Your cart is currently empty.

What is a Group of Witches Called?

July 2023 | Steve Travels

What is a Group of Witches Called?

When we delve into the world of witchcraft and magic, many questions arise. Among the most intriguing is, "What is a group of witches called?" The answer to this is a "coven," but there's so much more to understand about this term, its origins, and the dynamic of covens themselves.

What is a Coven?

A coven refers to a gathering or group of witches who meet regularly to practice witchcraft and conduct rituals. While the number of witches in a coven can vary, traditionally it's often composed of thirteen members. The structure of a coven is typically hierarchical, with roles such as High Priestess and High Priest leading the group.

Origin of the Term 'Coven'

The term "coven" traces its roots back to the Scottish witch trials of the 16th and 17th centuries, yet it didn't gain widespread usage until the 20th century. Derived from the Old French word "covenan," which translates to "agreement" or "contract," it reflects the essence of what a coven represents—a pact or accord among a group of witches committed to shared magical practice, mutual support, and collective learning.

However, the context behind its original usage was far more sinister. During the Scottish witch trials, the term was used to denote meetings of witches who were purportedly involved in malicious acts of witchcraft. These connotations have largely been dispelled over time, with modern-day usage of "coven" reflecting solidarity and shared knowledge rather than malevolent conspiracies.

In the 20th century, the use of "coven" significantly increased with the rise of neopaganism and Wicca. English Wiccan Gerald Gardner, often considered the father of modern witchcraft, used the term to describe the organizational structure of witchcraft practice. Under Gardner's influence, "coven" became the accepted term for a group of witches, further solidifying its place in contemporary witchcraft lexicon.

Interestingly, Gardner also popularized the idea that a traditional coven should consist of thirteen members, although this is not a universally accepted norm today. Many modern covens can range from as few as three members to much larger groups, proving that the concept of a coven continues to evolve over time.

Formation of Covens

Covens are typically formed by like-minded witches who seek communal support, shared knowledge, and a collective energy in their practice of witchcraft. Some covens are open to all interested practitioners, while others require an initiation process. Many covens also follow a particular tradition or pathway within witchcraft, such as Wicca, Green Witchcraft, or Dianic Witchcraft.

Joining a Coven

Joining a coven can be a meaningful way to deepen your understanding and practice of witchcraft. It allows you to learn from others, share experiences, and contribute to a collective energy. However, it's important to remember that each coven is unique and may have its own practices, traditions, and rules. Here are some practical steps to help you find the right coven for you:

  1. Research: Read about different witchcraft traditions to understand which aligns best with your beliefs and practices. This will help you identify covens that follow a similar path.

  2. Online Communities: Use online witchcraft forums, social media groups, or websites like to find covens in your area. These platforms often have listings or members who can help guide you.

  3. Local Occult Stores: Visit local occult or metaphysical stores. They often have information about local covens and can provide contact information. They might also host events where you can meet practitioners.

  4. Attend Public Events: Public pagan or witchcraft events such as festivals, fairs, or open rituals are a great way to meet members of local covens.

  5. Interviews and Meetings: Once you have identified potential covens, arrange for a meet-up or interview. This will give you a chance to ask questions about their practices, expectations, and initiation process, if they have one. It's important to ensure the coven feels like the right fit for you.

Famous Covens

Throughout history and in popular culture, several covens have gained notoriety. For instance, the New Forest Coven played a crucial role in the revival of modern witchcraft in Britain during the mid-20th century. In pop culture, movies and TV shows like "The Craft" and "American Horror Story: Coven" have depicted fictional covens, contributing to the modern public's understanding and perception of them.

What Do Covens Do?

Covens regularly meet to conduct rituals, especially during significant lunar phases or sabbats, the eight annual festivals in the Wheel of the Year. They offer a supportive environment for teaching and learning, with more experienced witches mentoring newcomers. Covens also facilitate a powerful collective energy during spellwork and rituals, something that is often more potent than the energy of an individual witch.

In summary, a group of witches is called a coven, and these covens represent an important aspect of witchcraft. They provide a community, fostering learning and development, and serving as a powerful conduit for magical energy. Whether you are a solitary practitioner or part of a coven, remember that both paths hold their own unique power and beauty.