Creating Your Coven’s Bylaws
You may think that bylaws are reserved just for not-for-profits and corporations, but covens can benefit from creating their own bylaws. A bylaw is a rule or law established by a group to regulate itself. It provides structure and a deeper understanding of how the group interacts not only with one another but with the community as a whole. Developing coven bylaws ensures that every witch currently in your coven or potential candidates understand how the group operates.
Why are Coven bylaws important?
Bylaws are considered the “operating manual” for a coven. It is arguably the most important document for a coven because it provides specific details on the purpose of the coven as well as how the coven is to be run and governed.
Understand the Purpose of Coven Bylaws
Bylaws are the written rules of the coven. They will be used to help resolve problems or conflicts that arise. To believe that everyone in your coven will get along perfectly at all times is just not reality. People sometimes clash, and feelings get hurt unintentionally, so bylaws provide a structure in handling these situations.
Designate Someone To Write The Coven Bylaws
This can seem like a huge undertaking as a single witch, so make sure that everyone has the opportunity to review a written document or hold a meeting (or several!) to create each of these components as a group. One possibility is to create a small core of people (say 3) to initially draft the bylaws and then provide them for constructive criticism to the whole coven.
It will be important for all members of the coven to read, respond with any changes, and ultimately agree with each of these components. Having each coven member respond ensures that all perspectives are represented and accounted for within the group. It is important to keep an open mind and honest communication during this part. Kindness and compassion towards others perspectives are essential so that everyone feels respected and that their voice matters within the group.
Get Sample Coven Bylaws
Go online and get examples of other coven’s bylaws. You can do this simply by googling ‘coven bylaws’ and a lot of options will pop up (like over 60,000!). Narrow it down to a few and then read them carefully. See what components your group resonates with and which ones don’t apply. You can even ask other covens you know to see their bylaws. Don’t just copy another coven’s bylaws, use theirs as a template to create your own set for your coven. Your coven is unique, and so your bylaws should reflect that.
Coven Bylaw Components
There are a few components that you will notice are in most coven bylaws. These are a mission statement, membership and structure, meeting schedules, guidelines of the tradition, how to leave, and education/degree system.
Coven Mission Statement
The mission statement specifically states the purpose of the coven. For example, if you created a politically focused coven, make sure members know that is the main purpose for your magickal work. It can be simple or quite elaborate. Here’s a sample statement: ‘The purpose of this coven is to honor the goddess and god in all their many forms and to celebrate the turning of the wheel.’ It may be necessary to bring all coven members together to write a mission statement, so that everyone is on the same page!
Coven Membership and Structure
Membership and structure focus on who is going to be allowed in the group. It should cover any qualifications for membership, requirements to remain a member, any initiation processes, and what happens when someone does not meet membership standards. Each of these should be clearly defined so that there is no ambiguity. Membership should not be a gray area, and there should be no room for personal interpretation.
Coven Meeting Schedules
Meeting schedules are always tricky, especially with several people. Instead of specifying exact dates, use this section to discuss the number of times the coven will meet. Decide if you all will meet once a month, once a week, or every Sabbat and every moon. It is important for members to understand the level of commitment that is being requested. Some covens write in an attendance requirement, will yours?
Coven Guidelines of the Tradition
Some groups feel very strongly about following guidelines precisely while others are more relaxed. In either case, having a set of rules outlined in the bylaws is important. Some examples of rules are that members might be asked not to share any information with outside parties or that there is a strict no recreational drug use policy or tobacco. Regardless of the guideline, it is essential that the rule is specific and the consequences for breaking it are clearly defined.
How to Leave Your Coven
If the coven is just not a good fit for someone, the best thing to do is have a procedure in place. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate exit from the group, maybe just a thanks for having me, and this isn’t my current path to take. But do put it in the bylaws, so people are clear on the best strategy to take in order to leave the group if it comes to that.
Coven Education/Degree System
If there is a degree system, explain how members move through each level and what is required for each degree. There might be a time period constraint or a certain number of goals achieved. Members should know about any required classes. This section should include information about where and when certain educational components will need to be completed.
Coven Member Agreement
The last component of the bylaws should be a member agreement that all participants sign. The member’s signature acknowledges that they are aware of the requirements and agree to follow the bylaws.
Bylaws help current, and potential members understand the coven and all of the requirements for participation. They provide a standard by which all people interact and allow the group to self regulate. Consider developing bylaws for your coven!