Many times, during discussions in the Pagan community – particularly those revolving around perceived negative behavior – you’ll hear someone invoke the idea of Karma, the notion that what goes around comes around. However, the original concept of Karma is far more complex than simply a giant cosmic payback machine. Let’s look at the way some eastern religions view Karma, and how it’s been adapted by the modern Pagan and metaphysical communities.
About.com Hinduism Expert, Subhamoy Das, has a great article explaining Karma as a law of cause and effect. In other words, it’s not just bad stuff that comes back on you, but good works and actions as well. Furthermore, Karmic results often do not appear in this lifetime, but in the next. He says, “Hindu philosophy, which believes in life after death, holds the doctrine that if the karma of an individual is good enough, the next birth will be rewarding, and if not, the person may actually devolve and degenerate into a lower life form. In order to achieve good karma it is important to live life according to dharma or what is right.”
In Buddhism, Karma is also a law of cause and effect, but as Barbara O’Brien points out, many westerners use the term “Karma” to refer to the results of Karma, rather than the action itself. She explains that to Buddhists, Karma is non-linear, and has multiple loops and turns. This means, she says, “although the past has some influence on the present, the present also is shaped by the actions of the present.”
In modern Paganism, Karma is often interpreted slightly differently than as a law of cause and effect. Instead, it’s sometimes seen more as a cosmic payback. Do good things, and you’ll have good things happen to you. Treat people badly, and someday, Karma’s going to catch up with you, and respond accordingly – after all, they say, Karma is a bitch.
Much like the Wiccan rule of three and the Law of Attraction, Karma doesn’t always work in a way that we see as fair or just. If it did, people who are jerks would always have bad things happening to them. Those who are good and pleasant would be surrounded by nothing but good things. The fact is that – at least on the material plane – that’s not always the case.
However, many people prefer to look at Karma on a universal and metaphysical scale. Do good things for others? Awesome! If you don’t get good things in return this time around, you might have them happen in the next lifetime.
So, to answer the question: is Karma real?
No one can answer that question with any degree of certainty. After all, much like many other questions in the metaphysical realm, everyone is going to have their own unverified personal gnosis that colors their answer. However, it’s probably safe to say that if you can live this life in a way that is honorable, fair, and acceptable to your own moral standards and to those of the people who are important to you, then it doesn’t matter whether you’re building up Karma points for the next lifetime or not.
The Shiva Lingam is a stone that is found in many aspects of Hindu belief and folklore. A symbol of the god Shiva, the stone itself is sometimes simply called the Lingam. It’s shaped a bit like an elongated egg, but it also has a good deal of phallic symbolism attached to it. Because of its shape, it is connected with both the male and female aspects of life creation. In some of the metaphysical disciplines, the Shiva Lingam is tied to all of the different Chakras, and can be used in healing and energy work.
In particular, it is associated with sexual fertility and potency – men who are suffering from impotence can carry this stone in their pocket and, according to folklore, find themselves restored to full sexual ability. Because it is connected with all of the Chakras, the Shiva Lingam can be used for whole-self healing, and to balance the entire body, not just the sexual aspects.
“The Linga is like an egg, and represents the ‘Brahmanda’ or the cosmic egg. Linga signifies that the creation is effected by the union of ‘Prakriti’ and ‘Purusha,’ the male and the female powers of Nature. Linga also signifies ‘Satya,’ ‘Jnana’ and ‘Ananta’ – Truth, knowledge and Infinity.”
Hindus believe that the Shiva Lingam is one of the most sacred stones in the world, and that’s partly because of the way it is obtained. It is a stone found only in the Narmada River, which is part of the Mardhata mountain range – one of seven sacred pilgrimage sites in India. Because it is a river stone, the Shiva Lingam can only be gathered during the dry season. Local residents gather the stones, in every size possible, and polish them for resale to the rest of the world. It is believed that the markings on each stone represent the markings on the forehead of Lord Shiva.
