I have found that there are many types of coven structures, as individual as the practitioners within them. There is no right or wrong way, there is only your way. Having said that my experience was with a traditional coven and what I lay out here is our way.
As I have said, I spent my year and a day under the tutelage of a traditional coven. Similar to many other covens, they had their own way about them. They were not Wiccan and did not follow those redes or structures, certainly there might be overlap in practices of the craft, but in general their foundations followed their own specific path. The coven, in my descriptions might be categorized as an, “American” coven, drawing practices from a melting pot of paths over time. They are quite old and as such have had their own ebbs and flows in initiations. I find that they find the witch rather than the witch finding them, but how ever it is, that is their way. There is a mix of Native American Wisdom, Celtic, and old Slave traditions to name a few, certainly drawing from root-work among other things. The focus was not on any particular religion, but rather a devout spirituality and respect for nature, nature creatures, and the inner workings of the spiritual world. The coven in it’s evolutions over time and has continually been practicing for many generations; despite the shifting paths of individual members there were some things that remained a solid foundation in the teachings. One of these was the positions of the coven; these seem to represent more of archetypes in the universe than specific positions and with each role, specific skills sets seemed to accompany the title. I have only met a tiny few others outside of the coven who have also had these teachings and share in the knowledge, but I see hints of it here and there in other paths. This is my path and I share it here, to keep the knowledge alive, to reach out to others that are searching and who also travel my path either before me or after. You will find this and know its truth.
First I should say that this coven has never and will never include men. We have nothing against men, as I am for sure a great lover of men, but this path is a woman’s path and the tools within the coven have never been touched by or included men in their workings. I don’t mean to be exclusionary, but there is an energy of women working together, and women’s circles that this finds its foundation on. There are male spirits that we work with and partner with, but the coven as a whole initiates only women. There is no such title as High Priestess or any other title, but rather a Grandmother and a Mother of the coven, and then the following positions in no particular order: Healer, Warrior, Thief, Magician, and Balancer. These positions are all of equal standing in the coven, with only the Grandmother role as the eldest and final tie breaker in decision making.
Grandmother: the Role of the grandmother is to lead the coven in times that warrant governing; that is disagreements, final decision making, and someone for the coven to look up to in times of need. She carries the full responsibility of the coven upon her shoulders and is responsible for mentoring both the mother to replace her as well as the other members as she sees fit. She is treated with reverence as she is a supreme crone, but she is humble and does not lord her position over anyone. She is cared for as the coven is cared for. She is responsible in knowing all of the skills and talents of the other positions and when one of those positions is lacking, it is her skill that must fill in.
Mother: The role of the mother is next in line to become the grandmother. She handles minor squabbles trying to avoid bothering the grandmother with them. She is in training to become grandmother and as such is learning the other skill sets of the other roles in preparation for her eventual grandmother position. She will help to prepare altar and perform most of the rituals of the coven. She will begin to think about who will be mother when she becomes grandmother.
Healer: The Healer role is exactly what it sounds like. Her role is to perform healing tasks for the coven and outside of the coven, and to help direct the coven in healing rituals. She will have skills in many modes of healing from herbs, crystals, oils, and other energy work. She works to heal and break curses, healing people and animals as well as the environment as needed, ie., places of sorrow, house blessings, etc. as well as larger healing of groups. This could include anything from reiki circles to groups of people after tragic events. Her color is most associated with greens and when honoring her, green candles are used to dress the altar. Her tool most associated is the Wand. Burning a feather or sweet grass are also favored in the honoring of her spirit.
Warrior: The role of the warrior is to protect the coven from seen and unseen dangers, tend the fires, and open portals to other dimensions. They tend to have great musical abilities, fire making and maintaining abilities naturally as well as some healing abilities. They are protectors rather than aggressors, although they are formidable advisories when forced into battle. Their colors are most often associated with red and the tool most connected with them is the Athame. Their musical abilities often include voice as well as instruments and the music has its own kind of magic, varying from individual to individual; very often the music leads the path to the desired direction regardless of which dimension or realm. As long as the coven is clear on their intent the song will make its way to the warrior first in some fashion for them to clear the path for the work to occur.
Thief: The role of the thief, while a term not often embraced by modern culture, is one of respect and whose abilities are aligned with manifestation. Their duty is to procure things for the various needs of the coven. They are observant, cunning and sly; often going unnoticed into areas and can easily assemble key items necessary for whatever ceremony is at hand. They are invaluable to the coven as a whole. When honoring the thief in ceremony most often a blue candle is used for communication and any number of shiny things are place upon the altar to be attractive to them. I am often reminded of the energy of the raven or crow when thinking of the thief, again there is no negative connotation with this position, it is an archetypal role valuable in the greater universe at large. They are affable types of people and are quite endearing. You will want to give them things to help them out without them even asking.
Magician: The magician is perhaps the trickiest of all of the roles to define. Their task goes beyond the logics of modern physics and they can create with skill and knowledge, energy out of nothing. They have a great talent with crystals and grids and are able to manipulate these items to create out of the various energetic fields on the physical plane. This is the most complex of all the roles and a difficult position to fill. They are honored with the color purple, crystals, and sigils. Don’t be surprised if they quickly place your crystals into specific patterns. The crystals will vibrate and almost or probably speak to them. They work in other dimensions. Magicians are a rare find these days, when once is located, thy most often do not fully understand their gifts and how to use them. It is a dying art. The Olympian Sprit Och is an example of a true magician. Many may call themselves magicians, but in these terms they simply do not fit the bill.
Balancer: The role of the balancer is exactly what it says, to create balance. As such, they have the difficult task of remaining impartial. Balancing is a form of healing, albeit a very specific form and requires a strong sense of self and deep control of the ego. Anubis is an example of a balancer. They are honored with both a black and a white candle that are bound together with a red thread or string. Most often a balancer will work in a land endeavor to rebalance the energy there, for instance if there has been a great tragedy or some other thing that has shifted the energy one way or another. They can be quite skillful in justice rituals and other types of workings, however, they take their time at looking at an issue, weighing and measuring all aspects of it to truly find where the balance is. They can be aloof and off putting at first, but they are quite amazing people.
So these are the positions of my traditional coven. The information may be shocking to you or something that you can recall from the deepest recesses of your mind. It is old information. Each role has bits of the other roles in them, as no one role is exclusive; as someone moves into a mother or grandmother role, those talents and requirements begin to enhance as they are worked on. Also, the roles change in lifetime after lifetime, you may be a healer in one life and a warrior in the other; it is about what role or archetype you are predominantly playing out in this lifetime. If there is a missing role in the coven, one of the other members will step in to fill that position. I have met a very small handful of people from different types of crafts over the years who also share in these teachings, but the numbers are dwindling. I think what is most important to understand is that it is not simply a status in a coven, it is something larger at work here. It is about women who are witches, not by choice but by birth is it not who they are, but what they are regardless of things such as hereditary, known family bloodlines, but rather in their spiritual roles in the universe and the larger positions for evolutionary shifts. There are all types of beings in human form, we all have a purpose to fulfill in each lifetime, not just for ourselves but in the larger picture. This is what I am talking about when I am referring to these archetypal roles. We are drawn together for a reason, we may separate again, but not before the knowledge and the understanding of the role has be reawakened.
Perhaps this resonates with you, or perhaps it feels like malarkey to you, it makes no matter. Those who the information is meant for will receive it and the others it will fall away. Blessings to you in whatever path your journey takes you.
2016 copyright by Katie Pifer http://www.witchpetals.wordpress.com