Copyright © 2003 by Marion Weinstein
A coven consists of thirteen or fewer members whose harmonies work well together. My preference is that the group be guided solely by perfect love and perfect trust. I believe this is so powerful that no rules, obligations, by-laws, or guidelines, other than this, are necessary.
I also believe that there are no proscribed ways for a coven of this tradition to be formed, except by mutual consent. New members may be brought in if everyone agrees to this. Although many Witches may prefer formal initiation, I believe that none is necessary. However, the new member should be provided with reading material and ample explanations of the work. Not every coven contains a High Priestess and/or High Priest, but if either one exists in a group, some may hold elections, take turns, or spontaneously agree on the choices. Children of members may participate according to their free will only, with no coercion. (“Oh Mom, do I have to do magic again, tonight?”)
If you do not have a coven, and you wish to become part of one, you may send out a Coven Call to draw the right coven to you, or to manifest the perfect one. Use your Inner Bell to determine whether you want to form a new coven or to become part of an already existing one. Do not specify exactly which coven—if such already exists—as that would be manipulative, of course. Just describe the type of coven you want, adding “its equivalent or better.” State your Alignment chants first, and then send out the Call for “the most perfect coven members and other Witches to work with in a perfect exchange of Perfect Love and Perfect Mutual Trust, understanding, and Positive work.” Do this during the New Moon, the Waxing Moon, the Full Moon—or all three. As in most work, you may use all five candles and your athame.
When a new coven is formed, it should be blessed by all the members. Existing covens may renew the blessing at each meeting.
With Goddess and God working for and through us all,
As I am Priestess of (name Deity),
(each Witch states primary alignment)
We are all our Goddesses Incarnate,
We are all perfectly Aligned with our Gods,
We are all Gods/Incarnate,
We are all perfectly Aligned with our Goddesses,
We are Witches of all our Goddesses and Gods.
We hereby bless our coven
And dedicate ourselves as a group and individually
To the work of Positive Magic and Positive Witchcraft only
According to Free Will
And for the Good of All
And so mote it be.
The coven meets on the holidays (the Eight Sabbats), to celebrate and to work, and any other time that all the members choose to meet. Meetings may take place at the home of a member, at the homes of all or several members, or at outdoor sites agreeable to all—or any other place that is private, feels right, and is convenient for all members. Coven members who cannot attend are mentioned, along with their requests, as part of the work and a place in the Circle may be set aside for them.
There is no required attendance. The group as a whole decides when and where it will meet. It is, in my opinion, best to meet at night on each holiday, not during that week. But again, this is up to the coven’s discretion, taking into consideration other obligations, and how many members are able to attend. Time and space become flexible with this work. There is no judgment on those who cannot attend—all you have to do is set the approximate time for the work to begin and invite the absent members to “plug in” mentally. Some groups work over the Internet or by phone.
If, over a linear time period, any members drift away from the group, this is a natural process and usually has mutual consent, with no blame or guilt. If, however, any personal problems between any members arise, the matter should be blessed by the entire group for peaceful and loving resolution, to Turn It To Good (unless the involved members wish to handle it by themselves). Personal philosophy, styles of work, or individual harmonies may sometimes cause a coven to split into two separate ones. Ideally, there is no rivalry between members or covens, and there is certainly no slander or gossip.
The coven as a whole decides what to do about the attendance of outsiders. Secrecy was once essential to Witchcraft for obvious reasons of safety, but times have changed immeasurably for the better. For this we give thanks. However, as a general guiding principle, it is still best not to have non-Witches present at the Sabbats. In some covens, an exception is made in the case of spouses or close loved ones. In general, it is a better idea instead to hold Esbats at specific times—such as on the Full, or New Moon—and use these times to include such outsiders. There are always exceptions, but when outsiders are present, their lack of belief and/or understanding could interfere with the work. It cannot stop or negate the work, but it could slow it down in linear time, or act as an inhibiting influence.
It is generally the responsibility of the High Priestess or High Priest to arrange each meeting, to call the members, and either bring the tools or to designate someone to do so.
A classic of practical magic that presents witchcraft as a life-affirming spiritual path—from one of the grand dames of witchcraft.
Marion Weinstein was one of the founders of modern-day witchcraft. Personal Magic is her book of shadows, what they used to call a grimoire or book of spells. It presents her personal approach to witchcraft, what she learned over her many decades of practicing magic:
-How to invoke the deities or spirit powers, the gods and goddesses that inhabit our world
-The pagan holidays—what they mean and how to honor them
-Working with moon power throughout its phases
-The witch’s toolkit of spells and rituals for contacting one’s ancestors, seeking protection from malevolent forces, and practicing advanced manifestation
-An exploration of the principles of self-realization through witchcraft
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