If you decide that you wish to join or begin a group of practicing witches, there are a few things you should know about different kinds of groups before you enter into something permanent.
To begin with, you should understand the meaning of the terms:
Coven – Covens are generally groups of practicing witches or Wiccans. They usually have names that signify the beliefs, members, or surroundings such as “Coven of the Goddess” or “Coven of the Triple Moon.”
Grove – Groves are generally understood to be groups of Druids. Groves are usually named after sacred places and objects such as “Grove of the Ancient Forest” or “Grove of the Old Oak.” You will find that many grove names take after things that are sacred to Druids, namely trees and rocks.
Circle – The term “circle” is a fairly generic term that can be applied to any type of Pagan group. Examples of circle names are “Circle of the Willow Moon” or “Circle of the Great Goddess.”
Temple – This term is used to describe pagan “churches”: “The Temple of Light,” “The Temple of the Sacred Oak,” etc. This term is also very generic and can be used for any religion.
Most do not begin their groups by creating a coven right away. The best course of action is to begin by joining an existing group. The only good way to learn how to run a group (or learn much at all for that matter) is to join a group that is already well-established. After you have been with the group a while, you can decide whether you should go your own way or remain a family member within your group.
Unfortunately, it is not always possible for everyone to find a group in their area. In some cases it is essential to begin with a study group. If your group decides later that you wish to expand, add new members or go your separate ways, there are no ties holding you back.
Groups should stay small. Two to five people is a good size for a beginning group. You can always add more members if anyone wants to join. For starters, everyone should be on the same level, meaning that you should be reading the same books. Choose a book based on the level at which you are all learning. You may decide that you wish to read one book each month or so. Choose a good beginner book such as Raymond Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft.
If you are beginning a group, you will also need a place to meet. Some groups meet indoors at the home of a member, but most choose to meet outdoors in a place where they feel comfortable and can commute with nature. Public parks are a perfect place. Everyone can lie in the grass or on blankets and get comfortable. If it rains, most parks have a covered picnic area where you can sit and continue your meeting. Areas with water and/or trees are particularly nice.
Next, you will have to decide when you will meet. Most groups meet once a month on the Esbats. Esbats are dates that fall on the full or new moon. This may not be easy for everyone’s schedule, however, so you might choose to meet, say, the first Saturday of every month. Try to keep the meeting time the same every time so that no one gets confused or forgets. Also, be sure that everyone copies down everyone else’s phone number and e-mail address so that you can get in contact with each other if there is a change or cancellation in plans or if someone cannot make it.
Most importantly, you will need to decide what will happen at each meeting. No one will want to come if everyone just sits around no knowing what to do. Here is a list of some things you might want to do to get started:
- A good practice when gathering is to have everyone bring something to eat. Each person should bring something different. For example, one person should bring drinks, one person should bring a bag of chips, one person should bring a dessert, and another person can be in charge of sandwiches. I like making turkey sandwiches with lettuce and ranch dressing, cut into quarter triangles with the crust cut off. Everyone loves these little club sandwiches.
- Decide what everyone should read before the meeting. At the next meeting, you can all discuss what you read. If you like, you can have each person find an article in a book or on the internet and bring in copies for everyone. You can even punch holes in the sides so that everyone can keep them in their own group book of shadows.
- For each meeting, have each person find and bring an article or poem about witchcraft. The person should read the article alout to the group and the others can take notes if they wish. Pass out a copy to each person so that everyone will have a copy to keep in their book of shadows.
- If you like, you can begin and/or end each session with a group prayer or a spell. Rituals and practicing rituals are important parts of coven meetings, so you may wish to practice them in regular group meetings.
- You may wish to incorporate crafts or games in your meetings, especially if it is a holiday. Some activities are perfect for group meetings such as pumpkin carving at Samhain or gift exchanging at Yule.
- Appropriate different tasks and hand them out randomly. For one month, one person will have a certain job and for another month, someone else will have it. Rotate jobs so that everyone will have a chance at each. Some example jobs would be: the leader (decides what will happen and when), secretary (writes down all activities done at the meeting), etc.
Originally written by Amber S.