Covens are often shrouded in mystery and rumor. Many Pagans believe that there is a requirement to have 13 members, a hierarchy of priestesses, and spells cast to change the course of their fate. I love how this perception has kept many from feeling safe to explore paganism. Unfortunately, there is more to the story of Pagans refusing to join and form groups together. In the US it is expected that women cannot form healthy relationshipstogether, and the groups that do form havve a significant number of problems that can leave it’s members emotionally scarred. Due to this perception, some members do strrive to live up to this negative stereotype and the group becomes a nightmare to the other members. Inwould reccomend to many new groups to read together the book Sacred Circles, Women’s Spirituality Group Workbook. The authors of the book provide a wide variety of points of view and various group focuses to give you an idea that it is not just in the Pagan community that women have a difficult time getting along, but inalmost all groups. Then they give you the why’s, and how to avoid or fix them. As a group, my group came together, and I bought this book for each member, and we all began reading together. As each began, all of us made new and exciting discoveries about the groups they had belonged to, and could now move on from the hang up they had over why their group had failed. Fortunately, we are all pretty bright women, and it feels that each member brings strengths,a dn compliments each other in some awesome ways that can be very unexpected! This book opened us up to each other, and we are able to progress without the fear of failure.
But you’re not here to read about that, you want the juicy details of how covens operate. Idealy there is some personal connection between the members that make them friends, and more tha friends in many ways. In a way you become extended family, as each member will begin to open up and share intimate details that are normally reserved for spouses and close family members. The trust required to be a member is great. I would not say it is a burden, but it is not to be taken lightly. You, in essense, become an extension of a group that will accept and take you in as you are. The hope is that with each new layer of trust built, the group, etiher as a whole or individually, will mature and grow spiritually. There are no hard and fast rules about the number of women, what they do together, and how often they meet, but having a connection to someone else of your faith when there is generally not a connection, feels like a safety net for those times when you feel yourself in a spiritual conundrum. Or, any kind of conundrum.
Magically, the members of the group come together to raise energy and cast a spell or perform a ritual with the combined energy of the group. How the energy is raised can vary. Chanting, increasing personal energy and sharing through hand holding, and adding to specific parts of the ritual or spell are all ways to raise energy. Much of the coven dynamic has more to do with the socialization dynamic than the energy dynamic. I have read somewhere that some practitioners will only come together to do magic together, and then drift apart until the next scheduled event. Some groups may never do any ritual together, however this is rare.
The hieigharchy of a coven is often as diverse as snowflakes. Some groups come to a mutual understanding that based on the greater experience of one member or another, that person shall preside as the senior priest or priestess. Others with less will be required to attend some specific training in order to reach the experience and capability as the senior member. The determination as to what the ritual should look like, or how a spell should be cast is often the decision of the senior priestess. This group formst is not the same in all groups. Some groups have individuals of varying degrees of experience, yet none are higher or less than any of the other members, each ritual or spell is agreed upon by all members, or a member at any time can agree to be in charge of hosting and casting the ritual or spell work, and make the decisions for the group until the next time, when it is someone elses turn.
As far as membership after a group has already established, the methods of training and integrating the member can vary. Should the new Pagan member have no training, but request it, some members may take it upon themselves to mentor the Pagan until they are ready to be a full