To be or not to be…in a Coven

I thought that this entry was going to be about how people can lie and deceive, even those that you would never expect to. I was going to write about a coven experience of mine that made me want to return to solitary practice as a Witch and to not involve myself with any one else spiritually, to protect myself. The tears that came when it all settled in were a thing I thought I would never have to shed. But, I have and there is nothing that can be done about it.

 So, instead, I would like to write about what it is really like to be in a coven and give some advice on how to find one for yourself, from my point of view.

Yes, my view is limited; I am only one person. My view may be a little naïve because I have good expectations when I go into most situations. Everyone else who has ever been in a coven, down to the very last person, will have a different story because they each have a different point of view as to how they were (or are) affected by their own ‘coven experience’. I ask you, then, to take these writings as the picture as it is seen  from one Witch’s window. I see it from a slightly different angle than others might see it. I see it colored by my own pain or pride or frame of reference and I ask that you keep this in mind.

Also, before you form an opinion about how it is, I would also ask that you form an opinion about how it should be, at the best of times and how it could be at the worst of times and realize that the truth is somewhere in the middle (a little tribute to my wise husband).

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Covens are made up of people. As much as we would like to think that we can find a ‘soul mate’ or a best friend that is just like us within a coven, it simply isn’t possible, most of the time. It is important too keep in mind that everyone is different, be it a big or small difference. We each view the world through our own lens and, based on our own frame of reference, form opinions about the world. Covens have growing pains and stagnant periods.

Covens usually make up a set of rules to help govern how the coven members will deal with issues that come up and to protect each other and the coven as an entity. The goal of these rules is to try to cover every possible scenario and to provide a fair forum for hearing each issue and for dealing with each difficulty and for keeping certain things secret or out of public knowledge. Obviously, every possible scenario can not be covered in these rules because there are an infinite amount of them, literally. But, each coven tries to do the very best it can.

Covens sometimes appoint people to sit on a council and to act as the ‘wisdom’ of the coven, to act on behalf of the coven in any situation and to try to seek out the wisest and best course of action for any given issue and to stand by it. It takes strength and wisdom and patience.

Covens create sacred space together and work within this space to create clear avenues to goals and to spiritual growth. This sacred space is, ideally, entered into in love and trust. (On a side note; it is traditionally supposed to be ‘perfect’ love and trust. But, that ‘perfect’ is a concept that we use to try to bring our standards of love and trust up to the very best of our abilities. Our goal is perfect love and trust, yes. But, realizing that nothing is ever really perfect for everyone, all the time, we understand that it is something to work for. So, this perfect love and trust is something we speak to put ourselves in that frame of mind where we are worthy of perfect love and trust, as well as sending out our most perfect version of love and trust to those involved). 

Back to the topic of Sacred Space; it is a place between this world of form and the world of the unseen where our spiritual bodies rise to the surface, so to speak. Within this sphere of light and protection, we conjure, we affirm, we heal and chant and create change. Who knows, we may even lift ourselves out of one universe into a parallel universe to create the change we seek. We open ourselves to the Universe and the love that the Universe has to offer. We seek our own truth and growth.

Coven members teach each other and learn from each other, knowing that each member has a different base of knowledge that comes from our life experiences; our Journey. We realize that our journey of acquiring knowledge is ongoing, life-long, eternal. I believe that persons are involved in covens because their paths have been (or are) meant to cross and they have certain things to learn from each other and to teach.

Coven members care for each other. We drive each other to the store and help each other move or with homework. We lend a shoulder to cry on, if that is what’s needed. Or we stand up and confront those who we feel have wronged us, even if it is within the coven itself. But, we strive to do it from a place of love and of wisdom. This is also a part of teaching and learning.

Sometimes, things happen within a coven that hurt us. Those things are part of a learning process. They could be a lesson in learning not to ignore our ‘red flag’ that pops up when someone is not being honest or is telling us a fabrication. They could be a lesson in patience or in devotion. And, on occasion, they could be lessons in knowing when to stand up for yourself and not back down when you know something is wrong. None of these lessons is easy. But, no one I know of ever said this Path would be easy. On the contrary, I have been told repeatedly that this is a very difficult Path and my own experience confirms this.

So, what does one do?

Do you join any coven just because you were invited? I would council against that course of action.

Do you join because you are a good friend of a member? Again, be careful there, too.

Do you join after careful meditation and a process of listening to your inner voice and to the Goddess and God? Yes. This, more than any other course of action is, I believe, the wisest way to approach the inclusion, the joining.

Do we all use this course of action?

Nope.

