The Contemporary New England Witch

The Contemporary New England Witch
Author Ms.Faith

Monday, February 7, 2011

Solitary vs Coven practice . . . . some words of caution

Evening Greetings,

Solitary practice versus coven practice, which is better for you? This may be a sensitive subject for some people but let's discuss and see where it takes us, shall we?  I started practicing many, many years ago as a solitary simply because I didn't know where to find others of like mind.  I read every book I could get my hands on, and started practicing on my own.  The ideal I strove for,  was to belong to a coven and I soon found that so many others often feel the same way. Why? Firstly, because according to most books written on the subject of witchcraft,  you aren't a real witch if you're not in a coven. Nonsense!!  I believe its a simple matter of everyone wants a like minded group to 'play' with.  Those that feel the same way as you do, believe the same way as you do, etc.  It really is the foundation for all religious belief systems.  Fellowship with others.

Yet it is difficult for new witchlings starting off to find a coven, because many are closed or just not that 'in your face' as to be obvious to new comers where to find them or how to go about becoming a member of one. A good way to find groups that are welcoming new members in CT, is through a wonderful periodical called The Door Opener Magazine.  It's an excellent compilation of holistic therapists, new age ministers, spiritual groups, covens, drum circles, interesting articles, directories of shoppes and professionals, and all that is new age and very cool. The Door Opener Magazine can be found at all fine witch supply stores. Their website is:   There is also a wonderful website for CT called Conscious CT which features the Holistic Community of CT and their website is  There is again an amazing site, that covers our world nationwide called 'The Witches Voice' and this site can be found at  Truly this site is like the CNN or New York Times for witches and pagans!  I love it! This is a site that features the world of the witch and pagan, in articles, a listing of the shoppes, clergy, covens and open gatherings and events in every state in our country.   It's really a priceless website for those seeking others of like minds. I have personally worked with and been a part of these sites listed above and they are authentic, professionally run and responsible websites. 

When I first opened Enchantments as a retail witch shoppe in 2004, I posted a sign up sheet asking people if they would be interested in joining a coven. I had over 200 people sign it, in a little over a month!!  Well, the numbers told me a lot. Primarily that there were many people in our community that wanted to learn more about what we do and how we do it.  So I opened Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts.

I personally feel that someone should be well versed in witchcraft, magick and Wicca before jumping into a coven. Although it is quite common for one to be initiated into a coven without any experience or knowledge and then have them doled out bit by bit,  the 'mysteries' that is.  I find that inconsistent with our beliefs. One needs to know first, if anything the witch is the wise one, the educated one. Then we need to believe second, and then thirdly, wish to belong. For how can anyone say this is what they want, if they don't know what this is? I started the school at Enchantments because I felt that after a student studies for a year and day they are then more able to make an informed decision as to whether this is the path they are really looking for.

When one is looking for a new path, especially a spiritual one, one can safely assume it is because the person does not find comfort in the one they have. But to find comfort in your choice of spiritual path takes work. Inner, personal, at times, life changing work. Many are not willing to do that. Instead, they wish others to change in accordance to their views and desires. They continue along, disgruntled and unhappy, finding fault in others around them in their spiritual group, or even more commonly finding blame in the minister, leader, pastor or other facilitator of their group. 

Even though I have run into those individuals who wanted to join a coven, regardless. They would have jumped through any hoops just to say they were initiates. This really misses the point. Joining a coven isn't about being an initiate, as some feel they are not 'real' witches unless they have been initiated into a coven. To this I say, nonsense!!  If you call yourself a witch, then you are! Becoming a functional part of a coven, well this speaks about ones spiritual growth within a family. Needed change and evolution. This is about hard inner work, and a willingness to put what we think we know aside and look anew at a situation. To become a functional part of a functional family.  Many covens fall short of this. So many are just happy to belong. But change!? What. I've been told by many young priestesses, "There's nothing wrong with me, why should I have to change." To this I never had an answer. Because there is no answer, not one they could hear, anyways.

The problems seems to primarily come from those who enter covens bringing with them the same baggage that they had when they left whatever Western religious tradition they belonged to in the first place.  Many people do this. They become disgruntled with Catholicism so they become Methodists, or pagan, or some other faith.  Some are disgruntled with the fundamentalist Christian belief system they were raised in and become agnostic, atheists or pagan.  So what happens when they join a witches coven? Unless they do serious, inner work to change, the same thing that happened in their last religion. After they learn a bit, figure out the hierarchy and become comfortable,  those who just want to belong and don't wish to do any work, after a while,  their baggage becomes visible again.  Their unhappiness becomes obvious as to the perceived downfalls of yet another religion in their eyes, or when the people facilitating the group 'let them down, in some way'.  Interestingly they always blame others, never themselves.