These beautiful stones range in size from less than half an inch in length to several feet long. Each one is unique, and symbolizes divine creation and the sacred balance of the soul. It is said that every stone contains a microscopic form of the universe itself.
Carry a Shiva Lingam for general healing and well being, as well as for power and energy. A Shiva Lingam stone can be used in meditation exercises to help bring balance and harmony.
Okay, y’all, I make no secret of the fact that I’ve struggled with my weight all of my adult life. I’m pretty healthy and strong these days, but I know I’ll never be skinny. Regardless, because I love to cook, the holiday season can be a real challenge for me – but I’ve figured out over the years that if I set a few basic rules for myself, I can keep things under control during December. This way I don’t spend January through April hating the way my ass looks in a pair of yoga pants.
Watch Your Portions
One of the biggest mistakes you can make during Yule is using a large plate. After all, we’re all trained to finish whatever we take — which means if you have a big plate, you’ll end up with a big meal. Use a smaller sized plate, and you’ll automatically end up with less food. Remember, a “serving” is a specific amount, not how much you can eat in one sitting.
Add Some Greenery
No matter what you plan on eating, make sure at least fifty percent of your food is green vegetables or fruit. Make your first course a salad or a pile of savory veggies. The vegetables and salad will help you fill up on healthy calories, which means you’ll eat less of the food that doesn’t have much nutritional value.
Hurray for Soup!
Many nutrition experts will tell you that the human stomach feels full about twenty minutes after you start eating. Start off with a bowl of soup or broth before your main course, and that way by the time your entree arrives, you’ll be well on your way to being full already. A full feeling means you’re done eating. Also, it means that the slower you eat, the less you’ll eat.
Schedule Your Snacks
It’s really easy to graze on snacks all day, especially if you have them sitting on your desk at work, or on the counter in your kitchen. Instead, schedule your snack time just like you do meals. Plan on having a healthy snack halfway between breakfast and lunch, and again in the middle of the afternoon. This not only will help you cut back on calories, it gives you something to look forward to.
Get Up and Walk
Feeling a little bloated after eating Grandma’s turkey? You’re not alone – but you don’t have to be miserable. Go for a brisk walk around the block, and you’ll feel rejuvenated. Plus, you’ll be burning off some of those calories you just gobbled down!
Don’t Eat on the Go
Most people find they consume more calories if they eat standing up, in the car, or straight out of a package. To combat that, only eat sitting at the table, and use a plate and fork. Don’t wander around the kitchen picking and grazing. Take the time to sit down, and you’ll most likely eat less. Besides, this gives you a chance to spend a few minutes with family at the end of a hectic day.
Eat Before You Party
It’s tempting to go to a potluck dinner and sample a little of everything, but that’s a really good way to pack on the extra pounds. Before you go to a party or event where there will be food, be sure to eat ahead of time. Snack on a bowl of soup, some peanut butter, or an apple and some yogurt. Don’t ever go to a party hungry, or you’ll make yourself miserable.
So, this is something I wrote a few years ago when I worked at the Big Chain Bookstore that rhymes with Yarns and Boble, but because I’ve seen so many examples of horrible shopping behavior this year, I wanted to share it again.
Here you go, gentle readers. Ten ways to be a good holiday shopper… and not act like a dick to the retail peeps.
The December holidays are nearly upon us, and even though Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa/Solstice are still a good six weeks away, many of my friends are gleefully rubbing their hands together in anticipation of Black Friday shopping. Everyone claims they think Black Friday is an awful concept, but y’all are still going to do it, and by about noon, at least one of you will have made some poor retail employee hate you. Why? Because while there are plenty of tips on how to get the best deals, there are rarely any suggestions on how to shop without being an asshole.
