Hebe is a goddess that is often honored in the spring, being that she’s a goddess of youth; the archetypical maiden. She is a goddess of spring, of flowers and of new growth. She was the cupbearer of the gods, and served ambrosia at their feast. A daughter of Zeus and Hera, she attended Aphrodite, and was eventually given in marriage to Herakles.
Daughter to Zeus and Hera, Bride to Herakles
Devoted daughter and sister,
She who bears the divine cup of ambrosia
Grace us with your presence, as we honor you in our rite of Spring!
Found this amongst some notes, and wanted to share. I don't see why it couldn't be used for runes, as well.
It’s been a crazy week, so it’s short, today.
Doing sounds like an odd choice for a D word for the Pagan Blog Project, but there’s a reason I chose this seemingly non-Pagan word. There seems to be two schools of thought when it comes to DOING witchy things (spells, ritual, meditation, etc.). One school is all about intent. Intent is all that matters. Do the spell you feel like doing when you feel like doing it. Don’t force yourself to meditate, if you aren’t in the mood. Don’t force yourself to do a ritual because you feel like you should celebrate the sabbat. The other school of thought is that of the doing. Do devotions to your patron/ness weekly, even if you don’t feel like it. Celebrate the sabbats, even if you are tired. Meditate regularly, even if it conflicts with other things. While neither of these paths are inherently bad, and most combine these two spiritualities, I like to err on the side of the doing.
To me the path of intent is a self-centered one, in its most extreme. I know that has negative connotations, but I mean that in the most literal of ways. I will pray when I feel like it, will do ritual only when I’m in the mood, will go to circle if I have nothing else to do and feel like it. The path of the doing, is the other extreme. I do devotions for the goddess, I do ritual to honor the celebration of the seasons/ nature and the gods, to take my place within the turning of the wheel. I go to meetings with my sisters to better not only my growth, but to contribute and maybe help someone else. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy it, of course – it’s very fulfilling, and the positivity tends to come back in spades. There is a fine line, however between too much structure and commitment to a path, and being lackadaisical in the following of a path. Everyone needs a break now and then to refresh, relax and process. So, we’re tasked with finding that balance.
One who follows the path of doing still needs to be self-aware of their energy and how they affect others, but all in all, I find that doing things for the gods, others, and nature rather than for oneself, is a very spiritually fulfilling attitude to pathwalking.
Many covens and groups mark growth within their program using a set of degrees. Traditionally, at least in Wiccan covens, there is a set of three degrees. Elsewhere, you’ll see four or five degree systems, sometimes aligned with the elements, or other Pagan concepts. Other groups may align their degrees with the Kabbalistic Tree of life, or other mystic systems, giving them many more degrees to achieve. Each degree system is specific to a tradition or a coven. This means that a degree achieved within a coven or tradition only holds meaning within that group; it is meaningless in context to other groups or traditions.
I start with this statement, mainly because I have encountered seekers who have acquired a second or third degree in another tradition who expect that this will be honored when dedicating to the group I lead. Of course, it’s honored, meaning that we accept that you have this degree in XYZ Witchcraft. However, it doesn’t mean that a seeker can come into our tradition as a second or third degree. Since there are no ‘across the board’ requirements in regards to cross-traditional degrees, I don’t really know what knowledge or experience is expected of a second degree in XYZ Witchcraft. I know that it won’t align exactly with what our tradition’s degree program entails, as our degree program requires our tradition training. I am a third degree in the Twilight Wiccan tradition, but if I was to join another tradition or coven that isn’t Twilight, I would expect to begin at the beginning.
This being said, there is a general assumption of the following in regards to degrees, at least in the Wiccan or Wicca-influenced Pagan groups:
• Dedicant/ Neophyte- taking classes, probably in traditional concepts
• 1*- new to the tradition, probably new to Wicca/ Paganism, but has a working knowledge of concepts, tools, holidays, deity and magick
• 2*- has practiced many years, can lead a ritual in the tradition, probably working on Shadow work, specializing in one or two facets of Wicca/ Paganism, can teach concepts
• 3*- is able to lead a coven, channel deity, establish teaching programs, create transformative ritual, handle difficult group dynamics, is willing to help those who need teaching by either teaching them, or guiding them to other resources
The way a witch moves through a degree program will wildly vary from one group to the next. Some have clear, structured activities, while others have a mutable, personal approach. In the tradition of Twilight Wicca, a Dedicant takes structured classes, following a syllabus. If they complete all work asked of them, and they are a good fit for the coven, they will be allowed to initiate. At initiation, the witch receives her first degree. From first degree to second degree, the witch finds herself in a self-paced program, involving reading, writing, projects and exams, all meant to produce a well-rounded education. Once this has been completed, she will be elevated to second degree. Every initiate is expected to get to second degree- it’s not terribly difficult and can take less than a year to accomplish, depending on the witch’s background. Upon receive the second degree, if the witch wants to pursue the path of the high priestess, then she informs her high priestess of her desire of coven leadership- third degree studies. From second degree to third degree, the witch finds herself in personal sessions with the high priestess, if she already possesses strong core priestess skills (ritual leadership, organization, teaching). If the witch has challenges in regards to core priestess skills, the high priestess will work on resolving those first, before advancing to the more in-depth sessions. After all is completed, and the high priestess feels the witch is ready, she will be elevated to third degree, and hiving will be possible. This can take anywhere from one year to ten years, depending on the witch.
