HEKA-Arcane-Logo_longwhite
Search
Close this search box.

Looking for a Coven? Things to Keep in Mind.

Date

What you do in the beginning of your journey can mean the difference between, having a wonderful positive transformative experience with the Path of the Witch, or a not so great one, making you wish you didn’t rush ahead, in this video and on the path.

Blessings Witches. For those that don’t know me, I am Lady Amaris, I am the leader of my coven the Circle of Heka, which has been running for about 15 years now. And I have been practicing witchcraft both solitary and in a group, for over 35 years.

In this post we will be discussing what to do and what to look out for when searching for and deciding to join a coven. So lets get into it.

Start Off Solitary

I can hear you all now, I am solitary, I started that way, I don’t know any witches. Done. Tick, Next tip. Before you go skipping ahead, don’t.

What you do in the beginning of your journey can mean the difference between, having a wonderful positive transformative experience with the Path of the Witch, or a not so great one, making you wish you didn’t rush ahead, in this video and on the path.

Now we are going to start with some hard truths. Witchcraft is not for everyone. It is a hard road, that takes commitment and dedication. Its not all black hats, black cats and pentagrams. Witchcraft is popular right now, but it won’t be forever. Its popularity comes in cycles, and right now we are on the up cycle. But what happens when it isn’t popular or trending, to be a Witch? Do you have what it takes to stay the course? Or will you throw your candles, athame, oils, crystals and tarot cards in a box and forget about them, when the next cool and trending thing comes along.

This is your time to find out. Nosce te ipsum = know thyself. Know thyself and you know the secrets of the universe. Witchcraft at its core is a solitary path. You have the foundational, core competencies, that all studiers of magic, no matter the tradition, need to know and master.

Meditation, concentration, focus, visualisation, energy raising and control, grounding, discipline, space clearing and banishing.

No one can meditate for you, just the same as, you can’t not do your focus, banishing and grounding exercises and just say you did. No one will know, well you would know, and if you were part of a group, they would work it out pretty quickly. So your, too hard, couldn’t be bothered attitude could, (depending on what the working was), draining the circle of energy thus ineffective magic, or exposing the group to harmful energies.

Being a solitary witch, requires you to cultivate self discipline, doing the hard stuff, the repetitive stuff, to hone and shape your skills as a witch. No one can do that for you, no now can walk your path for you. You must learn to rely on yourself.

As I said in the previous artical, 13 things new witches should know. Being a solitary, gives you the chance to find out, what style of witch you are. What, works for you and what does not and where your interests lie.

When I started, there was not the abundant wealth of information at my fingertips, that you have now. I had to search bloody hard, save up to buy the books that I could find. Use my own intuition and connection with spirits and deities. It was hard, and rewarding. Nothing was just handed to me on a platter, I had to work it out for myself. I would have killed to have access to the information that new witches have today. But then I would not have, cultivated the imagination, the self confidence, the discernment and the drive to understand and know, that I have today. My witchcraft knowledge is hard won and means more to me, because I earned it with my time, my dedication, my blood, my sweat and my tears.

So start your journey as a solitary. Research, research research, learn to discern good information from not so good, or misleading information. Learn the core competencies, practice them. Find a tradition or system of magic that interests you right now, and work it for at least a year. Following the moons and holy days of that tradition. Many have workbooks for beginners that can help guide you. Start on some shadow work, find out what makes you tick, your strengths, your weaknesses. Your thoughts, and beliefs, where do they come from. Build yourself a witch body to step into. One that is strong of mind, self reliant, intuitive, and knowledgeable. So that in the future, if you find a group that you wish to work with, you have a solid, spiritual, mental and knowledge foundation. And if you don’t find a group, that is ok, because you have developed your self reliance and knowledge base, it is good to have others of like mind around you, but it isn’t necessary to practice witchcraft.

Now after a year, if you managed to stay the course, and you are still practicing witchcraft, awesome, its a great club, welcome. If not, that is ok, you gave it a go, and it was not for you. Remember I said witchcraft is not for everyone, at least you didn’t commit yourself to a coven before you worked that out.

Time to Look for a Coven

Just as witchcraft is not for everyone, a coven is also not for every witch. So what type of coven are you looking for? Lets break the down to a few basic types.

