The following article was written by Amanda Godfrey. Amanda is a White Witch who has been studying and practising witchcraft for over 25 years. Previously a member of a Coven Amanda now practises as a solitary Witch and leads Mystical Dragon’s Open Circles. Amanda enjoys sharing her Craft with others and has written and trained courses on Witchcraft for 15 years.
Covens and Magickal Workings
The word ‘Coven’ seems to be one of the catch phrases of the moment with many people keen to find and join their local group! While the idea of joining a Coven may seem a novel idea, I think we need to first look at what this term means exactly to remove any of those romantic, non-realistic ideas! Let us start with some of those things a Coven is NOT.
A traditional Coven is not like a club. You cannot just pay a fee and join. A club may include members who drop in whenever they like, having joined to find like-minded friends without necessarily having a sincere interest in the club’s focus. A Coven does not work this way. To join a Coven you have to be prepared to work.
A Coven is also NOT a church. Churches have large congregations in order to support large buildings. Most Covens have no paid clergy, nor fund-raising groups like churches do. Covens in fact very often consist mainly of people who work full-time jobs which have nothing to do with their beliefs. Wicca and Witchcraft is considered to be a “religion” because it involves the worship of Gods (and Goddesses), has Priests (and Priestesses) and provides a platform for spiritual growth. However, Wicca/Witchcraft differs from “conventional” religions in many ways. Everyone in Wicca is considered to be a Priest or Priestess, or in training to become a Priest or Priestess. Wicca teaches that each individual has the capability to draw energy from the Gods and Universe into themselves for the purpose of healing and other magick. We do not believe we need someone to intervene between us and the Gods. High Priests and Priestesses of Wicca serve as guides to point the way to enlightenment but should never be viewed as an indispensable part of one’s spirituality.
A Coven provides a platform for sharing craft-related experiences, working together to raise energy for magick, group meditations, spiritual growth and enlightenment. While you will most certainly meet like-minded friends within a Coven and there are often fees that need to be paid to help cover basic costs of running it, a Coven also requires a high level of dedication to it. Being a member of a Coven requires that you attend all meetings and rituals set out (while that may not be every Sunday, it certainly isn’t just turn up when you like!) and also that you do a certain amount of study leading towards your development within that Coven. Plus each member of the Coven usually has jobs and responsibilities they carry out towards the meetings and rituals. A Coven is a group of people who have worked hard to achieve rapport so that the focus and flow of every ritual comes naturally to the entire group.
With that in mind, it is necessary for each member of a Coven to understand that sincerity, dedication, and absolute honesty are critical characteristics of a dedicated Witch. While even the most traditional Coven allows for some differences in belief, there is absolutely no room for personal agendas which do not serve the interests of the entire Coven.
It is good to know that you do not have to be a member of a Coven in order to practice or walk the path of a Witch. Some people choose to work solitary for many years before ever considering Coven membership and some people prefer to stay solitary, never choosing to seek out a Coven at all.
Coven membership (Dedication or Initiation depending on the tradition) is not something to be entered into lightly. One must understand completely the rights and obligations of members of the coven at all the various levels. It may take many years to find the right Coven for you.
One must trust the Gods to lead them to the right teacher when the time is appropriate for both student and teacher (and this is not always a High Priest or Priestess of a Coven). And even then, there are no guarantees that the student/teacher relationship will last forever. Some people have many teachers over the course of time, gleaning valuable information from all of them. Your job as a student is to always be honest with yourself and your teachers and to trust the Gods to guide you along your chosen path.
So, now that we are on the same page as to what a Coven is, another common question I get asked is “where do I find a Coven to join?”
The majority of Covens are tight-knit groups that keep their numbers quite small, are often closed and do not openly advertise even if they are looking for a new member. So there is really no direction I can point you in, which makes it hard for the average person who is wanting to join a local group. However this “problem” is also part of the motivation behind some of the Pagan and Witchcraft group activities that Mystical Dragon has developed – we feel that we have created a type of “open Coven” for those who currently have no Coven to be involved with yet!
Our FREE Open Circles celebrate every second Sabbat out of the eight Sabbats a Witch marks across a calendar year. This gives you a place to celebrate in a group setting and then allows you the opportunity to mark the other four Sabbats in your own private way (or celebrate with us and still mark personally for yourself at home).
For those who are seeking a more structured way to study, Mystical Dragon also offers its “Embracing Witchcraft program”, which consists of 22 workshops, and attending two open circles within a three year period. and has a self-initiation ceremony within its last week. This program requires dedication, teaches you through a combination of discussion and practical, contains spells to take home plus has three assignments for students to complete during the course of study – giving you a real taste of what would be required should you join a traditional Coven. After graduation, you have the opportunity to dedicate at an Open Circle at the end of the year.
Alternatively, you can simply pick and choose from the individual workshops offered on Witchcraft related topics without doing the whole program. Topics include ‘Making Magick Wands’, ‘Introduction to Candle Magick’, ‘The Witches Circle’, ‘The Sabbat of Lughnasadh’, ‘Earth Elements and Elementals’ and lots more!
We have purposely made these gatherings affordable (or free) so they are in reach of a large majority of our community. Plus all of these sessions provide a place for like-minded people to gather and connect in a safe, non-judgemental environment. Of course, there is usually a Witch or two floating around within Mystical Dragon should you have a magickal question or two that needs answering you can always pop in (or even email). Plus our Mystical Dragon Facebook page and Facebook group keeps our community connected and we use this space to share spells, energy updates and more!
Lastly, while you are waiting to join a Coven, continue your study of Witchcraft. Do not put your life on hold waiting for the perfect teacher, Coven or group to come along. A teacher or Coven should ADD to your experience of the craft, but is certainly not the be all and end all. Being a Witch is a way of life – it is in your blood and a part of your being – not something you ‘do’ every now and again. So begin today in practising the quiet connected ways of our Craft, whisper to the Universe your hopes for a Coven or teacher to emerge, and watch what unfolds before your very eyes.”
© Copyright to Amanda Godfrey, but this article may be reproduced and distributed provided the author is acknowledged.