Is it important to do Solitary work, even if you’re with a Coven? Are Solitary Craft and Coven Craft essentially the same? Or will they be very different at all? And do you stick with one way, versus another, if they’re not exactly the same?
I feel like Coven practice is desirable, but not always feasible. And I feel like Solitary Craft, whether you’re with a Coven or not, is essential.
My Coven work and my private Craft aren’t too dis-similar. I tend to focus more on spellcraft and results. The Coven tends to focus more on honoring the Gods and celebration.
The Coven is primarily a spiritual practice. Our magical practice, as a group, happens less-often. We tend to only perform magic as a group when there is a need amongst us.
My private Craft, however, tends to focus heavily on spellcraft, and is quite results-oriented. It’s usually more folk magic than anything, though I tend to couch even the folk-magic-style spellwork into a ritual format. More often than not, I’m working with Deities on goal-fulfillment, rather than just honoring Them as Deities (but I don’t leave that part out, obviously).
I feel that Solitary work is necessary, even if you are part of a Coven or other working group. If your group mainly honors the Gods, has Sabbat celebrations, and performs rites of passage, you need some magic-time. And out of necessity, it might have to be on your own Solitary Craft time.
You need practice time to experiment and play with spellcraft, because that experience keeps your magic-muscles toned. You don’t want to freak out in an emergency situation down the line, so work towards perfecting your spellwork while you can play around with unnecessary, but useful, results.
Having said that, I definitely feel like working Solitary – having a private, only-you Craft – gives you a better connection to the Gods. Honoring the Gods in a Solitary practice lets your connection to Them bleed over into your Coven work. It’s mutually beneficial.
When it comes to Solitary versus Coven, working with Deities and other spirits isn’t that different. If the Coven were to do magic more often, or do actual working with spirits (rather than just honoring), the methodology would likely be the same.
In my private Craft practice, I like to make spirit vessels. It’s my primary method of working with Gods and other entities. Doing it with the Coven wouldn’t likely be any different.
One of the biggest similarities for my Coven and my Solitary Craft is that both regularly feed the Spirits of the Land. Learning to perform a proper Red Meal is part of our Dedicant Training, because it’s part of our regular Devotional. Our Tradition very clearly comes from an Animist worldview, so working with Spirits of the Land (and any spirit, really) is kind of a big deal for us.
I think any Solitary practice will be influenced by your work with a Coven, and vice versa. I don’t think there is any escaping it, ever. Once you develop a certain way of doing things that really nets you what you’re after (both spiritually and materially), you’re likely to stick with it, even if the two seem very different on the surface.