When I joined my first coven, I had to fill out an application. It was a few pages long and asked some basic questions. I answered each the best that I could and took my time doing it. It was more important to me to be complete in my answers than to be included in the coven. I was more interested in representing myself correctly than in rushing to join the coven. Even though I was very young in terms of being on the Path, I did not want to join the coven just to join a coven. I knew that it would be wise to be honest. And it turned out that I was right because the experiences I had in that first coven were amazing, life-changing and set my feet upon the correct path for me. These events were my proof and validation that I was in the correct coven for me and taking my time to write the most honest answers that I could was the right thing to do because it was a way to show the rest of the coven who and what I was.

In places along the way since then, I intermittently forgot about letting things happen as they should. No, it is not my habit to do so. But, being on this spiritual journey for around thirty years sometimes has disadvantages. I forgot to look at things as if they were new to me, with the awe of a child. That connection to my inner child is a very important part in the choosing of a coven for me and I forgot to rely on that a time or two. This proved to be a disservice to myself.

I want to say to you now, dear reader, that I advise against rushing into being in a coven because you want to be included. Don’t jump in and forget to look at where you are and to ‘feel’ who you are with. Explore each person before the decision is made. If you have any ‘red flag’ issues or any misgivings, meditate upon them. Delve into WHY you have these feelings and really pay attention to the thoughts you have and the answers the Universe gives you. If you have good feelings, look inside your self and ask what these feelings are based on. Listen to your heart and your mind. Listen the voice of the Goddess when She speaks to you in your dreams and thoughts, in meditation or through another person.

Do not join a coven and think that nothing will ever go wrong just because you are involved with a group of spiritual people who also listen to and worship the Divine in the form of the Goddess and God; Things go wrong sometimes.

Just because you find a coven that is looking for members does not mean that it is the right coven for YOU. Be careful who you work with and lend your energy to; not everyone is who they seem to be on the surface.

 Protect yourself, be wise, be awake and aware. Don’t think for one minute that everyone is as good as you hope they are because the fact is that we are all human. Sometimes, we make mistakes and accidents happen. And, sadly, sometimes those who we trust are those who deceive us and we are led along under a cloak of deception and we fail to heed the warnings that our heart screams at us. Listen to those warnings!

 

You might do well to make a general checklist for yourself of things that you should look for that tell you what is right or wrong for YOU. Or you might have a mental list of things that you look for. Another way to feel things out is to employ the ‘red flag’ technique. By this, I mean that you should really listen to people when they talk and if you have ANY type of warning or any feeling in your heart or gut, that they are not saying the truth about even simple things, you should consider exploring whether they are truly honest in their dealings with others, spiritual or not.

Conduct an internet search to find out more about a person involved in a coven or the coven as a whole. If the person or group has been in the public eye (provided the coven has been around for a period of time) or have been involved with groups, there will be some kind of clues about how they operate, even if those clues are between the lines.

Ask others who know them, keeping in mind that everyone will have a slightly different experience with each given person or coven. That is only natural and just the way us humans do things. If anything comes up that gives you pause or makes your ‘red flag’ come out, then back away and really think about joining the group.

If others have previously been involved with the coven in question, go to them and ask them about their experiences within the coven. Again, keep in mind that their experiences are subjective. But, if there is more than one person, you should be able to get a more complete picture of the truth.

Lastly, please, please, DO NOT join a coven because you feel a pressing need to join because you think they are the only coven around. It is likely that they are not the only one around. They are probably simply just the only one you know about. It’s happened to me. Search around. Put out a psychic ‘Coven Call’ and state your wishes to the Universe. You could even write your coven requirements on a piece of paper and incorporate that into a magickal working to find the correct coven.

My point is to do the homework, before hand.

 

I hope that this blog entry has been enlightening. It is my hope that this is a help to at least one person. And, I hope that any person this blog entry does help will keep in mind that this is only my point of view, my story, my thoughts. Your decision is up to you, of course. My wish is for you to make an educated decision.

 

May the light and blessings of the Goddess be with you on your Path. 

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STARVING ARTIST

 

Yes, I am an Artist.

 I have been inclined to create since I was very young. I grew up in a home where I was surrounded by creativity and the wonderful smell of turpentine and paint. Two of my four older brothers were artistic and the other two were more inclined to music. My two older sisters were both artistic. One obtained a degree to be an interior decorator and the other produced wonderful pieces of Art in high school (I am from a large family. There are eight of us siblings). My little sister, who is only 14 months younger than I, would draw the most adorable cartoon-like pictures in high school. As for me, I was into everything from crayons to clay and pencils.

