest of the group. Let's face it. If you don't like the way the HP is running things, you probably won't want to stick around for very long.
For an eclectic coven, organization is only one thing you'll want to consider. There is also the matter of foundational beliefs. Is your vision of Divinity compatible with the others in the coven? They don't have to be the same, but they should at least work together and not contradict. Do you celebrate similar Sabbats? Do your ethics agree enough to engage in magickwork without creating conflict?
Having given some things to use as a guideline, there are some things you will want to naturally be very cautious of. I would be wary of any coven leader who claimed to have grasped the one and only truth, all other beliefs and practices being wrong. I would be wary of a coven leader that showed a lack of respect to the members. I would be wary of any group that alienated me from my family and friends. I would not join a coven where it was not okay to excuse myself from practices that make me uncomfortable.
But even after you've answered the questions above, you're still going to be faced with…
Finding a Coven
The network list on the Witches Voice website can be a fast track to finding other witches in your area. The URL to the Witches of the World list is http://www.witchvox.com/xwotw.html.
Is there such a thing as the perfect coven to join? I doubt it. But with some meditation and honest thinking you can avoid hitching yourself to a coven that is wrong for you.
Merry Part and Merry Meet Again!
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