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Coven vs. Solitary
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Ten Dumb Reasons To Join A Coven
Article ID: 13649
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,506
Times Read: 9,143
RSS Views: 14,081
Author: Bronwen Forbes [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: November 22nd. 2009
Times Viewed: 9,143
There are plenty of excellent reasons to join a coven, many of which my fellow Witchvox scribes have faithfully penned. These reasons include: a desire for more formal study that solitary work may provide, a preference for working with people of a like mind, or the “call” to study and work in a specific tradition. Valid reasons, all.
Unfortunately, not everyone has such a good reason to join a specific coven or any coven at all.
Here are my top ten dumb reasons to join a coven.
1. It’s the closest one to my house.
So if a coven includes a sleazy sexual predator, a power-tripping High Priestess and charges $100 for a mandatory eight-week training class, you’d join it anyway just because it’s the one closest to your house? Just say no!
On the other hand, a coven may have none of these administrative problems and still be completely wrong for you. Suppose you are called by Celtic deities and the nearest coven has a strict Greek or Egyptian focus. You simply would not be a good fit for this group and probably would not get what you need from it.
Shop around carefully. Be prepared to travel (but temper your travel needs with your “I need these funds for groceries, not gas or plane tickets” needs) . Take the time to find a group that feels like family and is right for you.
And if it happens to be down the street, thank the Gods.
2. Everyone says it’s a good idea.
Everyone also used to say the world was flat. If you don’t feel called to coven life, if you don’t feel ready for a coven commitment, don’t join one.
I’m an advocate of at least some coven work over a lifetime of solitary, mainly because of the basic reality check group work provides, and I’m saying this. If you’re not ready to get married, don’t. If you’re not ready to join a coven because *you* think it’s a good idea and would enhance your spiritual practice, don’t.
Did your mother ever ask you, “If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you jump, too?” Mine did.
3. My friend is starting one and I want to support her.
Unless your friend has been in a solid, stable coven for a few years and received core training in that coven’s tradition, you’re likely joining a fancy social group, not a coven. It’s understandable that you want to help and support your friend, but at least one of you had better know what you’re doing regarding running a coven, don’t you think?
4. I think it’d be cool.
It’s not “cool” to be in a coven; it’s a lot of hard work, a big time and energy commitment to both your fellow coveners and the Gods, and – depending on what kind of coven you join – not something you’ll be able to tell your non-coven-member friends much about.
Kinda hard to be cool when you can’t even talk about it, right?
5. I feel “called” to study with this particular person.
Oh, my. If I had a quarter for every email I got from a potential student saying, “Oh, I read your website and I feel called to work with you, ” I’d have paid off my student loans already.
Coven leaders are very, very human with flaws and problems and daily chores just like everyone else. Right before sitting down to write this highly informative and erudite article (ha!) I scooped cat poop out of the litter box. When I’m done, I need to load the dishwasher.
Coven leaders, *good* coven leaders don’t want starry-eyed fans. They want intelligent students with a strong sense of reality who are willing to do the internal and external work needed to grow. And I’d have believed (maybe) the potential student was “called “ to work with me if she’d bothered to read my coven’s website closely enough to notice that while she lived in Location X, the coven in Location X had been disbanded and my husband/High Priest and I had moved five states away and were seeking students in Location Y.
6. I want to learn magic.
By “magic” do you mean workings, personal introspection and rituals to change your life, serve the Gods and/or improve the world around you? Or do you mean “magical powers” like freezing time, vanquishing demons, teleportation, or whatever was featured on yesterday’s “Charmed” or Harry Potter movie rerun? If you mean the former, you are likely ready to join a coven. If you mean the latter, step away from the television and computer for a while and go talk to Nature some more.
7. I want someone to fix my messed-up life, and I heard that a coven is like a family.
A coven is very much like a family; it is very much not your own personal group therapy session. Chances are no one in your potential coven has the proper counseling training or credentials to help you, so asking them to because they’re “family” won’t get you very far.
Think of it this way, if you went to your High Priestess and asked her to be your advocate in court and she’s not a lawyer, would you really want her messing around with your legal issues? Probably not.
It’s often been said: religion is not a substitute for therapy. If your life is that much of a mess, get a professional to help you fix it before joining a coven – honestly, your future covenmates won’t be able to help you nearly as much as a trained professional. Expecting your coven to fix your life for you is a great way to get kicked out in a hurry.
8. I want to learn how what this coven teaches so I can teach my own current crop of students.
I knew this person who wanted to join a particular coven – even though he already had his own group of students. He even said in the pre-membership screening that he only wanted to join so he could basically be handed the coven’s training curriculum and then turn around the next week and teach this group’s materials to his own students. The funny part? He was genuinely surprised and upset when the coven he was petitioning to join turned him down.
In the fullness of time, you may feel called to teach your coven’s traditions to your own students. Being a teacher in one group as you siphon off information as a student in another group is a really dumb idea.
9. This coven is famous!
Whether it’s locally famous (as in this coven runs the local Pagan Pride festivities and/or offers open sabbats at the local Unitarian Church) or nationally famous (as in led by a prominent Pagan personality) , fame does not necessarily mean you will get what you want from the group. The covens and coven leaders doing the most effective job of training good, solid priests and priestesses of the Old Gods are so quiet and unassuming you may not even know they’re in your town until you’re willing to look away from the glare of the famous spotlight and see what’s hiding in the background.
10. This coven puts on a good show!
I remember when the local community decided to have a “Meet the Covens” night at the monthly Pagan Night Out. Each local coven and study group was assigned a table at the pizza parlor where we regularly met, and attendees could go from group to group and talk to the leaders and members about the coven, classes, rituals, traditions, etc. Since this was a public restaurant (although not a very busy one) , all groups but one chose to show up in street wear: jeans, maybe a pentacle necklace, pagan-themed T-shirt.
One group all arrived in ritual garb complete with face paint and a huge (and I mean HUGE) coven banner to hang behind the table. Needless to say, they got most of the attention from the attendees. And most of the restaurant patrons. Surprisingly, considering that most of them were also sporting huge athames and/or swords, they did not attract the attention of the local police. Within two months of that event, the group imploded in a mess of infighting and power plays that the local community is still mopping up five years later.
Look for covens and coven leaders that show more than an ounce of common sense in public. Flashy does not always mean quality.
If you think you want to join a coven, it is in your best interests – and your future group’s best interests – to carefully and honestly explore your motives and reasons for doing so before you send that “I would like to study with you” email. It will save you and them a lot of time, energy, and heartache.
Location: Bloomington, Indiana
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