Before we talk about finding a coven, let us talk about covens in general. Traditionally, a coven consists of thirteen people. If you talk to some people you will be told that there should be a balance of men and women. This means that there will be six couples and the thirteenth will be the High Priestess. These couples will often be married, but could be engaged, dating or just close friends. In most cases it is important that these couples be close, since they are considered woking partnerships.
Other covens pair the High Priestess with a High Priest. Often there are unpaired people in the group too. This is the type of coven we are. We, like some covens, will do what feels right as far as coven membership goes. If we have working pairs, this is great. If someone fits well with our personalities and energies, we'll accept them without a working partner. We have no firm rules on numbers, maximums, etc. Some covens feel right having only one gender, such as Dianic Witches. There are no hard and fast rules.
Membership in a coven should not be taken lightly by either side. Good covens are closer knit than many families. Your acceptance is far from guaranteed, regardless of how good a person or witch you are. If this was a dating type relationship, we might refer to this as chemistry. This is why covens don't advertise publicly for new members. Don't expect to become a full member in a short period of time, even if you are right for the group. Decisions about who can join are up to every covener. In most groups it takes just the objection of one member to keep out a new prospect. These decisions usually aren't made until time has been allowed to get to know the new prospect.
Next we will talk about finding a coven in your area. The first step is to find a witch who is a member of one. The only way that this will happen is by networking. Try some of the web pages that have this feature, such as 'The Pagan Webweaving Page' or 'The Witches Voice. (See our Suggested Links page.) These pages have posted messages, usually organized by states and towns, from pagans and witches looking to correspond, and/or meet, others in their area. (Please remember that these are basically not dating services, so conduct yourself accordingly.) You can read the postings of others, and reply to them. To increase your chances of meeting other witches, you should post your own. If you have concerns about others in your household reading this type of e-mail, get a private e-mail account on the internet from Yahoo, Hotmail or one of the many others. Many of these accounts are even free. After corresponding for a period of time, you may end up deciding to meet someone in person, who you met on the internet. Don't be pushy about this since many that are posted, only desire to be e-mail friends. If you do wind up planning to meet someone you've met on the net, or you are just concerned with protecting your identity from some people, click here to get some security tips. Be careful meeting someone for the first time that you met on the net.
Another thing you can do to increase your chances of meeting witches is to attend festivals and other events. Wander through our Suggested Links page and visit some sites. Sites, like 'The Witches' Voice' and 'Circle Sanctuary', often post upcoming festivals and events. Don't limit attendance to just festivals. Try attending psychic fairs, open circles, or anything else in your area. Another source for these events is your local pagan or new age shop/bookstore. Drop by regularly to inquire about these. Let the owner know that you are looking for a coven in the area to study with. They, or one of their customers, may be the person you are looking to hook up with. The idea here is exposure. I'm not talking about at work, school or home. I'm talking about places that are frequented by witches. Also remember that pagan periodicals often have personals in the back for networking purposes.
While you are waiting to meet someone, learn all you can about Witchcraft. If it begins to feel right to you, begin your practice in the Craft as a solitary witch. Read the books in our Suggested Reading List to learn how. Many people practice Witchcraft alone for years prior to finding a coven. When you meet a coven, the extra study will be to your advantage. It will also show that you are more than just idly curious. Be careful of over doing it though. Don't brag or show off your knowledge. Most covens keep a low profile and they may avoid someone who is loud and boisterous. You will go farther with being humble. Remember that they are probably the experts. That is why you sought them out anyway.
After you have found a coven, be careful. Not all covens are good ones. Beware of any of the following situations:
I'm going to talk a little bit about sex now. There are never any requirements for you to do anything sexual in order to join a coven. This should not be confused with a couple of other practices however. Some covens work skyclad, which means covered with nothing but the sky. In other words, they perform their rituals naked. This isn't done for sexual reasons though. Those that work that way believe it to be more natural and less inhibitive to the flow of energy. Many covens, including ours, do not work skyclad, but work wearing robes. Another thing that is a part of normal Witchcraft rituals are the embrace and kiss. These are performed as people enter the Circle, when some items are passed around, and during other special parts. Since we have a sibling type relationship with our fellow coven members, it is in that spirit that these embraces and kisses are performed. Sometimes when you are working skyclad, someone may anoint you with oil or something. This should also be non-sexual. These practices, working skyclad, anointing and embracing, are acceptable and not sexual in nature. If they go further, it is now getting sexual.
There are some sexual rites in witchcraft, but they are not required of anyone. They are optional and only performed by couples for whom sex is a normal part of their relationship. They are also restricted to people who have had some considerable experience in the Craft. It is never performed in front of anyone else. It remains private and only between the two individuals concerned. Stay away from any groups who try to coerce you into doing something sexual. Be wary of anyone who seems to be manipulating you into a compromising position. You should not need to be seduced or violated in order to join a coven or become a witch.Other little things can be done to enhance your chances of finding the right people. If you have been studying witchcraft for a while, why not perform a spell. This could be done as sort of a magick beacon to draw others of like mind to you. You can also wear some jewelry to hint that you may be a witch. You could wear crescent moon earrings or a Celtic pentagram. Celtic pentagrams are done with Celtic knots and do not seem to be pentagrams, unless you look closely. If you can be a little more open about your beliefs, try wearing a small pentagram outside of your clothing. Whatever you wear, don't over do it. I tend to shy away from people who loudly advertise, since often they are only attention-getters. The last thing many of us want is attention. If I see something subtle, I will often strike up a conversation and steer it to the subject of a holiday such as Halloween or Christmas. A discussion about pre- Christian beliefs, leading up to the eight Solar Festivals, is natural. By the time the conversation gets there, I usually know if the person is a fellow witch. If you can't strike up a conversation, try a greeting like "Merry meet." Many witches use this to greet each other, but those outside of the Craft won't understand. The will just look a little puzzled at you choice of words.