Solitary or Coven?
Choosing What is Right for YOU
I thought that today I would discuss the topic of solitary versus coven. There seems to be much debate over this topic. Honestly, though, I think that it all boils down to what feels right for you. I will go over the disadvantages along with the advantages for both solitaries and covens. I will then leave the decision up to you.
I do want to point out one thing, however, that what is right for you now, may not always be true. Things change along with ideas and feelings. So once you do make a decision, don't feel that you have to stick with it forever.
Advantages of Being in a Coven
Being in a coven means that you have a safe haven surrounded by a spiritual family who is there to understand and nurture you. Being around people who have the same beliefs as you can be a wonderful thing, especially if you have a christian family who doesn't know about your beliefs. Beginners in a coven are generally assigned a mentor or teacher to supervise your magickal and spiritual growth. In a coven you have the opportunity to learn and grow from experienced people in a more structured and formal setting that many people find beneficial for them. You will have a course of study that you will be directed to follow with planned lessons along with various degrees of initiation that are set up by the coven. Many people will find that they will prefer this method instead of the self-study method, which can be very challenging and requires you to study, think, and experiment on your own time. You also have the greater energy involved in coven work to put into the spell work that is being done.
Disadvantages of Working in a Coven
Being in a coven requires a high level of commitment, not only on your part, but also on the part of everyone else in the coven. There are many things to think about and consider while in a coven. The coven members may be set in their ways and may not be willing to make any accommodations based upon your needs and goals. When working in a coven you are also restricted to a specific pantheon, spells, and rituals that have been previously decided on and you may not be able to experiment outside of the coven (make sure that you read the contract thoroughly before signing it). You also have to be prepared to expect that all of the rituals will be scheduled in advance so that all members are available to attend. Then you also have to consider the fact that when any group of people come together that there are numerous relationships involved. So it stands to reason that there is always the possibility of problems arising from gossip and conflict.
Advantages of Being a Solitary Pratitioner
Working on your own gives you the freedom to not only explore all areas of your spirituality, but also to make your own rules and be able to follow your own set of ethics. You are free to find your own way, discover your own set of truths, and are free to make your own mistakes and be able to learn and grow from them at your own pace. You have the time and freedom to discover your own path to inner strength and individuality. You have the ability to worship when it is convenient for you and, in addition, the ability to give your rituals your own personal touch. This is also convenient if you want to work skyclad but are uncomfortable doing it in a group setting. You also have the option of joining open circles just for sabbats and/or esbats and don't have to feel the pressure of being under any obligation. There are also people that feel that their spirituality is a personal matter and are uncomfortable sharing it with others. This is also fitting for people that just cannot work well with others, or find that a fixed set of rules and obligations to a coven to be stifling.
It used to be that being a solitary meant working and being alone a lot of the time. With the growth of the internet, however, this is no longer the case. There are many groups out there where you can chat online with others that have the same beliefs as you do. There are also more groups coming together that have varied paths but all follow some type of pagan path and like to come together to share their ideas, thoughts, and feelings in a friendly atmosphere.
Disadvantages of Working as a Solitary
With the growth of the internet, there isn't as many disadvantages to being a solitary practitioner as there used to be. There are still, however, a few disadvantages to be found. While there are many books out there on the various subjects of Paganism/Witchcraft/Wicca you are still limited by the type and quality of knowledge that you receive. In addition, you have to realize that everything that you read in a book or on a website may not necessarily be true. You will have to read things though and think about them and decide on your own whether what you read is really true or not. There are also some things that you just cannot learn from books or find on the internet. Many covens are bound by an oath to not speak about what they have heard, seen, or learned within their coven. By working by yourself, you do not have a mentor or teacher to assist you with your growing and learning both magickally and spiritually. You have to have the strength and willpower to be able to teach yourself what you need to know. Many people are unable to do this by themselves. Working by yourself during a ritual limits the amount of energy that can be put into your spell work as compared to the energy that can be raised by a group of people.
Make an Intelligent Decision
Now that I have pointed out some of the advantages and disadvantages of both, it is up to you to decide which is right for you. Don't feel that you have to rush into a decision either way. Take your time and make your decision intelligently. If you do decide to join a coven, please make sure that you read the contract thoroughly so that you don't find yourself surprised at a later date. One last thing to remember is that your spirituality is your own and that you have to walk the path that feels right for you.