Welcome to a series of articles about navigating a coven in the time of coronavirus.
Like a lot of other people, I’m over here trying to figure out how we do the things we do, when there are all sorts of new factors and issues at play.
I don’t have anything like answers yet, but this afternoon, my thoughts gelled into what will be a multiple article approach to thinking through this (with a side of “how do you navigate coven and group witchy practice if you have health risks that make some activities even more of a risk for you than most people.” Since that’s also quite relevant right now.)
Written in May and June 2020.
Some personal thoughts
I’m thinking about this a lot because I’ve been having conversations about my own health, and my best choices.
I’m very lucky that my work is clear they don’t want or need us in the building right now (current timeline is ‘maybe end of August’). My doctor and I talked today about what my particular risks and areas of concern are.
(I have multiple health conditions that can lead to increased risk that are well-managed, but I also come with lung damage I’ve had since I was 11, and a body that runs on low-grade but annoyingly persistent inflammation.)
However, I’m also the high priestess (with one other initiate right now), several students reaching the point of thinking about initiation, and a couple of prospective students who’ve made contact in the past couple of months.
If we’re not meeting together in my apartment, what are we doing instead, and how do we make this work for us as well as possible? How do I help everyone learn things like how we cast circle and what that can feel like if we’re not in person?
My goal is to have a longish-term plan in place by the end of June 2020, when I’ll be starting initial Seeker classes with whatever prospective students I have for next year if there are some of those.
A starting place
The guidance for mainstream religions isn’t a ton of help, when it’s a small group that would normally meet in our living room and where ideally we’re at a stage where everyone would be starting to be active participants in circle casting and otherwise planning and making sure ritual happens.
I’ve had several conversations over the weekend, including one with the wellness group my doctor is running, and that gelled into starting a discussion with my initiate and current students.
I asked them to think about some questions and get back to me by the next time we talk (in Zoom). I also wrote up some notes about some things to think about that I’ll be writing about in future articles in this series:
- Risks and concerns for things we’d normally do together
- What those things affect (so that we can figure out if at some point we might be okay for meeting in person, but not doing some things)
- Things we want to keep central in our decisions
- Considerations specific to the people involved in the group at this time that affect risk and what we as individuals might be okay with.
- Thoughts about specific situations like dedications or initiations or long-term training at a distance in general. (Categories of things we do.)
- What that means about what we’re looking at for the foreseeable future, and how we’ll handle both our regular practice, and those specific situations.
- Given what we know now (which will probably change), what needs to be true before we consider working together in person again regularly?
- How do we navigate things if people decide they need to be more careful than what we’ve decided as a group? (And what happens if we discover someone hasn’t kept whatever agreements we’ve made before meeting in person? I hope we never need that one, but I want to be clear about what the consequences are up front.)
Some of those are things I want to discuss with the people involved before I share them in public (and I will be keeping the public discussion of specific considerations that apply to our group general and non-identifying.) So it will take a month or so to get all of this together.
I’ll be linking to each part from the index page for the Adapting section of the site, mentioning them in my weekly Witch in Practice posts as I get them written, and making a note for my Patrons over on Patreon.
Here’s the email I sent
After some conversations with friends and others over the weekend, it’s clear to me we should settle in and figure out some long-term plans for not being physically together. I need your help to do that.
Can you respond to the questions below (under the “questions” section) before we are scheduled to talk next? If you’d prefer to talk them through with me over a Zoom call or phone call, let me know and we can find a time.
[A sentence being clear with people when the date I wanted this was for them]
You’re welcome to talk to each other about them if you’d like, too if that’s helpful, but I’d really appreciate having something from each of you by the dates above.
- What helps you feel closer to people in the group?
- What makes you feel more distanced and limited?
- Would you like more time to connect with people in the group one on one (you can do this any time, but would it help to be more coordinated about that?)
- What kind of ritual activities feel meaningful to you when we’re not physically together?
- What ones feel less meaningful?
- What would you like to be doing more of, ritually or magically? (Whether that’s with other people or on your own)
- Are there things you’d like to have less of, or less focus on, or that you’re struggling with (above and beyond the stress of dealing with the world at the moment…)
- Do you have a limit of how long you can deal with a Zoom call? (Mine turns out to be about 90 minutes, give or take.)
- Are there other things you’d like me to know that could offer more support, options that work better for you, or ideas for the coming months?
A note: Part of why I’m thinking about this now is because I’ve had some interest from prospective seekers in the past couple of months.
But I’m also thinking through things like logistics of what it would take to make the physical realities of the initiation ritual as low-risk as possible, in an infectious-disease sense, and what we can do as a group that will be meaningful and supportive until that latter one is an option.
Posted June 1, 2020, reformatted November 2020.