Posts Tagged With: Solitary practitioner

I Have A Question

I would like to know if we have any coven witches/leaders/high priest/high priestess on this site?

 

I have been aiming to ask this question for a few days. The reason I am asking is because you all know I am a Solitary Practitioner. Being such, I know nothing about the inner workings of covens. What I am getting ready to say, won’t make you mad because most of you know it is the truth. There are some covens that are run with individuals on a power trip, I have a friend that is coming from one such coven. I would like for someone who knows how a proper coven run to contact me. Then, if I have your permission, I would like to put you in contact with my friend. I know from what this person has told me, that covens don’t run the way he is telling me. So I desperately need a coven witch’s help. This person wants to try it as a Solitary but he keeps referring back to the coven from which he came. I don’t believe he wants to be a Solitary, I believe he longs for a life within a coven.

 

I can only imagine the beauty, the power and the bond coven witches must have. I want him to experience that. But I am very afraid if he stays with the coven he is now in, he never will. Please help me, you can email me at: thewotcstrustfund@yahoo.com

In the subject line please put, coven witch. Thank you so much you will have my eternal gratitude.

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Covens vs. Solitary Practice

Covens vs. Solitary Practice

By , About.com

 

It’s an argument that comes up frequently in the Wiccan and Pagan community. There’s one school of thought that says “only a witch can make a witch,” which means you must be initiated and part of a coven — typically a lineaged one — before you can claim to be Wiccan, Pagan, or any other variety thereof. There’s another camp that says anyone can be a witch or Pagan, and what matters more than initiation and coven connections is what’s in your heart and soul. Will people ever agree on these things?

It’s pretty unlikely.

However, as you begin your studies of Wicca and Paganism, you may at some point be offered the opportunity to join a group. You may also find that you really prefer working alone. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of covens vs. solitary practice, so that when the time comes for you to make a decision, you can do so with some knowledge under your belt.

Working as a Solitary

Many people begin their Pagan or Wiccan studies by working as a solitary. This happens for a number of reasons, but the most common one is that quite simply, most people develop an interest in Paganism long before they meet a coven they’re interested in joining. There are benefits to working alone, to be sure, but it also has its drawbacks.

Advantages

  • You can make your own rules, and follow your own set of ethics
  • You can worship at your convenience, rather than following a schedule involving several people
  • You’re free to work with anyone you like, even if they’re a member of another tradition
  • You’re not under any obligation to anyone but yourself and your deities

Disadvantages

  • You may find yourself eventually limited in the type and quantity of knowledge you obtain
  • It’s often hard for solitaries to network with other Pagans and Wiccans
  • Sometimes, it’s just nice to hang out with other people that believe as you do
  • If you’re looking to grow and learn spiritually, you may feel at some point you’d like a mentor or teacher, which you don’t have as a solitary

Working In a Group

Many Pagans and Wiccans find that they enjoy group practice. There is a certain energy that can be experienced in a group that you just don’t experience as a solitary practitioner, and there are plenty of benefits to being in a coven. On the other hand, when you work with a coven or group, there’s a whole new set of dynamics involved, which can create its own set of problems.

Advantages

  • Working in a group gives you the benefit of learning from people who may have more experience and knowledge than you
  • When you’re part of a group, you have more opportunities to network and meet others in the greater Pagan community
  • Coven work typically is more structured and formal, and rituals are usually more elaborate, which some people find beneficial to their studies
  • A coven usually has a pre-determined course of study, so rather than just randomly reading books, you’ll find yourself following specific lesson plans as you move towards various degrees of initiation

Disadvantages

  • Coven work typically has to be scheduled ahead of time, making sure everyone is available
  • If someone is on a power trip, a coven has the potential to be a miserable experience for everyone else involved
  • When you’re part of a coven, there are numerous relationships going on, so there can be issues if one person decides to cause problems
  • If you join an existing coven, chances are good that they’re already set in their ways, and may not be willing to make accommodations to meet your needs

Whether or not you decide to practice as a solitary or as part of a coven is a personal decision. Covens can be hard to find in some areas, but it is possible to do – just be aware that you may have to make some effort and put some work into the process. If you choose instead to be a solitary practitioner, there is nothing wrong with that either. Regardless, choose the path that is the right one for you.

