It has been over six months since Hubby and I were released from a coven that had once felt like our family. At the time I was hurt, but I moved on, only to now discover an inescapable anger at not ever getting the chance to discuss any of it before it was taken to the Elders of our tradition, never getting the chance to explain or defend myself against things that had been either blown out of proportion or just plain made up. This lead to feelings that I was broken in some way. Maybe I was delusional and this other version of reality was the truth. I was confused, but now it dawns on me that I honestly have no idea where any of it came from.
The first big sign that there was a problem was being told my attendance was an issue. Up until that year I had only missed one event, one that had been rescheduled for our moving day after it had been set . Up until that year I had been to more events in my tenure with the coven than the High Priest, who always had a creative excuse, and was never questioned. The only reason I started missing events was a change in work schedule that meant working on Sundays, the day most of our events were held to accommodate people who worked on Saturdays. I was even content to bid for a schedule I hated to get Sundays off, but the seniority based bidding system was not in my favour. Not knowing if I could get the shifts covered made it hard to commit myself to jobs for these events, which would leave the coven in more of a bind if I couldn’t make it. To make up for this I would be the first to volunteer day of and first to support coven mates in any other way I could.
We were also told we didn’t answer emails on time, something I admit I’m terrible at, but I detest Yahoo groups as it seems to hate smartphones, and it had honestly never dawned on my to send messages via Facebook until it was angrily thrown in my face that I could and should have done so. I Hoot Suite my status updates. That’s about as far as my internet communication goes when I’m at work or sleeping on couches on work nights. I assumed anything pertinent enough would warrant a phone call or text and gave input I had as soon as I had the means. Never did I read in any charter that I was required to be glued to Yahoo. Along that line, whenever I did have anything I felt would actually enrich the conversation in any way I posted it, and it was usually ignored, blown off, or rejected anyway.
Which lead to the next journey in lack of perspective, my attitude and behaviour at events. I can be talkative, but when I’m processing or thinking I’m quiet. It’s not an attitude. I’m not sad or angry or miserable. I’m contemplative. I’m quiet. I also have Fibromyalgia and have learned how best to reserve my energy for when it is really important, so I’d store it during meet and greet in order to have it during rituals. Still, I was told that my “unpredictable” behaviour had been addressed several times and had not been corrected. Wait, what? When did this happen? Was it on a Sunday, because I probably was not there. The best part was the claim that I brought a “dark energy”(scary, I know) to rituals with me, that it was questionable whether or not it was to the benefit of the coven that I be sharing it, and that it had also been brought to my attention before, again not to my knowledge. That’s when I saw the tell-tale signs of a loophole. Dark energy? Really? Because I had asked for a little support and help, which was subsequently met with silence on a good day and rejection on a bad day, or because I brought that fact to their attention?
While a meeting was set to discuss these things it was never held. Our fate was simply decided, our reputations sufficiently smeared to people who had no connection to our coven, and honestly, who knows what anyone was told. Probably the same things we were, which were horrendous. For a long time I wondered at their validity and was distrustful of both myself and my abilities as a witch. Maybe I was bad.
But this, my friends, has not been written to smear my former High Priest and Priestess. It has been an exercise in looking back and realizing that even people who are supposed to guide and teach us can be misguided no matter how well they mean, but even that was not the point.
The point here was what I believe started the road to our release. Our High Priestess meant well when she took Hubby’s girlfriend at the time aside and told her she didn’t belong in our marriage. As true as that statement was, it wasn’t for the reasons she believed, nor was our marriage any of her business. I had gone to her for emotional advice a few times, and her only answer had been to leave my husband or stop being poly. That’s not what I needed, and it wasn’t was we needed. We were still navigating the rocky road to polyamory, and mistakes were being made almost daily, but the answer was not to give up or to have our High Priestess mettle in our affairs. When Hubby approached her about it she immediately cooled to us both, and whenever we spoke it was all business. She and our former High Priest became judgmental, and we always felt like they were trying to catch us doing something wrong. It was the beginning of the end, but it lead us to re-evaluate our choices and how we run our poly relationship.
Hubby and I have moved on, and while we don’t practice as regularly as we did as part of a coven, we still have our faith. We are stronger, more united, and more at peace. Our marriage is happier, and we are still poly and loving it. Do I miss my old coven? Of course I do, though I can’t imagine what any of them think of us based on last year’s events. I mostly miss having a group to work with and being a part of a larger collective. I miss our elders, but I know the time will come when Hubby and I will be able to sit and speak with them again.
What have I learned? I’ve learned to write more meaningful solitary rituals. I’ve learned to listen to myself and my results for guidance instead of always turning to someone else for help. I’ve learned to handle large-scale rejection, how to assert myself, but also when to let go and let people have their realities. I’ve learned to have faith in myself and not let anyone’s judgment of me bring me down, that no one lives my life but me, and that no one knows how to live my life no matter how much older or wiser they may be in other areas.
I don’t know where I’d be had I left Hubby or insisted on going back to monogamy. One burnt cookie doesn’t make the whole batch a failure and that particular relationship was not typical or a portent of where our path would lead from there. It was what it was, an opportunity to grow and learn.
We were never given a chance to clarify our position and defend our actions because their judgmental hole of negativity had been dug too deep already. Maybe they had tired of us. Maybe we had outgrown them. In any case, it was time to take the next step, and we have in many ways, but we have many more to go.
This is me, letting go of the anger that’s been hiding inside me. Forgiving, officially forgetting, and in some ways even thanking.
“miles to go before I sleep” – Robert Frost
Go now, stop taking it all so seriously.