Most groups use something visual to denote degree levels. Some use different colored cords, sashes or stoles. Others use different robes, tattoos or jewelry. Some don’t use anything at all, really.
Having a clear training program involving degrees will result in clear expectations. Many covens and groups falter in their first year due to not having clear expectations communicated. Members of the group know what they need to accomplish in order to ‘move up’ in the coven. It also gives the witch the tools she needs to improve her witchy education and challenge herself. The caveat is to remember that just because you achieve a certain degree in one group or tradition doesn’t give you much bragging rights when seeking another group or tradition. It is an achievement, and once conferred, cannot be taken away, but a degree is non-transferable.
This article is geared toward those who wouldn’t ever work in a group.
Some are disinclined to agree with hierarchy, feeling it breeds power trips. Not all covens are hierarchal- some are egalitarian, where priestesses take turns presiding over ritual. Generally, there’s one person who is the main organizer and keeps everything together. Even if a coven is hierarchal, that doesn’t automatically mean that the high priestess is on some power trip. A good high priestess will get input in the decisions made. A good high priestess allows members to be involved in rituals. When a high priestess is on a power trip, the coven WILL collapse. People will vote with their feet. We don’t have enough time to waste it spending it with people we don’t want to gather with. There is a great lot of trust placed in a high priestess, especially when you are checking out a coven to join. You don’t know if she’s making up a bunch of bullshit, or really is as knowledgeable as she seems.
The key is to look at the people she surrounds herself with. Is she surrounded by pretentious douchebags? Is she surrounded with friendly, knowledgeable people? Are the other members of the coven obvious sycophants? You can tell a lot about a person by the people they are close to. Like Lady Gwen Thompson’s Rede of the Wiccae says, “With a fool no season spend, lest ye be counted as a friend.”
Some people say that they just don’t get along well with others. Those people usually say it as though it’s a badge of honor. Seriously? Why would that be a good thing? It’s basically saying that you aren’t friendly, and aren’t able to be part of a loving group of perfect love and trust. And you aren’t willing to try to be nice to people. To me, that’s not a strength. The fact that it’s even said usually takes me aback, as the people who usually say this to me are usually friendly, or at least nice and polite. I think that these people usually can get along with others, but I think they could, if they found the right group.
Finding the right group is key – and it’s not easy. To find the right group, you need to locate a group that is within driving distance from you. Then, their beliefs and practices need to be similar enough to yours that you feel you can work with them. They need to be a good fit into your lifestyle- the amount of meetings and circles need to fit into your schedule, if you are in alcohol recovery, and they drink wine, it might not be the place for you. And ultimately, you need to really like the people, and they need to really like you. That’s a lot, but it does pay off.
Some have had bad coven experiences. This is tough. Some covens are led by assholes. Covens can be super flaky, and meetings are disorganized and fall apart. People cancel out on rituals, leaving those who worked hard on the rite disappointed and feeling betrayed. Some groups are led by those on a power trip, who get off on manipulating other people. Many of those who have been part of my coven have come from flaky groups, and they really liked the organization and structure of a group where you can count on people.
The trick as a high priestess is to make your group somewhere that people want to be. It’s not wholly unlike being a manager. You are not only in charge of the spiritual guidance and organization of the group, you also need to find a balance where you aren’t expecting too much from your covenmates, but allow them to continue to grow. One can’t do that making the ritual a “high priestess show” where the high priestess takes on all of the roles. A balanced coven allows all members to participate in the ritual in ways other than a guest might participate. Seek out a group where the high priestess has the greater good of the group in mind. If your high priestess takes everyone’s needs into consideration, and doesn’t just do what SHE wants, you’ll have a better chance of success in a coven.
Some might just have very unique spiritual paths. If you have a unique spiritual path and won’t really fit in any sort of coven, as no one has a similar path, try joining a social group. In our social group, we sometimes do eclectic circle work, involving a very diverse group of women. These have been some of the most amazing rituals I’ve been lucky enough to participate in.
Coven work isn’t for everyone, but there is something to be said for finding like-minded people with whom to discuss ideas and to possibly do eclectic circle work. Other people talking about similar issues, and to sometimes commiserate with can really help us grow spiritually. Even if it’s just a few friends, it’s fun to celebrate Pagan holidays with a nice dinner and a small circle.