Thus, gentle reader, as someone who will be at work at 7:30 Friday morning to greet the squeeing masses, I have an early Christmas present for you. Here are some tips on how to be a good shopper – the kind of shopper that makes me think, “Wow, the last ten people were dicks, but this guy was just SO NICE.” Follow these guidelines, and it’s quite possible that you – and the people who are getting paid just slightly more than minimum wage to put up with your shenanigans – will have a much better experience.
Feel free to use these the rest of the year too.
1. Be Patient.
Yeah, I know you’ve been out there in your sleeping bag since 5 am so you could get the Super Ossum Special Deluxe Edition Whatever. So have the other nine hundred people. Guess what. You’re gonna have to wait your turn. Employees will help you when they can. Don’t be a dick, and understand that YOU’RE SHOPPING ON BLACK FRIDAY. No matter how many employees are working, it’s not going to be enough, so suck it up and play Candy Crush on your phone for a few minutes.
2. Read the Fine Print.
If the Super Ossum Special Deluxe Edition Whatever is on sale for a special price, and the ad says down at the bottom “While Supplies Last,” then guess what? After the store runs out, they no longer will be able to give you that special price. If that happens, accept that you didn’t get there in time. Move on, instead of throwing a tantrum.
3. Use Some Common Sense.
Ethel the Employee is helping a customer, she’s also answering the phone, and she’s trying to look up something on a computer while four other people are waiting for her assistance. Walking up behind her and saying “Scuse me I just got a quick question!” is not cool. Use your brain, and get in line like everyone else. There are no quick questions, other than “Where’s the bathroom?”
And it’s along the back wall under the blue Catch-22 sign.
4. Common Sense Part 2
You see an employee wearing a name tag, but also carrying her car keys, a cup of coffee, and her purse, as she makes a beeline for the doors to the parking lot. What do you do?
a. Ask her to help you locate that special color Super Ossum Special Deluxe Edition Whatever that you can’t find because someone just took the last one but you’re sure there’s some in the back even though you’ve already been told they’re all gone.
b. Recognize that she’s probably off the clock and leave her the hell alone.
Choose wisely, young Jedi.
5. Don’t Argue.
Yes, we know the online price for the Super Ossum Special Deluxe Edition Whatever is cheaper than it is in the store. That’s because it’s online, and you have to wait for shipping. You can argue all you want, but that’s not going to make me sell you the Super Ossum Special Deluxe Edition Whatever at the online price. If it makes you feel better, think of the extra cost as your Instant Gratification Tax.
Also, don’t yell at me because I won’t price match, just because you know Best Buy and Target will do it. Best Buy is selling $2500 flat screens, so there’s a bit of wiggle room. You’re buying a six dollar paperback with a 10% Membership Discount and a coupon. How much more of a discount do you think I can give you? Spend the extra $1.03 and move on.
6. Shit Happens.
Sometimes people make mistakes. And sometimes those mistakes will inconvenience you. If a cashier accidentally gives you the wrong change, or the guy at Customer Service points you in the wrong direction, it’s okay. It’s not done out of maliciousness or even incompetence, it’s done because it’s Black Friday and we have nine hundred people in our face screaming because we just ran out of the latest Bill O’Reilly book and there’s not enough coffee in the world to alleviate the hell that we are in. Be patient, wait your turn, and let whoever made the mistake fix it, without you making their day even more miserable.
7. Know What You Want.
My favorite customers, all kidding aside, are the ones who come in with a list. They know exactly what they want, they just need me to show them where it is. Good for you, people – buy your stuff, and continue being awesome. My second favorite customers are the ones who aren’t sure what they want, but they are happy to take suggestions. Need a book for a ten year old boy who reads at an eighth grade level and likes monsters and magic? I’ve got a good dozen ideas for you, here they are, and you can pick which one works best for your little gift recipient.