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The Solitary Road and Personal Power

The Solitary Road and Personal Power

Author:   Crystal Blanton  

When I came to this path I had been looking for my spiritual self for some time. A new friend introduced me to Wicca, sparking something in me. I read so much information in such a short period of time my brain was overloaded with various traditions, beliefs, gods, goddesses and a host of other things.

I had a fear of joining a coven yet wanted more. I thought that, without a coven, I would not be able to advance and learn. So many books made references to studying in a coven and listed solitary as if it was a last resort. After much internal debate, speaking with my friend and overcoming the fear, I set out to find a group. And I found one.

Recently, after more than a year of study in this group, I decided to leave for many different reasons.

In reflection of my experience in a coven I have realized that I have learned many things, but not specifically about the Craft. I have learned a lot about group dynamics, honesty, integrity and the ability to trust my own instincts.

My experience in a coven, however, isn’t all negative as it has brought me to my own understanding and feelings about being a solitary practitioner. To be solitary is to trust myself, my knowledge and my judgment. To be solitary means that I am responsible for myself and my own karmic return.

It is the realization that it’s not about how much you know or the right or wrong way to do something. It is about my individual connection to the earth, the universe and the Lord & Lady. It is about what feels right to me and not necessarily how others interpret my spiritual growth.

As I am approaching this place in my journey, I feel empowered in knowing that I have the answers inside of me. It doesn’t matter which degree I have or any of the other aspects I consider to be religious politics. It only matters how I feel about my spiritual connections in my life.

So often we are conditioned to believe that everything in life is in black and white, right or wrong. And, with that ingrained in us, we seek outside people to “show” us for fear that we may do it wrong. What we sometimes fail to understand is that right and wrong is a concept. It is a box of morals and rules that are subject to everyone’s individual interpretations. So, in reality, nothing can be black and white because as humans we are all different shades of grey.

This is not to say that covens, groups or teachers are bad things. I think that everything has its place in my learning experience. But it is to say that, when we as pagans go into the world looking for spiritual leaders and/or covens, we should keep things in perspective.

Everyone holds the power inside themselves. Everyone’s journey is different. Everyone has knowledge inside.

A group should enhance and add to your experience, but it is still your experience. It doesn’t matter if you are sitting in circle alone or with the highest of High Priestesses, your connection with the Divine is a very personal one; a connection that no one else can replace or give you.

As a solitary I am relearning how to celebrate alone. When I began thinking about leaving the group I was in, I had the same fears of going solitary as the fears I had in the beginning of joining a group. It is truly amazing how things go full circle.

As a solitary I have really discovered that my attention needs be focused around my connections with the universe and the spirit and away from structure. The freedom in realizing that I can do whatever feels right to celebrate the Sabbats or Esbats is indescribable. Whether a ritual, feast, meditation, prayer, bike ride or walk outside in the elements, anything can be an act of honoring the Lord and Lady and the turn of the wheel.

Personal power is something that everyone has but is so easily given away. In making a decision to be solitary I have decided to keep mine.

When I first began this path I was afraid to do any magical work without guidance. I celebrated the Sabbats and began meditating but didn’t feel that was enough. I realize that I didn’t have the confidence in my spiritual self but that has changed some in the last 2 years and is continuing to grow more solid everyday.

Once I got that I held the power within myself; rituals, meditations and celebratory activities gained more power. I am finding that the key to feeling power and raising energy as a solitary is confidence. The difference in my personal power today versus a year ago has grown and shows itself in my work.

