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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in coven

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Cauldron of Fire Ritual

Here is a wonderful way friends can help each other get rid of fears, creative blocks, and the shrill voice of the inner critic. Ideally, this spell is done during the waning moon or on November 1 or December 31—the witchy holidays when the veil between worlds is believed to be thinnest.

Get a metal kettle and an outdoor firepot or little grill, and for each of the friends you have invited, a pen and two pieces of paper. Sit around the fire, relax, and talk about what challenges you face in attaining your artistic goals. Write on a piece of paper what comes up for you. Go around the circle and read from your list of blocks. Then, with great intention, place each paper on the fire. After everyone is done, silently meditate, and write your hope for the future. Now, reversing the order of speaking, go around the circle and share your dreams. Fold the paper and carry it with you in your purse or wallet. Your vision for the future will take on a life of its own.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Puck (folklore) - Wikipedia

12 + 1 = 13.

12 Jurors + 1 Judge = 13.

12 Witches + 1 “Devil” = 13.

Here in Minneapolis, during the lead-up to the Derek Chauvin trial, we've been thinking and talking much about juries. I had never spent much time thinking about the jury as a cultural institution before, but suddenly I'm seeing some interesting parallels with, shall we say, yet another institution.

Think of that next time you get together with the coven.

The twelve-person jury in the US is an inheritance from English Common Law. A deliberative body, the purpose of which is to determine truth—truth, at least, for legal purposes—it ideally constitutes, in effect, a microcosm of the society.

Why twelve to make a microcosm, and not ten, you ask?

Easily told. There's evidence that early Germanic-speaking societies were duodecimal—twelve-based—rather than decimal. That's why to this day we count “...eleven, twelve...” and then get to the teens.

To the Hwicce, the original Anglo-Saxon-speaking Tribe of Witches, twelve was the “long ten,” just as 120 was the “long hundred.”

Think of that next time you get together with the coven.

To those used to reckoning on fingers, a ten-based mathematical system seems more “natural” than a twelve-based one, but of course it's perfectly possible to count to twelve on your fingers as well.

 

How to Count to Twelve on Your Fingers

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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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