8. Gift Cards Are Good.
You have to pick out a present for that cousin you haven’t seen in eight years and you have no idea what he likes because you don’t talk to him anyway, but now he’s showing up for Christmas dinner. Great! Seriously, it’s perfectly okay to get him a gift card. Most people love them, because it allows them to go select their very own present at a later date. If you feel weird about it, remember that gift cards help the economy too – we get a sale when you buy the card, and we get a sale when someone comes in to redeem it.
9. Be Prepared.
You’ve done it! You got your Super Ossum Special Deluxe Edition Whatever and now you’re waiting in line at the cash register. While you’re waiting, it’s a good time to do things like dig out all those coupons and your discount membership card, as well as write out the date and retailer’s name on your check that you’re still using even though everyone except your grandma is using debit cards today. Don’t wait til the last minute to count out your spare change, and don’t ask the cashier to wait while you run and get that damn Elf on the Shelf that you promised to by for little Skippy but you forgot to pick up. Also, if you need gift receipts, tell the cashier BEFORE they start ringing things up, not after you’ve paid and they’re waving the next customer down to the register.
10. Don’t Be an Asshole.
Nothing says Happy Birthday Baby Jesus like making some minimum wage cashier cry. I tell all the new seasonal people at work that they don’t get paid to be abused, and if someone is being mean to them, let a manager (or someone who’s got thicker skin and gives no shits) know about it.
I guarantee you, if you come into my store, and you make an employee cry (especially our poor little Noobs who are on their very first job ever), there is a special place in hell reserved just for you. Try to remember that the whole point of the holidays is to celebrate the love you have for your family and whatever faith it is you follow. Celebrate it by not being an asshole to people who don’t deserve it.
Everyone loves Santa Claus, and everyone loves chocolate. Put them together, and you’ve got a delicious holiday treat. But what inspired this idea in the first place? Who came up with the idea of chocolate Santas? And is it really nothing more than ritualized cannibalism?
Chocolate is known as an aphrodisiac the world over today, but until fairly recently, it was mostly the domain of the Aztecs, the Mayans, and European royalty.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the Industrial revolution brought equipment that mixed dried cocoa powder with cocoa butter. This resulted in a form of chocolate that was not only pourable, but easy to mold.
Most likely, the Germans can take credit for making the first chocolate Santa Clauses — December 6 is known as Nikolaustag, or St. Nicholas’ Day, and the traditional gift appears to have been a toy and a piece of chocolate. Even today, nearly thirty million chocolate Santas are sold each winter in Germany alone by the Lindt & Sprüngli Chocolate Company, according to a 2013 interview with marketing director Heike Bootz.
In the book Pagan Christmas, authors Christian Ratsch and Claudia Muller-Eberling posit that the ritual consumption of the chocolate Santa is a way of “butchering” Father Christmas after we’ve unwrapped our gifts. But maybe — just maybe — we do it because chocolate is really, really delicious!
So normally I blog about things like magic, the Pagan community, occult history, and other such stuff. It’s my realm of expertise, and I enjoy writing about it, and I don’t normally bother wasting bandwidth with posts about much else. However, lately, there has been a lot of discussion in both the news and on social media about the ongoing harassment of women, and something occurred last night that perfectly illustrates the bullshit that we have to deal with on a daily basis, in every sphere of our lives.
The #metoo hashtag has gained a lot of traction in the past few weeks, and millions of us shared our stories. If you’re one of my Facebook friends, you probably read my post about the first time I was sexually harassed. I was walking home from school, and a man, probably in his thirties or forties, walked past me, stopped, and said, “Give me a blow job.”
I was in fifth grade.
So I’ve been hearing this sort of thing for the better part of four decades at this point, and just like every other woman in the world, I’m pretty fucking tired of it. One of the most interesting things to me about the #metoo stories, though, was how many men were surprised at just how prevalent this is. While it may be a shock to the guys – and I suspect that’s partly because I surround myself with decent men and not douchey ones – it’s no surprise to us women. Every goddamn one of us.