When exiting the coven I was in, I didn’t exactly understand that. It became apparent to me the minute I did some work as a solitary. “In perfect love and perfect trust” doesn’t just apply in a coven setting. It applies in our relationship with the Lord and Lady, the universe and most importantly within ourselves. I am learning to have perfect love and perfect trust with my spiritual self and my own personal power.

I have a nice group of solitary friends that I hang out with for friendship and spiritual connections. Today when I connect with friends for magical purposes, I come as myself, as my own high priestess. And my journey continues… .

There is this saying that says, “Wherever you go, there you are”. I say that to others in my job on a weekly basis but never applied it to myself.

Whether I am solitary or in a coven, it is my energy, power, knowledge, strength and hope that I take with me. What an empowering thought! I now understand that the power I experienced as a part of the coven was mine.

I am a woman, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a heart, a human. I am powerful, strong, knowledgeable, spiritual… … … I am a Pagan, I am a Witch, I am a Solitary.

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We Who Shall Inherit Ourselves

We Who Shall Inherit Ourselves

Author:  Brannawen Ravenhart

 

Over the course of the past decade or two, the giant surge of information on Paganism and Wicca, and Witchcraft in general has swelled to enormous proportions. Whereas I used to have to scratch pathetically through musty bookstores, or wait patiently for a dog-eared and battered single paperback copy of “Drawing Down the Moon” by Margot Adler at the library, or, if great luck would have it, borrow a book or two from some other fortunate soul who not only owned books, but might even know someone who knew someone who might have more; now I can walk into any mall, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Waldenbooks and find many different books in a wide range of topics, depths, and styles. I can surf the Internet and find information on anything I desire. Videos, DVD’s, television documentaries, are all available to me like chocolates in a candy store. What do I want to pick today? What do I wish to learn? What path do I want to know more about? What do I want to know of our own history? The plethora of books and authors allow luxuries today that were unheard of years ago. They also allow a freedom of choice that was never dreamed of. Before, we had to be happy with what we got, and if we did manage to get our hands on something, we often followed that specific information to the people and paths where we eventually ended up. The ways to wisdom had but few trails in the wilderness, and we ended up exactly where they took us.

In a way, this was a very good thing. The hardworking, dedicated individual could find their way only through the mysterious maze of the guidance of others. This led to strength and conviction and solidarity within the covens, groves, groups or even to the Solitary Practitioner, due to the inherent nature of the learning. There are pros and cons about the ‘opening of the Book of Shadows’ to the general public, and there are many valid points to each pro and each con. However, I know what I have felt transform in my own life. I have to base my experience and knowledge on what is real to me. No longer do I have to hide. I may still be cautious, but I know that I can stand in community now, shoulder to shoulder with other battle weary survivors of the shrouded times. I am not alone. I can now say ‘We.’ To that I add “We, who live in the Information Age.”

To me, it is the transformation of having to get up and manually changing one of the three grainy channels on a TV dial to holding the remote control for 400+ stations on digital cable. It is my great luck and fortune to be living in this time, the same way my grandmother and great-grandmother lived through horse and buggy days to rocket ships to the moon. I am a witness. I will never lose sight of that blessing.

This deluge of information, of availability, has propelled Paganism into the face of the forefront of our American culture. No longer complete outcasts, or hidden away, we now have been recognized, have constitutional protections, freedom of speech and religion that is allowed to any other person in this country, as it should be. And we are growing. The information feeding tube has given birth to fantastic amounts of interest, media coverage, watchdog organizations and it is a burgeoning vein that feeds back into itself. By this very exposure we have been given tools and opportunities to defend ourselves against ignorance and segregation, against defamation and harassment (and worse) from other faiths or beliefs who once shunned and persecuted us.

