To Coven or not to Coven- On the Internet?
Author: Stacy Marie
Last year whilst putting all of my cat tails and broom sticks in a row (so to speak) for my brand new shiny coven; my husband made the comment that he felt traditional covens were a thing of the past.
“A thing of the past? We’re just getting started.” I responded.
We went on to discuss how, he feels, that more and more people are choosing to work solitary and opting out of having to deal with the politics that often come with joining a coven.
“Well, gee just take the North wind gale out of my sail then, why don’t ya.”
Here I have invested money and countless hours of my time into Seminary school, polishing up my family tradition and formatting everything into a structured learning program for a full blown teaching coven and whamo my other half doesn’t think it will get off the ground. Now, I am not the type of person to just give up on my visions and dreams, but I have lived with my hubby for 10 years and I didn’t start calling him “Oracle” for not. So, I meditated and consulted my guides, the runes and researched.
I contemplated the reasons why I, myself have not joined a coven. By the time I had any incline to do group work I had already been a practicing Witch for many years. I had studied Asatru and Feri when my life took on a distinctively Wiccan path. I was well set in my ways. I did search for groups and covens, but I found that experience, or rather the lack of experience among group leaders was a rather common hurdle that I just could not get my proverbial broom over.
The people in my life were all solitary: my Dad, my step Mother, her aunt, my husband, our children, etc. I decided perhaps starting a family coven would be the way to go, and that went well for a while, then my Dad and Step Mom moved away. So, I set out to obtain the magickal piece of paper our society so dearly clings to. I wanted to be sure that I had credentials that said to the world, “Psst, hey this Lady took the time to do some actual work for the title Priestess.”
Rather than buy one instantaneously online or what not. As I and my family interacted more within the Pagan and Wiccan community I often was faced with the same question by both my husband and my son; Why did it seem like so many of the people we were meeting were, well, a little heavy on the acorns… in other words nutty?
Ahhh, yes they said it, I repeated it and you know you have thought about it on occasion too. So lets think about the situation that is unfolding here: covens and groups with inexperienced leadership, more people opting for solitary work, people who are a little loopy. Could it possibly be that magick in its many forms is a tad bit dangerous?
No, you don’t say.
The state of the coven culminates for me here; inexperience leads down two paths, one is non interest, i.e. those who have the experience to recognize inexperience when they see it choose to be solitary and path number two taken by those who do not know any better can lead to the possibility of real psychological damage in a blind leading the blind type of scenario. The reality is that Wicca is the fastest growing religion in America today, its numbers double every few months (so certain statistics say) . There simply are not enough quality teaching covens available to all those who would seek them.
It is a daunting task for a beginner to try to discern the quality from the crap both in covens and books. If you are lucky enough to have a quality coven in your area, you still have to mesh well with the other members and the types of energy they raise. What about those who live in the country? What if you have kids? Now you need a family friendly coven. Let me tell you, if you thought finding a coven was difficult, try finding one that accommodates young aspiring witchletts. That is a task that redefines difficult.
Oh, by the gods it is a dilemma, indeed. I think my husband may be on to something, perhaps. What is a girl that has been given a vision to do?
Are online teaching covens a viable option? I researched and meditated. I concluded that online covens are not better than being able to physically coven with others, but they are out there and they do provide a sense of fellowship and community, as do social networks such as Paganspace and Wiccan Together.
A quality online teaching coven or virtual coven, which is not easier to find than a physical coven when trying to hold true to the definition of quality but does, when found, offer a valuable service to those new to the craft that a simple social network does not. It can offer experience to those who would otherwise not have it available. It can offer structure to a path that may fall by the wayside because of frustration created by the mass amount of misinformation, repeated information, plain poorly researched material found in so many books and websites or by the lack of trustworthy peer support for ones work. Which brings me to the experienced witch and what such a coven has to offer them. Trustworthy peer support of ones works.
I can hear it now, screams and spats of how “I don’t need anyone else’s approval or validation for the work I do.” Indeed nor do I. There is nothing more exhilarating however to the spirit then to have the ability to share and compare notes on journey work and just perhaps find similarities that quite possibly lead to epiphanies for both parties involved. This sort of experience is one that is few and far between in solitary work and can lead one to stagnation along the way if not had to some degree, in my opinion.
I decided to heed the words of my Oracle, not by abandoning my vision, but expanding it.
Along with my physical coven, I created an online coven. In order to accomplish this successfully I had to research these types of covens. I have scoured the Internet tirelessly, taking notes the whole way. At the end of my research I was left with a few quality resources available to anyone with a computer.
It is my intent to share this research, so that others may benefit from it. What follows are my findings and in no way do I claim that I had the ability nor opportunity to view every such coven in existence, I did view quite a lot.
As a practitioner of the craft for over 19 years I used my personal experience to make a list of what I feel are the best of the covens I viewed. They do not appear in any specific order and I encourage anyone interested in such a coven to do additional research on their own.
Jaguar Moon Cyber Coven- http://www.jaguarmoon.org/
Run by Lisa Mc Sherry (Lady Maat) . Formed in 2000 from Shadow Moon Cyber coven and with Southern Cross Coven. Exists as an entirely virtual coven to teach Wicca in a non-threatening manner. Annual classes that start in July and end in June. Fee $60 annual (may vary year to year) . I could not view what an accepted applicant could, as one must apply for membership to gain access to entire site. However, the outline of the Lesson plan is available to the public and very comprehensive. Jaguar Moon Cyber Coven does have a traditional degree system.
Coven of the Far Flung Net- http://www.cuew.org/cffn/
This site is owned and run by Church of Universal Eclectic Wicca, LLC.
Provides free Wiccan education through a series of online lessons. Universal Eclectic Wiccan Tradition. Public collection of information about various Pagan and Wiccan topics. One must apply for membership. This is a very organized site.
Temple Zenith- http://www.templezenith.com
Physically located in Largo/Seminole, FL. A Wiccan/Pagan coven both physical and online where that the Goddess and God are equal in their reflection of cosmic BEING. Core teaching based on the union of the three selves and magick being the art of understanding the interplay between the manifestations of divine forces in Nature. Decent public information on Wicca, magick and Paganism. Traditional Degree format. Structured learning program set up on a social networking platform. Free.
The Holy Temple of Witchcraft – http://www.holytempleofwitchcraft.com
Founded on August 8, 2005 in Wooster, OH. Online coven for witchcraft. Very clear in their expectations of a student. Degree Structure. Small $10 fee. This site does not contain public information on witchcraft.
Sacred Circles Coven- http://sacredcirclescoven.com/
Founded on October 15, 2001. Physical coven located in Puerto Rico. This is a Grove of the Old Religion, not Wicca. A wealth of Pagan related public info including mythology, Book reviews, herbs, dream info, cat magick, moon magick and also a growing social network. Free.
The Athame’s Edge http://athamesedge.com/index.php?pg=1
Very organized and clear in their purpose and goals. A Progressive Wiccan Coven. Must apply for membership to gain access to entire site. No public info on Wicca or Paganism other than a brief “What is Wicca?” primer.
The Temple of the Moon’s Rising http://www.freewebs.com/emrysthewitch/index.htm
Owned and run by Emrys, a young Wiccan Priest with an obvious old soul. Public info on Eclectic Wicca is available on this site.