WOTC Extra – Pros and Cons of Solitary Practice verses Coven Practice


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Pros and Cons of Solitary Practice verses Coven Practice

 

Pros and Cons of Solitary Practice

 As mentioned earlier, most witches started their practice by working alone. It is most likely that witches who choose the solitary path have long developed their interest in witchcraft even before meeting a coven.

Some of the advantages of solitary practice include: being able to make your own rules and set of ethics; being free to work with anyone regardless if they are a member of a coven or another tradition; being able to follow your own schedule instead of being tied to a fixed schedule of worship and work; and not being obliged or accountable to anyone or anything but yourself and your deities.

As much as there are advantages, there are also disadvantages to working in solitude. These include: having difficulty in connecting with other witches or Wiccans; having the need for a teacher or mentor at some point of your solitary practice especially if you want to grow and learn more spiritually; finding limitations in the quality, quantity, and type of knowledge you acquire; and longing to be with other people to share your knowledge, skills, and experiences.

Pros and Cons of Coven Practice

 The number of witches and Wiccans who have covens is greater than those who prefer to work on their own. Witches and Wiccans with covens say that they enjoy working in a group in spite of the set of rules they follow and quite a share of problems that they deal with. Some of the advantages of coven practice include: having more formal and structured work based on a group setting; having a pre-determined course of study and following specific lesson plans; having more opportunities to meet others in greater witchcraft and Wiccan communities; having more elaborate and beneficial rituals; and having the opportunity to learn and obtain knowledge from seasoned and more experienced witches.

On the other hand, the disadvantages of coven practice include: having to work with the members who may not be very willing to accommodate new members and their needs; having to deal with a member who decide to have a power trip; having to provide your schedule ahead of time to ensure all members are available; and having numerous relationships can cause issues and problems.

Source:

Witchcraft: A Beginner’s Guide To Wiccan Ways: Symbols, Witch Craft, Love Potions Magick, Spell, Rituals, Power, Wicca, Witchcraft, Simple, Belief, Secrets,The … For Beginners To Learn Witchcraft Book 2)

Sebastian Collins

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Let’s Talk Witch – Solitary Practice


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Solitary Practice

 

Some witches prefer to practice alone instead of being with a group of witches. This could be because the solitary practice is more suitable to their knowledge, experience, lifestyle, purposes, and temperament. However, even if these witches practice witchcraft alone, they can still join covens if only for the purpose of celebrating Sabbaths or other occasions. Some witches, on the other hand, may start practicing alone for a certain period of time and then later join a coven.

More often than not, it can be easy to choose the path of solitary practice especially if one is a seasoned witch. However, if you are a beginner, you may find it lonesome to practice alone. In addition, you need to put extra effort into practicing witchcraft properly if you are alone given that nobody will guide you on what you should do.

Conversely, solitary practice allows you to discover and hone your own witchcraft style instead of adopting the ideology of an established coven.

Solitary witches follow some guidelines, which can help them in practicing successfully and safely. These guidelines are also applicable for beginners in the Wiccan way.

When you are practicing witchcraft alone, you may need to gather different resources in order to acquire insights as well as perspectives that may help you learn and become proficient. Resources include books, articles, and other forms of reference. However, it is not enough that you merely study about witchcraft. You need to apply what you learn. As such, it is advisable to set a schedule, which can make witchcraft a part of your daily routine. You have to practice regularly in order to develop your skills.

Solitary practice involves regular meditation for improving your adherence to your higher self and enhancing your mental focus. You can also start with simple spells and rituals until such time that you think you are ready for more complex ones. It is also advisable to keep a manual or diary of your work and experiences so you have something to refer to in the future.

Once you have spent time acquiring the knowledge you need to learn and to practice witchcraft alone, you will have a more accurate idea of the types of magic or skills that appeal to you and suit you the most.