In the same breath, I will also say that I fully agree that now, our own worst enemy is ourselves. Over the years, I have run into many myths about Wicca and Witchcraft, from the days when I wrote my first little book on Witches at age seven (a horrible caricature which makes me squirm due to the naivetŽ it represents — I was equally fascinated and repelled by the wicked witch myth, ) up to today where I see infighting and slander from one group to another. Here is the irony: I conquered my own reservations and cultural enslavement to the myth of ‘evil and Witchcraft, ‘ and then found my way. I conquered my fear of the unknown and of unknown people when I reached out to find others who believed the way I do, and found my way again. I conquered my fear of speaking out and letting my family and friends know about my beliefs, and found acceptance. Now I find myself trying to conquer the anxiety and confusion caused by our own infighting.

I do realize that something this new, this tremendous, this explosive, this controversial will have, by it’s own combustive nature (the birth of a new wave of faith) these types of interwoven battles. Are they of supremacy? Possibly. Jealousy? Of what, I am not sure, but yes, of jealousy too. Does this make sense? No. But I think that at this time, we are not only here to find ourselves, but to find and define each other.

Every single one of us has at this time the potential to make a mark in this path. Relatively speaking, there are so few of us. Human nature makes us want to shine out, speak out, be noticed, be recognized. I have to admit to that. The key here is; what mark is it that we truly want to leave? This is why it is so important to be careful, think hard, and speak wisely. We all have the opportunity here to be heard, if we stop pushing a little. No biting, kicking, scratching or shoving, and as for our kids, well, they just better mind their manners also! We should take the opportunity now of our few numbers, and our own voices, to promote the greater good, rather than ourselves. We can all be heard. Perhaps in another millennium, surrounded by billions of Wiccans, Druids, Shamans and Neo Pagans of all paths, when we are culturally mainstream, we would not have this chance. But now? This is the time to work with each other. To be here and now in this time is such a gift. It is sobering to realize that not everyone can see this.

We are writing our own history. This has been said many ways, many times. This is so true. This is also what upsets me sometimes, when I see someone or hear someone who doesn’t seem to understand or recognize this, or who uses subversion or duplicity to undermine one faction just to promote his or her own. On the other hand, I also feel compassion. We do have to make mistakes to ‘get’ the lesson. That is why we are here, after all. The most we can do is hold onto that thought if and when we do make those mistakes ourselves. All we have to do is notice and thank the ones who do manage to speak out clearly, and fight not only the misconceptions about us, but also the misconceptions we have about each other. We hold in our hands the pen that will leave the mark on the wall of our history. Will it be graffiti? Or poetry? Caricatures? Or great art? We are at the beginning. Our forefathers are living here among us. They could even be ourselves. This is an endowment we should never lose sight of.

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Ten Factoids You Need to Know About Paganism and Wicca

Ten Factoids You Need to Know About Paganism and Wicca

By , About.com

There’s a lot of information out there on Wicca and Paganism, in books, on the Internet, and through local groups. But how much of it is accurate? How do you learn to separate the wheat from the chaff? The fact is, there are several basic things you should understand about Wicca and Paganism before you make the decision to join a new spiritual path. Let’s eliminate some of the misconceptions and talk about actual facts… it will make your spiritual journey all the more valuable if you understand these issues from the begining.

1. Yes, Even Wicca Has Rules

Sure, a lot of people think that just because there’s no Grand High Wiccan and Pagan Council that there must be all kinds of magical carnage going on. Truth is, there are some fairly standard guidelines followed by a number of different Pagan traditions. While they vary from one group to the next, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the concepts. Learn more about the rules of magic before you continue your studies.

2. Not All Witches are Pagans are Wiccans

There are dozens of Pagan traditions, and as many different versions of Wicca. Not all are the same, and just because someone is a witch or Pagan doesn’t necessarily mean they practice Wicca. Learn about the differences in paths found among the umbrella term “Paganism.”

3. Wicca is a Religion, Not a Fashion Statement

Contrary to what many popular movies might have you believe, you don’t have to be a teenage goth princess to be Wiccan. In fact, you don’t “have to be” anything at all. Wiccans come from all walks of life — they are parents and teens, lawyers, nurses, firefighters, waitresses, teachers and writers. Pagans come from all different walks of life, all socio-economic groups, and all sorts of racial backgrounds. There’s no Pagan Dress Code that says you have to toss away your polo shirt or khakis in favor of capes and an all-black wardrobe. On the other hand, if you prefer the goth look, go for it… just remember that goth and Wiccan are not synonymous.