The Teaching Coven

A teaching coven is just what it says on the box. The coven will take a novice witch and train them in the tradition of that coven. The novice will go through basic training – the core competencies, banishing, meditation, energy work etc. The thing to remember here is that you are learning a tradition, there may be different ways that coven does things, and you have the opportunity to add some new techniques and skills to your repertoire. You have to leave your ego at the door, yes you have spent over a year doing these things, but the other members of the coven do not know that. Everyone starts at the same place, you show your commitment to the group, by doing the work, showing you have a grasp of the concepts and can perform the basic rituals. Anyone can say they have done something, they can say they have this title or that, but you have to work with the group, be a part of the group, work together as a well oiled machine, where you are trusted to do your part of the working. Its the old chestnut of show don’t tell, and if you really have the skills you say you have, then it will show.

In a teaching coven, they may have some from of level system. Much like, school in a way, some take the school idea to heart, others not so much. This level system, may take the form of Seeker, Novice, First Degree, Second Degree, Third Degree. In my coven, we have levels, but it is to denote core competencies completed for each level, and an acknowledgement of knowledge gained, and tasks they are expected to complete within the circle during ritual. No one is better than another member. Many people get hung up on the whole degree thing, with a distorted belief in hierarchy with members becoming competitive and elitist, looking for the pat on the head and a gold star from the higher degrees or the leader of the coven, but that is an ego thing that you need to keep your eye out for and not participate in. With that said, teaching covens are a great way to have a framework to work with in your craft, with support and accountability as you go. Which is great if you find you lack the self discipline to do it on your own.

Same Sex only Coven. The Sisterhood or the Brotherhood

The Sisterhood is good for women who do not feel safe or comfortable with men. Women who prefer to work magic just with women. The Brotherhood, is most of the time, gay men, who do not feel comfortable with women in their circle and prefer to work magic just with men. When done right these circles can be very healing, empowering and uplifting for many people.

A Coven that Acts More like a Social Group

These are light on ritual and spell casting and heavy on socialising. This group is more about getting together with like minded people, for a drink and a chat than any serious ritual work. This may not be the group for you if you are into serious ritual.

The Wiccan Coven

This can be very similar in structure to a teaching coven. Traditionally they would stem from either a Gardenarian or an Alexandrian Lineage. But just as there are many flavours of ice-cream, today there are many types of Wiccan inspired covens. Wicca is seen as the religious arm of western witchcraft, so these covens will have a from of worship and dogma that forms part of their coven system and magical workings, They will also strive to have a balance of males and females within the coven. The Coven will also have a High Priestess sometimes referred to as Lady and/or High Priest sometimes referred to as Lord, a Maiden and a Man in Black.

A Strict or Loose Structured Coven

This can apply to any type of coven, including the ones mentioned previously.
For example a strict coven, may have a minimum attendance amount for moons, festivals, lessons etc, You will consistently work with one deity or deity pair, gatherings have a strict set start time, you must be on time or you are locked out of the ritual and covendom. There may also be a Coven first, family second understanding, just to name a few.

A loose or relaxed structured coven, examples are, no minimum attendance for gatherings, you come when you feel like it, a blow in and blow out situation, with no commitment to the group and no way of knowing who will and won’t be there at any time. Rituals may also be more relaxed, being written by different people and calling on different energies or deities each time.

There are pros and cons for each style and the strictness or relaxed nature of each coven/group can vary greatly. Strict covens can provide clear boundaries and guidelines for group workings, and many people enjoy this framework, problems can arise when a strict coven becomes too strict, controlling and interfering in your personal and family life. On the other hand a relaxed structure coven can become so relaxed that it ceases to exist. With no consistency of members or rituals, energies can become garbled and loose strength, and with no member vetting policy, just a whoever turns up on the day will do attitude . You could run the risk of inviting shady characters into your energetic space or worse.

The Family Style Coven

Now this can be anything from a closed family group tradition, such a Strega. Or a coven that models themselves on the family group, such as some Wiccan covens and other covens calling themselves clans. This style has the leader of the coven calling themselves, mother or father and other members being called sister or brother. This may be just up your alley if you are looking for a family, but if left unchecked, it can have members falling into familial patterns, such as sibling rivalry, childish behaviour and favouritism.

