People use terms in all sorts of different ways, so I like to start by explaining what we mean by ‘coven’ and ‘tradition’.
We are witches working with a particular set of practices, including some specific rituals like initiations that have been developed and passed down in the tradition. When the coven is working together, we usually use the tradition’s methods of casting circle, structuring ritual, and connecting to the Wheel of the Year, the Gods, and other powers and energies.
Learning about the tradition and our specific practices is a big part of Dedicant year, but not the only part. Everyone is also encouraged to develop their own personal practice, and to begin to explore specific topics they’re particularly interested in.
We use the word coven more traditionally: a small group of people who want to build trust and understanding, go more deeply into their practice together, and who are willing to spend some time learning skills to do that. We also have a lot of fun and good food and music along the way!
What’s initiatory religious witchcraft?
People use a wide range of terms to describe witchcraft traditions. Wicca, in particular, gets used in a whole range of different ways, some of them very different from each other.
While our tradition fits comfortably into what many people call Wicca these days, our core mysteries focus on transformation (rather than fertility or seasonal cycles), and I’ve found ‘initiatory religious witchcraft’ to be a more useful description.
Initiatory means that there is a process for becoming a member that involves an initiation ritual designed to illuminate Mysteries (in the religious sense, things that must be experienced to be understood). Religious means that deities and other powers, ancestors, ritual, and other such things are part of what we do. And witchcraft means that the way we do those things is full of magic – especially a pragmatic transformative sort of magic.
Omphalos Tri-Cellan Tradition
Our tradition is known as Omphalos Tri-Cellan. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of us – these days, these webpages are about the only public reference. That’s because while there have been other groups in the past, Phoenix Song is the only group active in the tradition at the moment.
We are a structured religious witchcraft tradition with a three-degree initiatory system as well as tradition-specific practices and mysteries. We value our thorough training methods, thoughtful ritual design, and a focus on self-transformation, as well as a strong ethical base.
We consider ourselves a priestess-run tradition, when someone needs to make final decisions, but prefer to work by consensus as much as possible. I prefer a model where the people doing the majority of the work to make something happen get the most say in how that work is done.
As a tradition, OTC has many elements of traditional Wiccan practice. These include ritual work in a circle, a focus on initiatory and religious mystery experiences, combined magical and spiritual practice, shared work with specific deities, all anchored in the cycles of the Wheel of the Year.
However, we have moved away from gender polarity while continuing to explore energetic differences as a force for creativity and new potential, and we have some other differences and tradition practices as a result. (We’re more interested in the specific energy flows someone handles well than their gender identity or biology. The tradition has a sizeable number of LGBTQ members.)
A detailed discussion of the influences on the tradition is much easier to do in person (since some of the explanations depend on knowing a bit more about the other person’s background…) but I’m glad to talk more about that as it’s relevant.
Circle of the Phoenix was a teaching circle, the founding group in the tradition. It was based in the Twin Cities, Minnesota and ran from the late 1990s through around 2011. I was a member from the summer of 2001 until I hived off to form Phoenix Song in early 2008.
As much as I love teaching (and I love teaching!) there is a significant different in focus between a teaching circle and a working coven. With Phoenix Song, I also want the chance to explore some areas of interest to me that weren’t necessarily a shared interest with Circle of the Phoenix.
We have a particular focus on music, rhythm, and movement in ritual and daily practice. We’re interested in mixing intellectual curiosity with direct experience. We want dynamic balance between all the areas of our lives. And we love 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 but Circle of the Phoenix no longer exists as a group.
If you’d like to learn more about my background including other Pagan community experience and a bit about the other parts of my life, I have a longer bio up on my Seeking site.
I am a librarian in my early 40s. Home includes one cat (Astra), a lot of books, a folk harp, and a moderate amount of fiber (I knit).
I love words (as a reader, an author, and a learner). I’m passionate about connecting people with information that helps them or makes their lives easier, and this is just as true in my Craft life as it is in my professional life. I’m particularly interested in how we find and use information, issues around privacy and technology, and accessibility.
Boston is the city I grew up in (different suburb), and I’m so delighted to be home now, and near a number of long-term friends. I’ve also lived for 12 years in Minnesota, and 3.5 years in rural Maine.
(Last updated on March 30, 2021)