Friday, June 17, 2011

Conjuring up a Coven - All of your very Own

Good Morning,
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about covens vs. solitaries. Many solitary Witches think that finding a coven is like achieving nirvana. It’s become sort of the holy grail of Wicca. The old “If I am good enough, study hard enough, am in the right place at the right time, or the stars have aligned…. Then I will find the perfect coven.”  It always startles the hell out of me when I meet people at festivals and they start politicking hard, thinking that maybe they can try and talk their way into my coven. Oh crap.

I’d like to say my psychic senses always kick in ahead of time and that I am able to deftly dance around these types of folks, but no. I am so busy being friendly to a fan or chatting with an acquaintance- that I am usually clueless until the schmoozing begins. Some folks are sincere, and I have had a few who got desperate and started pleading, and others who were pushy, rude and downright calculating.
Here is a tip- all that desperation and or calculation is going to get you nowhere- fast. No matter what coven you would like to join. There are plenty of folks out there looking to take advantage of a novice. So be smart and don’t be desperate. Be selective! There are public covens that are good ones. Check those out and see who you meet.
Where do you find them? Well ask around at local festivals and magick shops. See who is teaching classes or if a public coven is offering classes, or meet ups. Go be social in your community, and be smart and safe. You may get lucky and find some new magickal friends and even a good coven. Expect to have to wade your way through a few not-so good ones. It’s all part of the learning process. Be careful and be SELECTIVE! You don’t have to settle.

Also you need to realize that there are many, covens that are closed to the public- not because they think they are better than anyone else- but because what they has works. And they do not want to upset the apple cart and add new members and potential problems to the mix. Its not about elitism, its about preservation and caution.

The truth is the best covens just sort of happen. I have been a member of a working coven for a long time. Off and on for over 20 years. Has it always been the same coven? Nope. People come and go, covens drift apart or break up. Sometimes a coven can hold for a decade, and then people drift away or leave for various reasons; such as moving, different views on the Craft, or just growing apart. When that happens the coven gets renamed and a re-birth begins.
That actually happened with my own coven last year. We survived it. But it was a lot of work and a re-focusing. So to say that we are a tight group now, would be an understatement. Yes, we have had guests to our gatherings, but that’s it. We are all too protective of what we have to risk bringing an unknown possible member into the mix at this time.

So, maybe you are wondering, well, what does holds a successful coven together? Oh that’s simple. Friendship. There will not be any grand-high-pooh-bah nonsense, what there will be is a bond of friendship and unity. You should be friends, close friends with the people in your coven. At it’s core a coven is a magickal family. That friendship is so strong that the members become your second family. And you don’t find that everyday. It takes time and effort and honestly, why should anyone settle for less?

So for the person who is devouring this thinking that the answer to finding their own coven lies hidden somewhere within….My advice is to you is to keep studying on your own, develop your magickal skills and just be yourself.  Talk to your other magickal friends, and slowly make more magickal friends- and then see what develops. Start a study group yourself, and in time if everyone gets along you can turn that into a circle. If the circle holds for a year or so then start formalizing and make it into your own coven.

Yes, you can create your own coven. New circles and covens are born every day. If you have more than two people working and studying magick together, you have the beginnings of a coven. Take your time and decide what your goals are as a future group, together- and expand slowly out from there. For more information about this “Creating your own Circle” topic, refer to my book Natural Witchery. (Pictured on the right.) Chapter 5 will walk you through the basics.

In the meantime remember- even members of working covens still perform solitary magick.  After all, a coven is not the place to dump all your magickal problems and projects- you should take care of those on your own. As a matter of fact, the majority of magick that I do is performed on my own. The Coven is for celebrating Sabbats and Esbats. It is also about enjoying the friendship I have with the folks in my coven. We are different from each other- yet we are the same. That’s what makes it fun and honestly this is where the strongest magick comes from!

Blessed be, Ellen

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summertime Picnic for Witches- The Pagan Picnic

Yesterday my husband and I loaded up our car with my big Rubbermaid tote full of copies of all 12 of my books, a cooler, lawn chairs, bug spray, sunscreen, my coven sister and fellow author Ember Grant - her books and chair and cooler, and then caravanned out to Tower Grove Park in downtown St. Louis-- with another friend of ours Heather, to attended the 19th annual Pagan Picnic.
Heather, Ellen & Ember

For once, the weather was lovely. Last year it was 100 degrees and the humidity was sky high. This year it was in the high 80’s and a breeze would come through occasionally. Very nice! Ember and I decided to just do one day at the Picnic this year. Last year the heat was so intense it was a miserable two days. Plus I always sell more books on Saturday and very few on Sundays- so this was a simple decision for me.

