The position of Dame can be seen a poisoned chalice to those who have stepped into someone else’s shoes since the role is something that may seem attractive at first but becomes unpleasant. Having initially been regarded as advantageous and an honour it is later often recognised to be disadvantageous or even harmful … and not necessarily of her own making. Witches, like any other group on the planet do not like change, and the new Dame runs the gauntlet of having to fill the previous title-holder’s place, to an accompaniment of resentment, allegations of lack of experience/magical competent and/or a total lack of respect.
The position of Dame in Old Craft is not an hereditary one. The likely candidate has been studied, watched and groomed by the out-going incumbent and deemed to be a good and able choice. The bad grace of the existing members is therefore not only hurtful and embarrassing to the in-coming Dame but also downright insulting to the retiree whose judgement they are questioning!
When Philip and I hived off from CoS to start our own coven it was rather disconcerting to be expected to follow in the footsteps of Meriem Clay-Egerton, who was a Grade-A witch of the first water; just as it must have been for Melusine Draco when inheriting the whole shebang on the deaths of the couple. Coming originally from a ritual magic background there was a lot of criticism over her right and/or ability to run an Old Craft coven and there was a lot of disgruntled folk around who chose to take what should have been a private in-house problem into the public arena.
There are, of course, always those who know better and we finally decided to disband our own group last year after it became obvious that there was none suitable to take over when we retired. The general consensus of the group was that the role of Dame should be given to someone who (in our minds) was totally inappropriate despite the length of service and who had the magical aptitude of an amoeba and was a perfect candidate for HPS Syndrome! It was obvious, that if we allowed this to happen the coven would rapidly degenerate and so we formally and officially disbanded the group after almost thirty years. Yes, it was sad but better than have it operate as a travesty of its former self.
That was why we were delighted to be invited to re-join the mother-coven and find that it was going from strength to strength under its new leadership but still remaining true to the aims and objectives envisioned by Bob Clay-Egerton so many years ago. Since I’m joining Melusine in the EoS Crone-room we can provide a welter of magical expertise for James and Julie (and any CoS) members to draw upon as and when necessary. Remember that although deep-rooted, the surface growth is a tenuous blossom and without the support and respect of the coven members for their Dame, Old Craft covens easily whither and die.