Initiatory and coven work

This is a long page, but it’s all important. That’s because coven work – when it goes right – is an amazing and powerful thing. But it’s that awe and power that makes me so very careful about the initial process before I consider someone as a student for initiation or coven work. (And for me, they basically go together: I won’t take someone as an ongoing student I wouldn’t consider working in coven with.)

There are lots of really awesome, fascinating people who are not a good fit for coven work with me. (A lot of this is because of me, not them, too. Like everyone, I have both virtues and challenges as a friend, teacher, and human being.)

If you’re interested in casual conversation, or even covering some general basics (centering, grounding, basic ritual theory, basic magical theory), I’m a whole lot more flexible. See my Contact page under “Interested in learning more” for how to start that conversation.

I can go on about this for hours, but when I’m considering someone for either initiatory teaching or group work, here’s what I look at.

I start by looking at a few basic requirements: 

These are pretty inflexible.

  • You must be over 21.
  • You must have or can arrange reliable transportation to group events (this may include getting a ride from another group member, but you must have a reliable back-up plan.)
  • If you have a diagnosed ongoing physical or mental health condition, it must have been stable for at least 6 months, and you must have access to appropriate professional support.
  • You must be comfortable getting most general updates about group plans by email. Occasional phone calls or texts can be possible for conversation, but I have lousy reception both in my office at work and at home.
  • I have some chronic health conditions, and have some firm limits to help me stay healthy. These affect schedule, some allergens, and some life balance choices (like how often we do things.)

Then I look at some more general considerations:

  • Your interests (Are you interested in this specific tradition and what I can teach?)
  • My existing commitments (I expect to take only 1-2 students at a given time, balanced against work and other interests)
  • Practical issues (Are we free at the same times? Can you get to my home or another suitable space for teaching and ritual work?)
  • General respect and courtesy (Showing up on time, contributing to shared group work, and understanding that some things are flexible and others aren’t if you want to work with me.)
  • How you communicate (Can you work with the way I share information on this website? When we talk, does that go smoothly, or is it a lot of work?)
  • How you seem to learn (Are you proactive in exploring topics that are important to you? How have you learned about your path so far? Are you interested in close work with a teacher or group, or are you really more looking for general Pagan conversation?)

I look at some more personal and sometimes nebulous things.

These things aren’t essential (and some of them you may not know about yourself yet), but the more of them that are true of you, the more likely you are to be a really strong fit:

  • You want an emphasis on mature religious commitment and practice.
  • You are intellectually curious and value critical thinking.
  • You enjoy discussing both theory (why we do something) and process (how we do it).
  • You regularly spend some of your free time reading, writing, making music, or creating art.
  • You appreciate clear communication, work to improve your own skills, and dislike drama.
  • You’re interested in traditional crafts (knitting, spinning, woodwork, baking, etc.)
  • You enjoy being around people with varied interests, and a desire to talk about them and the world around us.
  • You like to dig deeply into different kinds of learning and understanding – you’re not content with easy answers.

I expect that…

  • You have a life outside the group which includes other responsibilities, commitments, relationships, and interactions. I want to be part of your life, but not your whole world.
  • You are comfortable working with people with a range of ages, genders, backgrounds, sexual orientations, and preferences. (I am in my early 40s now, but have worked with students from their 20s to their 60s comfortably).
  • You’re interested in what you see here, and the described work, style, and structure of the group. I’m flexible about some specifics, but there are some things I’m also just not interested in. 

We are an initiatory tradition, and initiatory work can demand a great deal of time and attention during some parts of the process. If you are already planning major changes to your life in the next year (having a baby, finishing college, making a major career change, etc.), I will likely ask you to wait until your life is a little more stable to be considered for training and coven work. (In the meantime, we can cover more general material, share occasional rituals, and so on.)

If at any time you decide that we are not the right place for you, I simply ask that you let me know (preferably at least a few days before our next planned get-together, so I can change plans if needed.) I do generally expect the process will take several meetings (at least 3-5) before we seriously discuss Dedication as a possibility. Depending on scheduling, this can be 2-5 months.

Regardless of prior experience, we (as a tradition) require a prospective member work for us for at least a year before considering initiation in the tradition or coven. That’s to give both me and you plenty of time to make sure it’s the right decision. It also lets you experience a full ritual cycle.

[last updated May 20, 2017]