There are many other coven style groups, such as druidic groves, left hand path groups, and ceremonial groups – this is more golden dawn style magic, less witchy folk stuff. The list could go on.

So that was just a basic rundown of a few styles of coven. Spending time working on yourself and learning the craft that interests you, will give you a better understanding of what you are looking for in a coven, what you expect to get out of it and what you expect to put into it as well.

Where are all the Covens?

So now you have a little idea as to the style of coven you may be interested in, but where are you. Even in this day and age of telling everyone absolutely everything about our lives, there are still many groups that are private. You have to know the right people, and be invited, like it was in the old days. There are some covens that have their contact details on pagan and witch community pages.

Some will do what is sometimes called Outer court training lessons, for new people, others may call it an introduction to witchcraft. Some of these will be advertised on pagan and witch community pages, others will not. The best thing to do is to find your local pagan and witch shops and or community groups, many have meet ups, coffee clubs, camps and the like for you to meet fellow witches, and keep your ear to the ground for any groups, doing trainings etc. Many of the people you meet at these events will no doubt already be in a group, so it is a great way to get a feel for the types of groups in your community. And if you gel with some of the members of the group.

Here in Perth we have what is call the Combined Covens, which are a group of covens that get together for social events, there is a spring camp, monthly coffee club meet ups, and other events organised throughout the year. So if you are in Perth WA and you want to connect with other witches, they are a good place to start.

Just a disclaimer though. Not all the covens in the group go to every event and not all the covens in Perth are part of the Combined covens.

I have found a group. Now what do I do.

This will all depend on the type of group. If it is a relaxed, spiritual circle group, then it may be as easy as letting them know and they invite you to their next meeting. If it is a stricter, more traditional style coven, then you may have to wait for them to run their next outer court or beginner witchcraft course or if they hold open festivals that you could attend.

See if you can obtain the contact details for that coven, this may be the email of the leader, High Priest/Priestess or the Maiden/Man in Black of the coven. Even if you have talked to them personally, I advise sending them an email, letting them know you are interested in knowing more about their coven, you get on well with many of the members you have met and you think you would be a good fit, when and if they are looking for new members, you would like to be considered.

They don’t need to hear your life story, or how your great grandmother had the sight, so you come from a long line of witches. Treat it like an email letter for a job interview, make it short, and concise. Just state your interest in their coven, your witchcraft interests, what study you have been doing, how long you have been practicing, and if you have been a member of a coven or group before, state the coven, what level you attained if applicable, and why you left. Don’t air others dirty laundry, remember short and concise.

So you send off your letter and you wait, and wait, and wait. Be patient. In our current age of text and instant messages we have become accustom to instant responses. Please remember that these people may not check that email address daily, may be quite busy and they may have other email request they need to handle. If you are regularly attending a meet up or gathering and you know the person will be there, you can casually tell them you sent them an email, and that may prompt them to have a look if they have missed it. If it is a tighter knit group, they may have to run your query past other members of the coven, before you are given the go ahead. So give it a little time, don’t hound them for a reply. If you haven’t received a reply in three to 4 weeks, send another email, a gentle reminder, saying you are still interested, as your email may have been overlooked in cyberspace, anything can happen.

Oh and a side note, don’t be pushy, just because you have expressed an interest in joining the group or coven, does not mean they are obliged to accept you.

During your induction, this is the outer court or introduction to witchcraft lessons, the coven will be working out if you are a good fit for the group, and you will be working out if they are a good fit for you. Your prior self training will help you to make the right decision, don’t let your want or need to be part of a group cloud your judgement. Don’t make rash decisions because you are afraid you will not find another coven. There will always be another coven if you want it in the future. Keep a level head, in the honeymoon phase, everyone is on their best behaviour, use your witch eye and look past the glitter, being in a coven that is not good for you, can be damaging to your health and worse than being a witch alone.

Red Flags

As I said covens are not for all witches, and some things covens do are not for all witches. This is about finding out what is the best fit for you. One persons red flag can be an others woohoo, so no judgement on some of these red flags, and many of these apply to any social group, not just covens. Your local book club, or sewing circle could have many of these.

