Tag Archives: Covens

Wiccan Journeys & High Priestly thoughts on covens

I was giving a talk at one of the pagan moots in NW London last night (Staines Moot)..  The title was `Wiccan Journeys: There and back..and there again..!’.

It mainly outlined my (thus far) journey in the Wicca path..  how I became interested, how I became an initiated Wiccan, reaching my stage (and responsibility) as a High Priest, running training covens & groups, initiating new Seekers and so on.       The talk also covered my back and forth journeys – as I have not always felt like a `wicca’ (but always a `Witch / Magician’ !)  There are times when I have slipped out of the coven life and wiccan communities – and gone to do other magical things.. like starting `Hern’s Tribe- outdoor shamanic / eclectic group’   (the more recent one being the `woodland wicca rituals’  and the `Thames-Isis rituals) – see links at the bottom.

Talk at Ankerwycke - wiccan journeys - there and back and there again - mani navasothy 2014
Talk at Ankerwycke – wiccan journeys – there and back and there again – mani navasothy 2014

Well, this morning, I caught on to some debates that have been going on…about the good/ bad experiences, the ego and hierarcrhy of High Priests, High Priestesses, and coven leaders.

Needless to say, I have some deep thoughts on this ( I never like to hear anyone bad-mouth Wicca ..especially hard working Coven leaders..!)

Here are some of my responses:

Taking pot shots at Wiccan Hierarchy?

No one is forcing anyone into a particular tradition, path or system of beliefs.. But if one is entering a system, they should learn to be aware of its exiting form, structure, rules, guidelines.. – before criticising it, attacking it, or trying to change it. !

My HPS once told me, `walk in the footsteps f others..see what entails..before criticising what they do’ !

I appreciate that people may have had bad experiences from individuals or groups..but unless you have ever organised events, rituals, groups..and run things for long periods of time… no real wisdom is gained.

I get a little tired of people ranting on about Wiccan Hierarchy, and taking pot shots at the roles of High Priests & High Priestess. They are part of that path and system.. Learn it, understand why it’s there in the first place.. before tearing it apart. And if you are compelled to tear it apart.. I ask why? Is it because of a personal grudge, bad experience, or one;s own ego not being fed? –

The training of Coven Leaders:

 Leadership of anything is always a double-edged sword.. It is there to serve the people.. but abused, it can harm the people.. To quote a line from Spiderman, `With great power comes great responsibility’

Serious covens filter interested people .. work out their commitment, dedication, loyalty etc..before even taking anyone on as trainees…and then after a year or even many years…initiate them…(into their tradition and their coven!)

It takes many years of practice ..before those initiates reach a stage of taking good personal responsibility and also that of others..and the HP / HPS stats is a `teaching position’ – it’s NOT handed down like confetti.

Even after reaching that stage.. they then undergo more months / years of `on the job mentoring’ to become `good’ HP & HPS.. Anyone who’s got this far ..then goes out and starts their own coven..trains others..initiates others.. !

This is the long hard path in an ideal world.. Old ideals and standards are dying out with those people who held it.. They have tried to pass those on.. and that wisdom survives.. just about..!

——-

So there you have it..  just some immediate responses..  But no doubt, we shall all come to this topic..again and again…and again 🙂

-Mani Navasothy

Links

Wiccan Hierarchy of Covens

Coven Guide: Becoming an initiated Witch (e-book)

Introduction to Wicca, Witchcraft and Magic

Woodland Wicca Circles 2014 (London)

Hern’s Tribe

Tamesa – celebrating birthday of Isis 

 

Wicca Full Moon Rituals in London for 2013

Wicca & Witchcraft - Monthly Full Moon Rituals 2013 - London
Wicca & Witchcraft – Monthly Full Moon Rituals 2013 – London

Wiccan Full Moon Rituals in 2013.

If you have a strong interest in Wicca as a pagan religious path, and like to practise wiccan ritual & full moon magic in an outdoor setting, very much under the building energies of a full moon every month, then this is a great opportunity. These ritual gatherings will be outdoors in quiet parts of woods & parks we choose (mostly in north London). Our aim is to really connect with lunar energies, build trust with each other, and so do deeper magic.

The rituals will have a standard Wiccan form – mainly consecration and creation of sacred space (magic circle, elemental quarters), energy raising, meditative & invocative work with god & goddess, ritual magic and feasting. Our website will show the full ritual, and as we will use the same format each time (with only slight full moon variations), you can learn the fundamentals of practical Wicca quite easily – if you attend regularly. The presence of initiated Wiccans in these rituals will give you additional opportunities to build trust and so converse, discuss and learn more.

Because some of the Full moons coincide with few of the seasonal festivals, there will be 10 full moon rituals in total for this year (2013). Those interested in the seasonal festivals are welcome to attend our non-wiccan seasonal rituals (also in woods & parks).

