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Covens, Groups & Partnerships

Working magick, spells and rituals of celebrations can be wonderful and powerful or filled with pain and resentment.It is easy to avoid some of the common problems encountered when working with others in a group, such as a partnership, trio or coven.  Of course you will come across your own challenges in each coven, but this article will help you stay away from the big rocks in your path.

Your partner or coven is your family, but as a Witch, you do get to decide who your family is!  This page reviews some of the frequent problems you may encounter when working with others.  The first part of this page has a few tips for working in covens, the second part of this page covers some of the obstacles for working partnerships and teacher/student relationships.

Coven and Group Dynamics:

The traditional coven of thirteen members may need to be updated or downscaled.  Common problems in many circles are infighting, gossip, back stabbing and the like, or in the most extreme, Magickal Wars..  To lessen, or even prevent these situations, incorporate the latest research in group dynamics into your coven.

It has been proven that groups with a maximum membership of seven to eleven people will work together more closely, with fewer sub-groups forming.  Sub-groups can cause broken links in communication, as well as jealousy among members who are not in those "cliques".

The study of group dynamics can be essential to a balanced and working coven. If you are considering joining a coven, or if you are already a part of one, check out the links and books in the References & Resources section at the end of this article. 

Problems can also appear when two coven members begin working closely with each other (see the "Partnership Dynamics" section below).  The problems associated with this situation can be lessened with feedback discussion groups. Schedule regular sessions with all coven members so they can report their latest workings (not necessarily private individual workings, usually only partnership workings).

It is necessary to know where the coven's energy is going, and these sessions should help.  The sessions will also help the partners improve their workings, and give other members new ideas.  A good side effect is that any partner who is getting out of line with their ego or control issues will be kept in check by having to share what they've been up to.  Try to promote a feeling of oneness with all coven members at these sessions.  A good way to do this is to write down a summary of the outer-coven workings in the Book of Shadows (if one is kept).

Below are some some questions from PaganPath Members:

Member:
I am a male but the coven I'm considering joining is totally comprised of females, is this okay? What kinds of problems will this cause?

Friday:
If everyone is in agreement of your membership, and communication remains open, there shouldn't be any problems. Read the tips on this page and remember that you are very strong and secure with your identity to consider joining this coven.  Congratulations!

Member:
My partner and I have been in the same coven but are now separated/divorced/broken up.  How do I deal with the anger and pain?

Friday:
I can certainly understand the difficulties that this situation would evoke!  Your anger and confusion may be mundane, but it is natural!  Don't stay in an overly stressful situation because you think that an "ascended" person wouldn't have any problems and because it is supposed to teach you something.  Sometimes what you are learning is how to be true to yourself.

Here is something that might help.  Ask yourself what the coven really means to you.  Write it down if this helps in your analysis.  Be honest with your answers as you are the only one who ever needs to see them.

These questions may get you started, but keep going from there...

  • Does the coven provide emotional support under any or all circumstances?  Is that important to you?
  • Are you able to really focus on magickal workings and spiritual development with your X around you at this time?  Or do you need some time away?
  • Is the coven boosting your self esteem?  or boosting egos, yours and/or others.
  • What kind of growth has occurred because of your involvement with the coven. . . this includes growth within you, in others, and the community at large. . . what kind of growth can you foresee in the near future if things continue as they have been. . . what kind of growth can you foresee in the more distant future?

Basically it boils down to this. . .

  • If you are still having your needs met by the coven (any needs that you wish. . . social, spiritual, etc. ) and are still contributing to the coven in some way to keep an equally balanced exchange of energy,
  • and if you feel that if something happened to any of the members, you would help them in every way that you could, and if anything happened to you they would go all out to help you (not just magickally),
  • and these exchanges would be without any expectations of returned favors, would be without members sapping energy or using one another, without members trying to change you or force you into even worse situations, then stay!
  • If not, consider moving on.  That sounds really brutal, but why spend your time, energy and psyche contributing to a situation that does not follow the perfect love and perfect trust needs of a coven?  Your coven is your family, but as a Witch, you do get to decide who your family is!
Ok, there's my 2 cents worth, you can take this with a grain of salt, it is only one opinion, but I hope it helps.