Big Groups are not always better groups

You can hid more in a big group, if you are unable to attend a meeting, your energy will not be missed as much. You can easily, hide, and be more of a bystander in rituals, as you find in bigger groups, it will always be a core few that do most of the work. the 80/20 usually applies. If this is what you want, then great, but if not, you are going to have to work to make yourself part of the 20%. Smaller covens will expect to have a more active role, if you are not at a meeting your energy is missed, as your position is not as easily filled like it is with big covens. Because of this smaller covens may have a stricter attendance policy than larger covens. Larger groups can also have smaller cliches within the group that could lead to rivalry if not kept in check.

Consistent Membership

Covens are a living organism, they grow and hive off, they may be a bloom one year, and pruned to remove dead weight, or prevent infected leaves from damaging the roots.

Is there consistent membership? This may not work for circles that are the loose attend if you feel like it group, as members will come and go and the people you had there one month are not there the next. This is ok if it is what you are looking for, but for most covens, specially the more traditional kind. Consistency is the key. As I said a coven is a living organism with everyone’s energy combining to create a strong bond for working magic. If requires trust, connection, commitment, a meshing of energies that does not happen if the group is a revolving door, with energies not being harmonised, and sometimes working against the actual working performed.

Queen Bees and Wannabes

This is the dark side of female only covens. Toxic femininity is a thing. Some groups can develop a queen bee with other members bussing around like royal attendees. You can also have the wannabes that sow seeds of discontent, believing they should have the top spot. With different sides pointing fingers at different sides. Not healthy, and not conducive to great magic. This is not only a female thing though, male only covens, with mostly gay members, can tap into that toxic female side of themselves and display similar dynamics also. The trick here is to see it early on, and to have a solid self esteem, so as not to be dragged into the drama. Toxic group members like this can play on your insecurities about being alone and not finding another group, there could be a love bombing period, where you are the special one, given presents and included in everything. Until the next new person comes along and you are left to buzz around or drink down the wannabes poison.

Cult Like Behaviour


This leads us into cult like behaviour. As I said previously about the toxic femininity, this is where you need to have a level head, you need to have developed your self esteem and learn to discern. Cults and narcissists, like to target naive people with low self esteem who have the need to belong, or a looking for a surrogate family . It may start with love bombing of a new member, you are the special one, you get presents and praise, everyone is so nice, your best friend, the leader of the coven may decide to take you under their wing because they see something special in you. They understand you and want to help you, you get invited to more and more things, your whole week is coven activities, you haven’t seen your family or friends in weeks, months, then when you have cut ties with your life outside the coven, and or initiated, the dynamic changes and you get the mental abuse, the further erosion of your self esteem, where everything is the coven and you believe unquestioningly what the coven, tells you. Remember this is can not only happen in covens, but any type of group, church groups, sewing circles, activist groups, you name it. So don’t let your need to belong cloud your judgement.

Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you to be cynical and view anyone being nice to you as a sign you are in a cult, or they are trying to manipulate you. There are nice people and covens out there, that are genuine and want to help. You may have an instant connection and know that you have found your people, and that’s great. I am just trying to encourage you to use your intuition not to be glamoured and have the hard thud of buyers remorse set in, when you ignored the warning signs, because you were having a great time.

The Arrogant or Bossy Leader or Leaders

This is someone that has put themselves up on a pedestal, who eludes to god/goddess like status, who is the only link to the divine. They will be bossy, dogmatic and judgmental, who’s word should be followed without question. There will be a sit down and shut up attitude, and if you do, question, woo man hellfire rains down on you. As they see it as a personal attack, call you uneducated and and I know the real true authentic way. Leaders like this will pit members against each other, by withholding information or miss information, gossiping, and moving the goal post. These types of leaders, demand complete loyalty to them, becoming very intrusive into your life, dictating what you can and can’t eat, who you can socialise with, driving wedges between you and family or friends, encouraging youth give all your money to the coven, making you dependent on the coven and the leader.

Again many of these red flags you should notice ahead of time, it all goes back to doing your own work in the beginning. Witches are individuals, even ones in a coven. Don’t hand yourself over to the collective, stay an individual. Don’t hand your power over to an individual or a group.

