Choices on the Path
These next few months, I would like to share some articles I wrote several years ago about following the path of a Witch. These were part of an online course entitled: A Year and A Day on the Wiccan Path and covered all of the basics. I am diving in with a subject that was posted near the end of the course, but is often one of the first questions I am asked about community and where “I belong”…
Solitary vs. Coven Life
Choosing to remain a solitary practitioner or joining a coven is a very personal matter. Both offer benefits and detriments. Even if you consider yourself to be a solitary practitioner, there will be celebrations and stages in your development that will generate a desire to share, commune and connect. Those who choose to join a coven will also have specific points in their path and or rituals that they may wish to celebrate or practice in private.
Many Witches choose to walk a Solitary path. In former years this could be a very lonely, albeit a fulfilling one. We are fortunate to be on the Path at this particular time as there are many festivals and open events that both solitary and coven members can attend. Meet-up Groups that have a pagan flavor are in abundance throughout the United States. There are also many opportunities to take classes, workshops and attend conferences as many covens offer open rituals, workshop series and other events that allow solitary witches to interact and learn.
For some, group work and the structure needed to have things run smoothly is too restricting and limiting. For others, jobs, lifestyles or family obligations prevent the individual from attending coven functions (there is usually a minimum requirement of events throughout the year that a coven member should be expected to attend, unless there are emergencies), and this creates stress for both the coven and the member. If ritual at 2am is all you can easily fit into your schedule, most covens will not be accommodating to that. Solitary witches often have a very creative bend. Because everything they do ritually or spell wise is generally self-generated and created, they become quite adept at improvising.
Coven (Group Work)
Depending on the coven and Tradition you are interested in joining there will generally be a specific length of time and protocol specified to facilitate the dedication process. For instance, within our coven we require at minimum a six-month “getting to know you” period where the prospective dedicant (newly dedicated member) attends open events and interacts with the other members of the coven.
The coven you select to petition for membership should offer a stable and fair structure with resources to further and enhance your personal growth. Working within the coven should feel like a spiritual family and these should be people that you trust to see you at your best and your worst. The energetic connection that you weave with this group of people will strengthen and build as you continue to work together. It is a very intimate process that requires respect between all of membership. The High Priest and Priestess of the coven should be people who live by example those teachings that they have been entrusted to pass along. There should be a comfortable exchange between leadership (HP and HPs) and membership such that any discord, or misunderstandings can be discussed and resolved in an ethical, intelligent and mature manner.
There should be encouragement of all members within the group to excel and progress in their magickal studies. And, although healthy and constructive criticism are great motivators there should never be an ill-intended push or encouragement towards unhealthy competition for recognition, roles or initiations among members.
It has been my experience, that frequently the people who are meant to become members of our group, find their way to us, either through a synchronistic moment. They happen to be in the right place at the right time, find our website and decide to come to an open event or become interested through a friend who is already a member. Don’t be afraid to be selective. Take the time that you need to make an informed decision and never allow yourself to be pressured into joining a group. If a group is that desperate for new members, there are most likely other areas in which they will exert or force their will on the existing members- the number one “no-no” in wiccan philosophy.
The bottom line is that if the group is a viable and healthy one, they will want to take their time in getting to know more about the potential members who come knocking on their door, and if the fit is right there is no need to hurry matters, neither your nor their interest in having you join them will diminish or lessen. If it does, perhaps it was not the place for you after all. The commitment to a group should be entered with the thought that this will be a place of working and growing for several years. There is no short track to magickal mastery and those who frequently leave and join groups, as well as covens who have a fast moving revolving door usually do not stand the test of time and longevity.
It doesn’t really matter whether you choose to join a coven or remain a solitary practitioner. The important thing is that you continue your practice. That you seek out the resources you are guided to when and where you are led. And, when the time is right, you gather with like-minded individuals as one in celebration of the Wiccan Path.
Ethics of the Craft
For More Info:
The Sorceress by John Waterhouse
About the Author:
Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.
She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):
It’s Written in the Stars
The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two
The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three
The Eternal Cord
A Collection of Esoteric Writings
Aligning the Parts of SELF
Musings on the Magick of the Natural World
Nights of Devotion
Musings for the Year
Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.