We have no churches or large congregations in our spiritual community and the only times large groups of Witches comes together is at a festival or public Sabbat. The real deep spiritual work is done in our Solitary practice and in our small groups, the Covens. The inner and secret workings of a Wiccan Coven are something many people don't understand.
When we start our Seeker year we make a vow to stay in the Coven for a year and a day. We are exploring the Path of the Witch and learning the basics. After that year we may be ready to dedicate ourselves to the Craft by taking 1st degree Initiation. Some people leave the group at that time and become Solitary Practitioners and others make a commitment to their Coven to continue. These commitments, as a new Seeker and later as an Initiate, are deep magical acts that put down roots into the Way of the Witch and into the hearts of the Coven mates. They create a connection to a spiritual family based on perfect love and perfect trust and a safe place to explore the Mysteries, get support and experience things that you cannot experience in Solitary Practice. This can cause a phenomena we call 'group mind', a telepathic connection within the group. Remember the time we all brought rice to the potluck?
This does not mean that there will always be harmony in the group! As we go deeper into the magickal process of transformation becoming healed and realizing our own authentic self, as we become aware of the Divine in nature and in ourselves and start to manifest it in the world, we all hit obstacles and shadows. These shadows can be extremely difficult to face and overcome, but they are the places of real change and personal power. Each person in the Coven will be dealing with these shadows but the Coven itself may have collective shadows. So with all these intense issues coming up there are bound to be tensions within the group from time to time.
Why do you think that the people in the Coven have come together as a spiritual group? Is it a co-incidence or is it a very important synchronicity? The Coven is not a book club or a self-help group. It is an apprenticeship under the guidance of men and women who have been where you are now, and have graciously agreed to give back what they received from their teachers by helping others. They have faced their own shadows! The techniques in each Tradition may be different but they are all aimed at one goal, to help participants have personal connection with the Divine Immanent, the God and Goddess in the world and in us, but to do that they must first undergo a transformative process. The Coven is like the Cauldron of Cerridwen and sometimes it boils! That may be the only way that the Goddess can transform the contents of the Cauldron (us) and the process may get hot!
This boiling process is very mysterious and can take the form of interpersonal conflict, group experiences that shock us or scare us, energy within the Circle that is so intense we don't understand it and many other things. Whatever is going on in the Coven changes us! We need to have confidence in our selves rooted in our commitment to the group and the process and we need to trust the Goddess.
Some Covens cannot stand the heat and fall apart at this point. They may blame many things on the end of their Coven but the deeper spiritual reason is that the members could not work through the boiling (transformative) process. They don't have a deeper vision of what is really going on. The most insidious manifestation of the disintegration of the Coven is gossip. This is definitely a type of black magick that spreads poison into the Coven and unless it is rooted out and brought into the light of day, the Coven can fall apart. It destroys perfect love and perfect trust which is the very fabric of the group.
A strong High Priestess can feel that something has changed in the Coven because she is connected to the group mind and the pulse of the Coven. But sometimes the Coveners hide things from the HPS because they are afraid to talk to her, thinking that if they criticize the group they may be ostracized. A climate of respect and openness allows the Witches to speak their truth and bring it into the Circle. Everyone in the Coven is encouraged to participate in this open dialogue as each member takes their place in the Circle with equality.
"We are a circle moving one with each other we are moving together we are one. I am spirit and I move in you. You are spirit and you move in me." chant by Marae Price (copyright 1996) Click here for the music. This blog entry is dedicated to Lady Rhiannon of the