A Coven of Solitaries
Author: Lady Abigail
Over the last year since we began Ravensgrove Coven here in Florida, I have received hundreds of emails asking how it works and how is it possible to have a Coven of Solitary Witches. I am Lady Abigail, High Priestess of Ravensgrove Coven and how it works is with perfect love and perfect trust and some gentle patience given by all.
First and foremost we are each Solitary Witches in our own right with our own traditions, beliefs and Deities. We do not seek permission at any time from anyone to practice or work our Craft individually or together. We simply share with and commit ourselves to those we call family within the Ravensgrove Coven.
There are many Witches who are self-dedicated and self-initiated. There are more Solitary Witches now than ever within the Craft. We are Witches proud of our diversity, personal independence and strength. Nevertheless we don’t always have a voice in our magickal society. While we Solitaries are a valid and legitimate spiritual group within many differing paths, we also face a few unique dilemmas. We have trouble finding others of like mind and heart with whom to share our faith. We normally spend Sabbats and Esbats on your own. We have a hard time finding others to converse with who have experience or who could help us with rituals, spells and magick.
For good or bad most of our knowledge and information comes from books or the Internet; although these are excellent places for finding information, they are not always accurate. Sifting through the truth and someone’s perceptions of the truth can be difficult at best. Many times this information will push us toward a belief within the Craft that is not completely our own. I have met some who have found themselves choosing Deities because of books or the Internet rather than seeking their own.
Ravensgrove Coven is made up of Solitary Witches. Each member brings their own unique skills and understanding into this new and eclectic gathering of Witches. A Coven consisting of a group of Solitary Witches with differing beliefs may sound like new territory. The idea of Solitary Witches coming together and having their own Coven, being a part of the whole yet still independent, sounds unusual to most.
On the contrary; this is not a new concept, but a very old one. If you consider those who were Witches in the Old World or harken to my great-grandmother’s time, each and every one was a Solitary Witch with her or his own beliefs. They had families, homes and lives. They were the healers, the teachers, and the wise men and women others would turn to in times of trouble. They came together without controversy whenever needed, to work magick, ritual and worship.
How can such a proposal work, Witches being both Solitaires and Coveners? Extremely well… This allows each member their personal freedoms within the Craft and yet they are all a part of a working, learning and growing Coven.
In truth, we are each individuals; our practices and beliefs are equally individual. We are all following our own personal spiritual and magickal path. Ravensgrove Coven is a gathering of like-minded souls who come together to meet, talk, study and work. However, at the same time, we all strive to be open-minded and accepting of each of our personal differences.
This is not always easy, being an eclectic combination of many different traditions. Within a Coven of Solitary Witches, most of whom have worked alone and independently – sometimes for years – it can at times be difficult. It’s not always easy to put aside one’s personal feelings and not eclipse another’s individual needs. If any one person within the group becomes rigid in their personal desires for how things should take place, someone else will feel their needs are unimportant. So a balance is always necessary. Learning what each individual Covener needs within rituals, magick and gatherings will bring the balanced blending needed. This is sometimes made easier when we remember we are each distinct Solitary Witches who independently work as we think best for ourselves. Even so, within a Coven of Solitaries everyone must be accepting and respectful of the requests and desires of all within the group.
A Coven of Solitaries should be a collective management; each member should learn, take part, and lead a meeting, ritual or work, as they feel comfortable. This will assure no problems in the personality area (ego) or someone feeling they are doing it all – both common problems within Covens.
When running the gathering, you should operate the Coven by the guidelines set within the group. There are “rules of consideration” when it comes to traditions and Witchcraft (be it Wicca, Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Celtic, Cajun, etc). Your Coven should have its on traditions. Commonly all Covens honor the Deities, the Gods or the Lord and Lady, in some fashion. The calling of the watchtowers or elements, casting circles and so forth are also common.
Having a good group of Coveners who share the foundation is an important requirement and is the cornerstone on which the Coven ensures progress. Members must feel comfortable with each other, as the interrelated energy of the whole circle is paramount in the success of any ritual or magickal work.
We have found that a Round Table is the perfect time to discuss things and works best when scheduled apart from the rituals, gatherings and work. This is the time for Coven business and a time to set forth plans for the rituals, meetings and gatherings. The Round Table is a time to discuss needs and work out problems that may arise. It is also the time for preparation of what work needs doing, who brings what when and where, who’s doing what and who cleans up afterwards.
For those wishing to begin such a Coven of Solitaries you must make sure you have the heart, background and degree of study to complete such a task. Personally I don’t believe just anyone should start a Coven. It is a lot of hard, constant work and you must be ready to give up a part of yourself to the Coven and its members.
Then you will need to find others that are also seeking to be a part of a Solitary Coven, with the understanding that they will not be giving up their own personal identity within the Craft. This can be done by contacting local metaphysical shops, book stores, and even online. Remember, this is a new concept so be ready to answer questions on what your goals are for this new group. Do be careful what personal information you give out about yourself to others – phone numbers, emails and so on. Unfortunately, there are a lot of nuts out there. It is a good idea to have each person interested in joining the Coven answer some questions that you feel would give insight into their personal beliefs within the Craft.
Set a time and date for the first meeting of those interested. It would be best if this could be a public place like a coffee house, library or book store. This is only a time to get to meet people and get to know them. See who you feel comfortable with, who seems open to others and accepting of everyone’s ideas. This is not the time to discuss details, just an overlay of plans. Once you get a feel for others you will be able to see how you want to go forward.
Finally one extremely important point to remember as you begin a new group or Coven: STORMS ARE NORMAL. Once your Coven moves past the “NEW” stage, you will find there will be a few bumps along the road; you will have members come and go for various reasons and you will have to make some adjustments. All this is normal when a new group of any kind is forming.
You will have to help members see that no one should assume the responsibility for what happens or for any little problems that may arise. All groups experience disappointments, setbacks, and some level of conflict occasionally. Especially in the beginning.
When groups come together for the first time, they are starting the step of forming. While forming, you know very little about each other, about common beliefs and hopes for the Coven that may have drawn everyone together. Everyone is on their best behavior, a little on eggshells because there is so much you don’t know about each other.
As you become more familiar with each other, you become more comfortable. Individual differences emerge, sometimes in contrast with your own Solitary practices. As a group, you will find you sometimes make assumptions with regard to each other’s beliefs and sensitivity.
As a fledgling group with little experience with each other and with untested agreements on dealing with conflicts, differences can boil quickly and tend to take their own course at times.
In distinguishing your Coven’s path you must work to resolve problems as you stumble through the storm. This storming is a natural occurrence in every group. It’s a passage that helps the group to come together to validate common beliefs and to determine new agreements in dealing with challenges as they arise.
This storming or growing results in the “personality of the Coven” emerging as group members put their individual preferences secondary to the greater vision for the Coven’s personality. But remember that you are different spirits with different personalities.
Once a problem arises you work to resolve it. But more importantly, you grow with new agreements and understanding on how to deal with such issues next time they arise. The coming together and new agreements allow the Coven to move forward, to be strengthened and to center on its true vision.
It’s the common vision that will keep you all together. It’s the diversity within the group that will make it strong and will enable you to achieve a greater vision than any of you could ever hope to attain! You are again Solitary Witches working within a single group, a Coven.
When the storms come, don’t quit. Don’t assume blame. Recognize the storms for what they are – storms. Don’t forget the feelings of excitement and great expectations you all had when you first came together…
May all those that walk along this path find truth and light.