I think I drew my first serious picture when I was about three. It was in crayon. It was of a horse and had those square hooves that kids always draw onto horses before they really see what they look like. The sky, however, covered the expanse of the page where the ground ended. It was not the small band of blue that lots of kids put into their crayon pictures, at the top, to represent the sky. I remember my teacher commenting on the way that I colored in the sky. I think I was nine at this time.

From there, things progressed. I learned to oil paint at about 13. My mother, who was an incredible artist, taught me and at 16 I produced a night-time, moonlit seascape that was so realistic, even I was surprised.

When I started college, my aspirations leaned more toward nutrition, since I had successfully lost over 70 pounds and kept it off. But, when I found Psychology, all of that changed. While I was taking, and passing each Psychology class with flying colors, I was working in a work-study program at the 2-year college I was attending. During this time, I would draw in class to help myself study. The act of drawing was therapeutic and relaxing and it helped me remember, as strange as it sounds.

My Art was noticed by many people, including the woman who was my boss and ran the bookstore where I worked for my work-study program. She asked me to draw a few pictures of what the bookstore might look like after some proposed improvements. I was paid for my work, a thing unheard of since I sold a unicorn bust to my Art teacher in high school (I was 14 at the time of the sale of that clay figure). She suggested that I change my major because I was wasting my talent.

A couple of years later, I did. By that time, I had moved and was attending a different 2-year college in Show Low, Arizona. The town is small, in comparison to the towns and cities that I had lived in for the first part of my life. Soon, many people knew me by name and people were recognizing my Art. I was fairly bursting with creativity and gratitude.

I began to sell my Art, paintings and drawings, and could now call myself a professional artist.

But, during all of this, I discovered why Artists frequently call themselves ‘starving Artists’.

In this world, which has continued to grow smaller right before my eyes from the time I was younger until now, there are so many truly talented people. So many of the Artists in this world have started out with money or have been able to attend schools of Art. So many live in places where they are near an Art community or where there are galleries and they can afford to display their Art (it isn’t free to hang your art at a gallery). And, then there are those who don’t come from a place of financial ease or from an Art school or who are not able to present their Art to the public through a gallery forum. I have found that those less fortunate people make up the majority of the people who are Artists (notice I did not say ‘those who call themselves Artists’).

These who have not been noticed, who do not have the money to attend a specialized Art school or who do not have the financial means to display their Art to the public still create their works, tucked into a corner of the kitchen or the garage or basement. We continue to paint or draw or assemble small parts of our souls in a form that everyone can see. We still give form to our dreamstates in whatever way suits us because we can do nothing other.

When I create, it is like therapy. I am able to say things, out loud, in the form of a work of Art, that I am not able to give voice to in any other way. I am giving my deepest thoughts a shape. I am creating a window into my soul, each canvas or paper a pane through which any person may look to see what goes on beneath the surface. It is a sublime, raging current of spirit that anyone can view.

I am often asked, “What is this? What does it mean?”

And I answer that my Art is what you see. It means whatever you want it to mean. I don’t define it to people because I want to hear what people see in my work. I learn from what others say. I learn what type of a frame of reference each person uses and take great pleasure in peeking into their soul, by way of their spoken word about what I have created. It is as if our dreams meet on the canvas of my painting.

When I paint or draw, I don’t do it to sell. I do it because, as a friend of mine once said, ‘I can’t NOT do it’. I paint or draw because it feeds my soul; it calms me and takes me to another place. I meditate while I am creating, as strange as that may seem, and commune with my Spirit Guides and the Goddess and God and my Muse. I hear the voices in the wind. I have one foot in my dreams and one foot in the waking world and I bring that dreaming part of my consciousness to life with color or with shadow and highlight.

I do not consider myself to be a ‘starving’ Artist, even though I do not often sell Art and could not pay my bills with the income from it. As contradictory as that sounds, it is true. You might wonder how I can see myself as anything but a ‘starving’ Artist, since I do not make a living at what I do the most and what I most love to do. I will tell you, in case you have not figured it out yet.

 

It is because, in my soul, I do not have an emptiness. There is no hole that I need to fill with….something…anything. I have this thing called Art that I use, that is a state of being in which I sometimes live. It makes me whole within myself. Creating Art, even if it is never seen by the world, makes me rich with color and image. It gives me a chance to speak without speaking and to sing without singing, to dance on the ether. Because of my Art and the ability to communicate with it, to paint my dreams and thoughts, I am complete. I do not hunger for an outlet or a venue in which to present myself to the world because even if the world does not see these pieces of my soul, I have still spoken and have fed that part of myself that must create.

 

I am not starving.