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.