One of the big questions people new to Wicca often ask is whether they should practice as a solitary Wiccan, or join a coven. The great news is there is no requirement to do one over the other. Just as Wicca is an eclectic religion, drawing from many sources, so are the ways you can practice it. Much of the way you practice will be intuitive and based around your own personal preferences and what resonates with you.
Learning more about solitary practice or coven-based Wicca and their respective pros and cons can help you make the decision of how you would like to begin your journey.
The Solitary Path
A solitary wiccan is someone who practices largely by themselves. This means that the rituals you do, and the energies you choose to work with will be entirely up to you. How you learn, what you learn and what pace you go at will also be in your control.
You get a huge amount of freedom – You can practice when you want, and there’s no one else to take into consideration when you decide which direction to take.
It can be easier to fit solitary practice into your schedule if you have a busy life and are unable to commit to regular meetings and the needs of a coven.
You can choose exactly what you want to study and base your rituals around this, and get very creative and eclectic with your workings if you choose.
It can foster a great sense of independence and personal empowerment to walk the spiritual path by yourself.
Working alone can feel isolating. You only have yourself to go by when deciding what direction to take.
It can sometimes be difficult to know what direction to go in next, and some people might find they struggle when they need guidance or would like the support of an experienced group.
Working alone can mean freedom but it also means all the responsibility for your working rests with you. While you should always hold yourself accountable, sometimes working with others will help to spread the energetic load of ritual practice.
You might find that without others to practice with your progression takes longer and is less clear-cut. If you prefer more firm boundaries and learning paths solitary practice might not be for you.
Beginning on the Solitary Path
If you decide on the solitary path it’s a good idea to find some great resources to learn more about the craft. Take some time to study different aspects of Wiccan beliefs before diving into magick or trying to cast spells.
Take time to get to know yourself and your beliefs and what resonates with you. Then choose some pathways of working which will fit well with these ideals. Give yourself a good foundation in meditation and visualization if you haven’t already, and remember to practice these skills daily.
If you want to you can perform a self-dedication ceremony, where you formally commit yourself to the Wiccan path.
Reach out to other solitary Wiccans, if only to combat feelings of isolation. It might be helpful to find an informal mentor who can help you with advice.
Joining a Coven
A coven is a group of Wiccans who meet regularly to discuss magick, practice rituals together and worship. Each coven will have their own rules and follow their own path, but generally they will adhere to the Sabbats and other significant calendar dates, as well as hold regular meetings to share information, guidance and support.
Most covens have a clear set of rules and ethics which can be helpful to someone when first beginning in Wicca.
You get to meet new friends and like-minded people, who can help encourage and support you in your journey. There can be a real sense of family.
The coven will initiate you when you are ready, which can give you confidence and pride, and add potency and a sense of belonging.
You are more likely to find a mentor who you can turn to for guidance and spiritual assistance
The experience of group rituals can be very powerful, especially when there are more people, resources and energies present.
As each coven usually has a hierarchy and clear set of rules you might find that the way they practice is too restrictive.
Although you get a greater level of personal support, your responsibilities are also greater. You must be accountable to the whole coven and ensure you commit to regular meetings, and adhere to coven practices,
Some people find that they don’t enjoy having their practice largely prescribed by the aims and objective and philosophy of the coven. When they want to branch out they might find they find it difficult to do so.
As with any group of people, covens sometimes suffer from power struggles. When you add magick into the mix this can become intense and toxic unless it is dealt with maturely by all members
Finding the Right Coven
Look online for covens which are near to you and begin to explore what they offer.
Look at their philosophy and aims, what sort of rituals they practice and what paths they follow. Try to see which mesh well with how you feel about Wicca and the world.
Make contact and ask if you can learn more about how they practice, you may be invited to attend parts of meetings to see if you fit with the group.
Always remember to ask questions and to use your discernment. A coven built on a philosophy of tolerance and acceptance will be happy to answer any questions you might have (within what they’re allowed to share with someone who isn’t initiated.)
Take your time and don’t commit before carefully assessing whether you believe the covens objectives match with yours. Initiating into a coven is a powerful experience and shouldn’t be taken lightly.