In the magickal community, there are certain social expectations that we are expected to follow. One of the big ones is coven poaching. You're probably wondering what coven poaching is, and why it's relevant, so I will answer some FAQ's below.
Q: What is coven poaching?
A: Coven poaching is when a one coven lures a member of another coven away from their group. For example: Sarah is a member of Coven A, and while at an event, she's approached by Anne who is a member of Coven B. Anne convinces Sarah to attend an event hosted by coven B, and while she's there, Anne asks very specific questions that get Sarah to talk about her dislikes regarding coven A. Anne then "casually" suggests that coven A isn't a good fit for Sarah, and suggests that she join coven B. Sarah agrees, and abandons Coven A, to join coven B, leaving her priestess and former coven mates feeling betrayed, and otherwise disrespected. Coven A and Coven B are now at odds, which causes strife within the tight knit magickal community.
Q: Why is it such a big deal?
A: The reason coven poaching is such a big deal is because it’s an act that lacks integrity. The pagan/witch community is tight knit and small, and as such we stick together. When one coven poaches a member from another, they're violating one of the basic principles of inter-coven relations and disrespecting many people. You see, when you join a coven, you take an oath to be a part of that group until you part on good terms. If you leave quickly and then join another group, you are breaking your oath. Perhaps you've heard the term "warlock"? In the witch community, warlock is not simply a synonym for witch. A warlock is someone who has been essentially shunned by the magickal community, and carrying the title identifies you as an oath breaker. Breaking an oath in this community is a huge no no.
Q: What if someone is in a coven but realizes it isn't a good fit, so they want to leave?
A: Sometimes things seem perfect but then tur out to not be, it happens, and that's ok. If a person is a part of a coven, and decides that it isn't a good fit, it is generally acceptable to depart on good terms. What that generally entails is, having a talk with the heads of your coven and discussing your concerns regarding your reasons for departing. It is also a good idea to write a formal letter of departure/resignation in order to be as civil as possible. If after being a part of a group you realize you'd like to move on, it is generally not an issue if done so respectfully, and with due warning.
Q: What should I do if another coven asks me to join if I'm already in a group?
A: If another coven approaches you and extends an invitation for membership but you're already in another group, you should politely explain that you are in no place to join another coven. While it is generally unacceptable to be in two covens at once, it is often ok to guest with other groups with your priest(ess)'s permission.
Q: Why can't I just be in both coven's?
A: Once again, it’s a matter of integrity. When you join a coven, you take oaths regarding loyalty and respect, and since most coven work is secret, it is considered risky and unacceptable to be in two at once. When you make a promise to one group, you should keep it and do so with a pure heart.
Q: My coven has a hive/ sister coven that I am equally as involved with, is that not OK?
A: As a general rule, if your coven has a sister coven or hive, they are going to be overseen/ or in communication with your Priest(ess). As far as hives go, many Priest(esses) will send in experienced coven members to help establish the new coven. Because it has been discussed, it is acceptable. However, if your secondary group interest isn't a sister coven or hive, it is disrespectful to be involved.
Q: I am involved with a group that occasionally/ frequently poaches new members, what should I do?
A: If your coven is continuously poaching members, it is in your best interest to leave. The reasons for this include, 1. If your coven is willing to poach, they likely lack morality, and may screw you over in the long run. 2. Once it comes out in the open that your coven poaches, you WILL face discrimination from the community, and you may lose significant social standing among fellow pagans and witches. That being said, no one wants to dedicate themselves to a group that is willing to hurt it's community.
If you end up dealing with coven poaching, regardless of what side you find yourself on, you should try to distance yourself from the situation. Moreover, make sure you know a group well before you join. I hope this I=has been helpful and have a good day!
Lady Wynnie is the ArchPriestess and founder of Covenant of the Rose. She is also a talented writer who will be blogging about the coven and it's happenings!