The group I formed with TS and IV was called the Sisterhood. That was a weighty title, but we chose it because we felt like sisters. When we spent time together, we fit well and we studied together for a time before we decided to formalize our group into a coven. Because TS and I were such close friends, I went into the coven with extremely high expectations — too high, in fact, for any coven to meet.
One of our first rituals together remains with me as one of the most powerful I’ve ever attended. It was a bonding ritual, and it was the first ritual I attended with people who really meant something to me. We spent the whole weekend together at IV’s house, made oils, gossiped, and generally had a great time. We bonded. The ritual worked. The next item on our agenda was a trip to Witchcamp in Northern California. If only we had known what to expect. Maybe we could have fortified ourselves as a group. Or maybe it was just meant to happen that way.
I wrote about my Witchcamp experience here at the Fire Spiral when I got home. I edited A LOT of details out for several reasons, not the least of which was that they didn’t seem relevant to the things I was sharing with this website at that time. I was bombarded with growth opportunities at camp. Overwhelmed by them, in fact. So overwhelmed that I pretty much lost the ability to function well as part of our group because I was too busy dealing with my own “stuff.” None of us handled it well. We argued, we had a tense ride home and ultimately, I left Arizona and the group.
Part of what I brought back from camp was the knowledge that I needed to leave Arizona, not because of the interpersonal stuff, but because I was really unhappy. The heat is intense. My job was going nowhere. When the opportunity to move to Illinois presented itself, I jumped on it. I think if things had gone differently at camp — if I had been better equipped to cope with everything that happened there — the move might not have happened. And you know… maybe that’s why things happened the way they did. Because my almost-four years in Illinois changed me tremendously as a priestess and Witch. The lessons of the next four years found their catalyst in my time with the Sisterhood because everything I did and learned about was held up to that example, to the potential that was not realized.
When I arrived in Illinois, my wounds from camp were still pretty fresh. Boudica and I had started working again a few months before I left Arizona and her stories about her coven back home kept me hopeful that the pieces could fall together for the right coven. Still, I felt hugely responsible for the debacle in Arizona — and I was, though not solely — and seriously doubted whether or not I could be a part of a healthy group. I did a lot of work to leave the events that had torn apart the Sisterhood behind me, to find compassion for myself and the others, and most importantly to move on. It was hard. I moved between taking full responsiblilty for what happened to taking none. The truth, as always, was somewhere in between.
After arriving in Illinois, I met with a local coven. The leader of this coven had led to me to believe she had a functioning, active coven. She didn’t, as it turned out. And for a short time, that was okay. I did a huge amount of organizing for her. I worked hard to support her and my covenmates. Unfortunately, the rituals were completely uninspiring, the high priestess was insecure and the study program non-existent. I was unhappy and one night, a woman I had met at coven, R, confided that she was unhappy too. I went home and called Boudica. We spoke about it at length and ultimately, I decided to leave the group and start a study circle. R came with me as a student.
The leaving didn’t go well. I tried to explain to the priestess that I was looking for something different in a coven, that my studies were headed in a different direction, but that I wanted to remain on good terms. She flat out said she couldn’t do that. What could I do? I wasn’t going to be strong-armed or guilt-tripped into sticking with a group that did not meet my needs, so I said I was sorry she felt that way and made my announcement — very democratically, I might add — to the rest of the group. We still had an event scheduled for the next day, and as it was scheduled at my house, and needed my know-how, I kept my commitment to host it.
There was one other person in that group who was looking for something more — MA. She let me know the next day that she shared some of my concerns, but, in her careful and considerate way, she wanted to spend a bit more time with the coven to see if it would work out. I thought this was great as I was deeply concerned that the priestess of that coven would think I was trying to steal members of her group — and I wasn’t. Unfortunately, nothing much happened after I left and MA ended up leaving the coven formally and joining with us. And the seed of Prairie Fire Coven was sown.
In the next (and last) installment, Diana’s Grove, Prairie Fire Coven, Midwest Reclaiming and finally, Desert Rain Coven.