[Ask Pagan Agony Auntie] When Your Coven Isn’t Forever


If you have a burning question that you want my input on, feel free to drop me a line at corvaxgirl [at] gmail [dottie] com and I will keep you anonymous and dazzle you with my insight.  Or not. Whatev. As always, you’re the captain of your own ship and feel free to disagree with me as often and loudly as you like!  

Dear Pagan Agony Auntie:

Years ago I was in a coven. It was awesome. Then after a few years, people lost interest/moved away/had babies, whatever, and it broke up. Several people from the coven (including the HP, who used to be my mentor) still live in my small town and I run into them fairly frequently in public. HP puts on pagan-related events in town, which is something apparently no other pagans around here do and she is kind of the “mover and shaker” one with all the connections, so if anything pagan goes down in town, I’m seeing her there. I am still on good terms (roughly speaking) with HP and she is the sort of person I would presumably still like to be friends with, were it an option. I was also fairly close with HP’s craft parent back in the day when we had a mutual activity going. However. There is the HP’s SO, who….well, the HP started her own coven again with her SO and another friend of theirs, and supposedly they were taking new members. When I asked about this, I was told the group was closed, and that SO was “…done” with the folks in the old group. Oh yeah, and supposedly none of us would be allowed in their new home, per SO’s wishes. I have slowly come to the conclusion that HP was being polite and that really translates into “My SO now hates your guts.” Yes, mine personally, as the other ex-covenfolks remaining in town are apparently not getting this behavior. I haven’t the faintest idea what the hell I did to tick SO off (we were generally friendly, but SO is kind of a naturally cranky person as far as I can tell and for all I know SO just turned on me), I’ve racked my brains and am at a loss…but then again, I’m used to having people hate my guts at first sight or start to unexpectedly, so I guess that happened again. Or maybe I’m just a generally awful person and killed her pets and raped her couch for all I know.

What this boils down to is: if I run into HP or her craft parent alone, they are perfectly friendly and it’s like old times, I’m sometimes even encouraged to talk to them privately. Which I don’t do, because… If I run into HP and/or her craft family with SO there (let’s say in public and in such a way that I can’t just “pretend I didn’t see you”, which I do when I can), everyone BARELY ACKNOWLEDGES that I said hi, and then they literally move as far away from me as they can get in public. It’s like I have the cooties. I get the feeling that they all wish I’d creep away in shame or “pretend I didn’t see them” even though they were standing right in front of a door when I walked in. For the record, HP and her craft parent will not say anything to me about what’s gone on, I can only assume that SO told them not to tell me. Craft parent said they would ask what the problem was, and then I never heard anything again, so you get the drift. Craft parent also dropped the mutual activity we did together to do something with SO that I was specifically not wanted at and I rarely even talk to them any more…. so the evidence is pretty good that SO just wants them all to avoid me like the the plague.

I’m aware that SO is considered “family” and despite the whole “coven = family” bullshit, I am now NOT family, and they clearly had to pick sides and everyone is picking the one that is going to be the life partner/in the family forever. I get that. I’m just confused as to how I should behave here. Should I just publicly snub the shit out of all of them as per SO’s apparent wishes, “pretend I didn’t see you,” etc? I miss my friends, and when I’m around them alone they don’t seem to hate my guts, which just fucks with my head and confuses me. Every time I’m at pagan events that HP is at (SO rarely attends), everything is like the old days. I just don’t know what the hell I am supposed to be doing here. I’ve tried to find other pagan folks interested in coven-ing (without HP) here, but so far there haven’t been takers/lots of solitaries. Or maybe I just suck, that could be the case as well. But for the long term, I have to reasonably assume that I’ll be running into these folks, with and without SO, for the foreseeable future. And I still haven’t figured out how I should handle the snub.

I Guess I’m Just Horrible?


Hi Horrible,

You mention that people find you off putting several times in your email.  I think it’s worth investigating that a little with some really trusted friends/family members.  Consider asking them, “Hey, I’m having trouble connecting with new people and I’m having a long standing social issue with someone.  Do I come off really strong at first?  Or stand off-ish?  Or rude?  This is something I’d like to work on if that’s the case.”  But . . .when you ask that, you have to be willing to take the constructive criticism and actually work to fix the issue if it is you.  For instance, I personally often suffer from what I call “hoof in mouth disease” (my hoof is often so in my mouth, it’s saying hello to my throat chakra) and it’s something I try to work on.

