I suppose the expectation of witches is to belong to a coven. Certainly in paths like Wicca covens seem to be the norm, and seem quite idyllic. A group of like-minded people gathering together to practice and learn together! What could go wrong?
Maybe it’s my introvert side coming out, but I could not think of something worse. People are individuals, with their own thoughts, desires and attitudes. Spell working can be a delicate process and unless a coven can claim to be 100% behind each spell, each casting, each ritual, then something is due to go a bit wonky, though I will come out and say I have never been a part of a coven, though have taken part in a fair few group workings. The difference I suppose was the workings I was a part of were not for anything specific, mainly rituals of thanks, for a good season, that sort of thing. Imagine if you will, a coven working towards a healing spell. 7 out of the 8 members are totally on board, but the 8th doesn’t really like the person they are working for, doesn’t really care if they get better or not. Magic is all about intent. All that focus going towards one goal, except a person within the group is making it a bit foggy, what’s the point? Better to have one true worker, than a dodgy group one.
My other worry would be the inner politics of the group. Person A leads, but person B thinks they would do a better job, why haven’t they got the role, why are their suggestions not being taken on board. As humans we have egos, some stronger than others. Through conversations with other witches, I have heard of so much drama that comes with groups that I feel I am much better out of it. Some start with petty things, like “what offering”, others with bitching behind anothers backs. It would be nice if everyone just got along but there is always the risk, even with people who we consider friends. Magic can be such a personal experience that things are bound to erupt, too many witches spoil the cauldron.
There have been scare stories in the community about covens taking advantage of newcomers and I think if anyone has power over someone else, this can be a risk.
I class myself as a solitary practitioner (rather obvious stating that now!) and yet it still has it’s pitfalls. I’m a bit lonely. I speak to other witches online, but to know someone flesh and blood, meet for a coffee and have a nice chat about the new broomstick on the market would be dandy.
I think about how I feel when I do a spell, the energy in the room and in me, and from my fleeting moments in a group, the goodwill and “warm fuzzies” afterwards was amazing and I think how good it would be to be with others, more people would definitely give more oomph to the spell, but at what cost.
I am a little bit different in my beliefs and practices within the community. I don’t do heavy ritual, i keep things simple, small almost. That doesn’t mean I can’t pack a punch, but still, I don’t do things which a lot of people deem necessary. (more on that in a future blog post. I don’t want to feel like I have to keep up with the magickal Jones’ either.
However, when I’m practising alone, I go at my own pace, I do what I need to do, when I need to do it. I don’t feel compelled to work something just because the group says I have to, and I can do it my way. I like the freedom a bit too much.
However if you do feel you need the company of other like minded folks, have a look into moots. These usually consist of a group of pagans (sometimes single paths, sometimes altogether) getting together for a coffee or pint, chatting and generally just being social. Sometimes they will do something together, like make some crafts, talk about moon phases, workings, gods, goddesses, the fae, its unlimited. It can be unstructured or structured. That sounds a lot more reasonable to me, perhaps a fair compromise between the two. Sometimes people from the moot will work magic together,but that is up to them, and you don’t need to involve yourself if you don’t want to.
Everything has it’s pros and cons, even when stepping into the pagan world. It can be a harsh reality, when you think you’ll find brothers and sisters in the craft to feel even worse than when you knew no one. I don’t mean to be a debbie downer, I just want you to guard yourself. I think if I found the right coven, I would probably want to be a part of it, but whats right for me might be wrong for you and vice versa. You look after you, and everything will be well.