4. Religious Freedom Applies to Wiccans and Pagans Too

Believe it or not, as a Wiccan or Pagan you have the same rights as people of any other religion. Despite the fact that some members of other faiths might disapprove of the existence of Wicca and Paganism, the fact is that if you live in the United States, you’re entitled to protection just like anyone else. It’s against the law for anyone to discriminate against you because you practice an earth-based faith. Learn about your rights as a Pagan or Wiccan parent, as an employee, and even as a member of the United States military.

5. It’s Okay to Be Out of the Broom Closet… or Not

Countless numbers of Pagans and Wiccans have made the choice to “come out of the broom closet”… in other words, they’ve stopped hiding their spiritual path from others. For many people, this is a huge decision. You may feel that it’s not in your best interest to make your religious beliefs known, and that’s okay too. If you feel you could be in danger if you reveal that you are Wiccan, or that it might put a strain on family relations, going public might be something you should postpone. Get all the pros and cons on coming out of the broom closet.

6. Wiccans and Pagans Are Not Satanists

Ask any Pagan or Wiccan about the cornerstone of their faith, and they’ll probably tell you it’s a reverence for their ancestors, a belief in the sacredness of nature, a willingness to embrace the Divine within ourselves, or an acceptance of polarity between the male and female. It may be a combination of those principles. It will not have anything to do with the Satan, Old Scratch, Beelzebub, or any of the other names attributed to the Christian devil. Pagans and Wiccans aren’t devil worshippers, Satanists, or Diabolists. Learn more about how Pagans and Wiccans feel about such an entity.

7. Join a Coven, or Practice Solitary?

Many Wiccans and Pagans choose to join a coven or study group because it allows them the chance to learn from like-minded people. It’s an opportunity to share ideas and get new perspectives on any number of things. However, for some folks it’s just more practical or desirable to remain as a solitary practitioner.

8. Parents and Teens

Nothing will set a teenager at odds with a parent quite like coming into the house wearing a giant pentacle, toting a candle, and yelling, “I’m a witch now, leave me alone!” Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. Parents, you may have some concerns about Wicca and Paganism… and teens, you probably aren’t sure how to talk to mom and dad about your newfound interest. Rest easy, though. With a little bit of good communication, both parents and teenagers should be able to find a happy medium.

9. You Don’t Need a Lot of Fancy Tools

Many people think they need to stock up on hundreds of dollars worth of incense, herbs, wands and candles before they can even begin to practice Wicca or Paganism. That’s simply not the case. While a few basic magical tools3 are nice to have, the key element of most traditions are the beliefs, not the tangible, physical items. If you’d like to gather a very basic “starter kit” of tools, there are several which are common to nearly every tradition.

10. You Can Write Your Own Spells and Rituals

Despite a commonly held (and generally Internet-based) belief, anyone can write a spell. The trick is to recognize what the key elements are to successful spellcrafting — intent or goal, components, and putting it into practice are all key. Don’t let anyone tell you that beginners can’t write a spell. Just like any other skill set, it will take some practice, but with a little work you can become a perfectly effective spellworker.

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Thirteen Books Every Wiccan Should Read

Thirteen Books Every Wiccan Should Read

By , About.com

Now that you’ve decided you want to learn about contemporary Wicca or another modern Pagan path, what should you read? After all, there are literally thousands of books on the subject — some good, others not so much. This list features the thirteen books that every Pagan should have on their shelves. A few are historical, a few more focus on modern Wiccan practice, but they’re all worth reading more than once. Bear in mind that while some books may purport to be about Wicca, they are often focused on NeoWicca, and do not contain the oathbound material found in traditional Wiccan practice.

