Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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What Do You Call Fellow Coven-Members?

What do you call fellow members of your coven?

In the absence of a universally-accepted term, a number of usages have sprung up across contemporary Witchdom.

Coveners: Coven as something you do. Personally, I find this term inelegant, since generally -er is a suffix attached to verbs, not nouns. I don't like the phrase “to coven together” either,* but—in the long run—use determines correctness, so maybe I'm just being a dinosaur here.

Coven-mates: Coven as a place, or as a group of friends. This is the term that they use in our sister-coven. I'm not sure whether this is mate as in “pal,” or as in “room-mate.” I don't usually think of a coven as a place, but I guess I'm good with it either way.

Coven-sisters/Coven-brothers: Coven as family. These are the oldest and most traditional terms, and anyone who has ever been part of a functional coven will readily understand the metaphor. The disadvantage of these two, of course, is that they're gender-specific, which in a mixed group can get awkward.

Coven-sibs: Coven as extended family. I picked this one up from my friend and coven-sib, writer Magenta Griffith; to the best of my knowledge, it's her coinage. Sib is a very old word meaning “blood kin” which, under the influence of sibling has also come to mean a brother or sister, but has the advantage of being gender-neutral. This is the term that we use in my coven, and the one that I use most often myself. I like its inclusiveness, its archaic resonance, and its slightly mysterious feel. Coven-sib gets my award for the witchiest term of the lot.

I'd be utterly dumbfounded if there aren't other terms that I haven't mentioned here in use out there in the Wide World of Witchdom. I'd love to know what they are, since every single one makes us richer and offers us yet another insight into who we are and what we do together.



*“The group that covens together, ovens together.”




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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


  • Greybeard
    Greybeard Tuesday, 05 June 2018

    I have always said "coveners." Depending on context it may be "coven members."

    One of our traditional rituals talks about "brothers and sisters of the Art," which includes members of all covens.

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