Board Meeting Minutes 2014-04-14 – CoG initial assessment

About the Covenant of the Goddess

Comments, such as this one, are italicized. The roman text is verbatim from the CoG web page: http://www.cog.org/index.php?p=content/CoGWeb/About.html

Not obvious here, but clear from the “CoG Overview” section, is that CoG uses “Wicca” as an umbrella term for all Goddess-oriented neopagan practitioners; all witches and neopagans who draw on European roots. CoG is clearly not a Wicca group in the narrower sense used by Gardnerian Wiccans about Gardnerian Wicca.

Purpose

The Covenant of the Goddess was founded in 1975 to increase cooperation among Witches and to secure for Witches and covens the legal protection enjoyed by members of other religions.

Functions

The Covenant publishes a newsletter; issues ministerial credentials on request to qualified persons; sponsors a national festival each summer; and encourages networking nationally, as well as regionally through local councils.

Structure

The Covenant is incorporated as a non-profit religious organization in California, though it has grown to be an international organization. It is a confederation of covens and solitaires of various traditions, who share in the worship of the Goddess and the Old Gods and subscribe to a common code of ethics. The Covenant holds a Grand Council annually to decide matters which require deliberation by the full membership. Decisions are usually made by consensus.

Code of Ethics

  • An ye harm none, do as ye will.
    Lyceum is aligned with this, in the general sense.
  • Since our religion and the arts and practices peculiar to it are the gift of the Goddess, membership and training in a local coven or tradition are bestowed free, as gifts, and only on those persons who are deemed worthy to receive them. However, a coven may expect each of its members to bear a fair share of its ordinary operating expenses.
    Since Lyceum does not charge enough for its classes to cover all the costs of the instructors, Lyceum is clearly aligned with this.
  • All persons have the right to charge reasonable fees for the services by which they earn a living, so long as our religion is not thereby exploited.
    Lyceum does not directly address this. Lyceum is aligned with this in the general sense, where “reasonable” is determined on a case by case basis by the individual practitioner.
  • Every person associated with this Covenant shall respect the autonomy and sovereignty of each coven, as well as the right of each coven to oversee the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical development of its members and students in its own way, and shall exercise reasonable caution against infringing upon that right in any way.
    This is mostly congruent with Lyceum’s practice of inclusive tolerance. However there is the implication COG may recognize that some covens might claim a higher authority than their individual members. This is counter to an underlying theme in Lyceum teachings, that the individual is his own authority for his life choices.
  • All persons associated with this Covenant shall respect the traditional secrecy of our religion.
    This is another point that Lyceum would need to discuss. Lyceum does not recognize any “traditional secrecy”. Lyceum members, probably the consensus of the membership, believe in some form of Mystery that is by nature Secret. And Lyceum is respectful of the traditional secrecy of various neopagan paths. Yet Lyceum itself does not teach an exclusive “mystery path”, though many of its members believe in Mystery in some form.
  • Members of this Covenant should ever keep in mind the underlying unity of our religion as well as the diversity of its manifestations.
    This is a tough one. Its solution requires using imaginary numbers, like “eleventeen”. Seriously, it will be necessary to create imaginary histories of the western Goddess religions in order to talk about this subject. Since there seems to be no substance in this requirement, Lyceum fulfills it.
  • These ethics shall be understood and interpreted in light of one another, and especially in light of the traditional laws of our religion.
    So these are explicitly presented as guidelines of equal weight that must sometimes be balanced against each other. That approach is congruent with Lyceum practice. But once again what constitutes the “traditional laws of our religion” requires the construction of imaginary histories.

The above is deficient in postulating “traditional values” and “traditional laws” without providing any references. The candidate must accept as mystery that some common elements of the many different histories, legends, and myths of European witchcraft exist and inform this document.

A part of considering whether to align with Covenant of the Goddess is necessarily having a discussion within Lyceum that could result in an explicit set of ethics or redes of our own. This may be the only way to discover our duties with regard to the handling of material that others regard as oathbound, or determined by ancient (or legendary, or mythical) practices.

Confidentiality

All information given to the Covenant of the Goddess or any of its officials is considered strictly confidential, unless you indicate otherwise. No information about members is published or given out without explicit written permission. Direct access to the Covenant’s mailing list is limited to the Board of Directors. Maximum privacy is assured.

Lyceum’s old mailing list is set up the same way; the new one will also be secure. The web site is being developed in the same way, with identity protection and privacy guards.