Adler, Margot: Drawing Down the Moon2

If you want to learn about birds, you get a field guide about birds. If you want to learn about mushrooms, you get a field guide to mushrooms. Drawing Down the Moon is a field guide to Pagans. Rather than offering up a book of spells and recipes, Margot Adler presents an academic work that evaluates modern Pagan religions – including Wicca – and the people who practice them. The work is based on a survey the author took over two decades ago, but the information within is still a worthy read. Drawing Down the Moon makes no apologies for the fact that not all Wiccans are full of white light and fluff, but instead tells it like it is. Adler’s style is entertaining and informative, and it’s a bit like reading a really well-done thesis paper.

Buckland, Raymond: Complete Book of Witchcraft

Raymond Buckland is one of Wicca’s most prolific writers, and his work Complete Book of Witchcraft continues to remain popular two decades after it was first published – and for good reason. Although this book represents a more eclectic flavor of Wicca rather than a particular tradition, it’s presented in a workbook-like format that allows new seekers to work through the exercises at their own pace, learning as they go. For more seasoned readers, there’s a lot of useful information as far as rituals, tools, and magic itself. This book is a classic, and well worth picking up.

Cunningham, Scott: Wicca – A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner

The late Scott Cunningham wrote a number of books before his untimely death, but Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner remains one of the best known and most useful. Although the tradition of witchcraft in this book is more Cunningham’s eclectic path than any other tradition, it’s full of information on how to get started in your practice of Wicca and magic. He goes into depth about tools, how and why they are used, ethics, and the concept of god and goddess. If you’re interested in learning and practicing as an individual, and not necessarily jumping into a coven right off the bat, this book is a valuable resource.

Curott, Phyllis: Witch Crafting

Phyllis Curott is one of those people who makes me glad to be Pagan — because she’s really normal. An attorney who has spent her life working on First Amendment issues, Curott has managed to put together a really useful book. Witch Crafting is not a collection of spells, rituals or prayers. It’s a hard and fast look at magical ethics, the polarity of male and female in the divine, finding the god and goddess in your everyday life, and the pros and cons of coven life vs. solitary paths. Curott also offers up a very interesting take on the Rule of Three. Whether you’re a new student of Wicca, or a veteran, Witch Crafting is worth reading more than once.

Eilers, Dana: Pagans and the Law – Understand Your Rights

Dana D. Eilers spent many years facilitating an event called Conversations With Pagans, and from that she wrote a book entitled The Practical Pagan. She then drew on her experience as an attorney to write Pagans and the Law: Understand Your Rights. This book goes into depth about precedents in religious discrimination lawsuits, how to protect yourself if you may be a victim of workplace harassment, and how to document everything if your spirituality is leading someone to treat you unfairly. Eilers is an outspoken woman who has a lot of great advice worth listening to.

Farrar, Janet & Stewart: The Witches’ Bible

[p]The first section of this book is Eight Sabbats for Witches. It goes into depth on Sabbat rites, and the meanings behind the holidays are expanded on. While the ceremonies in The Witches’ Bible are the Farrars’ own, there’s a heavy influence of the Gardnerian tradition, as well as Celtic folklore and some other European history. The second half of the book is in fact another book, The Witches Way, which looks at the beliefs, ethics, and practice of modern witchcraft. Despite the fact that the authors are a bit conservative by today’s standards, this book is an excellent look at the transitioning concept of what exactly it is that makes someone a witch.

Gardner, Gerald: Witchcraft Today

Gerald Gardner is the founder of modern Wicca as we know it, and of course of the Gardnerian tradition. His book Witchcraft Today is a worthy read, however, for seekers on any Pagan path. He discusses paganism in Europe, as well as the so-called “witch cult”, and goes on to demonstrate how many of history’s notable names are connected, one way or another, to what we know today as witchcraft. Although some of the statements in Witchcraft Today should be taken with a grain of salt — after all, Gardner was a folklorist and that shines through in his writing — it’s still one of the foundations that contemporary Wicca is based on. For its historical value, few things beat this book.

