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Iron Web Coven
Age Range/Type: Adult
Located in: Austin, Texas
Key Contact: Dragon Wolf
Spiritual Path: Harvest Shield Wicca
Status: Established Group
Community Support: Open Circles... Teaching Available
Group Overview: We are a teaching coven, located in Austin, Texas, accepting students from around the greater Austin area. The folks who know us well are probably aware that we are not strictly Gardnerian, Dianic, Alexandrian, etc. While we find much joy in our similarities with these (and other) traditions of Wicca, we practice a unique tradition established in 1994 by our founder, Destinova. This tradition is called Harvest Shield. It will not be possible to explain all of the distinct concepts in this short space, but we will try to touch on some of them so as to help you make up your mind about whether this is the path for you too. We understand that our teachings may not be in total accord with some Wiccan groups, but then we are not attempting to hold out Harvest Shield as the last word in the Craft. It is merely our own, after more than twenty-five years experience. It is intended as a tradition for folks seeking serious training that other groups do not provide, as well as like-minded Coveners with whom to practice.
Some interesting events and observations over the years led us to strike out in this direction. We have been attending various Pagan/Wiccan events for years and have noticed some trends developing in the field. To our minds, some of these trends are good, yet some are unsettling.
For instance, we have noted the rise of what we call (for want of a better term) Bambi Wiccans. BWs are usually easy to spot by excesses of ego, nose elevation, silver jewelry, and the fact that some of them don't know how to take a sh*t in the woods. After much talk about living in harmony with Nature, when gatherings are over one can quickly identify the tracks of BWs by the trashed campsites and abandoned yet still smoldering firepits. We have also noted that many of them, while very good at writing truly inspiring ritual about the harmony and spirituality of Nature, tend to wander out into it rather ill-prepared and defenseless.
We have also seen some developments at the other end of this spectrum which we feel need to be addressed. Some, no doubt beginning with the best of intentions, have made it their philosophy that Humanity is in some way outside of Nature, and as such should not be allowed to touch it.
While we do agree that Humanity is in danger of isolating itself from the natural rhythms of Nature and has been inexcusably damaging the Earth, we also believe that we are a part of Nature. Reasonable and respectful use of resources is the way we seek to walk. In our eyes, if there is any question about an action beyond that of absolute survival, then conserving and preserving the natural matrix is the preferred choice.
Another observation we have made is that some groups have a problem accepting male Coveners as unequivocal equals. This is a very unfortunate development which Harvest Shield wishes to address. For those of us who have left behind religions which subjugated women, this role-reversal trap should have been too obvious to fall into. It is as if some Wiccan communities seek to emulate the Puritans, who came to the New World to escape religious persecution, only to establish by writ, law, and custom a religious oppression of their own. As we do believe in reincarnation, we are aware that the truly essential part of us is Spirit, and Spirit has no sexual gender. We feel it is short-sighted to allow a system to continue that may deny someone his spiritual potential in this lifetime (or the next) simply for incarnating as one sex or the other. It is far better to bring down those barriers now.
Both genders need each other; neither is complete without the other; new life requires the energy and participation of the yin as well as the yang. As the Circle is the celebration of life, so should it reflect.
The foregoing observations are not offered to be judgmental. We do believe that all paths lead to the center, but we wanted to offer some explanation as to our distinctive philosophy.
Harvest Shield is a new application of a very old principle in Witchcraft. In the days before the Burning, Witches were revered as the people's spiritual conduits as well as being advisors, healers, and providers. Without diminishing the spiritual side of things, for a while let us look at the others. Why were the Wicca looked to as teachers, healers, and providers?
They had special knowledge; that is certainly true, but the use to which that knowledge was put holds the answer. For instance, in any given year a rural Witch could count on a certain number of folks falling sick. She then prepared in advance for this eventuality by making the appropriate medications. Knowing in advance of a hard or early winter, she counseled folks to make preparations and usually set aside extra for those who couldn't do so for themselves. The principle we are looking at here is not just preparedness. It is a combination of preparedness, special knowledge, and a certain pragmatism about the lessons that both the Earth and Humanity teach us about themselves. In Iron Web Coven we deal with this principle in a very hands-on fashion with the spiritual principles guiding us.
Some of the things we will be sharing will not be found in any other book or tradition of Wicca. We feel that priest/esses should have practical skills and attitudes to help their people in the physical world as well as the spiritual one. In order for that to occur, the priest/ess needs to develop and incorporate knowledge which is sometimes glossed over or ignored in other traditions.
For example, all traditions teach that we should be ever in harmony with Nature. In Iron Web, we will be teaching that the level of that harmony can extend to feeding us, treating our ailments, and providing protection for our bodies. Another example could be illustrated by noting that in most traditions it is taught that the Wheel of the Year and the Cycles of History turn round and round. In Iron Web we hope to prepare students with the abilities and knowledge to cope when the Wheels do turn. In the process of this study of the Craft, you may expect to spend some time outdoors, beyond the streetlights, getting hot, sweaty, and dirty. If you stick with it, you will find yourself learning and doing things as adjuncts to your spiritual training that you never thought you would be learning, such as firemaking, finding and purifying water, and deriving from Nature shelter and sustenance.
We hope that you will find new capabilities at your disposal and will find new sisters and brothers to share them with. You will not, however, have found these things at the store containing your favorite occult bookshelf.
As a teaching Coven, Iron Web may not suit the needs of those who seek only celebration and fellowship. While we recognize the value of both these things and invite spouses, children, and friends to celebrate with us at Sabbats on some occasions, our primary focus is training Wiccan clergy. All of our classes and the majority of our celebrations are reserved for those dedicated to that purpose.
We are beginning a new cycle of classes around Ostara, interviews will be before then. Scheduling will be determined when we can get all or most of the students together. We will provide as much notice as possible before interviews.
If you are interested in the possibility of joining Iron Web, please feel free to contact us about an application for classes, and we'll reply as swiftly as possible to arrange a meeting with you.
Iron Web Coven
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