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Thread: What is up with covens?

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    Moderator Azvanna's Avatar
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    What is up with covens?

    What is up with covens? There seems to be a few people around who have left for one reason or another. How does a coven operate and is it very common to have people leave because of disagreements?

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    Sr. Member SleepingCompass's Avatar
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    Re: What is up with covens?

    It might be nice to give covens a try, but I've always been too much of a chicken to seek one out. Plus, I enjoy having complete control over my practice and beliefs and I don't think that level of control would be possible in a group setting. Though, I bet the combined energy levels raised would be much more powerful and effective then solitary work...

    I'm sure they're the same as most other group activities; arguments and disagreements would be common, I would think. Especially as it relates to such sensitive and personal topics as spirituality and religion.


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    Supporter Jembru's Avatar
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    Re: What is up with covens?

    I've been in two (three if you include the one I formed with a group of friends in high school). Both were newly formed and not lineaged. The first and by far the best, was amazing. Most of us are still in touch and close enough not to feel odd for calling one another in the middle of the night. We disbanded because the purpose of the coven was always to help the members to develop to the point where they can function perfectly well as a solitary. The focus was on individual development rather than the group mind. Life got in the way.. the covenstead owner moved in with a partner so we had no where to meet, I moved around a fair bit, and we lost another member to WoW. We all felt we'd developed as much as we could within that coven, so made the decision not to take new members and let the coven complete its full cycle.

    The other.. gah. Some people just want to glory of being a group leader, and think a year of reading wicca 101 books makes them an expert. Said person invited me to join, but didn't like that her HP valued my opinions over hers. We split from the group, and that HP wanted to form a coven with me and some of my former covenmates that wanted to circle again. I didn't fancy myself as a HPS though, and then I moved to germany and we eventually lost touch..

    I almost guarantee that no two experiences will be the same. There are a lot of poor group leaders out there though, and I daresay a bad group can put a person off from pursuing a potentially fulfilling spiritual path.
    夕方に急なにわか雨は「夕立」と呼ばれるなら、なぜ朝ににわか雨は「朝立ち」と呼ばれないの? ^^If a sudden rain shower in the evening is referred to as an 'evening stand', then why isn't a shower in the morning called 'morning stand'?

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    Re: What is up with covens?

    If you join a group that is willing to provide its lineage and provide personal references from outside the group your experience is likely to be a year long challenge to get you up to speed on the group beliefs and practices. You will likely have a sponsor to help but that sponsor is following a an educational path that exists with little room for variation. It is difficult even when you are young and used to learning. After you have been in a path with a group or even as a solitary it is extremely difficult. The bonds you form and family you gain is worth the work and very satisfying. It would be a lot like going to a military school or boot camp. You will be challenged mentally because there is a lot to learn, physically because they want you to be the best you can be, and emotionally because an over emotional witch can be dangerous to the coven, him/herself, and to the world at large. It is hard work and has financial costs as well.
    As a solitary practitioner you get to select what you can use and when. It is very comfortable but you don't have to develop the discipline before you try something. You are more likely to have trouble regulating emotions and energy and your physical condition is likely to be more out of shape than one that has gone through a training period with a group. Misinformation is another problem that a solitary practitioner faces.
    There may be teachers in your area that provide classes. A teacher should be able to provide you with references, both personal and craft references. If they can't do that then find someone else. Books do not provide you with much other than the physical how-to of myths and practices. I have never found a book that could teach how to recognize and manipulate energy or how to prepare yourself for ritual. I have only seen a couple of books that talk about balancing energies within the circle before it is cast. I have found a tremendous amount of "facts" that are just an authors belief about a practice and rarely are they correct.

    These are the reasons that I began teaching. It surprised me to find out that some of the long lived covens had no classes on energy for their members. Once I began teaching my energy recognition and manipulation class I had so many people signing up that I could not keep up with the demand. Many of my students were from Wiccan covens.

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    Silver Member monsno_leedra's Avatar
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    Re: What is up with covens?

    I personally think the issue with covens is that the concept today is much broader than it used to be.

    Consider a coven used to be based about a group that was observing the same ritual year, same ceremonies and worshiping not only the same gods / goddesses but also were the same. A coven might be some form of Wicca, might be a witchcraft type coven, could be more of a family tradition or folkish based coven. The main point being they were all the same, following the same path and most instances had the same desire and end game. As such one did not ask for admittance, one was in fact recruited. In the recruiting process more often than not you probably were on a probation status for at least the first year and would only attend or be part of the open aspects of its practice. If family or folkish odds were unlikely you'd even gain admittance much less ever hear of its existence.

