3 Reasons You'll Never Find a Coven

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels:

Without the benefit of advertising or proselytizing, most magical groups are deep underground.   There are, of course, in-roads you can take to membership, but you need to know a few simple things

if you're ever going to find them.

If you've ever thought of joining a coven you've probably dreamed of what it would be like to work together as a great magical family, meeting in secret groves or brightly lit living rooms, enacting rituals and spells that have a ring of beauty and power you've never experienced before.  That can happen...or it might not.  That would be my first piece of advice: don't get ahead of yourself and expect to discover the perfect coven (or, better yet, to seek you out).  Look instead for the right fit, good people, and a place where your talents can be of use.

One more thought before we tuck in.  Don't be lured by the suggestion you will undoubtedly hear that you should just start your own coven.  Please note that this method is no easier.  You haven't found some grand workaround that will make the road to adepthood a quick trip.  Being in charge of a group of like-minded but still fiercely independent people is a hard job and without a little training--and a whole lot of patience--you may find yourself lost in just as many power struggles, arguments, money woes, and abuses of power as would have been possible as a joining member to a group hosted by strangers.

It is my belief, too, that a single large group is more effective and prosperous than ten small groups.  Unless you have a very different outlook from any existing coven, always try to band together with fellow practitioners.  Large groups host events, plan trips, maintain group documents and books, and offer services that smaller covens cannot.  Try to always combine your efforts with others.

But that is only an issue once you've found a coven within driving distance, of an appropriate age group, with similar practices, who seek new members, and with whom you are interested in joining.  There's a lot that can go wrong from the moment you realize what a great idea it would be until you even get the chance to see it in action.  For simplicity, we're going to talk about the 3 most glaring problems as I have seen them.

1. You don't have enough exposure to the magical community.
As an underground resource, you're not going to have access to names, numbers, or locations unless you know someone.  And you're not going to know anyone with this information unless you meet people.  This means getting out where other practitioners are and involving yourself.  Where to begin?

  • Find an in-road and take it.  Anyone you meet can possibly lead you to corners of the magical community you have not yet seen.  If you get word that a divination workshop is being offered next month or overhear some familiar magical phrases in passing, put yourself into the discussion and learn more.  Be polite, naturally, but don't let manners keep you from a possible connection with the broader magical world.
  • When you make a connection, expand on it.  Does the person you're speaking with know other practitioners?  Do they host or attend events?  Have they been to festivals, workshops, or public talks in your area?  Ask about their background, tradition, and experiences.  Offer your own.
  • If given the chance, work at festivals and events.  Most of the workers in these places are volunteers, others are working off their admittance fee.  But whatever your situation, you will be certain to meet others who are involved in the occult.
  • Be sure to never walk away without getting full names and contact information.  
  • If you find a magical shop in your area, ask about its calendar of events.  Get to know the shop keeper and other regular shoppers.  Businesses are often a hub for covens.
2. Fears About Cult Behavior
Though it is important to be watchful of dangers to yourself and your family, the actual statistics for cultish behavior in covens is still quite low.  Much of the "bad" things that go on in groups are more about collective ego issues than any dedicated manipulation with intent to harm.  

  • Carefully read Isaac Bonewits' Cult Danger Evaluation Frame to see what a cult really looks like.  It's terrifying from the outside but (from accounts) comfortable and reassuring inside.  
  • Watch a documentary or read personal experiences of past cult members.  If this sort of thing is a major concern for you, do this before you get involved in a group so you will be able to keep a balanced view.

If you are involved in a coven and they tell you to do something illegal, immoral, or dangerous, beware.  If they ask you to do something difficult, perhaps you should step up to the challenge before crying "cult!"  

If this seems obvious, note that my requests for completed homework from my students have at times been met with angry resistance at my "abuse of power."  Our coven's need for collecting dues to pay for events and trips was considered devious by a member or two in their time.  Know the realistic expectations concerning control and benefit.

3.  Too Much Focus on Individuality
A wonderful aspect of group work is the talent each member brings to the whole.  Too much effort to remain distinct, though, will prevent a coven from coming together effectively.  Know that to make it in a group, some of your preferences, opinions, and tastes must take a backseat.  The same thing goes for every other member.   But this is a good thing:
  • Groups with solid cohesion build tradition, host events, work with other covens, and make elaborate magic.  Do you want that?  You'll have to work together.
  • Get to know your covenmates on a deep level.  Connect with them.  The group mind is more powerful than the individual.  This is how powerful spells are cast.
  • Ask questions, start discussions, posit topics to debate.  Ask for ideas, make plans, dream for your collective future.  Find ways to interact with other members in a personal, intellectual way.  
  • Seek out ways that your coven can benefit your goals in magic.  Groups are able to hone an individual's talents and elevate their practice.  

Coven membership is a relationship; give and take is essential.  Consider it with the same care as you would when entering a romantic relationship. Use your best judgement when mixing with new people, but know that a solid bond will require understanding and forgiveness in order to flourish. Think well on the benefits of the relationship as well as the costs to your time and independence. This part of the decision cannot be strongly enough stressed.  

But once you're in, love and love completely.

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My name is Quill and I've been practicing witchcraft for the past 17 years. 10 of those years I've been reading tarot and teaching.  I own a shop on Etsy called Quill's Occult Supply (check it out at QuillsOccultSupply.Etsy.com) full of handmade ritual and decorative items, spell components, and wild picked herbs.

I love to work with my hands.  Magic is a tool to shape our lives, and I'm using magic to shape tools to shape magic.  Cosmic! 

I use a lot of my favorite things in my shop: herbs, candles, wood, fabric, paint, clay.  And I get to carve, burn, grind, mold, think, dream ... I'm in the perfect business!

I've written 3 manuscripts for publication (2 non-fiction and 1 fiction) and am an avid NaNo-er!  I and my husband run a local coven called Orbis Prosapia, and our children are growing up surrounded by magic, mythology, fairy tales, Earth worship, art, open discussion, music, and humor. 

In addition to working on Ex Penna about my experiences as a professional witch, I also write for Scenes from the Circle about being a coven leader. 

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