There are different options for finding groups these days. Read on to learn more about some of your options.
A practical note
Witchy and Pagan groups are not everywhere. There may not be a group near you that is open to new members that does what you’re interested in.
If that’s the case, you may need to figure out other options like building your own practice, looking for conventions or occasional events you can participate in, or arranging your life so you can look in a wider geographic area.
Being patient sometimes works well. It’s common for groups to be open to new folks sometimes, and not at other times, so looking again in six months or a year may result in very different options.
Where to find groups
Try words like “coven” or “circle” or “witch” or “Pagan” (or whatever you’re interested in) and the names of big cities you can get to, or the towns near you. You may or may not turn anything up, but it’s often worth trying.
Tip: If a group is extra careful about privacy they may not include the name of the actual town they’re in. Instead they may say “Northwest suburbs” or “Boston metro, with good bus access”. Searches just on the town names might miss those groups.
Public Pagan events
One of the best ways to find other Pagans is to go to some public Pagan events in your area. These might include Pagan Pride days (held in the late summer and early fall), public rituals, or even festivals or conventions.
The searches above and other tools listed below should help you find some of these. Many of the bigger events will get mentioned at the Wild Hunt, a Pagan news site.
The biggest one I know of is Mandragora Magika which has listings in the US, UK, and other parts of the world.
You may also find local or regional listings. For the Boston area, where I am, check out the Boston Pagan Central listings.
The Witches’ Voice (also known as Witchvox) used to provide a fabulous directory of groups, and you may see references to them in various places. The site went offline at the end of 2019.
Online community resources
Check out your social media site of choice for coven listings or groups that help people find covens or pagan groups. For example, there’s a Reddit group called CovenFinder or there are groups on Facebook.
If you’re interested in a particular tradition or approach to witchcraft, try searching for Seeker groups for that tradition or path. Usually the tradition name and terms like “Seeker” or “learning” will help you find those. (However evaluate these carefully, since there are some groups out there from people who are not truly members of those tradition.)
Many people looking for Pagan community start out looking for people to talk to, and a sense of supportive community. A number of them find Unitarian Universalist congregations do a lot of that for them, and these can also be a great way to meet Pagan and Pagan-friendly folks. This can be an especially good option if you have kids, and would like something that includes them in learning about a variety of religions and religious and spiritual topics.
The UU denomination has some core understandings they share, and many congregations have a Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans group associated with their community, or know where the nearest one is. UU congregations vary from community to community in terms of what they focus on, so if the first one you find isn’t quite the right fit, it can be worth checking out your other options.
Some people also find other Pagans and witches through shared hobbies and interests. You may find folks through science fiction fandom, folk music and dance, or other similar art forms or cultural interests.
Types of groups
Open to all
These groups can be in person or online – there are plenty of Discord servers, Facebook groups, Pagan sites and forums where anyone who wants to can participate. They’ll share how to show up or get connected. If you’re interested, go ahead and do that. If you have questions about how the group or event works, there should be a contact person or a way to ask questions.
Usually there will be some place or way to introduce yourself, indicate you’re new, or otherwise get to know people.
If it’s an online group, setting aside some time to read through older messages is a great way to get a feel for the active folks in the group. (I recommend looking at a range of posts and comments from the last 2-3 weeks or reading for a week or two before you dive into talking a lot.)
Open invite or light filtering
Some online spaces are open to people who are part of other communities online (like having a chat space for a forum or as part of other online spaces.) In this case, you need to meet whatever their criteria might be, and possibly also ask for access. Usually this will be automatic, or the method will be clear.
For in person gatherings, an invite-only event usually means getting in touch with the contact person and they’ll tell you where the ritual is or what you need to know.
This is common for mostly public rituals that take place on a private property where they don’t want to have the address out in public. Sometimes this happens when some specific people aren’t welcome at the gathering because of their past behaviour. Sometimes it’s just a way to make sure they have a reasonable count of how many people are likely to show up so they can plan.