Source:

Witchcraft: A Beginner’s Guide To Wiccan Ways: Symbols, Witch Craft, Love Potions Magick, Spell, Rituals, Power, Wicca, Witchcraft, Simple, Belief, Secrets,The … For Beginners To Learn Witchcraft Book 2)

Sebastian Collins

Covens vs. Solitary Practice

Covens vs. Solitary Practice

It’s an argument that comes up frequently in the Pagan community, particularly among those who identify as Wiccans. 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 other forms of 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 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 traditions
  • 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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In The End, We’re All Solitary

In The End, We’re All Solitary

Author: Chi 

I’m not bashing coven practice here – It’s a wonderful spiritual path and way of learning and it works for lots of people. Those people have my blessings and all my best wishes. There are plenty of teens that someday want to be part of a coven, and there are dozens of adults who warn against teen groups (and even several of articles on Witchvox about it) . But if solitary practice is so wonderful, I have to ask myself why no one advocates it, at least not until asked or provoked. That’s what I will attempt to do, to go over some of the things that solitaries have the opportunity for, and even solitary fundamentals that anyone can use.

After all, you are an individual. In the end, you are solitary. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, I mean it in the most glorious way possible. At the end of the day, the Divinity shines down on YOU and recognizes YOU for what YOU are, and takes you into their arms as their child with your own uniqueness and respects you for every ounce of it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. There are many people who consider themselves to be solitary Wiccans or solitary Witches. I almost want to say there is a majority – but I don’t have the statistics on hand to back that up, just my observation.

Most practitioners consider it a long-term goal to be able to get into a coven or other pagan group. Even though there are sometimes degree systems in place for covens, being a solitary is usually considered being “at the bottom of the food chain”, so to speak.

Some people are solitary because they choose to be, they know it is the best for their learning and they know it is better to study alone then with people that have the potential to delay your spiritual definition. Others are solitary simply because they have to be, there are no covens around, they are too young to join a ‘real’ coven, they do not have enough experience, or what have you.

I personally am some blend of the two. I began really studying and dedicating myself to “this path” a few years ago. I knew that I needed to study; I believed I had to have every rule memorized if I was ever to reach the glorious rank of a coven member.

However, since that time I have come to realize many things. First, I am not only a Wiccan. I am also Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Shinto, and a multitude of other things…so joining a group of strict Wiccans would probably drive several of us mad!

Second, I know how I learn. That’s not to say I do everything right, but being a solitary has taught me a lot of things about how to self teach, how to remember, and how to adapt that I don’t think I would get if I was being taught by another sole person (or group of teachers) .

Third, I don’t fit into a category that any degree system or standardized test can put me into. I consider myself to be very well-rounded in many types of practice; I meditate at least once a day, I am very accomplished in divination, plus some alternative and spiritual healing…but at the same time, I had forgotten what a “boline” was a few weeks ago and had to Google search it. You might find some of these apply to you and you may find they do not.

My point here is that self-exploration is essential to your learning. I have been self-exploring and self-coaching myself for long enough that I think if I were to join a coven, it would have to be very flexible at the least. And that’s fine with me.

However, most solitaries, including myself…no matter how much we love our individual practice, we want some sort of structure, some group or support system. This is not a bad thing, if anything it shows us that we are realistic. I myself have daydreamed about starting a teen Pagan study group (notice I did not say ‘teen coven’) before…leading group meditations and having workshops to carve our own wands and such…sounds glorious doesn’t it? But I know that in the end that is not what a group is for.

I have joined many Pagan forums and websites…some of which are like my own online Grimoire. I say almost nothing to members but comb through hundreds of information pages and topics, completely in awe. On others, I have a group of elders or mentors that I ask for help quite often, whether it’s “Can I use this pretty dish my mom gave me instead of a chalice?” or “Who can tell me in detail the exact workings of the lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram?” (And to be fair…some of the websites out there are total B.S.) . Many casual groups have the potential to help you.

This is the first rule of being a solitary. Solitary does not equate to being alone. I like knowing that I can plan my own rituals, or re-schedule a Sabbat, and that I can adapt coven rituals to my practice. But I also know that there are always people I can turn to. I might talk to my non-Wiccan parents about finding spirituality in ‘everyday’, or ‘mundane’ life (as I found out in recent months, my sort-of-ex-hippie Dad and New-Age-Spiritual Mum are great for those kinds of things) . I might go on the Internet if I want to construct my own ritual. I might ask some online Elders for their book recommendations or good websites.

