Hierarchy And Priesthood

The group needs a leader, or leaders. The leaders, as priests for the group, will be representing the God and the Goddess, so one male and one female leader would seem to be the ideal. In the Saxon tradition (and some few others) these are democratically chosen by the coven members: they lead for a year and then there is a re-election (if re-elected, their terms running concurrently or not, they are known in their sub sequent terms as High Priest/ess, to indicate this experience). Such a system has the distinct advantage of (a) precluding any ego-trips and power-plays by the priesthood, (b) giving everyone who wishes a chance to lead the group and have the experience of running a coven and (c) allowing those good at the job to be re-instated, while conversely allowing the removal of any who abuse their position.

However, in many traditions there are found degree systems—systems of advancement through promotion—and in these it is impossible to be a leader without being of the requisite degree. Regretably these systems do frequently lead to power-plays ("I'm a higher degree ... ergo 'better'... Witch than you are!") and all the ramifications of favoritism/abuse/ self-glorification. Let me hasten to add that this is not always the case. It is simply that there is always the potential. There have been many covens that have existed very happily for years with such a system.

In most degree systems you are initiated into the First Degree. Let's look at the Gardnerian tradition as a typical example. There, in the First Degree, you participate in the rituals as part of the "chorus", as it were, and learn from your Elders. You must remain in that degree for at least a year and a day. When taken to the Second Degree you can then be more active in the rituals. For example, a female Gardnerian of the Second Degree can even cast the Circle for the High Priestess. However, she cannot initiate anyone. After at least a year and a day there, it is possible to then be taken to the Third Degree, if found ready. As a Third Degree Witch a Gardnerian female can break away and form a new coven if she so desires. She would then run that coven, initiating whomever she wished, with no interference from her original High Priestess. Covens, you see, are autonomous. Of course, the Third Degree Witch does not have to break away and start afresh. Many of that rank are quite content to stay in the original coven, where they are regarded as "Elders".

Different traditions have different systems: some have more than three degrees; some insist on a longer minimum time between steps; some have the Priest with equal powers to the Priestess.

What sort of a person should a Priest/ess be? When I was originally initiated, by the Lady Olwen (Gerald Gardner's High Priestess) in Perth, Scotland, in 1963, she gave me an outline of what a really good coven leader should be. I don't know who the author was, but this is what it said:

The Love Of the Priest and the Priestess You may come to them for a few moments, then go away and do whatever you will; their love is unchanging. You may deny them to themselves or to yourself, then curse them to any who will listen; their love is unchanging. You may become the most despised of creatures, then return to them; their love is unchanging. You may become the enemy of the gods themselves, then return to them; their love is unchanging. Go where you will; stay however long you will and come back to them; their love is unchanging. Abuse others; abuse yourself; abuse them and come back to them; their love is unchanging. They will never criticize you; they will never minimize you; they will never fail you, because to them you are everything and they themselves are nothing. They will never deceive you; they will never ridicule you; they will never fail you, because to them you are God/Goddess-nature, to be served and they are your servants. No matter what befalls you, No matter what you become, They await you always. They know you; they serve you; they love .

you. Their love for you, in the changing world, is unchanging. Their love, beloved, is unchanging.

A non-Witch (someone not initiated) is referred to as a cowan. Generally cowans cannot attend Circles, though some traditions do have allowances for such visitors. I personally think cowans should be able to sit-in at the religious rites (not the working of magick, however), if all of the coven are agreeable—and if the coven works robed rather than skyclad. What better way to learn of the true spirit of the Old Religion and to determine whether or not it is the path sought? It also, incidentally, is excellent Public Relations, helping straighten the popular misconceptions.

Participation is very important in religion. One of the detractions of Christianity, I think, is the fact that the average worshipper is little more than a spectator.

Sitting in the "audience", as it were, s/he can only watch most of the ritual along with the rest of the crowd. How different in the Craft where, as a member of the coven "family", you are right there in the middle, taking part.

Expound on this idea. As much as possible give different coven members things to do. At each meeting (or on a rotating system) have one person in charge of the incense; another to see that the wine is topped-up; another to turn the pages of the book, etc.. All are supposedly equal in the Circle; the ritual leaders (coven Priest and Priestess) are just that... leaders, not rulers. PRIESTHOOD IS LEADERSHIP, NOT POWER You will find that the rituals in the pages that follow are written to include as many people as possible.

Once initiated you are a Witch and Priest/ess. The Craft is a religion of priesthood, which is how it is possible for Solitaries to conduct their own rites. I might say a word here about titles. Everyone initiated is a Witch, but in none of the major traditions is the word used as a title, as I mentioned briefly in Lesson Three. In other words, you are not known as "Witch Lema" or "Witch Scire", or whatever your name. You are simply "Lema" or "Scire". Some traditions do use the titles "Lord" and "Lady" however. In Gardnerian, and in Saxon, the High Priestess (only) is referred to as "Lady Freyan" (or whatever her name) and, when speaking to her, you would use the phrase "my lady". But none of the other females is so addressed. As stated, in traditions other than these both "Lord" and "Lady" seem to be applied indiscriminately. I don't know if there is any historical precedent for this but, as with so many things, it doesn't really matter ... it's again a case of what suits you.

I am going to completely by-pass any discussion of the titles "Queen" or "King". Covens are autonomous and there are no" leaders of all Witches" recognized in Wicca, regardless of occasional claims to the contrary.


The name given to the home of the coven (the place where it always, or most often, meets) is the Covenstead. Within the Covenstead, of course, is found the Temple. The Covendom traditionally extends for one league (approximately three miles) in all directions from the Covenstead. This is the area where, traditionally, the coven's Witches live. It used to be that one Covendom could not overlap another, so one Covenstead would never be closer than six miles to the next. These days those-6fd boundaries are seldom honored. However, you should still refer to your own coven meeting-place as the Covenstead and, if you wish, you can think of any distance up to halfway between your Covenstead and the next, as the Covendom radius.


Fundamentals of Magick

Fundamentals of Magick

Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.

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