Partnership dynamics:

All too often we hear these words, "Help, I'm falling in love with my magickal partner. . . how did this happen. . . what do I do?"  Why does this happen with such frequency?  The answers are many depending on the people involved and the situations that arise, but here are a few suggestions that will help to guard against major mishaps when working with a partner or teacher.

Before you commit to working with a partner, teacher or mentor: 

When you decide to work closely with a person in magick or any other aspect of the Craft, consider all the ramifications:

  • You will be creating a bond between yourselves that is not easily broken.  This connection may encompass many levels; spiritual, psychological, and magickal.  Make sure that this person is worthy of being so closely tied to you and that you are not getting involved with this person for less than honorable reasons (such as to get sex).
  • Each person brings with them to the union, their entire personalities; egos, insecurities, talents, ideas, spirit, etc.  When exposed to magickal or spiritual teachings, people began to change.  Personality aspects are often brought to the surface or amplified.  This may be to enable the practitioners to better analyze, develop or change their traits.  So, if you are working with someone who has control issues for example, verify to yourself that you can hold your own if this person goes beyond your personal boundries and attempts to control you or to have "power over" you.

Before working with a partner or teacher, ask yourself some questions:

  • What does this person really want?
  • What do I want from this person?
  • Does this person know her/himself well enough to be a partner or to teach without ego-tripping?
  • Is this person's life in a constant state of chaos?  If so, is that chaos self perpetuated?
  • Will this person be your teacher, mentor, or high priest/ess?  If so, do they expect you to be a servile subject, or an equal participant?
  • Does this person carry many titles?  If so, what are they, how did they get them, what do they mean, and are they thrown in everyone's face for self-glorification purposes?

Okay, it's too late for all of that, you're already sexually attracted to your magickal partner:

If you find that your working partner or coven member is appearing in your sexual fantasies, it is certainly time to question your relationship.  This is an early, and clear warning sign that something is not as it seems.  There are many possibilities for this occurrence, try to narrow it down.

Is this person sending you sexually charged energy intentionally?  Are you willingly placing this person in your fantasies - without putting up a barrier so the energy is not sent out to them?  Have you had many problems in relationships because of the misinterpretation of concern and caring?  (Meaning, can you be friends with someone who could qualify as a sexual partner? or Do you reciprocate feelings of friendship and love with an expression of your sexuality?)

Is this person holding something over you. . . such as, placing themselves above you and telling you how quickly you can "advance" in the Craft.  If so, is this done with your consent or is the person supposed to be on equal ground with you?  In other words, are they boosting your ego to draw you into their web of control?

When you work with another person magickally and spiritually, deep bonds develop.  Open communication is critical at this time, and generally it is best to hold off on acting on sexual feelings until everyone is clear as to what is happening.  It is easy to get deeply hurt, and spiritually and psychologically damaged when sex enters into the relationship for the wrong reasons.  That said, there are many deeply committed relationships that come out of situations where people are connected spiritually and magickally.  Don't be afraid, just be very cautious, communicate openly and question everything including yourself.

References & Resources:

If you find any of the links in this section do not work, please contact us so we can fix them.  Thank you.

Also if you are in a coven, discussion group, class, etc. or are considering joining one, be sure to check out the most recent version of The Advanced Bonewits' Cult Danger Evaluation Frame.

About the Author
Friday
Author: FridayWebsite: http://PaganPath.comEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Author & Academy Instructor
Friday is devoted to writing books and articles on a variety of Pagan subjects, and is the instructor of the online PaganPath Academy. She has studied and practiced the Craft since 1987, and worked as a professional tarot reader and vice president of a national psychic network for several decades. Currently, she is now a practicing herbalist and ordained minister. As a Master Gardener with a deep interest in permaculture, she is developing the PaganPath Sanctuary with her partner. This long term community project is an edible landscape demonstration, orchard and educational facility for future generations.

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