Not everyone mind you. But for every one who is doing the hard work, the inner work, who quietly move forward and ahead on their path, I have personally seen the drama queens, throwing disarray and negative energies out to others, complaining, whining and casting harmful spells "because I am powerful enough to handle them damn it, and the H.P. doesn't need to know!!" , to putting down others because of a misunderstanding of what rank and the term Priestess really means, and it doesn't mean Princess!! Yes, unfortunately the same attitudes and issues that one finds around any water cooler in any work environment in the world exists in our covens.  At times it's the initiates, other times its even those who hold the rank of High Priest or Priestess. I have often discussed the dangers of the power trip, and then there are those who mistake serving the Goddess with serving the older ranks of the circle. Both sides are dysfunctional.

As a high priestess, I  myself have been accused of all sorts of things. In brief, I'm too strict, not strict enough, too open, not mysterious enough, too honest, abrupt, direct, "you wear your heart on your sleeve.", and my favorite "you're too sensitive."   Yes, I am.  Because I strive to be authentic, to me and those around me.  I only wish that more people would develop a sense of sensitivity and compassion for those around them. Don't misjudge me, I may be a sensitive woman, but I can be hard as nails when I need to be. I try to be compassionate, but I'll speak out against injustice, especially when its politically incorrect, I always stick up for  the underdog, because someone needs to and maybe I'm considered a bit of a liberal, because I don't feel one answer works for everyone, in every situation.  I also take responsibility for my mistakes, and I take credit for my successes.  I piss some people off, and I won't apologize for it.

For I feel personally that we have developed into a society accustomed and familiar with blaming others for our issues. Harshly and without kindness.  We blame our politicians for the state our economy is in, blame others for polluting our earth, chastise our doctors for over prescribing medication, and ridicule our ministers for our lack of spiritual growth. It's the teachers fault our kids can't read, and and although we freely admit we're not perfect, we in turn expect others to live up to standards we ourselves couldn't possibly reach.

I believe we are responsible, each and every one of us, for the world around us, for the happiness we get out of life or that we don't.  In retrospect I have come to a place where the concept of a coven, which is simply a name for a pagan or witches congregation, is simply that, a name for a spiritual gathering.  It contains no special magick, other than the personal magick of those who join the circle. If the work is not done, you find the same situations and frustrations found in any gathering or group. Petty jealousies, gossip, speaking ill behind others backs, even theft and betrayal to those of the group. Why?

When situations developed, other members have asked me: "Well, don't they know what they send out comes back to them? Then why would they do that?" I smile. Just because someone walks a particular path doesn't make them any better or worse than their own actions and words. It certainly doesn't give them anything more or less than the next person, as many falsely believe. There are wonderful, kind and loving people in every walk of life, race, creed, culture and religion. Just as there are those who are less than kind, loving and wonderful  to be found in each group also.

I've had some wonderful experiences working with covens over the past twenty years, and some not so great experiences. But like every experience, it has something to teach you.  What I have learned is there is an incredible world of magick that exists in solitary practice, or practice with a few people, two to three.  Once you start getting a larger group, you get larger problems. I seldom practice magick with a group nowadays, simply myself and the Goddess and of course my wonderful Saturday morning students when we conduct esbats as part of class.

Many covens today are social groups, and they can be anything they choose.  Yet covens can wield great power today with the freedoms our country allows. Their power comes not from the fear they can generate in their communities, but from their work in their communities, helping others and bringing magicks and knowledge to the people as the ancients had.

If you wish to find and join a witches coven, I encourage you to do so.  Yet be aware that it will not take away your issues, do the work you need to do, or make your life any easier. If you find a group with a high priest or priestess worth their salt, they will challenge you, frustrate you and give you plenty of reason to question this path. If you're lucky you will find one like this, because only when you question something's validity does it become clear if it does hold value for you or not.  The ancient Druid's felt that when life was smooth, easy and 'balanced' it was stagnant and dead. They revered change and chaos as necessary to spiritual growth and development.  There are covens that will bring this out, be aware that this exists and choose carefully.  Meeting everyone involved several times and getting a feel for the people that make up the coven is important.

If personalities are such that you feel uncomfortable around them, know they will not get better or more comfortable down the road. Initial energies are important to pay attention to. It is important to try not to allow personalities you encounter to dictate your spiritual path. We can all move along the same path without liking everyone. There really is enough room for everyone. 

Today I find solitary practice, along with teaching others to find their way on the solitary path very rewarding. Don't misunderstand, if you choose solitary the challenges will be there also. Just delivered a bit differently. I respect that a coven is as individual as those who run it, and that they do have an important place in our magickal community.  I also respect that its not necessary to belong to one to be a very fulfilled and happy cauldron stirring witch!   I hope you choose, but choose carefully!  .  .  .  .   eerie witches cackle fades into the distance

Peace and Happiness

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