Articles/Essays From Pagans
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Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
Nature Worship: or Seeing the Trees for the Ents
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
Weeds and Seeds
August 6th. 2015 ...
Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
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Sex, Lies, and Witches: Love in a Time of Wiccans and Atheists
Gods, Myth, and Ritual in Naturalistic Paganism
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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
Historiolae: The Spell Within the Story
My Concept Of Grey
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
The Three Centers of Paganism
Magick is No Illusion
The Ancient Use of God/Goddess Surnames
The Gods of My Heart
January 1st. 2015 ...
The Six Most Valuable Lessons I've Learned on My Path as a Witch
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Publicly Other: Witchcraft in the Suburbs
Pagans All Around Us
Broomstick to the Emerald City
October 20th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits
A Microcosmic View of Ma'at
October 5th. 2014 ...
The History of the Sacred Circle
Abandoning Expectations and Remembering Your Roots
September 28th. 2014 ...
Seeking Pagan Lands for Pagan Burials
Creating a Healing Temple
September 20th. 2014 ...
GOD AND ME (A Pagan's Personal Reply to the New Atheists)
September 7th. 2014 ...
Deer Man- A Confounding Mystery
August 31st. 2014 ...
Coven vs. Solitary
A Strange Waking Dream
August 24th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Cultural and Spiritual Appropriation
The Pagan Cleric
A Gathering of Sorcerers (A Strange Tale)
August 17th. 2014 ...
To Know, to Will, to Dare...
On Grief: Beacons of Light in the Shadows
August 10th. 2014 ...
As a Pagan, How Do I Represent My Path?
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August 3rd. 2014 ...
Are You a Natural Witch?
You Have to Believe We Are Magic...
July 27th. 2014 ...
Did I Just Draw Down the Moon?
Astrological Ages and the Great Astrological End-Time Cycle
The New Jersey Finishing School for Would-Be Glamour Girls and Boys
July 20th. 2014 ...
Being an Underage Wiccan
Greed, Power, Witches, and the Inquisition
Malleus Maleficarum - The Hammer of the Witches
Thoughts on Ghost Hunting
July 13th. 2014 ...
A World Of Witchcraft: Belief Is Only The Beginning...
From Christian to Pagan (Part III)
My Wiccan Ways...
July 6th. 2014 ...
Keys: Opening the Portals into Other Worlds
The Lore of the Door
Leaves of Love
June 29th. 2014 ...
What Does the Bible Say About Witches and Pagans?
Everything's Alright, Yes: Mary Magdalene
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Invocations of the God and Goddess
Results Magic and the Moral Compass
June 22nd. 2014 ...
Witchcraft vs. Religion
Christianity and Paganism: Why All Of the Fighting?
June 15th. 2014 ...
Becoming Your Own Wise One
Canine Familiars: Role of the Alpha
June 8th. 2014 ...
Moral Relativism and Wicca
Paganism in Cebu, Philippines
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Why Covens Often Fail
Article ID: 12339
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Talitha Dragonfly
Posted: May 4th. 2008
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I've been doing a little research lately on the subject of why Covens often fall apart so fast. The answers I've been collecting come from talking with other Pagans, scanning a few Pagan-themed message boards, revisiting the pages of some of my books, reading articles written by respectable authors, and recalling some first-hand accounts from my own past.
In this age of technical wonders, even an impoverished American three year old toddler has access to more computing power than the first manned mission to the moon. Today, almost anyone can set up a website and advertise that they are starting their own spiritual group or Coven. Admittedly, that's how Pennypack Coven got its humble beginnings. I threw the idea out to the community, and I received a positive response. It's been a beautiful journey ever since.
But is such open availability always a good thing? Does it have its downside, especially when credibility and authenticity is concerned? Is what you (think you) see always exactly what you get? Could the market for finding a Coven be overly saturated with pure crap in this recently formed information society?
Using this tangent as a jumping point, allow me to share some of the reasons I've discovered that help to explain why Covens fail.
A truly common reason, I believe, is a lack of foundation. It's as if some people wake up suddenly one morning and say, "I think I'll form my own Coven!" And then this person is either just lucky enough or just stupid enough to find others to go along with his or her idea. Nobody in this haphazard group is entirely sure why this seems like such a good idea other than that they read it in some book somewhere on a shelf in some New Age book store that being a Witch or Pagan means that you have to belong to this super-secret and super-cool thing called a Coven. So they form a group, and then don't know where to take it.