In addition to the harassment narrative comes the idea that women are to be regarded as a prize to be conquered, some sort of sport prey in a hunt – and if the prey can’t be taken down, the next response is to diminish it and act like the hunter didn’t want it in the first place. I’ll give you a perfect example.
About two weeks ago, a guy asked me out. I wasn’t really interested, for a variety of reasons, so I declined with a polite “No thank you.” He took this No as the opening salvo in some sort of negotiation ritual, and then commenced to bombard me with reasons why I should go out with him (“I’m a Nice Guuuuuy!”), peppered with the shrapnel of compliments about my appearance. I got bored with this pretty quickly, and finally said, “Look, I’m not interested. Thanks but no thanks. It’s not going to happen.”
At which point, he informed me that I was a stupid whore, my tattoos and nose piercing guaranteed I’d never get a job, and I was probably just a gold-digger anyway.
And then we have the men who think that stalking random strangers on Facebook is a good way to meet women. News flash: if I don’t know you, we have no mutual friends and no common groups, I’m not going to talk to you at all. And I’m certainly not going to engage when you message me with an opening line like “Hey sexy.”
Know why? Because I don’t owe you jack shit. I’m not on Facebook because I want to date you, I’m on it so I can hang out with my friends in a virtual world, make fun of politicians, and laugh at Game of Thrones memes. Facebook is my living room, and messaging a stranger looking to hook up is the equivalent of walking through my front door uninvited, whipping your dick out, and putting it on my coffee table.
Stop. Fucking. Doing. It.
And just as a final thought, meet Nicholas. He first messaged me a few months back, which I basically blew off, and then yesterday he decided to escalate and try video chatting with me. A stranger. The sheer ridiculousity of it all was too good not to share, so here’s a screen cap of the entire Messenger exchange, from the very beginning.
Yep, I went from “sexy af” to “Fuck you” in about three seconds. If I was playing Creeper Bingo, I could have filled in quite a few squares.
A reader asks, “I have a question about the “honoring ancestors” tenet. I am adopted, and don’t know my biological parents. When I envision my ancestors do I just think generally? For example, I am African American, do I just think of (for lack of a better term) random black people?”
Well, first of all, keep in mind that not ALL Pagan traditions include ancestor veneration as part of their belief or practice.
There’s no hard and fast rule that says you have to do this, or that if you don’t, you’re not a Real Pagan™. However, many Pagans do include honoring their ancestors as part of their practice because it’s something that feels right to them. Since it sounds like it’s definitely something you’re feeling a connection to, let’s talk about the second part of your question: being adopted.
For some people, the notion of kinfolk is quite simple: it’s blood related ancestry, and that’s it, period. However, for many other people both in the Pagan community and outside of it, your family is the group of people who have raised you and loved you, whether you’re connected to them by DNA or not.
Ask any parent of an adopted child which kid they love better – their adopted one or their biological one – and you’ll get the same look of confusion and disbelief that you’d get if you asked the parent of two biological kids which one was their favorite. Your family loves you, and you love them – because you’re family.
So, let’s go on to the idea of honoring ancestors when you have no biological connection to the people who are your parents.
You have a couple of different options. The first is that you can honor the ancestors of your adopted family. That will probably be pretty easy to do – after all, you’ve grown up around them, you’ve seen their family photos on the wall, and you’ve listened to Grandma’s hilarious stories about her gin-crazed youth over Thanksgiving dinner. You could even set up an ancestor altar with family pictures and heirlooms.
Another option, and the one that your question specifically addresses, is that of honoring your ancestors from your biological family. There are a number of different ways to do this, but it can be tricky when you’re not entirely sure where your predecessors came from.
The first way, and one that works for many adopted people who have chosen not to pursue their biological parents’ information, is that of honoring archetypes. Now, this is still going to require a little bit of research, but it’s not nearly as complex as embarking on a DNA treasure hunt.
