Your browser does not support script
TWV Presents...

Articles/Essays From Pagans

[Show all]

Views: 21,775,840

February 1st. 2019 ...

Paganism and Witchcraft in the Media

September 25th. 2018 ...

Understanding the Unseen

August 25th. 2018 ...

A Little Magickal History

Back to Basics Witchcraft: Magical Creativity for Small Living Spaces

Kitchen Magic and Memories

Why the Faeries?

Magic in Daily Life

An Open Fire: Healing from Within

Cernunnos: The Darkest Wood in the Moon's Light

On Preconceived Pagan/Wiccan Political Affiliations

Gudrun of the Victory Gods

Ares and Athena

La Santa Muerte... The Stigma and the Strength

The Wheel of the Year in Our Daily Lives

The Lady on the Stairs

July 26th. 2018 ...

The Importance of Unification: Bringing Together Community Members to Invoke Cohesivity

May 29th. 2018 ...

Wild Mountain Woman: Landscape Goddess

April 20th. 2018 ...

Nazis Made Us Change Our Name

January 25th. 2018 ...

Finding Balance: Discipline Wedded to Devotion

November 15th. 2017 ...


September 30th. 2017 ...


August 31st. 2017 ...

The White Goddess: A Seminal Work in the Neo-Wiccan Movement.

July 31st. 2017 ...

Sin Eaters and Dream Walkers

July 2nd. 2017 ...

On Cursing: Politics and Ethos

A Distant Thunder: Should You Care?

June 1st. 2017 ...

Herbal Astrology

The Sacred Ego in Mediterranean Magical Traditions

April 30th. 2017 ...

Tarot Talk: the Knight of Pentacles

March 30th. 2017 ...

Tarot Talk: the Ace of Swords

January 10th. 2017 ...

The Gray of 'Tween

Becoming a Sacred Dancer

Little Dog, Big Love

December 9th. 2016 ...

A Child's First Yule

November 10th. 2016 ...

A Witch in the Bible Belt: Questions are Opportunities

What Exactly Is Witchcraft?

What I Get from Cooking (And How it’s Part of My Path)

On Death and Passing: Compassion Burnout in Healers and Shamans

September 11th. 2016 ...

The Shadow of Disgust

September 3rd. 2016 ...

Nature’s Reward

August 12th. 2016 ...

Hungarian Belief in Fairies

When Reality Rattles your Idea of the Perfect Witch

Designing a Pagan Last Will and Testament

Past Midnight

July 13th. 2016 ...

What Every Pagan Should Know About Curses

Magic With A Flick of my Finger

An Open Mind and Heart

Finding and Caring for Your Frame Drum

June 13th. 2016 ...

Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia

My Father, My First God

Life is Awesome... and the Flu

May 15th. 2016 ...

Faery Guided Journey

Working with the Elements

Magical Household Cleaning

April 2nd. 2016 ...

The Fear of Witchcraft

Magic in Sentences

March 28th. 2016 ...

Revisiting The Spiral

Still Practicing

Spring Has Sprung!

January 22nd. 2016 ...

Coming Out of the Broom Closet

Community and Perception

December 20th. 2015 ...

Magia y Wicca

October 24th. 2015 ...

Feeling the Pulse of Autumn

October 16th. 2015 ...

Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts

September 30th. 2015 ...

The Other-Side

September 16th. 2015 ...

Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate

August 6th. 2015 ...

Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale

July 9th. 2015 ...

Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

The Magic of Weather

June 7th. 2015 ...

A Pagan Altar

A Minority of a Minority of a Minority

The Consort: Silent Partner or Hidden in Plain Sight?

May 6th. 2015 ...

13 Keys: The Crown of Kether

March 29th. 2015 ...

A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft

March 28th. 2015 ...

On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations

March 1st. 2015 ...

Choosing to Write a Shadow Book

February 1st. 2015 ...

Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader

January 1st. 2015 ...

Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft

Pagans All Around Us

Broomstick to the Emerald City

October 20th. 2014 ...

Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits

NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.

Article Specs

Article ID: 12341

VoxAcct: 255801

Section: words

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 4,281

Times Read: 4,540

RSS Views: 39,230
'De-myth-stifying' the Wiccan Coven

Author: Godiva
Posted: January 27th. 2008
Times Viewed: 4,540

Recently I moved through my 3rd degree initiation in Chalice Well Coven and formally hived to start a new daughter Coven: Ravens Well. As I have moved almost 100 miles away from Covenstead, I am starting completely from scratch. It has been interesting communicating with people about what it is they are looking for in a Coven and why they feel they want to be a part of a Coven. What I have found is that most often people have a kind of “Disney” version of what a Coven is and how it works.

All chants, candles and pretty vessels spread out on a perfectly draped altar with happy, unified members circled around in a darkened (but not too dark) space. Of course the ritual takes place outdoors on a warm night in a beautiful garden gazebo on enough land so that the neighbors can’t peek over the fence to watch.

Wow! Sounds great! Who needs to start a Coven? I want to join this one! Where do I go to sign up?