A number of people offer magical or witchy courses online these days. These often have some sort of discussion or group component where you can ask questions, talk to other people doing the same work, and learn more. Sometimes these groups are just for the duration of the course, but sometimes they last for as long as someone’s willing to administer the group.
Other people have groups for people who support their Patreon, or for people who’ve bought items from them. Some people offer online coven communities (usually for a moderate monthly fee.)
If you like the things someone does, try subscribing to their mailing list or considering a small purchase (of something you’ll use) and see what other resources they share.
I’m part of several groups related to courses, and they’re often rewarding because they’ve got a particular focus. I’m also in a private group for someone whose ritually made oils and materials I love, and the conversation there is fantastic. Some of these groups never take off, but others are full of great conversation on a regular basis.
A process for membership
Covens and other smaller focused groups usually have a process for getting to know people interested in the group. This helps make sure the new person is a good fit for the group, and it also helps protect the group’s privacy, especially since these groups usually meet in private homes.
You should take your time and learn about the group before you make contact, too! Many groups will have a website with additional information about what they do and other important details.
It’s common for there to be several steps. Different groups go about this in different ways, but here’s a pretty common outline.
1) Initial contact by email
This is focused on making sure the seeker is looking for something the group offers.
Some groups will have specific things they want to know, but if they don’t mention anything, a good brief introduction that mentions why you’re interested in that particular group is a good way to start.
Learn how to write a great initial letter to a coven.
About half the initial inquiries I get about my coven are from people who want something that isn’t part of what I do or what we can offer as a group. That’s despite the fact I’m pretty clear on the coven website about what we do. There’s no point arranging an in person meeting if there’s not much overlap in interests.
2) A meeting in a public place
This usually involves the Seeker and one or two members of the group.
These meetings usually take place in a local coffee shop or mall food court or inexpensive restaurant. Group leaders don’t want to invite complete strangers to their home. As a Seeker you should also be a bit suspicious of being invited to a stranger’s home. A public place that allows for a good conversation is a great solution. It helps make everyone feel safer, and respects everyone’s privacy.
I usually meet in one of two coffee shops near my apartment. That helps people figure out if the covenstead is somewhere they can get to easily. I live by myself in an apartment in a regular house – I don’t want to invite people into my home until I’ve had a chance to meet them.
Most of my interactions with Seekers have been great, but I’ve had a few scary or creepy experiences in the past.
3) A chance to meet more of the group
Different groups do this differently. Some groups offer public introductory classes (which may take the place of the coffeeshop meeting). Others will invite Seekers to some coven activities that are suitable for a Seeker. You won’t see the most private sorts of workings, but there might be a class, a seasonal ritual, or maybe a group crafting or social interaction.
I have a series of five Seeker classes that are designed to give people good general information about interacting with the larger witchcraft community. They cover the basics of common terminology, an introduction to centering and grounding, ethics, etiquette, an overview of ritual structure, beginning to build a personal practice, and what becoming a Dedicant involves.
The five classes give people a chance to figure out if how I do things might work for them, and they give me a chance to figure out if I’m comfortable with that person as a student.
In my coven, existing members will meet Seekers as part of rituals, and may also show up in Seeker or Dedicant classes, depending on their own schedules.
4) If it’s a good fit, things move forward.
How this goes depends on the group, but usually there will be some period of learning how the group or tradition does things (most commonly that’s a year and a day, but there are a number of variations.) What rights and expectations a student of the group makes should be clear to you before you take this step.
In my coven, Seekers finish the Seeker classes and apply to be a Dedicant (with some additional conversation as needed). If the group agrees it’s a good fit, they become a student and have regular classes to learn about our tradition, witchcraft in general, and how we do things in the coven.
Thorn Mooney has an excellent guide for anyone interested in a more traditional coven setting, Traditional Wicca: A Seeker’s Guide.
While Thorn is Gardnerian, a lot of the book also applies to other witchcraft groups who have a process for considering new members. She’s very clear about distinguishing what’s Gardnerian specific, or specific to her coven from other common practices. (I require people to read this before applying for Dedication.)
Reformatted November 2020.