An archetype is a symbol. Let’s say I know that I’m of Eastern European ancestry, but not much else. That’s not a lot to work with, is it? There’s a whole lot of random white people I could be connected to. However, with a little digging, I discover that there are some legends among Eastern European countries that I find I really connect with. Taking it a step further, I learn about, for example, a folktale from the Carpathian mountains about a woman who lives in the woods, protects children from hungry wolves, and brews up magical potions. Was she real? Maybe – folktales often have some basis in reality. Maybe not – but regardless, she might be a good place to start. If I think of her as a spiritual ancestor, rather than a blood ancestor, I can still pay tribute to her as a symbol of the many people whose blood could be running through my veins.
Another way of connecting on an archetypical level is to do an ancestor meditation – this is a good way to let your mind wander back and see if you can connect, on a metaphysical level, with either individuals or archetypes who resonate with you spiritually.
You mention that your genetic background is African-American. Africa is a big place, and there are many countries, cultures, and folktales to work with. Doing some research into the different areas would be a good place to start.
It’s also important to note that many people are of mixed heritage. Mechon, who is an African American folk magic practitioner in North Carolina, weighed in on this for us. She says, “I can tell by looking in the mirror and at my mother that I have African ancestry. It’s pretty obvious. I’m black. Like, I’m really black. But once we get back more than three generations, I don’t know where the trail leads. My grandfather, who was a lot lighter than the rest of us, never knew his father, and the family legend is that he was white, although my great grandmother never said. My mother is a mix of African American and Cherokee. There’s a rumor that there’s some Irish DNA thrown into the mix as well, and I have an uncle who is light skinned with red hair, freckles and blue eyes. I used to feel like I could only honor my African ancestors – after all, I’m very proud of my black heritage – but the more I learn and journey and study, the more I realize that I can honor the ancestors of my spirit as well… and not all of them are biologically connected to me.”
In addition to honoring biological and archetypical ancestors, there is also is the concept of the family of the heart and soul – these are the people who love you and count you as family, either by blood, by choice, or by happy accident. They may include your best friend’s mom who let you sleep over every Friday night in high school, or your spouse’s dad who likes to take you fishing, or that wonderful distantly related cousin that shows up at random to just drop off things she knows you would like. Family of the heart and soul, for many people, is as valuable as the family you’re genetically connected to.
So, to answer your question: How do you honor your ancestors when you don’t know your biological background? The answer can be as simple or as complicated as you choose to make it. For now, try delving into some of the things mentioned above, and see where the journey takes you.
When I moved a year ago, I discovered that while I had about five boxes of Yule decor, I had over two dozen boxes of Halloweenery – it’s my favorite time of year! And this is one of my favorite decorations to put out – every fall, random strangers would stop and take pictures of my front yard, because of all the Halloween nonsense, and this group of ghosts was always a huge hit. Here’s how you can make your own, with about $20 worth of random supplies.
For each ghost, you’ll need the following:
1 4-foot length of 2″ PVC pipe, cut with a 45′ angle on one end
1 plastic pumpkin
2 lightweight plastic tablecloths (54 x108″)
1 large zip tie
Black electrical tape
Pound the PVC pipe into the ground, as far as it needs to go to be stable. Invert the plastic pumpkin and place it upside down over the top of the PVC pipe to form the head – it’s a good idea to stuff the pumpkin with plastic grocery sacks or an old towel to keep it from flipping around.
Place one plastic tablecloth (usually these are available for a dollar or less at party stores) over the pumpkin longways to cover the head and form the arms. Place the other tablecloth over the pumpkin, crossing the first tablecloth, to cover the head and form the ghost’s front and back.
Use the plastic zip tie to form the neck, and secure your tablecloths in place. Cut small pieces of electrical tape to give your ghosts facial expressions. To connect your ghosts to one another, simply tie them together at the arms, to make it look like they’re holding hands.
For fun variations, make them in different colors, or attach hats to them with a staple gun.