I realized that while there are many books out there on how to work magick within a group setting, how to set up and run a magickal group and even how to handle conflict within a Coven setting, there are not many that deal with the day to day reality of working in a Coven. Perhaps this is why so many people have a pretty unrealistic view of what being a member of a real working Coven means. It probably explains why so many also believe that they must, simply must, be a part of a Coven to get the “full Wiccan experience”. I may not necessarily agree with this sentiment, I understand why many people feel this way.

Myth: The beauty of never-ending and continuous harmony

Many people say that they want to enter into a Coven because they want to work closely with “like-minded” individuals. They want to enter in to sacred space with those who create it as they do. They see becoming a part of a Coven as entering into a place where people can achieve a “group mind” and become “one” in ritual.

Few understand that in order to do this a person has to let go of some of the ways they are used to doing ritual and learn how to create sacred space the way the Coven they have stepped into does. This is generally where things start to get tough and real. Yep, right there at the beginning. The first thing one learns when stepping into a Coven: it is no longer all about you. Surprise!

Okay, I will be the first to admit that I am a pretty down to earth, let’s dispense with the romance and get on with reality, kind of witch. I do not have a dragon that sits on my shoulder (although I work with Dragon energy) nor do I believe that fairies are cute; little winged beings (although I do experience the Faerie). I’m all for romance-in the bedroom with my man-but not mixed in with my magick. For me, magick is already, well…magickal and it does not require soft, blurry lights.

Seriously though…most well run Covens do work to create a kind of “group mind” in ritual. This means that everyone in the group focuses on one specific concept or purpose within ritual in order to achieve an agreed upon goal (manifestation) .Wow, that sounds very unwitchy doesn't it?

There is no becoming “one”-at least not in the sense that most people use the term. To me this is like saying that two people who choose to marry become “one”. This is a very pretty and romantic notion but not a very practical or helpful one. When people come together for any reason to achieve a specific goal or outcome, they do not completely give themselves over to another-they choose to let down boundaries, to put their egos aside and share themselves and their energy with the group.

There is a difference between this and “becoming one” as most people use the term. There is interdependence but not total dependence.

So far, so good, right? Here’s the secret that pretty much anyone in a Coven will tell those who are looking for a Coven but no one really wants to hear and even fewer listen. Shhhhh, step close now, you will not want to miss this…

Working with people in a spiritually and emotionally intimate manner is hard and sometimes painful. Gee, that doesn't sound fun does it? Again, not very witchy or romantic, but true.

Most of us have not been taught how to behave in an environment that depends on honesty and treating others as equals to survive. We are used to wearing our masks of perfection. We pretend, we manipulate, we lie to ourselves and others, we expect others to lie for us and to us, we hide, we refuse to address our issues and we ask others to carry the burden of our emotional baggage.

We want people to “love us for who we are” but we never consider that we generally don’t even love ourselves “as we are”. We say we are angry when we are really afraid and we attack others when we do not understand something.

So within a safe Coven setting we learn, slowly, sometimes very, very slowly, to trust, to believe, to forgive, to accept forgiveness and just to accept, to take on challenges, to grow and to transform ourselves.

We learn to care about someone even though they are not perfect, to agree to disagree-and mean it- to understand that we are more than the sum of our parents, DNA and childhood.

We learn how to fail and how to start over again after failure. In this safe environment we can let go of the labels that have been placed upon us by others and ourselves and become that person who we secretly, silently most want to be but are too afraid and emotionally shackled to attempt to become.

This, in my opinion, is real magick.

None of this is easy for the individual or for the group. It is precisely because a well-run Coven environment creates a space where people can “be naked in their rites”-naked referring not just to the body but also in emotion, spirit and mind-that conflict will emerge.

Safe space makes us feel vulnerable and most of us are not comfortable being vulnerable or honest. This is the reason that a Coven setting will probably be the place where many of us will experience the most intense and painful conflicts of our lives. We, our egos, struggle to become a part of something that is bigger than ourselves. In order to do this our focus has to move from "me" to "we". Not behavior this culture is renowned for, teaches or really values.

As we begin to become who we are supposed to be, we experience loss, fear and confusion. Sometimes, our lives literally come apart. I personally refer to this as “being on fire” because I know that the transformation is happening, I can feel it. I know that things will be better at some point but I’m not really sure when and it feels (on an emotional level) like I am on fire.

To put it in a less poetic manner, transformation generally is painful-it hurts. It is intense and scary. Don’t let anyone kid you. Transformation is about change and sacrifice. In my experience, transformation is powerful Crone energy.

When in pain, many of us will lash out at others. Many times we will take this pain out on those we feel safest with-Covenmates. Because most of us have not been taught how to communicate what we are feeling and because most of us have not experienced the kind of intense transformation that can come about in such a setting, we explode and create conflict. I’ve done it. Every person who I experienced within Coven has done it; most people will explode not just once but many times.

This is because most of us are attached to our labels and "old life" regardless of how destructive, oppressive and restrictive they may be for us.

As I mentioned earlier, change is difficult even good change. Although the old stuff often holds us back, it is comfortable. The new is frightening, evolving and unknown. The new feels like chaos.