The thing about being a solitary is, instead of having a coven Priest or Priestess as your teacher, the whole world is your teacher. You usually have to ask several people about one question and go through each answer until you can combine the facts you need and get your own. You may find spiritual answers in simple social contacts or in the workings of nature.

Not to say that coven members “miss out” on this, but it is often unrecognized. I suspect that since Covens are a quick resource, that problem solving may not be emphasized as much, especially with limited resources.

One of my mottos that I have come to revisit often is this: everyone has something to teach, everyone has something to learn, and everyone is sacred. So even if you’re in a coven, a solitary might be a good person to ask about making up your own rituals. Maybe that seemingly fluffy teenager over there really does have some good books to lend you. If you have no one teacher, you have to branch out to anyone that has the potential to give you knowledge – that means you have to find that potential in everyone.

There are pros and cons to every kind of practice. If you’re in a coven, you still need to be willing to branch out and seek information from people who don’t have the label of a third degree high priestess. Maybe those with less experience do have things to offer you. If you’re solitary, don’t assume that you’re 100% on your own, there are Pagan festivals and new age shops everywhere that are likely to have people willing to teach you a thing or two, and there are plenty of online communities or websites that list meet ups and moots in your area.

In the end, we all have to do our own self-teaching of a few things. No matter what path we’re on it’s always nice to have some sort of mentor to turn to, but keep in mind in the end it is you who decides what is best for your learning, and you are responsible for comparing and gathering information, and adapting to your learning needs.

A good example is taking a hike in a mountain forest. You can take an experienced Guide, or you can go in with your supplies and a map. If you take a guide, you’ll probably get where you want to be without wasting time, and you’ll learn a lot – maybe you’ll be able to become a guide for someone else someday if it’s really your shtick. However… You might go through the path with your backpack, flashlight, and map. This is riskier, because you have less experience. You have tools at your disposal and you need to know how to use them. You might get turned around. You might take longer than the tour group. But there is a potential for you to learn a lot of things that the tour guide will overlook.

Okay, so you might not get the mountain path right off, and that’s okay. But maybe you can learn a lot more about forests in general. You’ll learn the skills in how to find your way through the thick forests, and you might discover wildlife the guides will walk right past. Maybe you don’t know the mountain path so well, even by the time you’re done with your hike. But, by the end of it, you probably know a lot about finding your way when your lost, telling directions without a compass, using your resources, marking your paths, and you’ll even know your own strengths and weaknesses better.

Not to say that the tour group missed out, I mean hey, they had their fun too, and they get to do all kinds of stuff in groups that you simply don’t have the energy/time/resources for. But ultimately, it depends on what’s best for you.

In keeping with the metaphor, forests can be dangerous. Some more than others. Some places you simply shouldn’t tread without a guide, at least for a while. And never go in alone without supplies in the dark, when no one knows where you are to a place you’ve never been. You can ask a guide every now and then even if you aren’t in a tour group. And there is no reason members of that tour group can’t go on their own hikes.

Back to spiritual paths, that translates to this: go at it alone, if it suits your fancy. You will learn a ton, I guarantee you. You might not learn as much about traditional paths, but you will learn a lot about what your spirituality means. You will have the chance to dissect it, analyze each piece and synthesize it along with the paths of others. But be wary of where you go, and always be safe. You will need to learn to self evaluate, and other life skills.

Coven members may have these skills and they might be better at it than you, but you still have the chance to grow and explore your own self-definition.

I admit whole-heartedly that I have no coven experience to back this up. I have let several coven members read this and give me their thoughts, and I have spoken to many about coven practice. I am not bashing anyone who is in a coven – it is a wonderful way to learn, and I hope to have a similar experience someday. But I feel the need to stress that somewhere along the line we all need to self teach and self-explore. And if you make that self-teaching and solitary practice part of your everyday life, it gives you a lot of potential in the long run. You can learn things in unlikely places, and I think solitaries know that lesson quite well.

Remember:

Everyone has something to learn, everyone has something to teach, and everyone is sacred.

Blessings.

