As someone who’s been in both, who practiced as a solitary, who led study groups, and even worked within a coven, I feel I can talk about this issue with candor and fairness. The debate over which path to follow centers on the belief of ‘only a witch can make a witch’. Others hope to find a spiritual family in which to celebrate and practice their faith. Those who walk their own way prefer the solitary path, choosing the Divine will guide them to where they need to go.
I think such philosophies of ‘only a witch can make a witch’ reek of cultism. Obviously such thinking is not mainstream being most of the pagan community either start or remain as solitaries. The question remains; who made the first witch? I also firmly believe that religion is the relationship with the Divine, with no one standing between to tell you how to believe.
You need to ask yourself what are your needs and goals in your spiritual path? Do you need formality and orthodoxy? Do you feel that only a wise witch can train you in the ways of mysteries? Do you hope to lead your own coven someday? Do you seek a path of self growth and realization?
Assuming you’re fortunate enough to find a balanced and sincere coven, the opportunity to grow and learn is vast. Too often, however, I’ve seen covens become clubs of power struggles and battling egos.
The focus of learning grows hazy in lessons that little to do with religion. For instance, I knew of a coven who spoke Elvish in their rituals. Other covens dictate what’s important to your path, such as herbalism or divination, when your personal path might not include either. You’re basically putting your religion in the hands of another.
There’s nothing wrong with being solitary, enable the witch to discover for him or herself their spiritual path. Many seeking some level of socialization can also join a study group or open circle instead of a coven. You can find such things at Witchvox online or check local groups via Meetup.com.
You can also form your own group, to share in knowledge and experience with others. You can find a number of books on the subject of creating your own coven, but I would suggest to ask yourself some questions as to purpose and goals before doing that.
Here are some books on the subjects of Coven and Solitary:
Coven Craft: Witchcraft for Three or More by Amber K
Neopagan Rites: A Guide to Creating Public Rituals that Work by Issac Bonewits
Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner (Includes Author’s Book of Shadows) by Scott Cunningham