A personal account by Chris Frey

„…I can’t wait to see which form Wicca will take, planted into the rich soil of my home country and its own unique magic and history.“

It was in 2013 when I realised I wanted to do more in terms of my Wiccan path again. I had left my Dutch Mother Coven as a first degree Gardnerian witch a few years before to continue on my own, had delved into Druidry and my individual path in the years in between, but felt that something was missing – mainly focus, depth and community.

I had always remained in contact with my High Priestess and friend Morgana, and it didn’t take us long – after I told her about my current situation – to come up with the idea of creating a German Silver Circle website in addition to generally reconnecting to the Wiccan group mind.

Being a graphic designer, setting up an attractive website wasn’t a problem at all. In fact, the design I created for the site ended up being used by the Dutch and Spanish homepages as well. Networking on the other hand was not exactly my forte. I am not sociophobic, but community has never been the focus of my spiritual life. I have often considered being part of a community a two-edged sword, focusing on individual spiritual and magical development rather than community activities. Anyway, I had missed the good sides of being part of a group, and I saw some value in extending the community beyond the borders of the Netherlands. So I’d better learn how to network.

I felt pretty comfortable at the centre of my own little web at first, organising a workshop with Morgana and planning a regular witches’ salon, but there were some obstacles to come.

Germany is a strange land when it comes to Wicca. Apparently, there have been initiated witches in Germany for many years – at least since the late 1970s or early 1980s, if not earlier. Many though seem not to have had any proper Coven training at all, with people from England initiating them and leaving them to their own devices – books mostly. There are Covens in Germany that are very secretive, bordering on the paranoid, and others that are outright abusive (and therefore rightly shunned by the international Wiccan community). Of course, there are highly competent people in German Wicca too. But on the whole, the community doesn’t radiate the same warm family feeling and modest self-reliance that I get from the Dutch and British communities.

There also seems to be some lack of self-confidence in quite a few German groups. Some make a great effort to appear authentic by aspiring to practice in a very British way, sometimes using the original English texts of the Book of Shadows (even if badly pronounced) instead of their native mother tongue. This is the absolute opposite of what I have learned: that Wicca is an organic tradition that changes as it crosses borders, adjusting itself to the local landscape and national mindset without losing the core of its identity.

And then there are the groups that claim to be Gardnerian or Alexandrian, but cannot trace their lineage beyond their own initiator. (Not that I care about lineage that much, but I can’t stand lying and pretentiousness. If you want to practice witchcraft, practice witchcraft. But don’t claim to be something you are not.)

Take all that and blend it with the negativity that some “freifliegende” (free flying, meaning eclectic) and feminist witches display towards traditional Wicca, and you get a very interesting witchcraft community with dozens of pitfalls to stumble into (snakes included).

Despite my knowledge of all this, I was dumbstruck when I realised that even setting up a website and Facebook group would provoke some extremely paranoid and outright malicious reactions from a few German Wiccans. I won’t get into the details, since most of the fuss has been sorted out by now and the respective people have realised that I’m not out to lure their students away.

However, I was saddened that these reactions even came up in the first place. I’m more of a „there’s enough cake for everyone“ kind of person, so „becoming a competitor“ was a thought that didn’t even enter my mind when I created Silver Circle Germany.

This might all be very subjective of course. Maybe I just met the wrong people. The thing is, counteracting the claims against me (well, I didn’t really, as I had done nothing that needed defending, but I had to sit it out) and establishing Silver Circle in Germany despite certain people promising me “that they will make sure that I won’t get a foot into the German Wiccan community”, became quite frustrating. I quit for a short while.

Fortunately I was wise enough not to cancel the website right away. While on vacation in the south of France a couple of months later, I found the time to reflect on everything that transpired and to think about the different possibilities to continue my Wiccan path. During a ritual in the beautiful landscape of the Garrigue with its olive trees, bizarre shrubs and fragrant herbs, the sun and moon and clear blue sky above me, I could hear the voice of the Goddess again: “Don’t let the snakes destroy what you have built.”

I knew that this referred to both my own development in the Wiccan tradition as well as the website and network. When I came home to Germany, I called Morgana to tell her that I would continue with Silver Circle Germany. Interestingly, things went much smoother from that point on.

I had tried to establish a local study group before, with meagre results, but suddenly people seemed to pop out of nowhere. Maybe it was my newfound determination, maybe the time was right, maybe it was the fact that I slowly found my own style of working and attracted the people that fit me.

It was at Candlemas 2016 that a remarkable group of people came together for the first time to celebrate an “outer court” Imbolc ritual and learn about the Silver Circle way of doing things. The core of the group is still together one year later, now doing the Silver Circle guidance course with me as their tutor. But I am jumping ahead.

After my moment with the Goddess in France, it dawned on me that I felt ready for my second degree. I had hesitated for many years – my first initiation was in 2007! – mainly because I saw some premature elevations of people that subsequently fucked up their groups and their own lives quite dramatically. And also, because parts of my own pre-first degree processes were so traumatic and life-changing that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through all of this again. I was never really into grades and degrees anyway, so why bother? Well… apparently, the gods bother.

Also, thinking practically, having a second degree would definitely make my life as the contact person of Silver Circle in Germany much easier.

After a while I also felt that second degree was the next step to take from a spiritual point of view. I felt that there would be changes, but not quite as dramatic ones as around my first degree. In fact, I started to realise that it probably would be much more about consolidating my path. Now I could only hope that Morgana’s offer from a few years back still stood!

To make a long story short, I got my second degree (as expected it was a totally different experience than my first degree) and started tutoring my local study group in the guidance course that Silver Circle had successfully used since the early nineties to guide people on their own journey into the world of Wicca.

A few people have left since it all became a bit more “serious” and a few others have joined. I definitely have my hands full, guiding these gifted individuals (and not letting it go to my head that I’m the High Priest now), while taking care of the website and organising a few events. It feels like it has been a journey already, while actually we’re still at the very beginning.

My own path has become more personal and more hopeful again. I don’t believe that my group, should it become a Coven at some point, will practice the same Wicca that my Mother Coven in the Netherlands or their Mother Coven in England did. To begin with I’m a High Priest without a resident High Priestess. I am also a different kind of person than my own High Priest and High Priestess. I attract different people. I will probably adapt the texts of the rituals, rather like my High Priestess and High Priest did when they brought Wicca from the shores of Albion to the Netherlands.

The Silver Circle branch of the Craft is an organic tradition and I can’t wait to see which form it will take, planted into the rich soil of my home country and its own unique magic and history. I have no fixed expectations what the future for Silver Circle Germany will bring, but the seed is sown. I will do my best to help it thrive.

Blessed be!

Chris

This is the first in a series of articles. The next one will be about translating the English texts into German.