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Ten Reasons Why You Should Join a Coven

Author: Bronwen Forbes [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: April 4th. 2010
Times Viewed: 6,071

As I’ve mentioned before, whether or not to remain a solitary is one of the biggest decisions you will make as a Pagan. In general, I tend to favor joining a group rather than going it alone, at least at first. Of course, if there are no groups around or the group (s) near you are power-hungry, dysfunctional or otherwise unsuitable, you may want to stay solitary, and you probably should.

Last year in another Witchvox article, I talked about bad or stupid reasons to join a coven. But there are also some great reasons to join one. Here are ten:

1. You get a basic education. Sure, you can learn how to cast a circle and call quarters from a book, but unless you practice with a group or at least watch others do so, you won’t know how it’s supposed to feel. Think of it this way – you can read about how sex is supposed to work, or you could get a “hands-on” demonstration. Which do you think would be more effective? If you had the choice, which would you rather do? I know what I’d prefer!

2. You can make decisions. Once you’ve seen and/or learned ritual basics from your coven, you will have a better sense of what does ad does not work for you personally. A coven is an excellent place to explore and examine various Pagan practices and methods. It’s like this – while you’re learning how to read, you read all kinds of stories. Once you’ve gotten good at reading chapter books on your own, you start to choose the type of book you prefer: mystery, fantasy, animal stories or whatever. So it is with Pagan practice, and a good coven makes the perfect classroom.

3. A coven provides reality checks. I’ve told this story before, but it bears repeating. At one time, my husband and I hosted open rituals at our home. One Beltane we had a female guest who clearly had not spent a lot of time around other Pagans. She spent half her time boasting about her “special powers” (whatever they were; I wasn’t listening) and the other half talking about her “astral fiancé” – an Irishman she had never met here on Planet Earth and whose legal name she did not know. Apparently there was a wedding during our Beltane ritual because afterwards she was talking about her “astral husband.” (No one offered to kiss the bride, I should add) . Shortly afterwards, she quit her university job, sold most of her worldly possessions and went to Ireland to find him. Of course she didn’t succeed. Last we heard she was homeless and living out her care somewhere in Virginia. Six months in a decent basic training coven would have given our former guest the ability to tell the difference between an actual astral or out-of-body experience and self-delusion.

4. A coven can be a doorway to the Pagan community, part one. If you are in a coven, you have access to resources in the local or national community that you might not have known about on your own. Want to learn astrology and your coven leaders don’t know much about it? Chances are they know an astrologer or two and can introduce you. Because of the nature of their leadership positions, high priests and priestesses network with other leaders and members of the community. Your membership in their coven puts that community’s expertise at your disposal. You just can’t get that as a solitary until and unless you’ve been an active member of the community for several years.

5. A coven can be a doorway to the Pagan community, part two. Very often, people who have little to no contact with the Pagan community have some interesting misconceptions about some of their fellows. This can lead to embarrassing situations when these solitaries make public assertions like, “All Asa Tru are racist” (they’re not) and “All Gardnerians are into kinky sex” (they’re not, either) . Spending at least some time in a well-connected, functional coven will quickly dispel you of these notions as actual Asa Tru and/or Gardnerians just *gasp* might be invited to your group’s movie night or other friends-only or open social event. If at all possible, it’s best to avoid making a sweeping statement faux pas in front of your elders’ friends; your coven can help with that.

6. You’ll have access to your coven’s resources. In addition to the wealth of knowledge and contacts your coven leaders possess, they will also likely have at least one large bookshelf over-filled with books on Paganism, divination, herb lore, history, mythology and/or ritual construction. If you’re new to Paganism, you may not have that extensive a library yet – and it is darn useful to have. Your fellow coveners will also be able to recommend good books (and steer you away from the bad ones) , which will increase your education and save money at the same time.

7. Being in a coven demands a certain amount of spiritual growth. There is a calendar of rituals and classes your coven expects you to attend. You’ll also be expected to do homework, read, and in general keep up with the rest of the pack. If you are a procrastinator who would fail an online college course because of the lack of attendance requirement, a coven and its implied accountability to others allows you to learn and grow spiritually much more quickly than on your own.

8. Being in a coven requires you to have your act together. As said above, a coven requires a certain time commitment, and because of that you will need to have – or get – the rest of your life in order to accommodate that stretching of your schedule. As a solitary, you can say your ritual will start at 6:00 and if you don’t actually sit down in front of your altar until 7:00 because of a completely avoidable domestic crisis, you only inconvenienced yourself (and the Gods) , not a room full of other people. If you want a little (or a lot) more organization and personal accountability in your life, joining a coven just may help you with that.

9. There are some things you can only learn in a group. A perfect example is raising energy. Yes, you can raise energy by yourself, but learning to raise and focus energy as a group is a fundamental skill that is also an integral part of our history. In order to learn how to do it, you will need, well, a group.

10. Because you crave formality. There are some folks who want something more structured, with a path laid down for them that includes specific milestones (like initiations) to mark changes and progress that has been made and internalized. If this sounds like you, then you have an excellent reason to join a coven.


Bronwen Forbes

Location: Bloomington, Indiana


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