Every once in a while I get an email from a fan or a seeker along the path who has a really good question. I decided to compile some of the best questions and reformat them for the blog. Names have been adjusted to protect identities. Do you have a question? Email me at Devin@devinhunter.net and I’ll try to answer it in a blog post or on the show!
I was wondering what your thoughts are about involving sex and relationships and spiritual community. I have been Pagan for almost ten years and after moving to Texas from the East Coast I finally found some really cool people to hang out with. They invited me to attend their public circles and after a few months also invited me to their private functions. One of the members and I have really hit it off and I am thinking about asking her out on a date.
Normally I wouldn’t think about making a move like this but the group dynamic is very different than what I am use to. Members of this circle have almost all dated each other from what I can tell and more than a few have sexual relationships now. It all seems on the up and up and everyone is very open about it all. I like the idea of being open with my sexuality in a spiritual setting.
I guess my question is- should I go with my initial feelings and ask her out or should I look elsewhere for love? I come from a coven that didn’t allow for those types of relationships and thought it was something that was suppose to be avoided. With this new group though, it all feels different and there are hardly any rules, and none like that. Is it bad form to date coven members? Will it hurt my spiritual path? I’m a little confused.
-Dave in Austin
One thing that I think we all try to find in love are people who are ‘like minded.’ In other spiritual traditions, like Christianity for example, there is a sort-of dating safety net put into place for members of the faith to meet and develop potential relationships. This is something that Paganism has unfortunately largely failed to do. If you want to find an available Pagan partner, you are left with the Internet and if you are lucky, a festival or event. Otherwise, meeting potential partners can be challenging for many modern Pagans. This means that communities like covens, which provide an intimate setting where trust and openness are expected, are hot beds for potential romantic attraction.
We have all been in one of these types of relationships before or we have seen friends of ours go through them. Sometimes they become serious, producing marriage and kids, and other times they lead to the total destruction of an organization. Because of the latter, I was taught to avoid these types of relationships all together. The damage that can be caused far outweighs the good that they can bring to an organization. It also goes without saying that relationships between students and teachers should be avoided unless they precede spiritual mentoring.
That being said, if you are part of an organization that has this already as part of the culture I would suggest proceeding with caution. There are three things that you absolutely must do if you are going to move forward.
Let your coven know you are dating and what your rules are. Since you say several of the members have a sexual relationship in the group, you should be aware that they may have had one or might currently have one with your potential partner. If you suddenly introduce monogamy, make sure everyone knows to avoid unwanted jealousy or weirdness that may accrue.
Don’t bring your coven mates into your relationship issues. Unless you are seeking mediation, bringing up your personal relationship problems when your partner is also a member of your coven will make everyone uncomfortable. This can force people to polarize and will immediately crack the foundation of the group. If you accidently do this, be sure to take responsibility, apologize, and let others know it wasn’t fair for them to have been put in that situation.
Make a game plan with your partner about what you should do if it doesn’t work out. In the event that your magical partnership starts to dissolve be aware that the coven will be weakened, if only for a bit. Agree not to involve anyone in the coven and ask the members of the coven to stay out of it if unless they see signs of abuse.
I would also like to bring up one critical part of this; your newness to the group. The biggest problem you face is that if you proceed with this relationship you both run the risk of being pushed out of the group if things don’t work out. The likelihood of that person being you is far greater than of being her.
Ultimately I am a lover and a fighter. I moved twenty-four hundred miles from my home to be with my partners seven years ago. I believe in love and in taking risks when it comes to love. Since you haven’t seen this type of thing happen in the coven before you might want to wait a while and watch what the other couples are doing. I can say that when it comes to this sort of thing, the proof is in the taste of the pudding. If you observe healthy relationships with these couples and both partners appear to be truly happy, then take a dip.