Going hand in hand with this lack of a solid foundation are also the clichés of Paganism. Some people's interests in Paganism lie more in their egos. They think that becoming a Pagan is the cool thing to do. They think it might get them laid more. They might think it's the "Goth" thing to do. Their newfound belief system has less to do with seeking an Enlightened state of being and more to do with their own heightened image. There are plenty of these people floating around out there, and when two or more of them are gathered in Ego's name.............
Well, you get the point. Once these people get tired of playing around with magick spells that aren't really working for them, and all the glamour has faded, and they're out of money to buy more incense, they eventually move on.
False, uneducated, misappropriated, and egotistical leadership is a real problem. It's probably an age-old problem for any religious tradition. You get someone who leads his or her Coven more like a cult. They look for lost and confused and weak-minded people to control. There's no true learning going on; just a bunch of shallow and crazy crap that people eventually get wise to and can't wait to get away from.
Also a lot of so-called Covens are lead by beginners who think they can play High Priest or Priestess after only having been in the game themselves for a mere year or two. This Coven is obviously going to be populated with other members who likewise either has little to no experience working in such an environment, or who have had awful experiences in previous Covens. After a little time passes, the "students" have outgrown the leaders and think that they can be in charge. This creates a power struggle; feelings get crushed in the process, and people wind up going their separate ways with their hearts broken and their minds disillusioned.
What other reasons are there?
I saw a term used on one discussion board that caused me to truly LOL. Seriously. My cat stopped licking her bottom, iced tea came spraying out of my nose, and I woke up the hubby.
The word was "Poly***ery".
Covens are not a dating service. Coven members should not be screwing one another. Feelings get hurt; drama starts, and an impossibly tangled web get weaved.
Another term I read that I laughed at was "couch potato Pagan". These are people who are very low energy and expect their Paganism to be spoon-fed to them. These are the guys who do little to no research on their own outside of class; these are the guys who fall asleep and snore during meditation sessions; these are the guys who don't bother to show up for classes or rituals and cry and complain when you explain that they are not ready yet to get their Degree; these are the guys who think that Paganism is something that you "do" every full moon, and not a path of spiritually that you actually have to live. These are the guys who can suck the last breath of life out of any Coven.
It also seems that many "Traditional" Wiccan Covens, and other "Traditions" as well, are waning in popularity. Most people who come into Paganism have left more mainstream religions because everything there was so rigid and filled with dogma. They don't want their Paganism to be filled with rituals, catch phrases, opinions, and thou-shalt-nots that somebody else has set standards for, either. They don't want anything written in stone.
They want the flexibility and freedom to come up with their own inspired ideas, their own connection with Deity, and their own ideas of how things might be done. Dogma equals stagnation; stagnation equals boredom; boredom equals the process of looking for something else to fill the spirit's quest.
I'd like to offer one last point, and that is the process of proselytizing. Naturally compatible Covens form in their own good, sweet time. Nothing is ever forced or rushed. People have a way of discovering each other through comfortable channels. There is never this crushing search to recruit new members as quickly as possible. It's not about how many butts you can squeeze into the pews. Size definitely does not matter.
I knew a Heathen Kindred who was quite pleased to have only two members. I know of a successfully inspired Wiccan Coven who has four members. Its High Priest quite wisely asked me however was I managing back when Pennypack Coven only had 8 members.
If all that you are worrying about is recruiting members............whether it be to boost your own ego, or to play a game of one-upsmanship to other Covens, or to attempt to impress the Pagan community at large...you've entirely missed the point of why you formed your group to begin with. And how much attention could you really be paying to the precious members you already have?
The above list is hardly exhaustive. There are definitely even more deeply seeded reasons why some Covens just don't make it. Any Coven is a cult of personalities riddled with its own needs, its own quirks, and its own set of problems.
Pennpack Coven is hardly made up of a bunch of Stepford Wives. We've had some issues in the past, we've lived and learned, and together we have resolved them. We've had a couple of people move away. We have even bid a thoughtfully planned and executed goodbye to one person when the situation definitely warranted it.
The outcome is that we are happy, well adjusted, mature, and compatible.
I believe that my list does capture the general flavor of why things can and do fail. I am so blessed to not currently be burdened with any of them.
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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