With the advent of the thirteen principles, a groundwork was formed for everyone – covens and individuals alike – to base their organization upon. The 13 principles gives all of us a background, something solid. Although primarily a socially derived document, and a document of time and not of concepts(the problems mentioned in 1973 may not be an issue in 2073, and we may find that those problems, and that document, become obsolete) it provides a way for us to say, “We believe this. Because the principles say so.” As if some how, what a book or document says is more important than living, breathing people.
Yet, when a coven is formed, one of the principles comes into question.
We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy, but do honor those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.
How much power does that give a high priest and high priestess? I know within my tradition, we have specific coven layout rules. Should there be a high priest and priestess? Doubtless, the HP and HPs are not authoritarian, but when democracy just doesn’t work, or becomes obsolete (when no one cares what color the drapes are in the welcoming room of the temple you just built), where does the power fall?
The most important thing to establish within a newly formed coven is exactly that. Who has the power? Is it distributed among many? Does it rest with the HP or HPs? Does it rotate? Is it a fully democratic society? Without that, power becomes an issue later on. From the petty (“Shouldn’t that be “thee” instead of “you”?) to the more important(“I always feel like I have no say in what is going on in circle.”). And suddenly, you have people questioning your ability to lead, and along with it, your sanity and right to have the same religion they do. A lot of time has to go into working with a coven.
The author of Covencraft, Amber K, suggests that when forming a coven, the person who is heading the efforts (or the small group) comes up with a few, essential, “non negotiables”, and those of a like mind may participate. After that, decisions must be made about :
- Coven emphasis (celebration, growth, service, etc)
- Types of Activities
- System of Magick
- Decision Making
- Organizational Structure
- Networking and Privacy
All at the first meeting! Without some sort of structure, the idea will fall apart before its formed, or the group, soon after.