Tag Archives: coven politics

Who on Earth was Doreen Valiente?

Doreen Valiente -art (c) Mani Navasothy for QuantumPhoenix-net
Doreen Valiente -art (c) Mani Navasothy for QuantumPhoenix-net

Who on Earth was Doreen Valiente?   I know what most Witches & Wiccans are thinking..`Are you serious? Doreen Valiente IS the mother of modern Wicca (Witchcraft). Call your self a Wiccan High Priest. You must know this..”  Well, actually, I do now..  But I didn’t have a clue…when I actually did meet her.. way back in 1997 or 1998 (must check my old records!)

It had been a few years after I had been initiated into a Coven (yes, one of the covens with a lineage that goes back to Gerald Gardner!).. and our Coven members went on a day trip.. to Brighton..for a Workshop.. where Doreen Valiente was present – rather fragile!

I remember getting there early.. and as far as I was concerned, it was a nice day out with my fellow coven members… and so I had said yes to attending the workshop. Buy I had no idea about the facilitators. It didn’t matter much.

It seems to matter a hell of a lot to thousands of people nowadays… lineage   name-dropping, who they know, who initiated them, who they initiated, and all the similar stuff (let’s leave the who slept with, and who broke which coven ..when..out …for now.  I’ll save that for `my’ autobiography..shall I ? )

I got all my spirituality, loyalty, kinship, brotherhood & sisterhood, nurturing High Priestess, kind and friendly High Priest..and a close bunch of Witches to be with…all in coven life. So the past, or the future didn’t matter. In fact, I actually didn’t know how lucky I had been, about my lineage, about my elders and all that.. I didn’t know any of it..  much..for the first 4 years of Coven / wiccan life.  Somehow it mattered less..

It was long after my 2nd Degree, and the closing of our original coven.. (amicably!) ..when I started to guest at other covens.. that I started to get exposure of the politics, powerplay, history and all that . That was when the innocence truly broke..  and I fell from Garden of Eden  (pardon me for using a Christian concept here. perhaps I should say `from Garden of Gaia?)

So the day I met Doreen Valiente, all those years ago, I didn’t know how `important’ she was.  I was happy being with my craft brothers & sisters..and during lunch break, couldn’t wait to get to the sea-front and play with the waters…and made the most magical find to this date! (Apart from the gold ring with diamonds on it that I had found in Hastings a few years ago…that is..or the actual first kiss with my partner some 7-8 years ago).

So few years ago, while pondering about Doreen’s books, April (my wife) and I decided to explore some places for real.. and we made our way to the Chanctonbury Ring..

That’s for another blog.. 🙂

Bright Blessing ..on this day of Midsummer…

-Mani Navasothy

ps.  Note of Art:   The Doreen graphics used her was graphically `painted’ by me, using Photoimpact 11 software . I used soft brushes to block out shapes, then charcoal brushes..to do texture / skin.. and then use smudge ..and finally a small brush to put lines..and then used the `burn’ tool to darken areas…(and finish with more smudging & blurring). I’ve used this technique style before of course ..to create graphics of Prince Charles, Margaret Thatcher and Lady Diana in the past. Expect more such art of other people 😉

pps. Coming soon:   A video of our trip to Chanctonbury Rings, famous for the Doreen Valiente’s `Chanctonbury Charge’ (found in all Book of Shadows) .

Hierarchy within Wiccan Covens

I was initiated over 15 years ago, and lucky to have had those first 4 years …where my High Priestess & High Priest taught and trained me (and my fellow Craft brothers & Sisters).  For those glorious 4 years, I did nothing but learn the Craft, rituals, magic, and kinship. And then one day I was ready and got my 2nd degree initiation, became `an Elder’ and a High Priest of Wicca ..and was gently cast out into the bigger world..

That was when the politics began!  And since then, I’ve had many a discussion with pagans, wiccans and non-initiates (in courses that I have run) – about Covens.

I’ve seen the way the Wiccan covens ..and Wiccan community have evolved..  with time…just in the 15+ years I have been a part of. I can only imagine how it must have been in those early `golden’ years of Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valiente, and of course Alex Saunders. Am not what they’d say..about the Craft now..if they were still alive.

Personally, I myself am seriously perturbed by the way loyalty, discipline, commitment  respect and a  whole load of other sincere traits within Wicca seem to be eroding away these days…and like the yobs in the streets who make trouble and say `it’s my right’,  modern wiccan members seem to do pretty much all sorts of things and call it evolution.

On the one hand, I am all for traditions being kept alive. But then, on the other hand, all things have to change..evolve..  and at times, I find myself being the `black sheep’ of the Wiccan community…simply by me being thought-provoking, and challenging.

So in a series of articles.. (and a few books coming later in the year), I’m going to explore these..

First thing..  let me set the scene…and explain a few basics…as I have now come to understand them..  (extracts from my forthcoming book `Seekers’ guide to Wiccan Covens’).

What’s a coven?

A Coven is traditionally a group of Witches – full stop! It is not a place, not a room, not a house, not a website, not a forum, not a meeting point or any of that. A coven is given a unique identity by a name for that group – often at the choosing the people who formed it and lead it. It is a magical association of certain specific individuals. Where ever those members may be, they feel and know that along with the others of that group, they are `their coven’! You can compare this to the question of `what is a family’? Exactly. A Family is a group of relatives. They may live in the same house, or not. Some old, some young. A core family framework is a man and woman – father and mother- and their children. The extended family includes grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, niece & nephews and more. A family starts with a couple – bonded in Love – and grows as they have children. A coven has very similar structure, as you’ll see below.

Who are Coven members, Seekers & Trainees?

All the people who have formally asked to join a Coven, under the leadership of the couple who formed a coven, are coven members – of that coven! Even in the early stages, if some people have asked to join a coven or are exploring or seeking – but have not gone through an initiation ceremony – are still in many ways members of that Coven.

Coven Leaders & the extend of their authority

As with a family model, which is very much what Wiccan covens are based on (like the tribes of old), a coven usually has a couple – a pair who are magical partners – at the helm of it. This couple are the Coven leaders – often that coven’s High Priest and High Priestess. The abbreviation is HP & HPS. They are effectively who form the coven, initiate others into that coven and run that coven! Their authority is pretty much absolute within their coven. There are cases, where other High Priests & High Priestesses of other covens come to visit – ie do socials and rituals together. Even in such cases, the authority of the actual Coven leaders is- should- and must be respected by all.

This isn’t always understood by everyone. And sometimes visiting High Priests & High Priestesses try to exert their own authority – especially if they have been Wiccans and running their own covens for much longer, or the special case where they are the people who initiated this coven leaders! But such behavior will undermine the authority of the HP & HPS of the coven where everyone is a gust.

This can be easily understood if you think about the family model again. Think about a big family occasion, where a couple who have 3 children, invite their grandparents, uncles & aunts, cousins and so on. Within the house where the party is being held, the couple have the final authority. It is incorrect for the grandparents or an uncle or aunt to intervene in important matters – even if in the larger family framework, they have age and authority.

well, more on Wicca, Witchcraft & Covens…another time…:-)

-Mani Navasothy

connect with me on facebook  www.facebook.com/ManiNavasothy

Related Links:

Coven Guide to becoming an initiated Witch (c) MN2014

 

Coven Guide: Become an Initiated Witch – by Mani Navasothy

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e-Witch Apprentice  Training (Correspondence course)