Dates of the Full Moon/ rituals  (January-June 2013)

Full Moon  Ritual      –Saturday 26th January
Full Moon  Ritual      — Sunday 24th February
Spring Gathering & Earth Hour Ceremony – Sat 23rd March.

update (Aug’13) :   Please see website for all future dates :

http://www.witchcraftandmagic.org/html/full_moon_wicca_rituals.html

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 Those interested in Wiccan covens and Initiations can read `Coven Guide: Become an Initiated Witch’ – published by us.   Read about Coven Guide: Become an Initiated Witch

-Mani Navasothy

My Links

Wicca, witchcraft, Paganism & Magic 

 

 

In Wiccans we can Trust…or can we?

“Perfect Love…Perfect Trust..!”   Two passwords that every single Gardnerian or Alexandrian Wiccan initiate learns at the time of his or her first degree initiation!   And then, almost certainty, he or she forgets..well, almost!

The Pentacle – a Wiccan symbol
art ~Mani

Wicca is a neo-pagan religion, crafted using several strands of magical principles, traditions, beliefs and Witchcraft practices – by Gerald Gardner in the mid 1950’s, at a time the practice of Witchcraft was still illegal. (The Act was repealed in 1951). *Wicca is an initiatory tradition, in that a new member is `brought into the existing Coven of Witches (Wiccans)’  through the process of an initiation ceremony or ritual. At this Ceremony, the `Seeker’ (Postulant) is made to swear an oath of secrecy and loyalty – to keep the secrets of The Craft, and to also protect other Witches. In the back of the Book of Shadows, there are `Laws’ – many of which instruct the Witch on actions to take towards protecting his or her fellow Witches & the Coven.     *(I am not revealing anything here that has not already been written about by Witches, talked about in Festivals and Conferences, or debated in many an online forums!)

In modern times, experienced Wiccans often boast of the network of Wiccans, and the way initiated members of one coven may be accepted as guests in other covens – even far away- provided there as been the personal vouching for those members. It’s a kind of `trust currency’ that is used within such groups and networks.

And yet, from many a personal experiences, either my own, or by observations – I know that even Initiated Wiccans of related covens or branches of covens – don’t always practice this `Trust’ – even when they know that another person is `one of theirs’.

In recent history, there have been cases of people jumping to ill-conclusions,  judging another Wiccan without even bothering to investigate facts or giving the benefit of the doubt, or worse – condemning another Wiccan in public and cajoling other friends into a sort of colluded behavior that can be easily seen as bullying & harassing   It is simple  human decency and my own sense of ideals that prevents me mentioning names, and not some Wiccan secrecy oath.

There have been many debates online on this matter (facebook is full of it). Many are quick to say that we are all people..humans..and such behavior (mistrust, squabbles, in-fights) are all part of our human nature.

I disagree. I did not take such serious magical oaths, in the presence of my Gods & Goddesses and the powerful Elemental entities, and a coven of Witches- agreeing that my soul will be damned and the Curse of the Goddess may be upon me if I break these solemn oaths-  so that I can just throw away that oath when my `human nature’ asserts itself.

The Wiccan oath is not one of convenience, nor is it `an aspiration’ or  `just a guidance’ – to me. It’s a serious oath, one that goes deeply into my psyche, and entangles with my past, present and future lives! Yes, I have had in the past, and continue to have my `am only human’ moments. But at all times I have conducted myself with self-integrity and in line with the oaths I took.

But in a fast moving society —  when `internet covens’ do `internet rituals’,  cherished Wiccan Authors allow others to be harassed and vilified in their own `facebook profiles’,  other Wiccans suddenly seem to gain so much faith that the Goddess will protect and so they themselves need not interfere in any Wiccan-related unjust situations —   my `human side’ is fast growing stronger than my `Wiccan side’.  In the last few years, I have seen steadily increasing evidence of such Wiccan failings.  If Wiccan society has moved on so much with the times, then maybe it’s time I moved on too..  instead of holding on to some romantic notions & ideals of secrecy and protecting the fellow Witch!

It occurs to me..  perhaps we  need new `laws’ in Wiccan initiations?   or perhaps we just strike all such `conditional’ constructs out of The Books of Shadows?   What do you think?

Rules only have power, as long as the followers follow them and enforcers enforce them. As for Wiccan laws – well, I have yet to hear of some `personal psychic account’ that a Prophet of the Horned God Pan or a Messiah of the Moon Goddess came down from some mountain or rose from a Lake…to give us these `Laws’. What we use came from a Man! And man is..only human!!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and views..

-Mani Navasothy

ps. As we are moving towards `Halloween’ (Samhain) – traditionally seen as a very `witchy time’, I will be writing several thought-provoking blogs and articles on the subjects of Wicca,Witchcraft & Magic. be sure to subscribe or follow my blog to read more.  🙂

Visit my website Witchcraft & Magic

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)