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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in coven

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Are Megacovens Covens?

Since the days of Margaret Murray (at least), the term “coven” has referred to a small group of witches that practice together regularly.

In fact, however, while small groups predominate across contemporary Witchdom, there's no shortage of much larger groups—in some cases numbering more than 100—that call themselves covens.

So: is a group of (let us say) 130 people actually a coven? If not, what is it?

Historically—appeals to the supposed “number of full Moons in a year” aside—the coven is a product of the Age of Persecutions. The notion of the Horned and his coven of twelve undoubtedly originated as a “satanic” parody of Christ and his twelve apostles.

Tradition does, of course, make provision for a larger group, called a Grand Coven, the name given to a number of covens which gather together (usually on a one-off basis) for a specific purpose.

(Also known as a Coven of Covens, the Grand Coven rather charmingly traditionally numbers 169: thirteen thirteens.)

Still, that's not how contemporary megacovens function.

Well, me, I'm nobody from nowhere, but if you ask my opinion, “coven” implies small. (This is certainly the most widespread understanding of the term as currently used.) If a megacoven is a coven in any sense, it's a non-traditional coven at best.

So as for me, when referring to these larger groups, I plan to stick with the term “megacoven,” at least for now.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Victoria
    Victoria says #
    Historically, numbers in a coven are not specified. A coven refers to: coven (n.) "a gathering of witches," 1660s, earlier "a mee
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Let me add that the social dynamics between a group of, say, nine, and one of ninety are, as one would expect, entirely different.
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Ah, but what if we read Murray, not as historic history, but as mythic history? Then her work becomes a guide to how to think and
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Certainly as the Craft grows and expands, there will be an increasing need for larger congregations. "Temple" seems to me a good n
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Sounds to me like they have transitioned or are transitioning from coven to neopagan community. Curiously reminiscent of househol

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Rede for the Uncovened

I know, I know. More than anything else, you want a coven, but either there are none, or none of them will have you.

Believe me, I understand your pain. I remember it well.

I'm one of the lucky ones. For nearly 40 years now, I've been part of one of Witchdom's oldest and most stable covens. So what could I possibly have to say to the uncovened?

One thing that I can't do is to invite you in. A coven simply doesn't have the resources that a nation-state does; we can't take in refugees. At least, we can't take in many.

But I was a refugee once myself. In fact, we all were: refugees from the Island of Misfit Toys. We were the ones that nobody else wanted.

So we banded together, our little coven of misfits, and here we are today: still going strong four decades later. Meanwhile, all those groups that wouldn't have us have fallen by the wayside.

What do you do when you need a coven and you can't find one?

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    In "The Goodly Spellbook" there is a recipe to attract witch friends on page 358. Interested parties might find it at their local
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    My bardic advice to those considering joke names for things is generally: Ask yourself if the joke will still be funny 25 years fr
  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
    There actually is a Coven of Misfit Toys in Wisconsin...
Rose Moon Ritual: A Full Moon Ceremony

This ritual is simply lovely and taught to me by a friend who has the good fortune of spending lots of time in sacred place around the world. She calls this the Rose Moon Ritual. Essential elements for this ritual are incense, offerings of fruit and lots of flowers, rice, and holy or blessed water. Make sure to have roses on the altar and rose petals scattered all around so the sight and sweet scent stimulates the senses 


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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.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    I have always said "coveners." Depending on context it may be "coven members." One of our traditional rituals talks about "br

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Rite of the Witch-Fire

The Craft is like Fire.

Last weekend the folks from our new daughter-coven came into town for the Rite of the Witch-Fire.

For more than 30 years now, the Fire has burned continuously here at the covenstead.

Now we pass it on.

In the Fire's Presence, we gathered in the temple and kindled from it New Fire. This Fire now burns at our daughter group's new covenstead.

Truly, the Craft is like Fire.

Though you give your Fire away, the giving in no way diminishes you.

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Survival Secrets of the Long-Lived Covens

Statistically, the average coven has a lifespan of three years.

But let us not make the mistake of taking this as normative.

In fact, the history of the modern Craft is studded with examples of long-lived covens. In a year and a half, the group that I'm part of will have been together for 40 years. Our daughter/sister coven is still going strong after almost 35 years. Gardner's original Bricket Wood coven has been up and running for some 60-plus years now. Across the wide and many-colored world of modern Witchdom, there must be hundreds—if not thousands—of similar examples.

Long-lived covens may be a minority in the Craft, but they are neither outliers nor anomalies. They are, rather, the heart of who we are and what we do.

Each of these covens is a success story: a success story in which we all share. Each one is a triumph for us all.

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A Few Friendly Tips on Choosing a Coven Name

Take your time. In the initial exhilaration of coming together, it's altogether tempting to want to name your new coven right away.

My recommendation is, don't. This is really far too important a decision to rush into.

Names are Wyrd-ful things. A coven name is aspirational, yes: but though it shapes what the coven will eventually become, it also needs to reflect what the coven already is. And sometimes that can take a while to "firm up."

So go slowly, and hold out for quality.

Avoid the humorous. Really, will the joke still seem funny 25 years down the road, after the ten thousandth repetition?

Probably not.

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