Those learning about any Pagan group have some common questions. I’ve answered many of these below and elsewhere on this site, but we save some specifics for face-to-face conversations.
How has Phoenix Song been different than the Circle of the Phoenix?
My original desire in hiving was to explore the difference between a teaching centered coven and a working coven, while also going more deeply into some areas of particular interest to me. (I adore teaching, but at the time, I was working as a school librarian in a high school, and found that some of the demands of my job and the demands of a teaching-focused group got to be a little too much of the same thing.)
I also wanted the chance to explore some areas of interest to me that weren’t a shared interest with CotP. These include:
- music, rhythm, and movement in ritual and daily practice.
- mixing intellectual curiousity with direct experience.
- seeking dynamic balance between all the areas of our lives.
- deep conversations, good food, and liminal spaces.
I’m still on good terms with other people in the tradition, and look forward to seeing them when I’m visiting Minnesota (which I do yearly.)
What kinds of things are covered in your training?
You can get an idea of the range of topics I’d cover in training from a page on my Seeking site that outlines how I’d approach Dedicant (year and a day) training. Specific topics may be adjusted depending on the student’s prior experience and interests, but you can expect a wide range of topics introduced, and some discussed in much more detail.
My goal is that at the end of that training, the student will be have a personal practice that works for them, understand how that fits into the tradition’s practice and the broader community, and have some experience creating rituals, magical workings, and with other skills so that they can take care of many of their own personal ritual and magical needs.
Second and Third Degree work focus more on preparing someone to take on ritual, group, and community responsibilities. Many people decide to stop at the First Degree, which is also totally fine.
How do the details of group work work?
That will be a work in progress, since it depends on the people. However, scheduling is likely to be no more than one weeknight event (and only if the timing works out for the people involved) and otherwise a couple of hours on a weekend day (timing dependent on people.)
I am very unlikely to schedule anything after 9pm on a work night.
How much time is involved?
For someone in their Dedicant year, you’re probably looking at
- Attendance at Sabbat and full moon rituals as scheduled
- 5-8 hours of class a month.
- Homework assignments (reading, writing, creative, and practical) : time will vary depending on your speed and how detailed you decide to be beyond the requirements.
- 20 minutes of practice time at home most days.
The initiatory work and coven page has more details on things to think about here.
Do you welcome men in the group? Women? Particular orientations?
I’m open to inquiries from those of all genders and sexual orientations (and, long-term, would prefer a diverse mix within the group.) Our tradition has moved away from gender polarity: we instead focus more on energetic polarity and individual personal tendencies.
Do you have oathbound information?
Our tradition does have oathbound material – and similarly, there is some details kept within the coven. As a tradition, our practice is to talk about the general outline of what’s included before we ask for any commitment or share specifics.
Are children allowed at classes or events?
In general, no. A number of the tradition’s ritual and teaching practices are not a good fit for children who may have urgent needs or shorter attention spans. Parents I’ve taught in the past have often appreciated having a time to learn and develop without needing to focus on their child’s needs. My home is also not childproofed.
I can help you find ways to include your children in your personal ritual practices, and some activities may be open to children depending on their ages, interests, and what they’re up for.
How large a group do you want?
My goal is for a small but sustainable coven size – my dream would be in the 5-8 person range. However, that’s at least a couple of years away.
Do you charge for training and membership?
Nope. I do expect you to invest your time, energy, and attention but our teaching is offered freely to those who commit to the group. That’s how my teachers trained me! We do ask that everyone contribute to potluck feasts, and that you provide your own tools and materials for personal work. If money is tight for you, we’ll talk about inexpensive options.
I do welcome contributions to shared group expenses (good candles, incense, wine for rituals, etc.) It is possible that down the road we might decide to rent ritual space for some rituals or take a weekend away to discuss things in more depth.
I don’t know much about religious witchcraft – how would I learn?
My training is designed to work with a student’s existing learning and skills, and build from there. I welcome interest from anyone who is interested in learning, and committing to the time and practice needed to build skills. However, I do want you to be reasonably sure that you’re interested in pursuing ongoing training in my path.
If you’re brand new to Wicca and religious witchcraft, I might first ask you to do some reading (online and in some recommended books) or have some more general conversations and discussions. If those go well, we can revisit training in the tradition after a few months.
I already have experience in the Craft – how do you handle that?
As we mentioned, I work in a specific tradition and expect new members of the group to learn that tradition. However, I’m very happy to adjust training and assignments to adapt to someone’s prior experience.
It would likely take a year before initiation, though, because I believe it’s important to experience an entire ritual cycle before making a lasting energetic commitment to a particular tradition.
Are you active in the local community?
Our focus as a group is on our own religious work. That said, we encourage tradition members to take part in the broader community in some way that suits them, and members may from time to time offer to put on a public event. I was on the Twin Cities Pagan Pride board from late 2005 until my move to Maine in 2011, and I expect to eventually find ways to support community events in Massachusetts as well.
I have some specific needs or preferences, what are your practices?
Accommodating specific needs depends a lot on the details. As part of a larger tradition, some things we do are based on my preferences (the kind of group I want to be a part of leading and teaching), some are open to negotiation with everyone in the group, and some are decided by the elders of the tradition (which includes me, but isn’t just me.)
I’m glad to talk about which of these a particular decision or practice comes from, and how open it might be to changes.
You can read a lot of details about accessibility issues on their own page. Please let me know if something isn’t addressed there.
I’m still interested. What’s next?
If you think you might be interested in training or group membership, please read the letter of introduction page and follow the instructions there.
Why such an involved process for people who are interested?
I love teaching, and I love group ritual work, but my time and energy are limited. (And I bet yours are too, if not in all the same ways.)
I want to give you lots of information so you can decide, at your own pace, if what I offer as a teacher and possible group is enough like what you’re interested in to take the next step. And then I’d like some equivalent information from you, so I can make sure it’s worth our time to meet and talk more.