The archetype of the ever-harmonious Coven is a myth. While there is harmony it is hard won. We are individuals living in an individual centric culture. We all have egos regardless of how long we have trained.

Group harmony is achieved when people are willing to stick things out, put relationships first and work through issues regardless of how insurmountable they may seem. It means admitting to being human and to not being perfect. It means learning how to apologize with grace and how to repair a damaged relationship.

It is not magick in the sense that many people like to think of magick-immediate, material and covered with glitter-but it is magick in the sense that in doing this hard and dedicated work a group of individuals can achieve what others would refer to as a "group mind".

The Matron Goddess of Chalice Well Coven and Chalice Well Fellowship (a Pagan Church) is Bride also known as Bridget. The Celtic Goddess of the forge, healing and inspiration. The message board I own is called the Clan of the Healing Wells in part to honor Bride and as homage to the healing well in Glastonbury, England where Chalice Well Coven gets its name (there is no affiliation between the Coven and the well site).

Bride is a most appropriate Matron. She lends her aid in healing what is required in order to grow and become, She gives us inspiration and guidance to overcome our own fears and insecurities. As the Goddess of the forge She works her time honored alchemy on each of us creating something strong, beautiful and durable out of what began as our soft, insecure and frightened selves.

Covens, like many things in life, look easy and pretty from a distance but it up close is where one experiences all the hard but abundantly meaningful work required to make a group of individuals into what is termed a “group mind”. Perhaps this would be better described as a group of likeminded people who work hard to create magick together and get results.

Back to the “Disney” Coven ritual described in the beginning of the essay.

While nothing can really compare to the perfection of Disney, there are thoughtfully adorned altars, draped in beautiful cloth, scattered with lovely vessels and colorful candles. However, these altars are not created with fairy dust or by cute woodland creatures. They are created with respect, care, and honor.

More importantly, when a group of dedicated people is able to resolve and put aside any personal conflicts that may come up from one cycle to the next they honor the Gods and Goddesses in their lives long before the first ritual candle is lit. For me, this is what it means to enter into safe, sacred, space in “perfect love and perfect trust”.

As someone I know once said, “Covens ain’t for Sissies”. And that ain’t no myth.

Warm blessings and all the best!

Godiva le Fey

Note: I’m sure everyone knows this but just to be on the safe side…

While people often receive support and experience personal transformation within the circle of a well run Coven, Covens do not replace professional counseling. For those who have experienced abuse, neglect, abandonment, addiction, trauma or are having an unusually difficult time moving through a life transition, professional counseling is well advised.

A Coven also does not replace focused and specialized therapy groups such as 12 step programs. In my experience, nothing beats the combination of Coven and good professional counseling for true life transformation, personal empowerment and growth.



Location: Farmington, Illinois


Author's Profile: To learn more about Godiva - Click HERE

Other Articles: Godiva has posted 2 additional articles- View them?

Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE

Email Godiva... (No, I have NOT opted to receive Pagan Invites! Please do NOT send me anonymous invites to groups, sales and events.)

To send a private message to Godiva ...

Pagan Essays

Pagan Web
8,000 Links

Pagan Groups
Local Covens etc.

80,000 Profiles

Home - TWV Logos - Email US - Privacy
News and Information

Chapters: Pagan/Heathen Basics - Pagan BOOKS - Traditions, Paths & Religions - Popular Pagan Holidays - TV & Movies - Cats of the Craft - Festival Reviews - Festival Tips - White Pages (Resources) - Issues/Concerns - West Memphis 3 - Witch Hunts - Pagan Protection Tips - Healing Planet Earth

Your Voices: Adult Essays - Young Pagan Essays - Pagan Perspectives (On Hold) - WitchWars: Fire in the Craft - Gay Pagan - Pagan Parenting - Military - Pagan Passages

Pagan Music: Pagan Musicians - Bardic Circle at WitchVox - Free Music from TWV

Vox Central: About TWV - Wren: Words, Wrants and Wramblings - Guest Rants - Past Surveys - A Quest for Unity

Weekly Updates: Click HERE for an index of our weekly updates for the past 6 years

W.O.T.W. - World-Wide Networking

Your Town: A Link to YOUR Area Page (The largest listing of Witches, Pagans, Heathens and Wiccans on the Planet)

VoxLinks: The Pagan Web: 8,000 Listings

Your Witchvox Account: Log in Now - Create New Account - Request New Password - Log in Problems

Personal Listings: Pagan Clergy in Your Town - Adult Pagans - Young Pagans - Military Pagans

Events: Circles, Gatherings, Workshops & Festivals

Covens/Groups/Orgs: Local Groups Main Page

Other LOCAL Resources: Local Shops - Regional Sites - Local Notices - Global/National Notices - Local Skills & Services - Local Egroups - Political Freedom Fighters

Pagan Shopping: Online Shops Index - Original Crafters Sites - Auction Sites - Pagan Wholesalers - Pagan Local Shops

Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2019 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh.

Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections
(including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wren’s Nest, etc.)
are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witches’ Voice, Inc.
TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.

The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.

Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
Witches, Pagans
of The World

Search Articles

 Current Topic
 Editorial Guide

NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.

The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.

All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).