Ritual Nudity or Sky Clad Covens

Now before anyone comes for me in the comments, there is nothing wrong with nudity, or ritual nudity in a coven. In a healthy coven, sky lad rituals do not have any sexual expectations attached. I am placing this in the red flag section because for some this is a deal breaker. Not all covens practice ritual nudity or sky clad rituals, so it is not hard to find one if that is not your thing, or visa versa. It is about being comfortable, if you are not comfortable, don’t do it, and don’t allow yourself to be pressured into doing it, with the this is what authentic witches do. Most covens will tell you pretty early on if they are a sky clad coven or not, if you are not sure, you should ask. Now there are some rituals that require certain people to be naked for a brief time, such as in an initiation ritual. This should be discussed with you along with the reasons for the nudity and your questions and concerns answered ahead of time. The decision you make, should fall on how comfortable you feel with it all, how long you have known the members of the coven that will be attending and if you feel comfortable being naked infant of them for a short time.You should never feel pressured into doing something you do not want to do.

Sex Magick and BDS&M Covens

Now once again, don’t come at me in the comments. I am not saying there is anything wrong with sex magic, BDS&M. But if it is not your flavour, or you don’t want to mix it with your witchcraft, then this type of coven is not for you. Having a BDS&M or SEX magic compote to their rituals should be disclosed in the beginning of you getting to know the coven, and shame and coercion to get you to participate should not be tolerated.

Sexual Predators

These people come in all genders and sexual persuasions and infect all areas of society. Spiritual communities are not immune, in some cases they are places where they thrive. Pagans and Witches are very tolerant and understanding of sexuality, we have no problem talking about sex, it is natural thing. But that tolerance and understanding should not be used as a tool to manipulate and shame you into doing anything you do not want to, in the name of being spiritual. You may hear things like, if you were really spiritual, you would, let go of your hangups, just go with the flow, set yourself free. You have to have sex with me for it to be a real initiation and so on. Many are attracted to witchcraft with the fantasy of orgies, with hooking up with young sexy witches, and setting up their own personal harem. Sexual harassment is not and should not be tolerated. Tell the leader of the coven if you are being harassed, so they are aware and can deal with the person, if it is the leader leave, you don’t need that in your life. Also let the other members know why you are leaving. In regards to sexual assault go to the police and report it.

Side note: Many predators rely on the keep silent oath many witches take regarding coven workings. Sexual harassment, sexual assault, physical assault, child abuse is not tolerated, and should not be covered up as coven business. You see something, say something.

Coven Minimum Age – 18 Years

Now after all that sexual warnings we have minimum age for covens.
The covens that I am aware of including my own, have the minimum age of 18 years for coven membership. First off this is because at 18 you are legally and adult, and no longer a minor, under the care and jurisdiction of your parents, you can make decisions for yourself. If you are looking to join a coven that performs, sky clad rituals, Sex magic and the like, you need to be old enough to provide informed consent. Next it has to do with maturity, and to be honest, personally I think 18 is still a little young, the average youngest member in my group has been about 23-24 years.

So teenagers, I feel for you, it is not easy, but it is a great opportunity to study on your own and get some life experience before you commit to coven life. Alternatively if you have some like minded friends you could set up a study group, to support each other and learn from each other.

If you are under 18 and an adult coven is willing to initiate you into that group. Knowing you are under age, I would see that as a giant red flag. Allowing teens to attend, workshops and outer courts is different, but depending on the age, parental consent is still advised.

Covens are Great

So after all that, have I put you off the idea of joining a coven? I hope not, being part of a coven can be a magical empowering experience. It is all about gelling and working together. In a coven you will have a different way of working, you have to think about the other people and energies in the group. You are not solo, you are part of a group, working magic together, each person doing their part. As i said before, not all covens are the same, there is one to suit every style and person, and covens are not for everyone and that is okay.

So the take away here is, developed yourself, your intuition and your BS detector.

Don’t approach a perspective coven or any group with blinkers or rose coloured glasses, and don’t be afraid to walk away. There will be another coven for you, and if not, that’s okay. The path of the witch, the development of the spirit is a solo one, you will have others walking with you at times and at other times you will walk alone, walk it with pride. Coven or not you are a witch.

Many blessings.

SHARE

More
articles