In The End, We’re All Solitary

In The End, We’re All Solitary

Author:   Chi   
 
I’m not bashing coven practice here – It’s a wonderful spiritual path and way of learning and it works for lots of people. Those people have my blessings and all my best wishes. There are plenty of teens that someday want to be part of a coven, and there are dozens of adults who warn against teen groups (and even several of articles on Witchvox about it) . But if solitary practice is so wonderful, I have to ask myself why no one advocates it, at least not until asked or provoked. That’s what I will attempt to do, to go over some of the things that solitaries have the opportunity for, and even solitary fundamentals that anyone can use.

After all, you are an individual. In the end, you are solitary. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, I mean it in the most glorious way possible. At the end of the day, the Divinity shines down on YOU and recognizes YOU for what YOU are, and takes you into their arms as their child with your own uniqueness and respects you for every ounce of it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. There are many people who consider themselves to be solitary Wiccans or solitary Witches. I almost want to say there is a majority – but I don’t have the statistics on hand to back that up, just my observation.

Most practitioners consider it a long-term goal to be able to get into a coven or other pagan group. Even though there are sometimes degree systems in place for covens, being a solitary is usually considered being “at the bottom of the food chain”, so to speak.

Some people are solitary because they choose to be, they know it is the best for their learning and they know it is better to study alone then with people that have the potential to delay your spiritual definition. Others are solitary simply because they have to be, there are no covens around, they are too young to join a ‘real’ coven, they do not have enough experience, or what have you.

I personally am some blend of the two. I began really studying and dedicating myself to “this path” a few years ago. I knew that I needed to study; I believed I had to have every rule memorized if I was ever to reach the glorious rank of a coven member.

However, since that time I have come to realize many things. First, I am not only a Wiccan. I am also Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Shinto, and a multitude of other things…so joining a group of strict Wiccans would probably drive several of us mad!

Second, I know how I learn. That’s not to say I do everything right, but being a solitary has taught me a lot of things about how to self teach, how to remember, and how to adapt that I don’t think I would get if I was being taught by another sole person (or group of teachers) .

Third, I don’t fit into a category that any degree system or standardized test can put me into. I consider myself to be very well-rounded in many types of practice; I meditate at least once a day, I am very accomplished in divination, plus some alternative and spiritual healing…but at the same time, I had forgotten what a “boline” was a few weeks ago and had to Google search it. You might find some of these apply to you and you may find they do not.

My point here is that self-exploration is essential to your learning. I have been self-exploring and self-coaching myself for long enough that I think if I were to join a coven, it would have to be very flexible at the least. And that’s fine with me.

However, most solitaries, including myself…no matter how much we love our individual practice, we want some sort of structure, some group or support system. This is not a bad thing, if anything it shows us that we are realistic. I myself have daydreamed about starting a teen Pagan study group (notice I did not say ‘teen coven’) before…leading group meditations and having workshops to carve our own wands and such…sounds glorious doesn’t it? But I know that in the end that is not what a group is for.

I have joined many Pagan forums and websites…some of which are like my own online Grimoire. I say almost nothing to members but comb through hundreds of information pages and topics, completely in awe. On others, I have a group of elders or mentors that I ask for help quite often, whether it’s “Can I use this pretty dish my mom gave me instead of a chalice?” or “Who can tell me in detail the exact workings of the lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram?” (And to be fair…some of the websites out there are total B.S.) . Many casual groups have the potential to help you.

This is the first rule of being a solitary. Solitary does not equate to being alone. I like knowing that I can plan my own rituals, or re-schedule a Sabbat, and that I can adapt coven rituals to my practice. But I also know that there are always people I can turn to. I might talk to my non-Wiccan parents about finding spirituality in ‘everyday’, or ‘mundane’ life (as I found out in recent months, my sort-of-ex-hippie Dad and New-Age-Spiritual Mum are great for those kinds of things) . I might go on the Internet if I want to construct my own ritual. I might ask some online Elders for their book recommendations or good websites.

The thing about being a solitary is, instead of having a coven Priest or Priestess as your teacher, the whole world is your teacher. You usually have to ask several people about one question and go through each answer until you can combine the facts you need and get your own. You may find spiritual answers in simple social contacts or in the workings of nature.

