Why covens are here to stay

The rains came and they were/are (there is the promise of more on the way) glorious!

My reading continues, and, as so often happens when one starts down the reading rabbit hole, one bit of reading flows into the next bit of related reading. You may well be wondering why I seem to be reading up on the basics? Well, the answer is simple and complex all at the same time; in working my own path I now find myself in a position where I am beginning to help start others along their own journey. As part of that I am, slowly, working up a curriculum for my own series of Wicca 101 Brit Trad Style, as well as working with a couple of seekers (obviously under the guidance of my own teachers). And me, being me, I feel that it’s incumbent upon me to speak from a place of reasoned thought and to have that be based upon a broad base both practical and academic knowledge. And sometimes that means going back to basics.


So to follow on from yesterday’s thoughts on Wicca and Initiation, today we have an offering from Naya Aerodiode: Six Reasons Why Covens are Here to Stay.

I’ve heard a bit of buzz from various Pagan people on the internet suggesting that covens are going out of style, in favor of big public pan-Pagan gatherings.  While I think that the coven is a classic, timeless facet of witchery, like the little black dress, here are some more concrete, universal reasons why covens will always be needed.  Covens are a necessary structure for many practitioners of witchcraft, and despite the trends toward exoteric pan-Pagan community gatherings, covens aren’t going anywhere.

Read remainder of Naya Aerodiode’s: Six Reasons Why Covens are Here to Stay

To turn the discussion to a specifically British Traditional context I’ll quote (with slight editing) Pandora, High Priestess of the Covenant of Winter’s End in Kent, England:

Many people ask questions like: What do you DO in your Coven?

Well, the answers in short form are:
We learn and grow as both Witches and human beings.

Now, here are the longer versions:

What’s a Coven/What do you DO in a Coven/What’s being in a Coven like?
We celebrate and engender our connection with Deity, our Craft and ourselves through Ritual, Meditation and Magical practice.

Can I join?
Well, a British Traditional Coven is not like a movie club or a gym. You cannot pay a fee and join. You have to be ready to work for it. There’s a lot of reading

Generally, once the word WORK comes out of my mouth, I notice that a lot of peoples’ eyes glaze over, and this pretty much ends the conversation. However, sometimes a person’s eyes light up and their whole attitude perks up a bit. These are the people we want, and these are the people who make it in the Craft.

So, a few steps forward then…

Before you decide you would like to join a Coven:
You already should have done some reading, and you should be sure that you want to start down this path. You should have already begun solitary work, and you should know the dates of the Sabbats by heart.

Once you’ve decided to seek out a Coven:
You should read the About page (when available) for the Coven which you’re interested in. Within that page should be guidelines and other basic information about that particular Coven. [My note: if the group you’re interested in does not have an online presence they should still have this information for you. And, as always, caveat emptor, BE SAFE, seek vouches — any legitimate teacher should have no qualms about directing you to people/organizations who can vouch for them.]…You should also be holding solitary rituals for the Sabbats, Full and New Moons.

WAIT! Before you dash off that email/membership information form:
You should realize that being part of a Coven is work. Not that we don’t have our share of fun, we do! I just want you to know that contrary to movies and TV and so on, Covens are for the dedicated and hardworking only. You should be certain that you’re willing to learn new things, You should be ready (and eager, even) to read a lot, and to be accountable for retaining and gaining insight and knowledge from what you read. You should be prepared to know how to respect authority. Finally, you should be able to take this commitment seriously. Covening is like University. If you’re not prepared to learn, you’ll get nothing out of it. We, as leaders, are here to help you, but we will not carry you. While we of the Wicca all walk the path hand in hand, we each still walk alone. If you cannot stand alone on your own two feet with regards to the Craft, then a Coven is not the place for you.


