What is a coven?

avatar10-copy.jpgSome might hear the word coven and shudder, believing the word evokes images of devil worshipers and wild orgies and blood sacrifice. The truth of the matter is that a witches’ coven generally worship Mother Earth, I have yet to see an orgy (trust me…I’ve looked!) and the only sacrifice I’ve encountered was that of a couple of bottles of wine during festival. What a buzzkill, eh? lol

You’d be surprised to find that the ideal coven is that of an extended family who share the Old religion (or not so old depending on who you speak to), who share a path of delving into the mystical, magical, and wondrous world of earth, sky, and natural places. This is what a coven should be. Not all of them are, mind you. I’ve encountered a number of groups who test the boundaries of religion and dictate to their followers secrecy and their conduct within the Circle. Some might even suggest they are a cult (though primarily a cult as an influential leader and make lots of money) This was the very reason I’ve avoided covens to the best of my ability.

The word coven has connotations to ‘convene’ or a gathering. In Wicca, and other Goddess oriented religions, a coven is a formalized group of followers with the same purpose of worship and often includes training. Learning is essential as well as participation. My problem is that the leaders, known as a priest and priestess, often dictate to the members as to what is expected of them. They place the standards upon everyone else, rather than the group be the decision makers. I have issues with this sort of orthodoxy.

This is not to deny other groups to claim the term ‘coven’ such as Satanists or modern Vampires. They can call their groups just the same, and it can mean the same in some aspects; such as a gathering but also a group indicating a higher dedication to their beliefs.

For me, ideally a coven should be a family who care about one another, who encourages one another to the best of the ability to explore religion. It is a circle, with everyone equal, but also recognizing knowledge and learning and skill of those who organize things. The leaders should be encouraging of others and their path, while guiding and encouraging like parents would do so for their children. A coven welcomes families, where you can find lots of laughter and smiles when you need them.

I believe I have found such a group. One who values me as a person, as well as my individualism to be an asset to the group, and who encourages me forward in decisions and actions that is best for me. I, in turn, see the other members in the same way; as incredible individuals with strengths and caring that I think is quite rare to find. I truly respect and appreciate this.

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3 responses to “What is a coven?

  1. You have very well described what any congregation whether it be Pagan, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or other should be. Thank you.

    As a note though, blood sacrifice and sacrifice by ordeal have been a regular part of my coven for years. Morrighu is a stern Mother and Cernunnos is a demanding father.

  2. There are groups that have blood sacrifice but its not the norm. Most pagans I’ve met, and that’s in the hundreds, have no blood letting. I believe this entirely depends on the ‘face’ of the god or goddess you choose to honor.
    Personally mine would offer tea and cakes. 😉

  3. True. My coven was never the norm. We do cakes and ale, tea, coffee, wine though as well and more often than blood or ordeal.

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