Well there's a pinned forum is the General Information section which gives more detail, but your rank is determined by those ranked Knowledgeable or Adept, and in theory it's based off your forum and chat posts as well as any articles and spells you might contribute to the site.
The council thing works pretty much the same as rank. You join a coven and showing your skill and understanding get promoted. Of course both systems are run by people and [especially with covens] sometimes who you know can earn some points.
There are many knowledgeable users on SoM adding infomation and helping answer questions in the forums and chat you'll be able to find information and be guided in the right direction. Don't rely heavily on rank and coven status. While some view these as trophies, it's meant as a marker of study, and you'll gain more if you learn instead of pursue some words on your profile.