Wicca and Initiation

Here is North Central Texas the sun still blazes through our days and our earth is very thirsty (there is a cold front moving through tonight and I know we all pray for rain), but I can feel the tease of autumn in the morning and evening air. And, although everyone I speak with is grateful for our mild (by Texas standards) summer, I know we’ll happily welcome the cooler weather.

As our wheel turns toward autumn my thoughts turn inward and I find myself coming across many thought provoking writings. The following on Wicca and Initiation comes from one of our craft Elders, Morgana Sythove. I suggest it should be required reading for all seekers, but also think those of us with more than a few craft years under our belts can always benefit from a refresher on the topic as well.

There is often a great deal of dissension over the issue of Wicca and initiation. Many people believe that you can be a Wiccan without initiating or that a person can perform a “self-initiation”, while others (mostly Wiccan) declare that initiation is definitely needed and that self-initiation is generally a ridiculous concept.

link to the remainder of the post on Morgana’s blog

My Ireland – Beltane

I’m feeling so inspired this Beltane season.

My personal craft points of reference and experience are solely US and UK based but I would be remiss to skip over the Beltane customs of the Emerald Isle (btw: I’m not trying to slight the Welsh, Manx, Cornish or Briton traditions, but I know nothing about them). I’m not even going to try and pretend that I’m anything but your classic American mutt. Branches of my family tree on my mother’s side trace back to ancestors who participated in founding of These United States, and I have enough First Nation heritage that I’m comfortable calling myself Métis, but my father’s side of the family is 100% Irish, from County Westmeath, as far back as anyone can remember – from what I understand the family is one of the oldest/longest established families in the County.

I can’t fault my father for jumping whole-heartedly into the American experience, but, unfortunately, it left me a little bereft of old world cultural heritage. So I decided to do a little poking around into the Beltane customs of the area and discovered some very interesting history. According to

“Uisneach Hill is an historical site in County Westmeath located near the village of Ballymore, and is considered the omphalos (mystical navel) of Ireland, whereupon rests a great stone (Ail na Mreann, which means stone of divisions) marked with lines indicating the provincial borders of Connacht, Leinster, Ulster and Munster.

Tradition tells that Uisneach was a site favored for Beltane fires and Druidical ceremonies Archaeologically the site consists of a set of monuments spreading over two square kilometres and includes enclosures and barrows, a megalithic tomb and two ancient roads.

There was an excavation in the 1920s and this showed occupation evidence from Neolithic up to the medieval period.

The Hill of Uisneach was the ancient seat of the Kings of Meath.

Uisneach has also been famous as a meeting place in pre-history as a place of cattle rituals and other May Day assemblies, and in more recent times as the meeting place for an important twelfth century synod.”

And and provide some very interesting information on the mythic history of the place.

I think it’s time for me to do some exploration of the deities associated with where this side of my family hails from.

P.S. The following picture is considered a Sheela-na-Gig from Carne Castle, County Westmeath – now in the National Museum, Dublin. Here is further information on what the author calls “exhibitionist figures on mediæval churches”.

Deep thoughts…

Well I’m endeavoring to participate in the Pagan Blog Project 2012 and valiantly working on my entry for this week. Truth be told though I should probably just throw in the towel and put up a “gone planting” sign on this here blog.

While I’m planting (cleaning coops, cages, brush piles, house, etc.) I tend to listen to a lot of podcasts. I was listening to one from Fresh Air this evening (‘When God Talks Back’ To The Evangelical Community) and it occurred to me that this, and a few of the others I’ve listened to may be of some interest to some of you. With reference to the program above, yes it is specifically discussing evangelical Christians but if you strip that away it has some interesting takeaways for us as well. (And ironically enough ties nicely into the post that I started working on prior to hearing the show.)

I also enjoy APM’s On Being (formerly Speaking of Faith) and particularly the episodes:

Pagans, Ancient and Modern
Living Vodou
Quarks + Creation
Einstein’s God
Science and Being
Evolution and Wonder, Understanding Charles Darwin
Fishing with Mystery

Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again — Anon