It can be sort of scary to send an email to a stranger about a subject that’s new to you, but important. You don’t know when you’ll hear back, or how friendly they’ll be. Fortunately, you can do some things to make it easier for yourself
A lot of people worry about how to make that first contact with a group – how much to say, what they should include, how detailed they should be. The tips below will help if you’re getting in. touch with a smaller group like a coven or circle. (Here’s help on getting in touch with other kinds of groups.)
Check the group information
How did you find out about the group’s existence? If they have a website or other information available, read that carefully. It will usually give you some kind of guidance on what they’re looking for in the initial contact.
I have a website for my coven that gives background about the group, answers a bunch of common questions people have, and that asks for a letter of introduction with some specific questions.
I share quite a lot about my background and interests in witchcraft on my websites. (my about page here on Seeking, even if people don’t read further on the site.)
I see the letter as a way to balance that out a bit, and to get some sense of the seeker. It helps me figure out if they’re a possible fit for the coven (sometimes it’s very clear they’re interested in different things). The letter means we can have a much better conversation if we do move forward.
Write up a message
If they don’t give you any specific guidance, keep it short and sweet. Good things to include:
- What to call you. A first name, nickname, or public Craft name are all fine at this stage.
- An indication you’ve read their website or other information if there is one. Letting them know how you found them can be an easy way to do that.
- A couple of sentences about what you’re interested in. Are you looking to join the group? Hoping to learn more about local resources? Not sure where to start, but they’re local to you?
- Why you’re interested in that group in particular. A sentence or two is great, but it’s a lot more interesting to groups if they have a sense you’re interested in them, not just that it’s the first group you found.
Ask any important questions you have
This is a good time to ask about anything that would be a dealbreaker for working with the group. This might include scheduling, location or transportation options, accessibility issues, etc. where there’s something you absolutely couldn’t change or adapt to.
Questions about specific group practices are also fine. However, many groups prefer to discuss this as part of a face to face conversation, since sometimes the nuances matter a lot. These include topics like specific ritual practices, what people wear to ritual, student expectations, etc.
If they ask for something you’re not comfortable sharing (for example, your birthdate, a legal name, other identifying information), it’s fine to send the information you’re okay with and ask more about what they need the information for. Some groups will ask for birth time and place so they can look at an astrological chart, but a healthy group will be fine waiting for that if you’d rather.
Do let them know you’re aware of the request, though. “I’d rather not share my full legal name right off. Can I ask how that’s used?” is very different than just ignoring the question.
Don’t get too complicated or personal
It’s helpful if you can include some general background like your rough age, your pronouns, a little about how you spend your time. Keep it short, and don’t feel you need to share identifying information like where you work or live beyond what’s necessary to get in touch.
For your background and witchy interests, a couple of sentences are fine. A sense of what you’ve been reading or learning from helps the people reading your message figure out where to start with some conversations.
If you have health issues or accessibility needs, a brief note like the example below is a good way to get the conversation started. Don’t share your entire medical history.
However, if there’s something that is an absolute need for you (like step-free access to the group space or no pets in the household.), it’s good to check about that up front.
In this example, I’m assuming that the group doesn’t have specific things they’d like someone to mention. (The example is based on me, but doesn’t reflect my current experience in the Craft.)
Hi, I’m Jenett (she/her). I’m in my 40s, and I’m a librarian. In my free time, I write, read a lot, and enjoy knitting and cooking.
I’ve done a fair bit of reading about Wicca and witchcraft (favourites include Thea Sabin’s Wicca for Beginners, Deborah Lipp’s Elements of Ritual, and several of Ivo Dominguez Jr’s books.) I’ve also gotten a lot from Thorn Mooney’s blog, book, and YouTube channel.
I’m at a stage where I’d love to be part of regular group ritual and workings. I was interested by what you said on your site about your focus on music in ritual practice, and about having a focus on transformation.
I do have some chronic health issues that can affect what activities are a good idea for me. They’re well-managed, but that’s something I’d love to discuss early on, to make sure it won’t be a problem.
I can best be reached at email@address. If you’d like to talk further, weekends are usually good for me, or possibly weekday evenings between 6pm and 9pm.
