Some Do’s and Don’ts for Contacting a Coven
Article ID: 14167
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Bronwen Forbes [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: October 3rd. 2010
Times Viewed: 10,461
So you’ve decided you want to join a coven rather than try to study and practice solo. Good for you! Even better, you’ve found a coven (or two) near your home either by checking here on Witchvox or from a friend of a friend who knows someone who said at the local Pagan meetup that they study with a group here in town. Since contacting a coven and asking for more information and (gulp!) possible membership isn’t quite like signing up to volunteer at your local animal shelter – actually, contacting a coven as a potential member is almost *nothing* like signing up to volunteer at your local animal shelter – here is a quick list of do’s and don’ts to help you make the absolute best first impression possible.
Don’t ignore important clues in the coven posting. If the coven has a listing here on Witchvox, read it carefully. Then read it again. If the post says something like, “Coven Ridgewood is closed to new students at this time. We will revise our listing when that changes” Do. Not. Contact. Them. If the listing says something like, “We will only consider new students above the age of eighteen” and you are sixteen, Do. Not. Contact. Them. If they say, “Our next class starts in September, and we will be accepting new students at that time” and it’s now January, Do. Not. Contact. Them – at least until June or July.
Do keep it short and to the point. Assuming your initial contact will be via email, keep your note short and sweet. “Hi, my name is Mari Moonbeam, I’ve been Pagan since 2004 and lately I’ve been thinking about the more structured and formal study path that a coven provides. I saw your listing on Witchvox and was wondering if you are open to new members at this time. Sincerely, Mari” is quite sufficient for a first email.
Don’t include a list of your past credentials. Why not? Doesn’t your new High Priest and High Priestess deserve to know what a jewel they’re getting? Well yes, but they probably don’t care. I was at a local coven meet and greet where interested folks in the local Pagan community could come and actually sit down and talk to the various coven leaders and members in the area. One young man – he had to be twenty-five, tops – sat down at our table and proceeded to tell us that he was a third-degree Wiccan initiate, a Druid elder, a master mage trained in the use of mind-magic, a Native American shaman, and (I think) a vanquisher of demons. Since my husband and I were running a training coven at the time, I had to ask the young man why he was interested in joining us, since he already obviously knew everything. I think he got the hint that he wasn’t going to get to take over our group; we never saw him again. What I’m trying to say here is that your potential High Priest and High Priestess are going to be far more interested in who you are as a person than what you’ve done as a Pagan.
Do use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Coven leaders – the good coven leaders, that is – are looking for high quality students, not a high quantity of students. Saying in your initial message (or any subsequent email) “I want to join ur coven plz” or “I lurves Wicca” is not going to win you any brownie points in their minds. Quite the opposite, in fact. Chances are good that the leaders of the coven you want to join grew up in a time before IPods, cell phones, and the Internet. Keep the textspeak for communicating with your friends and use a polite yet friendly tone when contacting a coven.
Don’t be impatient. Coven leadership is a full-time job, yes, but it does not (should not) pay the bills. Therefore, whoever is responsible for checking and responding to potential student emails probably has a day job, and maybe even a family. This means that you are probably not going to get a response the same day you send your email. You may not even get a response for a week or two. I know it’s hard, but try to be patient.
If you haven’t heard back from the group in a month, send a *short* email saying something like, “Hello again, I contacted you on (date) about Coven Ridgewood, and haven’t heard back. Did I miss a return email? I’m still quite interested. If you prefer, you can reach me on my cell phone (xxx) xx-xxxx.” (I’m assuming you know better than to give total strangers your home phone number) If, after another month, you still haven’t heard anything from the coven, assume they are either a) not interested or b) don’t have their act together enough to answer their email, and move on. Clearly, you were not meant to be in this group.
Don’t fawn. If I had a dime for every email from a potential student that said, “I feel called to work with you” or, worse yet, “You’re the coven I’ve always dreamed of joining” I could comfortably retire to Bali. At this point, you don’t know what the coven is really like – it could be a bad fit if, say, your deities are Celtic and the coven has a strong Greek influence. And most coven leaders snort derisively at the idea of someone being “called” to work with him or her. Why? Because that “call” automatically puts the leaders on a pedestal in the potential students’ mind.
Let me be the first to tell you that coven leaders make big life mistakes and live ordinary lives that include scooping out cat boxes and dealing with ornery children just like the rest of the world. A pedestal is a very dangerous place to be and a decent coven leader wouldn’t voluntarily sit on one for a pot of gold.
If this all sounds daunting and intimidating, it shouldn’t. Just remember that good manners plus a little common sense will endear you to your potential covenmates faster than anything else you could possibly do. Good luck!
Location: Bloomington, Indiana
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