So - you want to become a witch...?
You have read some of the books that are available - you have done some personal exploration and learning - perhaps you have even read pages such as ours... But still, something is missing.
You have looked into the different Traditions, and have decided that British Traditional Wicca is the path that you must walk. You feel a deep calling to the Craft - and you would like to take your studies further. You have been told that "Only a witch can make another witch" - and that the BTW path is one that is passed within a Coven - but how do you find one?!?
One of the best ways to identify local groups and individuals is via Moots and Public events - these will often be listed in whatever Pagan Newsletter is available in your area. In the UK this would normally be "The Pagan Dawn" (the official newsletter of the Pagan Federation) which has extensive listings for groups, moots and events for the different areas. The Pagan Federation also has local coordinators, who will be able to give you details of any Moots or Festivals - and might even be able to put you in contact with any local Covens that are open to new members. Our own area is served by Pagan Federation Wessex - and their website includes details of many of the events and moots taking place in the South West area.
Similar services are also provided by other pagan groups such as the Pagan Association and the Children of Artemis.
Individual Moots may be run on different lines, but invariably they are a mix of social exchange, networking and discussion. Many moots will also have a more formal part of the evening, including prearranged talks by Elders in the community. They can be an excellent place to meet like-minded pagan folk - to talk, exchange, learn, discuss...
Moots are always places where the different pagan paths and Traditions meet, but if you are open and honest about your own explorations - and your interests in finding coven - then the coordinator will normally try to introduce you to any Coven Elders present.
However, it is worth noting that the leaders and Elders of Traditional Covens are tied by an oath not to proselytise - they will always try to be friendly and welcoming, but it is not their place to chase you or to persuade you to join. Be very wary of any person that tries to convince you that they have all the answers, or immediately starts offering you initiation (all the more so if it involves money or sex!...)
Joining a Coven is somewhat like being adopted by a close knit family of friends: expect it to take time! Remember that you are also seeking entry into a closed Priesthood - and that this is not likely to happen in the pub after the first meeting! Take time to get to know the group - and to allow them to get to know you in turn. Be honest, be open and friendly - and be yourself. Trust the Goddess to guide your path - if it is right, it will happen.
It is also worth noting that there are many different Traditions - and that each Coven has a different "Personality" - not every Coven you meet will be the right one for you. Most Traditional Covens maintain close links with each other, however, and if you are not right for one group it may well be that they can refer you on to another group in the area.
In this age of the Internet, many Covens - like ourselves - also have a "Web presence"; some of these groups are also listed on services such as the Witches Voice. If you are looking for a reputable Coven within the British Wiccan Traditions, then reviewing some of these might prove useful.
You might also like to join Amber and Jet: a mailinglist and Yahoo group run and mediated by Elders in the Tradition, providing "an open, intelligent, and topical forum for initiates, elders, and sincere seekers of modern British Traditional Wicca"; the list also sometimes tries to link seekers with groups in their area that are open to new Initiates.
Sadly, it has has come to our attention that some people and organizations (such as some "online witch-schools") have been fraudulently claiming to train and/or initiate into the Alexandrian and Gardnerian traditions of Wicca online.
While we have nothing against self-initiation into Paganism and Witchcraft, the only way to become a legitimate Alexandrian or Gardnerian witch is to be Initiated by a properly prepared and authorized High Priest or Priestess of the Tradition face to face.
Legitimate Alexandrians and Gardnerians also do *not* charge money for religious training or Initiations. (With thanks to Pandora: "Traditional Wicca does not cost money")