Affinity Groups

Within a Local Council, Affinity Groups may be established to further the interests and aims of two or more Local Council Members who share common interests and aims other than their tradition of Our religion. Covens may, at their discretion, join one or more Affinity Groups. Affinity Groups will approve Affinity Group membership, determine the frequency and purpose of their meetings and select and follow through on their own projects and activities. Affinity Groups shall keep the Local Council First Officer and other appropriate officers informed of their activities. Affinity Groups are encouraged to invite membership by CoG Members beyond Local Council boundaries.

This is unclear to me. But whatever “Affinity Groups” are, it would seem unlikely that their existence would impact Lyceum’s decision on whether to seek alliance with CoG. Lyceum should, though, request information on existing Affinity Groups, such as their purposes and activities.

Newsletter

At every Sabbat the Covenant publishes a newsletter of Craft and Pagan news, original articles, poetry, humor, rituals, and announcements. Member covens receive the newsletter automatically. Individual coveners and non-members who donate a suitable tax-deductible gift will also be placed on the mailing list, to receive a physical copy of the newsletter and other mailings. Circulation is limited to members and friends of the Covenant.

The newsletter is distributed only to persons who pay for it, either through membership dues or through equivalent donations. The online version is only available to members.

Finances

An annual membership tithe is set every year at the Grand Council to cover bare expenses, based on the previous year’s expenses and any projected cost increases. The annual financial statement is published in the newsletter. Other activities are supported by fund-raising. All contributions to the Covenant of the Goddess are greatly appreciated and are tax-deductible.

The current tithe (2014) is $110/yr for a coven membership, or $50/yr for a solitary membership. There is also a solitary Associate level at $40/yr. When 2 solitaries living in the same household apply together, there is a 50% discount on the second application.
I have downloaded the application forms. At this time I have yet to discover what differentiates the Member and Associate levels, and what benefits, other than the newsletter (1), joining provides.

Voting

This and the following sections describe the administrative structure of CoG. I see nothing here that is pertinent to whether Lyceum would benefit or not from joining.

When a matter requiring a decision is presented before the Covenant in council, it is discussed by the members in attendance until a consensus is reached. If a consensus cannot be reached, then a vote may be taken. A coven holding a current Full Membership is entitled to one vote. Each such coven also holds the power to veto, though this is exercised only in extreme cases. A coven with Provisional Membership is entitled to one vote, but does not hold veto power.

An Assembly of Solitaries is entitled to one vote if, and only if, three individuals are physically present at council and unanimous in their choice of vote.

Local Councils

A Local Council is a smaller branch of the Covenant, consisting of at least three member covens of at least two different traditions, in reasonably close geographic proximity to each other. The Local Councils meet at least twice a year and usually more often. They may choose to initiate independent projects, sponsor local festivals and workshops, and generally work together for common goals close to home. As the Covenant continues to grow, we encourage new member covens close to one another to form their own Local Councils.

See the Local Councils page for information on CoG’s Local Councils.

Assembly of Solitaries

This is the term we use to collectively represent the Members who are Solitaries, i.e. practicing alone. Each Local Council may devise its own standards for admission of Solitaries, in harmony with national guidelines.

(1) published for each sabat

Author: Will

I was born at a very young age but I am older than that now. As a young man I drove half a million miles in Boston taxis. Then I moved to Oregon and developed two careers as an RN over 28 years: the first as a clinical nurse mostly in ICU, then later in Nursing Service Administration as an Informatics RN (but before that term was coined). In between RN work, I picked up an ADSc Business Computer Programming and provided PC network installation, maintenance and repair for 10 years. I eased into retirement beginning in 2003 and was fully retired in 2010. But I have continued to develop and manage websites and my skills are current with HTTP/CSS, PHP, Apache, SQL, etc. I have a strong preference for Ubuntu Linux boxes and Dokuwiki websites. I have a strong dislike of WordPress, which, although it is technically very well done, has created one of the worst cesspool ecosystems I have ever encountered. Still it is sometimes the best tool for the job, more is the pity. I have followed pagan paths for 50 years and I have about 3 yards of bookshelves devoted to pagan thought and practice. I am a perfectly eclectic technopagan heavily influenced by Victor Anderson's Feri practice but comfortable with Gardner derivatives, Zennist ways, and totemic/shamanist practices. I have recently been made the Steward of the Lyceum Of Trees. So I am Will Steward, Steward. Make of that whatever you will.