How long have you been in your community?  I’ve been in mine since I was twenty-two and I’m thirty-four now.  My social graces weren’t nearly as developed at twenty-two as they are now at thirty-four, I had a lot of “youthful indiscretions”, I have a big mouth and not every friendship/relationship I formed then was forever.  This becomes a problem when twelve years later it’s mostly the same members in the community and everyone remembers every stupid thing you’ve ever done ever and small communities looooooooooooooooooove to gossip.  I tended to keep my mouth shut about any falling out I had with whomever (until I learned how to politically phrase something) and that favor wasn’t always returned.  Guess who tended to be painted badly in that situation?

All that aside, it’s incredibly possible that the SO hates you for little to no reason and not for anything you would have ever recalled doing and would have likely apologized for if given the chance.  People are fun that way.  Ideally, the best thing to do would be to ask SO to speak to him/her privately at the next event you are both in attendance and say, “Listen, I feel like I may have offended you at some point which was never my intention.  If I have, I apologize and I would like to talk about what’s bothering you.  It’s a small community and we’re not going to be able to avoid each other forever, I would like to be cordial to each other if we could be.”  The SO will then either deny that s/he has a problem with you which makes it really hard to make any headway or will decide to be a grown up and hash it out.

Either way, I would personally make the decision to figure out for myself which would cause me less aggro: Pretend to not see any of them and brush them off as quickly as possible if they do speak to you and decide not to be involved with them in any capacity at all or accept that somewhere along the line things got weird, they will (unfortunately) never be as they once were, you’re not friends any more and that you’ll be cordial and charming whenever you see them even if it feels like a cold, wet, dead fish on the floor and that you will try to be hung up on the hows and the whys of the situation/how they respond to you.  It’s the almost friendship that’s messing you up because you start to hope and think maybe things will be as they once were again because they’re so friendly and awesome when they’re not with SO.  But they’re not really your friends at this point because if they were, they wouldn’t act like you were contagious whenever SO is around just because s/he doesn’t like you, their priorities have already been set.  You’re still going to have to see them though if you want to be in the community because, again, that’s the joy of a small community.

I know that local events are run by your ex-coven mate, but perhaps you can get involved with the events in some way that will better help you connect to others without the aggro of YOU ACT LIKE YOU LIKE ME BUT ONLY SOMETIMES!  ARE WE FRIENDS OR WHAT!   Volunteer to be the event greeter, offer to kitchen witch, offer to help with registration, something sort of behind the scenes that lets you interact with a lot of people.  It may help you find new like minded friends to hang out with at events.

Magically speaking, I would consider doing a few things:

* Bake a sweet bread with honey in it with the intention to sweeten other people’s dispositions towards you.  You’ll be literally breaking bread which generally helps

* Consider a gentle glamour for others to find you charming, perhaps Miss Spice’s hand sanitizer trick.

* On a full moon, fix a white candle with agrimony, lavender, cloves, High John and coltsfoot.  Keep a pinch of these herbs to the side.  Write down on a piece of paper (without your pencil leaving the paper, if it does, start over) what you would like in a coven and in coven mates.  Sprinkle the herbs on the paper and roll it up towards you.  Tie the paper around the glass container of your candle.  Focus your will on the candle and light it.  Keep it lit until it burns out all together if possible.  Keep the petition paper on your altar space or under your mattress until you find the right group.  Burn the paper bundle after you find the right group.

Good luck!



Deborah Castellano
Deborah Castellano's book Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want is available for purchase through Amazon, Llewellyn and Barnes and Noble.
Her frequently updated catalogue of published work is available on Author Central.

She writes about Glamour Magic here at Charmed, I'm Sure. Her podcast appearances are available here.

Her craft shop, The Mermaid & The Crow specializes in old-world style workshop from 100% local, sustainable sources featuring tempting small batch ritual oils and hand-spun hand-dyed yarn in luxe fibers and more!

In a previous life, Deborah founded the first Neo-Victorian/Steampunk convention, SalonCon which received rave reviews from con-goers and interviews from the New York Times and MTV.

She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Jow and their cat, Max II. She has a terrible reality television habit she can't shake and likes St. Germain liquor, record players and typewriters.  


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