Hutton, Ronald: Triumph of the Moon

Triumph of the Moon is a book about Pagans by a non-Pagan, and Hutton, a highly respected professor, does an excellent job. This book looks at the emergence of contemporary Pagan religions, and how they not only evolved from the Pagan societies of the past, but also owe heavily to 19th-century poets and scholars. In fact, Hutton points out that a good deal of what we consider “ancient” Pagan practice can be attributed to the novelists and romantics of the late Edwardian and early Victorian era. Despite his status as a scholar, Hutton’s breezy wit makes this a refreshing read, and you’ll learn far more than you ever expected to about today’s Pagan religions.

Morrison, Dorothy: The Craft – A Witch’s Book of Shadows

Dorothy Morrison is one of those writers who doesn’t hold back, and while her book The Craft is aimed at beginners, she manages to create a work that can be useful for anyone. Morrison includes exercises and rituals which are not only practical, but teaching tools as well. Despite its focus on the lighter side of witchcraft, it’s a good starting point for anyone trying to learn about Wicca, and how to create your own rituals and workings. Morrison also has written a number of other books, including a companion work to this one.

Russell, Jeffrey: A History of Witchcraft

Historian Jeffrey Russell presents an analysis of witchcraft in an historical context, from the early days of Medieval Europe, through the witch craze of the Renaissance, and up into modern times. Russell doesn’t bother trying to fluff up the history to make it more palatable to today’s Wiccans, and takes a look at three different kinds of witchcraft — sorcery, diabolical witchcraft, and modern witchcraft. A noted religious historian, Russell manages to make an entertaining yet informative read, as well as accepting that witchcraft in and of itself can in fact be a religion.

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Finding a Coven That’s Right for You

Finding a Coven That’s Right for You

by Skye Alexander

 

If a witch carefully considers the pros and cons of joining a coven, and decides to move forward, how would she go about finding a coven to join? It’s not as if covens are listed in the Yellow Pages

Modern witches — and witches-to-be — have a tremendous advantage over seekers twenty years ago. Today you’ll discover a wealth of resources and information online. The first place to look is http://www.witchvox.com.Witchvox.com is the largest repository of information about the Craft, including listings of groups around the world.

You may find a coven or several in your own hometown, or at least in your state. Get in touch with a group’s contact person — he should be able to give you more information about any nearby covens, study groups, and gatherings. If no group exists in your area, you could connect with one of the many online covens and pagan groups on the Web.

Also check bulletin boards at bookstores, health food cooperatives, yoga centers, and New Age shops. A nearby Unity or Unitarian Universalist Church could steer you in the right direction — it might even provide space for Circles and other spiritual events.

Leadership and Members

If you’re lucky, you’ll find several groups to choose from. Pay particular attention to two key points: the aptitude of the leaders and the cohesiveness of the membership. These two factors can make or break a coven.

The best leaders don’t seem to need titles. They are great facilitators, communicators, and honorable diplomats. They remain sensitive to the individuals and to the greater whole. They work hard to teach, inspire, and motivate the coven. When deciding between covens, ask yourself whether any of the leaders stand out as having these qualities and whether they have earned the respect of the coven for their wisdom, responsibility, openness, and consistency.

The best members are those who work together for the greater good, placing their individual preferences and desires second to the group’s. They are dedicated to the group’s goals and the magickal tradition to which they belong. They support and encourage one another, and refrain from gossiping, criticizing, or bickering among themselves. They welcome you into the collective and respect you, without judging or trying to control you. They willingly share information with you and seek your input.

The best leaders don’t seem to need titles. They are great facilitators, communicators, and honorable diplomats. They remain sensitive to the individuals and to the greater whole. They work hard to teach, inspire, and motivate the coven. When deciding between covens, ask yourself whether any of the leaders stand out as having these qualities and whether they have earned the respect of the coven for their wisdom, responsibility, openness, and consistency.