Not to say that coven members “miss out” on this, but it is often unrecognized. I suspect that since Covens are a quick resource, that problem solving may not be emphasized as much, especially with limited resources.

One of my mottos that I have come to revisit often is this: everyone has something to teach, everyone has something to learn, and everyone is sacred. So even if you’re in a coven, a solitary might be a good person to ask about making up your own rituals. Maybe that seemingly fluffy teenager over there really does have some good books to lend you. If you have no one teacher, you have to branch out to anyone that has the potential to give you knowledge – that means you have to find that potential in everyone.

There are pros and cons to every kind of practice. If you’re in a coven, you still need to be willing to branch out and seek information from people who don’t have the label of a third degree high priestess. Maybe those with less experience do have things to offer you. If you’re solitary, don’t assume that you’re 100% on your own, there are Pagan festivals and new age shops everywhere that are likely to have people willing to teach you a thing or two, and there are plenty of online communities or websites that list meet ups and moots in your area.

In the end, we all have to do our own self-teaching of a few things. No matter what path we’re on it’s always nice to have some sort of mentor to turn to, but keep in mind in the end it is you who decides what is best for your learning, and you are responsible for comparing and gathering information, and adapting to your learning needs.

A good example is taking a hike in a mountain forest. You can take an experienced Guide, or you can go in with your supplies and a map. If you take a guide, you’ll probably get where you want to be without wasting time, and you’ll learn a lot – maybe you’ll be able to become a guide for someone else someday if it’s really your shtick. However… You might go through the path with your backpack, flashlight, and map. This is riskier, because you have less experience. You have tools at your disposal and you need to know how to use them. You might get turned around. You might take longer than the tour group. But there is a potential for you to learn a lot of things that the tour guide will overlook.

Okay, so you might not get the mountain path right off, and that’s okay. But maybe you can learn a lot more about forests in general. You’ll learn the skills in how to find your way through the thick forests, and you might discover wildlife the guides will walk right past. Maybe you don’t know the mountain path so well, even by the time you’re done with your hike. But, by the end of it, you probably know a lot about finding your way when your lost, telling directions without a compass, using your resources, marking your paths, and you’ll even know your own strengths and weaknesses better.

Not to say that the tour group missed out, I mean hey, they had their fun too, and they get to do all kinds of stuff in groups that you simply don’t have the energy/time/resources for. But ultimately, it depends on what’s best for you.

In keeping with the metaphor, forests can be dangerous. Some more than others. Some places you simply shouldn’t tread without a guide, at least for a while. And never go in alone without supplies in the dark, when no one knows where you are to a place you’ve never been. You can ask a guide every now and then even if you aren’t in a tour group. And there is no reason members of that tour group can’t go on their own hikes.

Back to spiritual paths, that translates to this: go at it alone, if it suits your fancy. You will learn a ton, I guarantee you. You might not learn as much about traditional paths, but you will learn a lot about what your spirituality means. You will have the chance to dissect it, analyze each piece and synthesize it along with the paths of others. But be wary of where you go, and always be safe. You will need to learn to self evaluate, and other life skills.

Coven members may have these skills and they might be better at it than you, but you still have the chance to grow and explore your own self-definition.

I admit whole-heartedly that I have no coven experience to back this up. I have let several coven members read this and give me their thoughts, and I have spoken to many about coven practice. I am not bashing anyone who is in a coven – it is a wonderful way to learn, and I hope to have a similar experience someday. But I feel the need to stress that somewhere along the line we all need to self teach and self-explore. And if you make that self-teaching and solitary practice part of your everyday life, it gives you a lot of potential in the long run. You can learn things in unlikely places, and I think solitaries know that lesson quite well.

Remember:

Everyone has something to learn, everyone has something to teach, and everyone is sacred.

