How do I find a coven?

John_William_Waterhouse_-_Magic_CircleThere’s a lot out there on the internet about how to find a coven. Most of it seems to be quite US centric with the occasional UK resource thrown in. Here’s an Australian version and perhaps one that might be more suited to seekers on The Pagan Fringe of Sydney.  I’ve also used the word coven here, although it’s typically used to refer to a group of witches practising together. The group you’re looking for might not involve witches or witchcraft at all, however it might be anything from ceremonially focussed group doing magick, a general earth centred pagan group marking the seasons, or maybe a discussion group or a study group focussing on a particular topic or genre of research/writing. Not everyone needs a coven, however these are some good tips to start with if you’re considering group work of some kind.

  1. Do some research 
    • Have a rough idea of what you’re looking for, and your reasons why. At the very least have an idea of the style of paganism that you’d like to explore further. Then you can start to ask the right questions of who you’d like to meet. Asking everyone you meet that you want to meet ‘some witches’ is far too vague.
  2. Get out to face to face events
    • You may find a contact point for a coven or group online, however it’ll be in person where you’ll find valuable connections that you can deepen further if it feels right. Attend whatever local groups and meet ups that you can, even if they’re social meet ups. Especially if they are social meetings, you might score yourself an invite to something else if you get to know a few people.
    • Have a look here for more info on what to do if you’ve never attended a pagan event before. Here are some suggested events and ways to find them:
      • The Pagan Fringe  – we tend to attract people who don’t attend larger or more public events. We’ve met coven leaders, members, occultists, and seekers in the short time we’ve been hosting events since 2015.
      • Regular public full moon rituals in Seven Hills. There are regular announcements at these circles about other events coming up.
      • Join a Facebook page like Sydney Pagans  – it’s a well networked group, particularly in Western Sydney and you might find something relevant to you.
  3. Use your manners and think about your motives
    • Think of it like you’re applying for a job and there is a screening process before you even get to the interview stage. Be polite, demonstrate that you’ve thought about what kind of group you’d like to meet, and have a think about what value you can add. Be upfront and honest.
  4. Understand the time commitment
    • Have a think about how much time you can realistically commit to group or coven work and how that best fits in with the rest of your life. Being a member of a coven is starting a new relationship, with not one, but an entire group of people all at once. It will typically last years and will require regular attendance and contribution. Are you ready for it? Is there space in your life for this?  Conversely, taking on a new student is no small task for a coven or a teacher. It’s a massive time and energy investment, so it needs to appear worthwhile for everyone.
  5. Ask
    • I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard people say ‘when I’m ready, my teacher will appear’ No, no they won’t. Teachers do not go out of their way looking for new students. See my comment above about time and energy commitment. There may be a study group that will advertise their courses and you can join them, however that’s not a coven environment. A teacher (worth learning with) will not *ask* a student to become their student.

As always, keep an open mind and learn to recognise what’s a good and healthy environment or people to get involved with. The following resource is a helpful one when considering working with a new bunch of people.

Best of luck on your journey!

 

5 ways to celebrate the Autumnal Equinox

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Here are some ideas of what you can do to celebrate the season:

  1. Go fruit picking with your family or coven
    • Check out this list here of places to go within a short drive from Richmond NSW. Most places are free entry and they then charge you per kg for the fruit that you’ve picked. Try apples and chestnuts and bake them up when you get home into delicious Autumn dishes.
  2. Create an altar
    • You can use your usual altar or create a makeshift altar space anywhere in your home. Choose somewhere that won’t be disturbed by animals or children, and set out images of Autumn and the Harvest. If you don’t want to do anything too complex, you could simply light candles and give thanks for blessings of abundance in your life.
  3. Listen to Mabon themed music
    • There are some interesting suggestions here with over 93 songs on their playlist. Something is bound to catch your interest
  4. Look to the skies
    • The sunrises and sunsets are spectacular this time of year. Check out the brilliant blog posts on the March night sky here. The following excerpt is from their post:
    • Highlights for March 2017

      First quarter Moon is on Sunday the 5th at 10:32pm
      The Moon will be full on Monday the13th at 1:54am
      Last quarter is Tuesday 21st at 2:58am, and
      The New Moon is on Tuesday the 28th at 1:57pm

      The autumn equinox is Monday 20th at 9:29pm.

      One of the nicest vistas will be on March the 1st looking west shortly after sunset. The constellation of Pisces will host Venus which is very bright but it sets at 8:28pm less than an hour after the Sun, Mars which is not bright and the young crescent Moon (~9%). By the 2nd the Moon will have moved from below and to the left of Mars to above and the right.

  5. Meditate
    • Spend some time meditating amongst the trees and take in the cool Autumn air. Not quite Western Sydney, but a short drive to Leura in the Blue Mountains. Everglades is truly spectacular in Autumn and is easy to access with kids and prams. Focus on balance and internal contemplation as we move deeper into darker half of the year.

