Last night my (more eclectic) coven initiated three new members. Two of those members are young, in their early twenties, and as my wife and I were preparing for the ritual I confessed just how jealous I was that they were getting an initiation ritual so early in their lives as Witches. “Wouldn’t it have been great,” I said to Ari “if we had gotten such an experience twenty years ago?”
My wife laughed a bit, and reminded me that we probably would have turned such an opportunity down all those years ago. She also made sure to point out that I was “an asshole” back then, and besides, we were pretty committed to our idea of boot-strap Wicca at the time. In many ways initiation so early might have been a bad thing for me, at 24 I was kind of forced into writing ritual, and sometimes “trial by fire” actually works. I wouldn’t trade my early years in the Craft for anything, and yet . . . .
“Coven” is a word I’ve given a lot of thought to over the last few years, and until recently I’m not sure I was every really in one that functioned properly. I did a lot of rituals in my early years with people that I love and respect, but there were always road blocks that kept it from being all that it could have been. My last coven stop in Michigan was extremely promising, but there were only four of us, and while four people might technically count as a coven, it was a bit lacking sometimes. (Last night was a low turnout night for us, and there were still 11 people there.)
I’ve been worried the last couple of years that I’m becoming a bit jaded when it comes to Paganism, and that’s true to some degree. I’m jealous of my friends who seem to live in a magickal bubble nearly non-stop, and that’s just not me anymore. Sometimes I find myself needing to escape into sports, the Arrowverse, or random bar conversations . . . . . Books that I would have happily gobbled up five years ago I now sometimes dread reading, it’s tough to see your hobby turn into your job. (Don’t cry for me though, I LOVE what I do, I just need to escape from it sometimes).
On a more positive note, I don’t ever want to escape from ritual, in fact I still very much enjoy disappearing into it. I dance and prance around the house in the moments leading up to circle, and after we’re done I’m usually so wired that I’m unable to sleep. Last night after the coven left the house and Ari went to bed (she had to work this morning) the scent of our group’s incense drifted from the ritual room into our living room. It was intoxicating, and just that little fragment of our experience as Witches took my head back into ritual space. I love what we’ve built over the last five years with our Oak Court** group, and I still get goosebumps during ritual, and sometimes still afterwards.
As I write this a bouquet of flowers we put on the altar we set up in my office (initiation rituals often have a lot of moving parts) is assaulting my olfactory nerve. The scent is pleasant and sweet, and I hope it’s something that last night’s initiates were able to pick up on. I’ve probably conducted thirty initiation rituals over the last five years and I always worry that they aren’t going to be good enough. My initiation was once in a lifetime fantastic, and I worry that I’m not a skillful enough Witch to duplicate such things. I’m jealous of people who are better at this Witch-stuff than I am.I’m also jealous of people who get to passively observe an initiation ritual taking place. Every initiation I’ve been a part of I’ve either been the initiate or the one doing the initiating. I’ve never gotten to just simply watch what’s going on, instead I had to worry about what was going on and attempt not to screw up the experience of my initiates. As I said to one of my coven-brothers last night, “how cool, you get to see all of this happening.” He nodded in the affirmative and told me just how informative watching our coven’s initiation rite is.
My mind often wanders while I write and this morning I’m envisioning John Beckett typing away deep down in Denton Texas. Over the last year my blog output has taken a pretty sharp downturn, I often feel like I’m out of stuff to write about here. And yet John not only still finds amazing things to write about (and he’s been doing it much longer than I have), he does it three or four times a week. If you were wondering, damn right I’m jealous. Not only do I wish I had that much to say, I wish I could articulate the things I’m passionate about with the clarity and skill John does.
Tempest Zakroff and I might write a book together (most likely “The Witch’s Altar” since all I write about are tools apparently), and do it while she’s simultaneously writing two other books. Those books are in addition to all of her other endeavors: touring the country, bellydancing, making awesome art, getting people to reply to her emails, writing here more than I do, and several other things. I’m jealous of her time-turner (she has to be using one), her energy, and how she’s good at 96 things while I’m only marginally skillful at perhaps one thing (drinking cider).
I’ve been working on a third book and since September I’ve managed to write a measly 40,000 words . . . 60,000 or so to go! I’m jealous of those with the discipline to write everyday and do it quickly. I write like the pokey-little-puppy, and I feel like I’ve accomplished a major something when I get 1000 words down in three or four hours (though in fairness this new book is going to be awesome when it’s done, if it ever gets done).
Jealousy is an emotion I don’t take lightly. It’s not good to covet to your neighbor’s wife (that’s metaphorical, I don’t actually have that problem), but it does serve some good. My jealousy often inspires me to try harder. It makes me want to create the best coven experience, the best rituals, and sometimes even write to keep up with my peers. Probably best to embrace it too, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
*At least Ari is competent, I’m not sure about her spouse.
**Oak Court name of our coven, also the name of our street. It’s not nearly as cool and as regal as it sounds.