The best members are those who work together for the greater good, placing their individual preferences and desires second to the group’s. They are dedicated to the group’s goals and the magickal tradition to which they belong. They support and encourage one another, and refrain from gossiping, criticizing, or bickering among themselves. They welcome you into the collective and respect you, without judging or trying to control you. They willingly share information with you and seek your input.

Cautions and Caveats

There are several “ten-foot-pole rules” you’ll want to keep in mind when reviewing a coven’s leadership and members. In other words, if you see any of these warning signs, don’t get near ‘em with a ten-foot pole!

  • Any group that says you must do something in a particular way, even if it goes against your personal taboos or moral guidelines, is not an ethical group.
  • Seeing members grovel before the coven’s leader should raise a warning flag. A leader needs help and assistance, but should not order coven members around like servants.
  • Be wary of any coven that charges dues for membership, unless there is a valid reason for such fees (and proper accounting is in place). Most witches believe that learning should be free. It’s okay to ask for help with the gas, or munchies for a meeting, but there’s a huge difference between this and making a fast buck off someone’s spiritual thirst.
  • A group whose members brag about their numbers, claim they are all-powerful, or purport a 100 percent success rate in their magick isn’t worth your time. There is no such thing as fundamental Wicca and no “right” way to pursue spiritual growth.

Many spiritual groups have been guilty of these problems — not just Wiccans and magickal societies, but organized religions as well. Spiritual hubris is one of the most seductive and destructive forms of arrogance. Of course, witches aren’t ego-free, nor are they enlightened beings. They are humans, trying their best to become better people every day in every way.

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Organization and Structure In The Wiccan Belief System

Organization and Structure In The Wiccan Belief System

by Selene Silverwind

 

Unlike most traditional religions, Wicca does not have a single governing body that dictates dogma and behavior for the religion as a whole. There is no Wiccan pope. Certain community leaders or elders have emerged and are treated with respect appropriate to those who possess great knowledge, but they have no special powers over the direction the faith takes.

 

Covens and Other Groups

Wicca isn’t completely without structure. Some Wiccans operate within covens, circles, groves, lodges, or working groups. Covens are generally highly ordered. They have up to thirteen members and are usually led by a high priestess or priest. Generally, this person is elected to this post by the rest of the group, or she may be the coven’s founder. If elected, the post is held for a year and a day.

Once a coven exceeds thirteen members, some of the more experienced members may “hive off” and create a new, autonomous coven, although the two covens may join together for sabbats or other major workings. Some of the oldest covens in the United States have hived off many covens that have spread across several states. A coven generally has rules governing the initiation of new members and the use of magic. Some covens only work magic as a group, while others allow for magic to be performed alone by individual members.

Other Wiccans prefer to work with a group, often called a circle, but not in a formal coven structure. They usually refer to their group by some other name and operate on a consensus basis. Such a group may or may not have a leader. Sometimes the leader is the person who came up with the idea to meet, the person who holds the meetings at her or his house, or a teacher who has collected a group of students to work together. Again, hiving off into new groups is common if the group swells to an unwieldy size. A circle may be composed of coven-initiated members as well as self-initiated members.

Not all Wiccans work in groups; there is also a strong solitary contingent in the Wiccan community. Solitaries are largely self-taught and self-initiated, and they work alone for magic and sabbats, although they may attend public sabbats as well. There has been some debate in the past about the legitimacy of solitary practitioners, but this seems to have subsided.

Wiccan Organizations

There are also a few Wiccan organizations dedicated to facilitating communication among Wiccans and with those outside the Wiccan community. The Covenant of the Goddess (CoG) is a collective of covens and solitaries. CoG has chapters around the world and any coven or solitary who adheres to its code can join. The members of CoG act as public spokespeople for the Wiccan community, offer ministerial credentials, and host public events and rituals. Witches Against Religious Discrimination is another group that seeks to correct public misconceptions about Wiccans, as well as to secure the legal rights of Pagans.

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