Review: The Coven Leader’s Handbook

Cover of the Coven Leader's Handbook.Author Sean Belachta claims to be initiate of both Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca. He has written The Coven Leader’s Handbook – 13 Lessons in Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca as a complete neophyte training program for Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca.

As the title suggests, there are 13 chapters covering basic topics such as history, Sabbats, the God, the Goddess, initiation, magic, healing, the working tools, and meditation. The book is about 200 pages and contains short paragraphs, large font, and lots of white space. It’s like the Wicca Cliff Notes.

The Coven Leader’s Handbook has problems. In a chapter on myth, Belachta explains that Arthur and Merlin, worshippers of the Morrigan, travelled from Atlantis to Egypt, Greece, America, and Europe, founding Mystery schools. The appendix includes “Christos Awareness Techniques” although Belachta says in the first chapter that it is not possible to practice Witchcraft and remain a Christian.

The biggest problem with Belachta’s book is that it probably won’t be of any use to coven leaders. An initiated and elevated Gardnerian and Alexandrian coven leader would have inherited the Book of Shadows and other materials for their coven. Other topics that may be of concern to a coven leader such as dealing with group conflict, building team spirit, and spiritual mentoring are not covered in this handbook.

Belachta refers to and suggests various books for further reading: The Spiral Dance by Starhawk, Wicca by Vivianne Crowley, The Rebirth of Witchcraft by Doreen Valiente, everything by Gerald Gardner, Leland’s Aradia, and the works of Dion Fortune, Aleister Crowley, Scott Cunningham, and the Farrars. If you read these works, you’ll have a far stronger grasp of Wicca than Belachta offers in this book. I suggest you opt for those and pass on The Coven Leader’s Handbook.