For hundreds of years, people have used magic to bring abundance and wealth of one type or another into their lives. Let’s look at some of the various customs involving money around the world.
In parts of the Ozarks, it is believed that you’ll soon receive a letter with money in it if a honey bee buzzes around your head, according to Vance Randolph’s Ozark Magic and Folklore. There is also a legend, in some parts of Missouri, that if you see bubbles in your coffee, if you can drink them all before they disappear, a large sum of money is coming your way.
There’s a legend in some parts of Appalachia that if you burn onion peels rather than just throwing them away, you’ll never be poor.
In Hoodoo, there are numerous potions and “tricks” designed to bring money into your life. Jim Haskins says in his book Voodoo and Hoodoo that burning green candles anointed with money-drawing incense works well, and if you own a business, money oil is a good way to increase your abundance.
The use of a lodestone is found in some magical traditions as a way to attract money. The lodestone is “fed” with magnetic sand that is drawn to it — as money is drawn to your wallet.
This practice has been dated back as far as the days of ancient Rome — prostitutes figured out that carrying a lodestone as an amulet would attract the wealthier clients.
A practicing witch who asked to be identified as Eowynne says that in her family, which hails from Cornwall, England, there is an unusual custom involving babies and money. When a baby is six months old, she is given a large silver coin to hold onto. If the child is able to grasp the coin without dropping it, she’ll have no trouble attracting money as an adult. If she drops the coin, then she’ll have a hard time holding onto her cash when she grows up (important safety tip – if you’re going to have a baby hold a coin, watch to make sure it doesn’t become a snack).
Russia is the home of a superstition that scattered money draws even more wealth. Leave coins lying around in various places around your home — in drawers, under the bed, the back of the closet, etc. — and even more abundance will come your way.
Carry a Buckeye nut in your pocket to bring money your way at the gaming table or at the races.
A reader says, I recently talked to a friend of mine who is in a coven – the group is Pagan but I don’t believe they’re specifically Wiccan – and told her I was interested in joining the group. She told me that the high priestess has set a limit that she’ll only have [number] people in the coven, and even if someone new is interested, they won’t take any more than that. Is this a red flag that means I should stay away from this group?
Actually, no, it’s really not, as long as all the other aspects of the group are things that work for you. There may be any number of reasons that the high priestess (HPs) may have set this guideline. Let’s look at a couple of possibilities:
The leader(s) of the group may feel that this number – seven, thirteen, twenty, whatever it may be – is the maximum amount of people that she can manage effectively. Remember, a HPs is not just showing up for two hours to lead a ritual once a month – she’s also managing the group’s finances, making lesson plans if it’s a teaching coven, writing new rituals so everything is always fresh, studying and reading new material to share with the group, acting as a mentor and counselor, mediating potential disputes between members, and so on. If she’s concerned that trying to manage any more than X Number will lead to chaos – or at the very least, a less meaningful experience for existing members – then she’s wise to know her own limits. It’s also possible that the group’s constraints are due to limited physical space – if they meet in a room that only fits six people comfortably, a responsible HPs isn’t going to invite ten people in.
The group’s tradition may have determined that their number – again, whatever it is – is magically tied to their tradition. In some groups, particularly Neowiccan covens, thirteen is considered a perfectly magical number of people to have. In others, it may be nine, since nine is also considered a power number in Numerology. Regardless, there may be a magical significance behind the number, so it could be more than arbitrary.
It may be that the group only accepts members at certain times of the year. One coven I know of only takes new seekers in at the time of a blue moon, as sort of a play on the phrase “once in a blue moon.” This means the rest of the year, no matter what, their membership is closed to any new people.
If your friend’s group maintains a wait list, or at the very least, a contact list of interested prospective members, make sure the leaders have your name – this way, if someone does leave the group and will be replaced, the HPs can reach out to you to see if you’re still interested. All other things being equal, don’t let a limited membership roster scare you off.