Many witchy groups put a high value on privacy for a whole variety of reasons. People still sometimes lose their jobs, have serious issues in custody battles, or other significant life-affecting issues if others find out they’re a witch. Others simply prefer to keep it separate from their professional life or their neighbors.
It’s normal and expected in many witchcraft communities that people will use names that protect their privacy. This might be using just a first name or a nickname. However, it’s common for people to pick a Craft name for public use at events, online, and everything in between.
(Facebook’s legal name policy makes this somewhat challenging: some people create a second profile with their Craft name. Others just don’t do witchy stuff on Facebook.)
You should expect that people running groups will probably want to get to know you a bit before sharing their legal name, photo, or home address. It’s fair for you to be cautious before sharing that information too.
I’ve used the name Jenett or Jenett Silver for over twenty years. If you want to know me, there’s actually a lot more about me on the Internet under that name than under my legal name (which I use only for professional settings or the times something will only permit a legal name.)
I do some witchy things on Facebook (which has my legal name), but only in private closed groups where membership isn’t visible to others.
It’s pretty common to send an email to a group and not hear back for a while.
Most witchcraft group leaders are juggling a whole bunch of things. Many of us have day jobs with their own demands and schedules. We might have families or kids or other things that need tending to at home. And of course, we’ve got our existing group members who get priority over people who’ve just introduced themselves.
Some groups only read seeker emails occasionally (sometimes every week or every few weeks). A few groups only read that email address when they’re potentially open to new students. (This is a tad old-fashioned in our current always-on communication world, but it used to be really common.)
I feel strongly about getting back to people promptly. Depending on their introduction, this is usually 1-3 days. I often want to sleep on a response to inquiries about the coven, to make sure I’m thinking about all aspects of the inquiry thoroughly. I make this timeframe clear on the website, so it’s not a surprise.
If there’s no reply
If you don’t get a response after a reasonable amount of time, it’s okay to try again. (A reasonable amount of time is whatever they list on their information page or about 3-4 weeks if they don’t list a timeframe.) These tips may help you get a response.
Start with a little context.
Try something like this: “I wrote a few weeks ago on [date], and haven’t heard back. I’m still interested, so I’m checking in case something got lost along the way.”
Write from the same email address or let them know the previous one so they can see what happened. Spam filters eat email, things get accidentally deleted. If there’s more than one method to reach them, like an email address and a contact form, try the one you didn’t try previously.
Check your message.
Did you give them something meaningful to reply to? Did you write a super long message that was way too much information for a first contact? Both of these can mean a group may not choose to respond. Trying again with something like the above (two or three concise paragraphs) may help.
Are your expectations reasonable?
Respect time and privacy. If they don’t share certain information (a legal name, photographs, a precise location), there’s generally a good reason for that. If there’s information that’s important for you to know, asking at what stage of the process that might happen is a better way to go, or share what your needs are.
Understand that a seeker out of the blue probably isn’t their top priority – their current group members and other commitments are.
Make it easy to respond to you
If you had to put your email address in a form, triple check it and maybe put it in the body of your message too (typos happen a lot.) Put blank lines between your paragraphs rather than long run-on text. (In email and online spaces, a blank line every 4-6 lines of text makes things a lot more readable.)
If you have specific questions, make it easy to spot them, like a section of questions or a list.
Finding a group is a mutual process.
If you make the group or the people you’re talking to feel uncomfortable, they’re going to decline to go further. Understand that the group has a process for a reason (usually past experience with a bunch of other seekers). Being pushy or demanding isn’t going to convince the group to invite you over.
Set your own boundaries about how much you initially share and what you need to know before moving further in getting to know the group.
Consider your timing
There are times of year when many witchy groups are super busy. The weeks around Samhain (October 31st in the Northern Hemisphere) are commonly packed full of preparations or recovery. If people in the group are attending witchy festivals or conventions, they may be away from home at those times (or recovering after.) In general, you can expect groups that celebrate the Sabbats will be busier then.
It may be worth waiting and seeing what your options are in a few months.
Thorn Mooney’s excellent book Traditional Wicca: A Seeker’s Guide has a lot more guidance on how to approach a group (relevant to a variety of more structured witchcraft groups). Her blog post How to Find and Join A Coven also has very useful tips.
Rewritten July 22, 2020. Reformatted November 2020.