Solitary Practice

Solitary Practice

Author:   RuneWolf
Even when I was a Covener, I was mostly Solitary.
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: “Geez, Wolfie’s been in the unguentum Sabbati again…”
But for the entire period that I was officially a member of a living, breathing Coven on the West Coast, I lived where I still live, on the East. With the exception of, I believe, seven whole days, during my tenure as a Seeker, my year and a day of Dedication, and after my First Degree Initiation, I practiced by “remote control.”
I don’t know if my experience is all that unique, but I have yet to hear a similar story. And some people might contend that, because of the physical separation, I wasn’t “really” a member of that Coven. I won’t argue with that – I don’t need to. My Teacher, my High Priest and my Covenmates said I was a member, and I will not dispute the words of those good people.
What that experience gave me, in the formative years of my Pagan journey, was really the best of both worlds. I had the energy, wisdom, experience and love of the group to educate, nurture and support me, but I was also free to take my own risks, make my own mistakes and draw my own conclusions. I was, in effect, “working with a net.”
Having a Coven and a Teacher to “answer to” gave me the disciplinary framework that I needed at that time, and, apparently, still do. This essay is a bit of a confession on my part: I have to admit – if I am to be honest with myself, the Gods and you, gentle reader – that my Solitary practice has gotten a little sloppy lately. Oh, I’m still working hard…but mostly just on the stuff that appeals to me, like venturing into the unexplored (by me) hinterlands of Traditional Craft, bootstrapping my own “Tradition,” reading, writing, and whatnot. But some of the – ahem! – fundamentals seem to have fallen by the wayside…
Lammas blew right past me, and I never raised an eyebrow, let alone an athame. Thank all the Gods there are that I didn’t turn to one of my Pagan friends and say, “What’s up with all the Lughnasadh reviews on Witchvox, anyway?”
For me, this is where the danger lies in Solitary practice. I don’t really believe that I’m going to accidentally conjure up some “long-legged beastie” from the Nether Regions while working alone. What is far more likely is that I will simply become lazy and lax, and my spiritual life as a whole will suffer because of it.
On her excellent website, in an article entitle The Seeker’s Triangle, Wiccan author Dianne Sylvan says, “It takes time, work, and persistence to create and maintain a spiritual life in the face of all of that.” (That being the exigencies of mundane life.) I couldn’t agree more. And it takes self-discipline to set aside the time, do the work and remain persistent when the “only” one I am accountable to is me. Because I know The Big Secret of Paganism: The Lady and the Lord simply aren’t going to thwack me on the head with a meteorite if I don’t do what I’m “supposed to.” Period. So I can, in fact, let Lammas blow by me like a crack-addled power-walker, and no harm will come to me. I can let my daily meditation slide, and I won’t be struck down. I can forget a morning prayer or an evening prayer or – gasp! – both, and I will be just jim-dandy.
Well, physically, anyway.
Emotionally and spiritually? I’m not so certain.
Solitary practice really brings home that lesson that dear old Mother tried to teach me so many times: If I cheat, and no one ever finds out, I’ve still cheated myself. As a Solitary, I can cut all the corners I want, and there will be no “divine retribution.” On the contrary, the Universe will continue to hum right along with nary a hiccup. But I will have deprived myself of something, perhaps something precious.
The good news is that there’s no one watching over my shoulder that’s going to say, “Oh my Goddess! I can’t believe you FORGOT EFF-ING LAMMAS! You’re outta here, pal!” The only one who can kick me out is me. (Well, THEY could, but remember what I said about The Big Secret…) So the only way I can really screw this up is if I simply throw my hands up and quit. And believe me, there have been – and will be – plenty of times when I’ve felt like doing that. That’s when I really miss being part of a Coven, when my own inadequacies – real or imagined – get the best of me, and I begin to lose faith, not in the Gods, but in myself, and my fundamental right to be here. When those little “dark nights of the soul” come along, it’s great to have Covenmates to help you through, and it’s Hel to not have Covenmates to help you through.
That’s why my network is one of the most important parts of my Solitary practice. As with so many other things on the Pagan Path, it’s a bit of a contradiction: Depending on other people in my Solitary practice. But that’s the reality of it for me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I believe that the Lady and the Lord put certain people into my life on purpose, as gifts, and who am I to reject the gifts of the Gods? I may work my new ritual alone, physically, but you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ve talked that ritual over with my fellow travelers, and their insights and energies are with me when I work it. And when I begin to flounder, when I begin to doubt all this and myself as well, I have people I can turn to who know me, where I’ve been, where I want to end up (today, at least), and generally which direction I’m going in. They have no authority or power over me, save that which I give them by way of my respect, admiration and friendship. So I listen when these people ask, in their gentle, unassuming way, “Say, Slick – do you really think it’s a good idea to invoke Loki, Balor and Cthulhu all at once at midnight on Samhain?”
I have always maintained that, if at all possible, Pagans should work within a group structure at some point along their paths. My personal prejudice is that this is best done at the beginning, but I think it can be educational and transformative at any stage. I consider myself lucky – despite the obstacles of physical distance, I fell in with a strong, teaching-oriented Coven within a few weeks of my Self-Dedication. (I got Dedicated all over again to the Coven a few months later. It didn’t invalidate my original Self-Dedication, it was simply part of the “package deal.”) And, some time later, I found a local open Circle that has helped to fill some of the gaps. Studying within the Coven wasn’t easy, but I think – for me – it was easier than it would have been, trying to achieve the same goals by myself as a newcomer.
Looking back over my path since the Coven, I would have to say that self-discipline and a good network have been indispensable to my Solitary practice. Self-discipline helps to ensure that I do all my homework, not just the bits I like, and that lays the foundations for the really cool stuff, the hair-standing-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck moments in ritual – and elsewhere – that let us know we are on the right path. The network helps to keep me from doing things that are too outlandish – or too trivial – and also helps me to realize that, while Solitary, I am by no means alone.
I would like to close by sharing an observation on Solitary practice that came from – for me – a rather unexpected source. In Light from the Shadows: A Mythos of Modern Traditional Witchcraft, Gwyn says:

