The pro’s, con’s and possible dangers of joining a coven and other organizations set up by witches for prospective Pagan or New Age members can be difficult to evaluate when you have no idea what to expect; even if you do, there is no guarantee that it will be like what someone told you it would be. There are questions you need to ask yourself before entering a world structured by others whom give you rules to follow and whom will direct you. However you must never surrender your will or feel indoctrinated. You must be able to leave whenever you want if need be and be welcomed back with open arms.
If you decide that you have found a coven of witches that you have a connection with, you must not be late for meetings and always turn up for festivals and other dates discussed; unless there is a very good reason – certain etiquette and rules should be remembered. Time and commitment are important factors to take in to account when considering joining a coven. Joining a coven should be like joining a team because you will be weaving magick together and working together on projects. There will be revelry and fun but also serious and sombre times enjoyed together through celebration and work. Although coven structure greatly varies depending on what pantheon, if any, they follow.
You should expect to find like-minded people and enjoy a family energy. There should be a High Priest and Priestess (or the equivalent) who will gently guide you every step of the way down your own magickal path. There will be a constant progress of work developing that is written in the form of your own personal book of shadows and coven book of shadows. You should be constantly learning new things and remembering things you have already learnt when using your knowledge practically and putting your skills to the test. Some covens teach by the degree system, particularly in traditional Wicca, although other eclectic pagan covens may follow their own system. Following this system the covener is awarded one of three degrees over three to several years.
There will also usually be an initiation which will vary, when and how they are conducted depending on the coven. There may be other initiations at different levels, they should all involve a reading or rite and certainly nothing you would not already be aware of or unhappy with. Now a new initiate, your coven leaders will expect you to practice and study the craft and meditate much. You should always feel valued as a coven member and get a fulfilled feeling from helping other members by sharing your knowledge or experiences. You must feel that you are spiritually advancing by always honouring the God and the Goddess. You may be asked to invest in robes, books and tools – these can be purchased at your favourite online Pagan shop or your nearest New Age market stall.
All covens, circles and organizations are uniquely different and will possess positive and negative traits. The bottom line is: trust your instincts. Don’t ever sign a contract which you haven’t fully read, hand over any money (unless everyone gives a regular donation, agreed by all members), meet them for the first time at their house, smoke, drink or eat anything handed to you without knowing what’s in it (although paranoia should not be incited), think that you or the group are under attack from “enemies”, feel pressured to perform rites skyclad, or pressured into sexual favours. Although this is uncommon, it has been known for New Agers and naive Pagans to wonder blindly into the hands of a wicked group of people.
A good and balanced group of people to be in a coven with will consist of males and female who are knowledgeable, grounded, humorous, friendly, warm, spiritually aware, open and honest. Good teachers will have been pagans for some time and be experienced in the art of witchcraft. They will be upfront and tell you what the coven expects of its members and ask what you wish to gain from entering. Lastly, a coven should help to shape you but never seek to bend you to their way of thinking if you do not agree or wish to participate in something (it’s ok to disagree with them from time to time), there’s a lot of semantics after all.