(This article was modified from an entry in the BOS: Greenwood Celtic Shamanic Wiccan Tradition)
When you begin the journey with a group you make a commitment to the God and Goddess, to the brothers and sisters of the Coven and to yourself to stay for a year and a day. What happens if you cannot keep this commitment? What happens if you need to leave the Coven before the year and a day is up? How do you leave a Coven at any time?
Because we create a group mind it is very important to leave the coven in a way that will not hurt yourself or the others energetically. Is your reason for leaving the group that you are not doing any solitary work and feel that the group is leaving you behind? Do you feel that everyone else is way beyond you and that you don’t fit in? These feelings of insecurity strike all of us at times. If this is the reason why you think you should leave, discuss this with your teachers. They can help you see your way. Perhaps you are being too hard on yourself or don’t know how or where to start. That’s why we have a coven, for support.
If you are leaving because you realize that you have made a mistake and this path is not for you that is another thing altogether. You should think about your reasons carefully and then speak privately with the Priestess. With love and support she will help you and give you ideas about where your path may lead now. It is not a crime to leave the Coven. You are an individual and your path is unique, just as you are. You have the right to make mistakes. You have the right to change your mind.
If you want to leave because you are having trouble with someone in the coven, you should also discuss this with your teachers . Many of these kinds of problems can be solved. A coven is like family; sometimes there are squabbles and sometimes adjustments to be made. Do you really want to give up the support of a spiritual family and an opportunity to learn because of a problem that can be solved?
When you are quite sure that you want to leave, discuss it with your Priestess face to face, NOT in e-mail. If you are not sure, you can take a sabbatical to think it over and then decide. You don’t need to come to coven and make an announcement in front of everyone if you don’t feel comfortable. We take a three-month sabbatical as a way of leaving slowly. It gives the coven a chance to get used to not having you there and also a chance for you to make up your mind. If you leave and then realize that you have made a mistake and want to come back, it will be much more difficult.
The other day a former member who left in uncomfortable circumstances e-mailed me and ask to come back to the circle. The issues that she left behind were not resolved and although I wish her well her key just doesn't fit our door anymore.
What not to do:
Do not disappear one day without a trace and ignore e-mails and phone calls.
Do not just suddenly announce to the whole group by e-mail that you are not Wiccan and we are all a bunch of fakes.
Do not send a group e-mail two days before we are supposed to meet at your house that you are taking a Sabbatical, especially without telling the Priestess first.
Don't join another Coven to 'try it out' and announce to the group during a Sabbat feast that the other group is much better than ours. (Yes all these things have happened in our Coven!)
Please have common courtesy. Remember your promises of confidentiality; the Goddess is not happy with people that break their word. Because of the group mind, you can inflict pain on the others in the Circle connected as we are with energetic and spiritual ties. Our Coven is based on respect. We respect each other, and ourselves. You have entered the circle in perfect love and perfect trust and you can leave the same way. Let’s all be kind to each other!