‘Covenstead’ describes itself as an active community of Spiritual People; Wiccans, Witches, Heathens, Magicians and followers of the Voodoo, Celtic and Asatru faiths, but it’s much more than that. It offers workshops, discussion groups, rituals and above all else the facility to mix with like-minded folk in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Ainsley Weatherwax and Jimmy Orsini have provided the grid with a wonderful space filled to the brim with shopping and interesting places to visit, including sacred places, quality dwellings to rent and above all else the facility to partake in Pagan activities.
When you rez at Covenstead, you’re in the middle of a terraced shopping area in front of a visitors centre. There are freebies inside (well worth checking out!) and lots of information about Covenstead, it’s environs and what it has to offer, which is rather a lot! The location is a very pretty, traditional ‘Olde worlde’ style build; think Medieval and Tudor buildings with a Germanic flavour and cobbled streets. You’ll also spy a horse and carriage; hop on and you can go for a guided tour around the sim. An excellent idea if you ask me!
The shopping here is obviously Pagan-centric, and you’ll find cloaks, cauldrons and masses of jewellery. There’s art and wall plaques to decorate your virtual pagan home, as well as gowns and more pentacles that you can shake a stang at. Take your time whilst you browse the shopping; some of the stores didn’t really strike me, but I found some quality items at a few stores which I’ll share with you now.
Let’s begin with ‘Oak Leaf Emporium‘, which has a stunning ritual outfit for sale at L$300. It’s called ‘Gaia’s Goddess’, and is traditionally beautiful. The outfit includes a sturdy silver Goddess headpiece, vest, skirt and arm adornments and is definitely worth checking out if you have an important gathering coming up.
Another beautiful outfit available in store is ‘Invocation’, which is a gorgeous Pentagram adorned purple number, or if you’re on the lookout for more casual wear there’s a lovely grey dress called ‘Meditation’ situated next to it, replete with green and indigo scarves. These are, of course, very ‘Witchy’ outfits, and perfect for being all flouncy and mystical, and both retail at L$200. If you’re after ritual kit there are some brilliantly priced items in here too; an entire altar set for L$50 and an unusual but rather sweet moon and pentacle wall print featuring lights (would have been perfect for Yule!) which is just L$20.
As I carried on exploring, I found a store called ‘Shaman Heart’. I’ll be honest, it didn’t grab me especially at first, until I took a closer look to see what was on offer and I was pleasantly surprised.
As well as cloaks, altars and assorted fancy you’ll find staves, moccasins (!) and guided meditation pools. I really like the tree ties and the Goddess trees, which struck me as a wonderful idea. My only complaint is that they’re a tad dark, but would make a really striking talking point on your land..(For example, you could use 4 of them to delineate the quarters on your circle. I’m full of good ideas me!) What really caught my eye was the Pagan Hud. I’ve never come across one in Second Life before, but at L$450 and with free updates this one may well be worth checking out. It features 26 animations, and there’s a note card which provides full details., but I have to say that a demo of the animations would have helped convince me to part with my Lindens.
‘Magick By Design’ is a new favourite brand of mine, selling Tarot decks and seasonal altars. I really recommend that you check this place out if you’re into divination, although the store at Covenstead is a satellite and just serves to wet your appetite for the main event ( there’s a LM, go and visit!) I love their working Tarot tables, but I really dig the Rune card table. At L$399 it’s a nifty wee purchase for all those who practise this ancient Nordic craft. I have to say here that Tarot and Rune tables, wherever you buy from, are only as good as the reader who uses them, and they won’t interpret the cards for you, you have to do that bit yourself…(Or get someone to do it for you? More news coming up on that later this week!)But if you enjoy these practises then you’d be daft not to treat yourself to one.
Nearby is ‘Nightshade Design’ which stocks Nordic clothing and jewellery,. Especially eye-catching are the beautiful Rune amulets, Odinic Cross, Freja Symbol and Thor’s Hammer necklaces. Each are a measly L$100 apiece. Upon further exploration I spotted a highly detailed herbalist table, featuring 62 prims of herbal happy. At L$350 it’s a bit costly, but there’s a link to the creators home behind it and my guess is that if you follow that you’ll be able to see it in action. There are some nice Wtchy ensembles here too: ‘Nuna‘, ‘Serafina’ and ‘Morgana‘. Each one is highly detailed and replete with items such as wand for Nuna, Bow and broom for Serafina and Magick flasks for Morgana. Very nice indeed.
If you have a garden be sure to check out ‘The Hedge Witch’, another satellite store, but featuring lovely plants and herbs to decorate your Witches kitchen. There’s a fab wheel of the year planter, as well as some lovely holiday centrepieces. I especially liked the ‘Kitchen Herb Garden‘, which at L$150 struck me as great value and consists of a planter and a variety of kitchen herbals.I must quickly mention how delighted I was to find a Druidic specialist store called ‘Awen’s Fire‘. Druidry is often left in the shade ( somewhere I think that it prefers to remain tbh) but it’s a wonderful Pagan path and a fabulously rewarding way of life, and it’s great to see it represented here. Bocan Undercroft is the store owner, and it’s pretty obvious from the wares on offer here that he’s passionate about the Druid way of life. There are fire pits and structures on sale in his store, but I really like his ‘Seek the wolf within’ tee at L$50, as well as the sculpty ‘Freedom’ staff, replete with animations at L$400. Again, I’d have preferred a demo, but I’m sure if you contacted Bocan in world he would oblige. I could go on, but this is just a taster of the shopping that can be enjoyed here., I implore you to go and check it out for yourself!