We arrived at the park before 9:00am had help hauling our stuff in. Ember and I set straight to work setting up our books at our assigned tables at the authors row. My friend Heather had never been to the picnic before so she was thrilled with all the vendors and the sheer size of the event. So she and my husband Ken, went out to go look at all the vendors and Ember and I settled in and got to work. I should have brought more copies of Practical Protection Magick with me. I had 20 copies and sold half of them in the first hour and a half. I set the rest aside for after my lecture- as I knew I’d have a big surge of people immediately following.

Sometimes I’ll bring copies of Autumn Equinox and they sit on the table- ignored due to the fact that its summer and not fall. My book Elements of Witchcraft is the same. Sometimes I sell few of them and other years they get snapped up quickly… So it’s a guessing game. Yesterday folks were in a book buying mood. As I started out with over 60 books and brought home less than 10 by the time the afternoon was over.
Llewellyn Authors at the Picnic: Ember Grant, Ellen Dugan & Melanie Marquis
Anyway, we had a great time. I met lots of wonderful fans and my lecture on Protection Magick was packed. I met new Llewellyn author Melanie Marquis, and got to see Raven Emyrs again. Here we are mugging for the camera.
Ellen and Raven Emyrs
All in all one of the better Picnics I have attended. Around 4:00pm the picnic was winding down for the day so we packed up and headed out to get Mexican food for dinner- which has become a standing tradition with my husband and I for the past 4 years. This year we took Ember out to dinner and the three of us each ordered a huge margarita with our meal.
So we wound down relaxed and enjoyed our dinner and then headed for home. Today I have to start some articles for the 2013 Witches Calendar and Llewellyn’s Magical Almanac, and catch up on laundry, work in the gardens and go to the grocery store. (Ah… real life has to intrude again.)
I hope you enjoyed the pictures of the picnic. Happy almost-summer!

Blessed  be, Ellen

Monday, June 6, 2011

Announcing the working title of my thirteenth book….


I called on my coven sister and fellow witchy writer Ember Grant yesterday and she came over and helped me index the 13th  manuscript. It took a couple of hours and a bottle of wine. But we got it all done! Interestingly I just did the same for her a week or so ago for her 2nd book. That’s’ what friends do- we help each other out. We had a great time working on each other’s indexes. I saw enough of her second book to want a copy- BAD. Oooh its going to be a good one. She said darn near the same thing about my 13th book last night.  Which made us both giggle.

I’m a little slap happy at the moment. (Not from any wine last night) but because I got up an jogged and then walked an extra mile after the jog, came home lifted weights did the damn crunches ate a bowl of cereal and then… typed up the list of terms for the index. After that was finished I shipped out my thirteenth book to my editor this morning. Whoo Hoo!

I just got the word that the manuscript is safe in her hot little hands and so now that it is, I can announce the working title. The final title may change slightly- but I imagine it will stay pretty close to what it is now.

The title and subtitle of the book are fairly self explanatory- You won’t have to wonder what this Witchery book is about… You will also understand why it took me an entire year to write instead of my typical 6 months.
The working title is-

Seasons of Witchery: Celebrating the Year with the Garden Witch

The book has an introduction, eight chapters- one for every sabbat- an appendix and a glossary. The manuscript  finished out at over 74,000 words!
So it will be a nice chunky book. Hooray!
In other news, I will be doing a radio blog talk interview on Wednesday evening, June 8th at Spiritfinders Radio. Here is the link If you want to listen in!

 Also this weekend, I will be at the St. Louis Pagan Picnic on Saturday only this year, June 11th, giving a free lecture on protection magick and selling and signing all of my books, oh and yes, I will have those little spell kits I blogged about before, with me.

Well, now I’m going to go relax. I have earned it!
FYI- Seasons of Witchery should be released in May or June of 2012. When I get a final title and release date I will let you all know.
Blessed be, Ellen