I began studying Wicca way back in 1987. In those days it was hard to find anything on the subject, but I lived in Chicago and after doing a lot of leg work I came across some books by Scott Cunningham. The first book I read was "Earth Magic" and it was through this book that I began to blossom. The next book, also by him, was "Wicca, A Guide for the Solitary Practioner". From that day on, I knew I had found my path and I began a vigorous search for others who were into Wicca. I have to tell you that even in Chicago that was difficult. Most covens did not themselves to new members unless they were introduced from within. Ultimately, I decided to go it alone and practice my spirituality based on what I was learning from books and what my heart told me.
Eventually, I did do work with some covens, attended several festivals, and broadened my horizons through these experiences, but I still choose to be a solitary. The reasons for this choice are:
1. I am eclectic in my beliefs and practices. I do not subscribe to one doctrine such as Dianic, I have studied all forms available and I choose what I feel is right for me, so long as it harm none.
3. There is no chance of an ego conflict between members of a coven when there is only one.
4. There are other reasons based on trust issues that I have, so this was the best choice for me.
There are down sides to this form of practice as well:
1. You are limited in your field of experience unless you do reach out to attend festivals, gatherings, etc.
2. When you have a "spiritual crisis" you will have to pull yourself out of it.
3. You will have no one to help you generate energy for certain works.
4. You will have to do a lot of independent studying.
5. You will have to be able to motivate yourself in doing rituals or the Sabbats and other occasions.
These things that I have mentioned cover only a small portion of the ins and outs of both types of practice, but they are what I have experienced to be the most important in my life. This decision should be made after careful consideration of what your lifestyle is and what you need to make your spirituality you own. If you are in a position where your job or family may be in jeopardy, you will be much better off staying a solitary practioner. If it doesn't matter that you are "out of the broom closet" and you really want to experience coven worship then the Witchvox would be a good place to start to find groups in your area.
I feel that if I didn't caution you here, I would not be doing a good job as a guide. There are some really good Pagans and Wiccans out there, but as is in all the world, there are those who would take advantage of others. You must trust your instincts and your own inner guide when it comes to trusting others. I want you to make this your mantra while you are searching: IF IT DON'T FEEL RIGHT, DON'T DO IT! In other words, if you are asked to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or causes you a moral conflict, that is not for you. Some people will compromise themselves just so they can belong to something, don't be one of them. The right group will present itself, or you will continue on as a Solitary. The important thing is to practice your faith and to move forward in this life as the best person you can be.
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