At the hub of the shopping area in the ‘ The Firebird‘, a Pagan pub and inn. It’s a large, traditionally styled meeting place, and gets very busy of an evening. In fact, I must say that I encountered a fair number of people during my visit, there were lots of avatars shopping or, like myself, just milling around and enjoying the space., which is always a good sign in-world. This is a good place to mention that Covenstead also offers money trees and job opportunities too: you can apply to be bar staff or a DJ at The Firebird, should you so wish!
Both in the foyer of the pub and the visitor centre you will find a teleporter which will take you around the sim. If you select the ‘Hub and Cottages’ option, you’ll be taken to a neatly landscaped section where there are rental cottages available. I think it’s a great idea to be able to live with like-minded folk, and think it’s fabulous that Covenstead has presented this opportunity . There are two communities of cottages. In the first, the majority are basic, two room structures in a rugged style of build and are perfect for furnishing with all your Witchy wares. (Considering the styles of houses here, I think it would have been nice if a second floor could have been put in, something that could easily be achieved by fixing a roof/floor onto the second room and adding a ladder for access, but that’s just an observation on my part, and you know what a fussy moo I am:) That said they’re perfectly adequate virtual homes and I’d be happy to reside in any one of them. At this point I have to confess I was *really* nosey., and did something I usually don’t do…but I’ll hold my hand up and confess that I took a peek into a cottage and although I have no idea who lives there I must compliment them on their taste, for it was the perfect mix of Pagan and modern styling (Yes, there is such a thing!) and I really loved it. The adjacent rental community features white stone Celtic dwellings. These range in size and style, and rentals cost from L$495 a week for a 225 prim dwelling, up to L$650 per week for 350 prims. I love the little touches around the communities too, both are landscaped beautifully and feature wishing wells, beautiful wild flowers and even a small flying dragon!
Did I mention there’s a sky clad area? Well, if you’re so inclined you can bathe completely nude beside a waterfall underneath the stars…there’s also a cave with a fire pit and chill out area. I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a ritual area here; after all a lot of people perform ritual in all their naked glory so it seems only fitting that there be a provision for it , but perhaps that’s something the creators are working upon. There is actually a main ritual space, adjacent to the fishing pond. It’s a ritual henge, equipped with Elven drums. It’s a perfectly adequate space, but for me it was spoiled by the ads for various fishing games that you could play at the pond area: nor did I especially care for the tip jar in the middle of the henge, next to the bale fire. I understand the need for tips, but surely this is better placed external to the circle, rather than in the midst of it?
Back to the teleporter, and this time I found myself in the Japanese ceremonial garden. It’s gorgeous; very ‘zen’, and when you go into the main building you’ll find a seated eating area replete with sake and various sushi items. Perfect for meeting friends and great for Asian-styled photo opportunities, and they also perform Tai-Chi here, how fabulous is that?
As you can see so far Covenstead really aims to please the Pagan populace, and the next location is truly awesome for the facilities that it provides. The library, which looks like a proper Antiquarian book repository, actually features readable texts on all sorts of subject ts from Egyptian to Norse Mythology, Wicca, Spiritualism, Tarot and much more. There are spell books too. It’s a useful resource and a great example of the thought that has gone into creating this space. You can even contribute to the listed works as well.
In the foyer, leading to the lecture room (and yes, they do have lectures here!) there are works of art on display from a recent competition. There’s also a book of poetry, it doesn’t appear to have been updated since August 2009 but the contents are very enjoyable. (When you click on the poetry book it deposit’s a folder in your inventory so you can read the poems at your leisure, I especially enjoyed the works by Mercy Taffler and CorvusPDX Noble)All this exploring left me gagging for a brew, so what better way to quench my thirst than to pop over to the Russian Tea Rooms? I think this is my favourite location on the whole sim; it’s a beautifully decorated, welcoming place for learning and relaxation. By clicking upon the various artworks you can learn all about Slavic Pre-Christian traditions, something I knew nothing about until I visited. There’s a lovely altar display here, backed with Runic script and kitted out with a drinking horn, fruit, flowers, candles and bread. The main room sells various eclectic items, from jewellery to the rather cute ‘Grandma’s Knitting Chair’, replete with basket of yarn. You’ll also see a couple of spell kits for sale in here, as well as a Ouija board and Crystal Ball, but really the tea room is all about appreciating the Russian Pagan tradition.
There’s so much here to see that I can’t adequately describe it in print, you really have to check it out for yourself. I haven’t even told you about the atmospheric graveyard or the Handfasting chapel, It’s fair to say that Covenstead really does offer an all round experience for those interested in ‘the ways of old’, I found it to be a really enjoyable and educational place to visit and I will certainly be going back for more.