“More and more modern witches…are actively seeking the solitary path of the wise woman, wizard and hedgewitch. In this respect they should not be condemned or criticised, for they are simply reviving the practices of the past when the majority of the Craft were solo practitioners of the Art.”

Flags, Flax and Fodder,
RuneWolf

Let’s Talk WItch – Solitary Practice

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Solitary Practice

Some Witches practice alone— in solitary— rather than with a group. Perhaps no coven is available, or a Witch may prefer to follow solitary practice because it suits her particular purposes, temperament, or lifestyle. Some people may work alone for a period, then join a coven for a period. Witches who don’t belong to a coven may still gather with “kindred spirits” to celebrate the sabbats or other events, in a sort of extended Circle.

For seasoned Witches, a solitary path may be simply a choice. For the beginner, however, working alone can be lonely. It can also be more difficult than being guided by other, more experienced colleagues. On the other hand, a solitary pursuit enables you to develop your own style of magickal expression, rather than taking on the ideology or outward form of an established group. Fortunately, today many books— including this one— exist to teach a novice the basics of Wicca and Witchcraft.

As a solitary Witch— especially if you’re just starting out— some guidelines can help you proceed safely and successfully:

Read lots of books by different authors, to gain a variety of insights and perspectives.

Meditate regularly to improve your mental focus and your connection with your higher self.

Set a schedule for yourself that makes magickal study and work part of your everyday life.

Apply what you learn— study alone won’t make you a Witch.

Start with simple rituals and spells, then work up to more complicated ones.

Don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t work out the way you’d planned; try to determine what went wrong and why, and learn from your mistakes.

Practice, practice, practice— magick is like every other skill: The more you do it, the better you get.

Keep a journal (Book of Shadows) of your experiences.

After you’ve spent time studying and practicing on your own, you’ll have a better idea of what type of magick appeals to you and which path you want to follow. At some point, you may decide to find a teacher or a group of like-minded individuals to work with. Working with a teacher can help you advance more quickly and may steer you away from some pitfalls along the way. Good teachers tend to be selective about the students they take on. If you can show that you’ve done your homework through solitary study, you’ll have a better chance of convincing a teacher to help you reach the next level. Remember the old saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

 

Reference:

The Only Book of Wiccan Spells You’ll Ever Need
Singer, Marian; MacGregor, Trish