Later in the season you could check out a community festival. Towards the end of May there is the Autumn Harvest Festival at Rouse Hill – it always looks like fun!

And lastly, come and join us for a coffee on either 26th March or 23rd April at The Church Specialty Brew Bar in Glenbrook (Ross St, Glenbrook NSW) from 1-3pm.

Things to do in Autumn

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Are you a pagan family looking for things to do in Autumn, in and around Western Sydney? Here is a short list of things to consider:

  • Go fruit picking with your family or coven
    • Check out this list here of places to go within a short drive from Richmond NSW. Teach your kids that fruit doesn’t come from the shops! Most places are free entry and they then charge you per kg for the fruit that you’ve picked. Try apples and chestnuts and bake them up when you get home into delicious Autumn dishes.
  • Pretend you’re in Scotland for a day
  • Or the middle ages
  • Attend an Autumn Harvest Festival
    • Check out Leura Harvest Festival  early in May or get your foodie hat on and explore some of the region’s finest at Rouse Hill farm at the end of May – maybe pack a picnic?
  • Get cooking or baking at home
  • Play in the Autumn leaves
    • Not quite Western Sydney, but a short drive to Leura in the Blue Mountains. Everglades is truly spectacular in Autumn and is easy to access with kids and prams.
    • Spend some time meditating amongst the trees and take in the cool Autumn air.

Hopefully there are some fun ideas here for you and your family. Happy Autumn!

 

Your first pagan event?

Are you new to the pagan scene? Is this your first time venturing out to meet a bunch of pagans, witches and occultists? What should you do? What should you say? Here’s a few ideas that you might find helpful.

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Things to do when you’re attending a pagan event

Arrive on time

  • Find out in advance where you’ll be meeting and how you plan to get there. Allow time for travel and parking if you’re driving, or plan your public transport route well in advance.
  • Arriving on time will allow you to mingle and meet with people before any ritual starts and to listen to the ritual prep in advance. You can then decide if you want to take part.
  • If it’s a social meet up, if you arrive on time, you’ll get to hear everyone’s introduction. That way, you won’t be stumbling in to a bunch of people who all seem to ‘know’ each other even if they’ve only been there 30mins longer than you.
  • If you’ve RSVP’d to an event as “Yes, I’ll be there!’ and find you suddenly cannot attend at the last minute, tell someone so the group isn’t waiting for your arrival before commencement.

Contribute 

  • This might mean contributing your energy and focus during the circle or being generous with your help to tidy up afterwards, being kind and courteous will set you in good stead with the hosts, possibly securing a repeat invitation to future events.
  • Be social! There’s no point turning up to an event only to sit in the corner and not speak to anyone. If you’re shy, make an effort to connect with at least one person who isn’t the host. Why not the host? They’re busy looking out for everyone attending or running the event itself. A good host will attempt to engage with you and try to make you feel as welcome as possible, but it’s a two way exchange.
  • If you need to pay for your own meal or drinks, please do so. Don’t eat, drink and be merry expecting that someone else will pay for you.

Keep an open mind and ask questions

  • Yes, you might be meeting people who believe in weird and wonderful things like energy and magic (hooray!), however there shouldn’t be anything illegal going on. If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, you can leave at any time.
  • Listen to any ritual preparation given in advance. Ask questions when invited, and at other times that may be appropriate. We’re human and we don’t mind an enquiring mind.
  • If the ritual isn’t for you, you can leave quietly and without fuss.
  • If there is a specific dress code, do your best to make an effort to acknowledge it. If you’re not sure what to wear, try for something smart and comfortable. If someone is wearing something that you think is hilarious, outrageous or silly, it’s really not your place to comment on it.

Things you shouldn’t do when attending a pagan event 

I could write a list with a million items on it, however it would do you well to remember your basic manners and respect for other people and their property, especially if you’re visiting someone’s private residence. Open pagan events can be used as a way for a private coven to literally open up and see who is out there in the community or to invite others to join their circle. Not all groups operate this way, however how you conduct yourself in public and in small groups is important if you’d like to be considered for membership of a smaller or more exclusive invite only group in future.

The below is a basic list of what NOT to do…

  • Don’t touch things without permission – if there is an altar set up, do not touch anything on it without being specifically invited to do so.
  • Maintain personal boundaries. A lot of pagans like to hug each other in greeting and they may already know each other, however wait to be invited before you touch anyone or enter into anyone’s personal space.
  • Don’t violate basic rules of civility and respect – don’t laugh during a solemn meditation, don’t be rude to people, don’t take more than your fair share of food & drink at a shared feast etc
  • Don’t bring children without asking in advance. If the event listing doesn’t state that the event is child friendly, please ask before bringing children along. Not all events are family friendly. Others may have organised babysitters to look after their children and your children at an event may be disruptive or unwelcome.

Hopefully the basic list above will help you navigate your way into the pagan scene when meeting other witches, pagans and occultists.