    Today it seems any person can create a coven and pass it off as anything they desire. Frequently not even built around the notion of a singular pathway but a composite of many pagan paths where being pagan is the uniting factor. As such many also fail because they are so spread out in what they hope to gain and what the desired end result is. Sort of if your gods / goddesses and general beliefs are more Heathen you'll not tend to last long in a Wiccan style group working. I think because of how things are done today seldom will you have covens that are both lineaged or built around a core group that has formal training themselves. Personally I found a lot of teens and twenty somethings started covens but had no concept of group dynamics, personal workings within a group or truly accountability and dissemination of task, authority and credibility.

    Not to common today but it wasn't that long ago that online covens were springing up all over the place with a HP and HPS who had Silver Ravenwolf's TO RIDE A SILVER BROOM STICK as their guiding doctrine and authority. Saw more than a few real world covens who sprang up at the same time based upon the same book. A horrible state I think when the elder man and woman in a coven is still in high school themselves and has no life experience to call up much less actually leading a pagan group. It's not much better in my opinion when its a bunch of college kids either who tend to have just as little actual life experience and such trying to form and run a coven. To many power struggles, to many cases of self importance and to often to little actual experience of being a pagan / occultist.

    If you have no core target and desire to aim for makes it really difficult to guide and direct how a coven will work and what it seeks to achieve. Sort of like running a business when no one really knows what the business is about or what your trying to do with it. Lots of idea's being tossed on the table with each person thinking their idea is better. No one guiding, no one who can resolve turmoil and conflict within the group dynamic. Might last for a few months to even a few years before it falls apart or its membership has devolved into only 1 or 2 people who are steady with others who show up when it is worth their time and effort.

    People I've seen forget a coven is a group that needs focus and direction vice simply a gathering of people who initially think they want something.
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    Silver Member anubisa's Avatar
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    Re: What is up with covens?

    Quote Originally Posted by SleepingCompass View Post
    It might be nice to give covens a try, but I've always been too much of a chicken to seek one out. Plus, I enjoy having complete control over my practice and beliefs and I don't think that level of control would be possible in a group setting. Though, I bet the combined energy levels raised would be much more powerful and effective then solitary work...

    I'm sure they're the same as most other group activities; arguments and disagreements would be common, I would think. Especially as it relates to such sensitive and personal topics as spirituality and religion.
    I agree with SC here. I have nothing against covens. I think they are perfectly fine for certain types of people. However, I like having control over my path and feeling the personal connection with my Lord and Lady. I feel in a group that I wouldn't have that personal connection.
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    Moderator Azvanna's Avatar
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    Re: What is up with covens?

    So it seems like the warnings are to either have an established lineage or a group with a clear goal with realistic expectations. I don't know if 'realistic expectations' is an easy thing for inexperienced and enthusiastic people to identify.

    It was good to hear both sides of the story, what made a coven a positive experience for some and what made it a negative experience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jembru View Post
    ... and we lost another member to WoW.
    Not to reduce your whole piece to this sentence, but I just have to say off topic... that game is the WORST for stealing lives. :/

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    Bronze Member Munin-Hugin's Avatar
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    Re: What is up with covens?

    There is a freedom and a lightness that comes with not having to worry about whether or not your core beliefs jive with those of a group, and the fact that you can do what you want when you want. A few years back I toyed with the idea of joining a relatively local kindred, and had gotten so far as to get in contact with those who were in charge of it all. After some chatting, I came to realize that the idea of "follow this, but not that" and "these entities are honored but not those" as well as "this means this and not that" just didn't sit well with me. Sure, it would have been great to have folk to hang out with, somewhere to go to celebrate, and the like, but to have to change everything I know through my experiences because it's "wrong" just turned me off.

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    Re: What is up with covens?

    Different traditions have different rules. They have those rules because they are tradition specific and mystery religions. Just because one group turned you off doesn't mean that there isn't a group that is a good fit for you. Since this is about Wiccan traditions I know of four traditions in the Seattle area. Three of those are international. One is BTW, one is the ATC and the third, Lothlorien through the Rowan Tree Church. I personally knew Pete Davis (Pete "Path Finder" Davis) and was deeply saddened by his passing. One of my personal references is Paul Beyerl founder of the Rowan tree Church and Lothlorien. These two Wiccan organizations have schools all over the USA, Canada and Europe. They are family friendly and have large followings. Pete volunteered to help me with the incorporation of the Central Puget Sound Pagan Pride. I first met Pete in the 70s when he was working on incorporating as a church to get 501c3 status for Wicca. In the late seventies he founded the Aquarian Tabernacle Church so that other wiccan organizations could be incorporated under The ATC framework.

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    Eldritch Priestess Willow's Avatar
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    Re: What is up with covens?

    Quote Originally Posted by Azvanna View Post

    Not to reduce your whole piece to this sentence, but I just have to say off topic... that game is the WORST for stealing lives. :/
    But I loved that game...

    Also, I like this thread. No coven experience myself, but I think it can be a good concept for some people with the right conditions.

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