We are a Gardnerian Wiccan coven, based in London, UK. What that means is that members of this group are, or are training to be, initiated into Gardnerian Wicca by their high priest (HP) or high priestess (HPS), both of whom can trace their initiation ‘lineage’ back to Gerald Gardner. On this page you can find links to resources and books which can tell you more about the history and current state of Wicca.
Below is a collection of information and links to resources you might find useful if you are seeking to join a Wiccan coven – or, if you feel drawn to a pagan path of some description but are not yet certain. There is also information on this page about how to find and what to look for in a coven, if Wicca is truly your path – and importantly, what to avoid.
The end result might be that the best coven for you is not close by, or that it takes you some time to find it – but it is worth both the wait and the journey to find the right place for you.
Which pagan path?
This and other websites can teach you a few things about Wicca, however you may not be certain about your pathway. We recommend a few good resources which can tell you more about other pagan and occult groups and pathways if you are interested.
In the UK, there is quite a lot of interest (and therefore groups to join) in pagan paths such as Druidry, Heathenism, Asatru, Eclectic witchcraft, Reclaiming witchcraft, forest craft, hedgewitchery, Luciferianism and others. There are also extensive organisations centred around the practices of Aleister Crowley (the Ordo Templi Orientis or OTO), the teachings of Dion Fortune (The Temple of the Inner Light) and others. Here is a short list of some of the organisations you might want to look at for more research:
- The Children of Artemis (CoA) – witchcraft and wicca
- The Pagan Federation (PF)
- The Pagan & Heathen Symposium
- The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids (OBOD)
- The British Druid Order (BDO)
- The Order Templi Orientis (OTO)
- inclusive Wicca – a tendency within initiatory Wicca
- Gardnerian Wicca – some Wiccan history
Why Wicca? Why join a coven?
This is a commonly asked question and perhaps might be better in the FAQ section of this site. Why get initiated, when you can practice perfectly well on your own? Why go to the effort of joining a coven?
Covens are like families in some ways. We support each other through the highs and the lows and we work together, magically and very closely over what can be many, many years. It’s therefore vital to spend your time now understanding what you personally want from a coven, as well as working out what you don’t want.
Coven work is not for everyone, but there are definitely benefits. Can you achieve the same things in your spiritual life by yourself without initiation? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say ‘no’. I’m not saying that solitary practice does not bring benefits or that it is any ‘less’ than an initiation into the craft. I am however saying that it would not bring the same benefits. Here’s what I think those are:
- Tradition: Getting an initiation into Wicca gives you access to the tradition, the currents, the group mind – the stuff you can only learn by doing, with others, and not through books or solitary practice. It is profoundly different.
- Community: Until you are initiated, you have no idea of the true strength, size, value, love, vibrancy and overall connectivity of the global Wiccan community. I honestly think that in the game of ‘six degrees of separation’, most Wiccans are only 1-2 degrees apart, few are more than 4.
- Rigour: Being part of a group holds you to a regular practice which it is easy to slip out of on your own. I don’t think this can be underestimated, in my opinion.
- Experience: Wicca is experiential, however the experience of being in a coven, of sharing magical practice and learning from the vast community – it’s unquantifiable. I learn things on an almost daily basis from the community. I’ve experienced incredible rituals I couldn’t have dreamed up and had truly magical experiences which others have created.
In short, I think getting initiated into Wicca has enriched my life far more than my solitary practice ever did – which is NOT to say that my solitary practice hasn’t in turn enriched my Wiccan practice. They are both important. But they are different.
Here are some links to learn more about Gardnerian Wicca
How to find a coven
Well, you’ve found us! But we may not be right for you. Finding a coven these days is a lot simpler than it used to be, when you either had to write to an address you found in the back of an occult magazine, or stumble across a witch (which is how I found my way in, 35 years ago).
We highly recommend going onto Facebook and searching for ‘Wiccan Seekers’ – we particularly recommend the ‘Gardnerian Wicca Seekers & Initiates’ and ‘Alexandrian Wicca Seekers & Initiates’ pages. You will find a range of groups there in which valid Wiccans (everyone claiming to be a coven leader is vouched for by other coven leaders who know them personally) are on hand to answer questions from seekers. Each page also carries a list of vouched-for covens in the UK and US, who are open to seekers. If you are LGTBQ+, search for ‘inclusive Wicca discussion group’ or ‘LGTBQ Wicca’ groups for more information.
The Children of Artemis facebook page also has listings for local ‘moots’ – generally informal meetings, often in pubs, where people can get together and chat. This is a great way to meet people safely and get to know them.
If you can’t find a local coven in the lists, you can always ask and people are generally happy to put you in touch with someone. There are other groups for covens in other countries – Wicca is global and you are generally going to be able to find people in your country, although they may not always be close by.
Here are some great articles written by other witches which you might want to read:
- Mandragoria Magica – online resource for finding pagan groups
- How to find and join a coven – Thorn Mooney
- London events calendar – The Bad Witches Blog
What to look for in a coven – and what to avoid
There are some excellent guidelines on the internet which tell seekers what they might want to look out for – and what they might want to avoid.
Any valid coven will be happy for you to talk to them and after a conversation, many will be happy to introduce you to more people in the group in order for them – and you – to assess whether or not you might be a good fit. If not then they should also be willing to recommend others for you to speak to. While covens are by nature quite secretive and some do not let seekers meet the entire coven until they are ready for initiation, you should be able to ask most questions.
If you are not sure about a person or a coven you are approaching, DO ask for a ‘vouch’. Everyone who initiates into Wicca, all the way back to the eldest of our members, understands this system and would be happy – even proud – for you to seek third-party validation of their claims. A common way is to go into the Alexandrian or Gardnerian Wicca Seekers groups on Facebook and just ask. You will soon have a number of people offering to help you. Any person claiming to be Wiccan in those traditions (ie Gardnerian Wicca or Alexandrian Wicca), who does not happily allow you to seek a vouch for their validity as an initiated Wiccan, may have something to hide.
There are, very sadly, some less-than-scrupulous covens around and it is vital that you understand some of the red flags. In our experience, dodgy covens (and dodgy witches) take two common forms (not to say there are not others). Firstly, some people claim to be Wiccan who are not. While this may not seem that bad (indeed, there is a vast community of wonderful people practicing wicca-based witchcraft, many of whom we are proud to count as friends), this has in the past led to people thinking they’ve been initiated and then being confused and hurt at not being allowed into the rich community of initated Wicca. Secondly and much more seriously, as in any area of society there are people who claim power in order to faciliate abuse. In ‘fake’ Wicca this can lead to issues ranging from coersive control to sexual abuse. If you experience this in a coven, firstly, report it to the authorities and secondly, know that this is not tolerated within real initiatory Wicca.
We recommend that you read through the links in the articles below.
Gardnerian or Alexandrian?
So, you’ve read the above and you have decided you’d like to seek a Wiccan coven. We often get asked about the difference between Alexandrian and Gardnerian covens, so this is our take on it. The differences between Alexandrian and Gardnerian covens are, at least here in the UK, narrowing quite a lot (indeed, many Wiccans have trained in both paths), however we think it’s fair to summarise those differences as follows, bearing in mind that this is very over-simplistic.
At the most basic level, Gardnerian covens follow the practice laid out by Gerald Gardner, the founder of Wicca; while Alexandrians follow a practice as laid out by Alex Sanders, who was initiated as a Gardnerian but quickly moved things along. While they share a lot of similarities in structure, Alexandrians tend to integrate more ‘high’ or ‘western’ magic into their practice than Gardnerians.
Having said that, many Gardnerians also practice in this way, and therefore the suggestion might be to find the coven that fits, rather than the label.