Coven is the name used to describe a gathering of Witches. The word is a variation of the mid 17th century English word “covin” which meant “to convene” or meet. Covent also meant “group of men or women in a monastery or convent”. The association of this word with witches arose in Scotland but was not popularized until Sir Walter Scott used it in this sense in Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft (1830).
The word then remained almost unused until 1921, when Margaret Murray – now discredited – stated that witches in Europe gathered in groups of thirteen members which they called “covens”. Her book The Witch-Cult in Western Europe (1921) was the cornerstone for Gerald Gardner’s “Witchcraft Today” (1954), which later influenced entire generations of Witches and Wiccans.
“Coven” became the default name for any gathering of Neopagans, Witches, or Wiccans, either celebrating a Sabbat, performing a rite, or simply studying.
Solitary Practice vs Coven
This video discusses the pros and cons of belonging to a coven, and what precautions a new Witch should have when joining a Pagan circle.
Things to Be Aware When Joining a Coven
If an individual or group is requesting a large amount of money for becoming part of their coven or taking classes, be wary. While there is nothing inherently wrong with requesting payment for services such as with a workshop or asking for a coven fee to cover ritual supplies, use your own judgment and inner compass to determine what is acceptable to you and what is not.
If anyone makes unwanted sexual advances or asks you to perform any sexual act that you are uncomfortable with, tell them you find their behavior unacceptable and leave immediately. In fact, you can just leave immediately without any discussion! No one in any spiritual path should take sexual advantage of another person in any shape or form.
When working with other people or participating in magickal workings at a public event, it is vital to know your own personal boundaries. A great way to ensure your own well-being and safety is to bring a friend with you – use the buddy system!
Overall, trust your instincts. If you even get a twinge of discomfort, it is probably not the right space for you to open yourself especially when working with magick. Keep in mind that no one has all the answers or can tell you how to connect with the divine, every path is legitimate. Ultimately it doesn’t matter whether you join a coven or choose to be a solitary practitioner. The most important thing is to practice the craft and continue to learn using the resources available to you.
Seekers’ Bill of Rights
The Seekers’ Bill of Rights was written by Charles Mars to protect and educate those seeking a pagan path. Keep a copy of this bill of rights with you and be aware when meeting new people in the pagan community.
Click the image to download a printable version. This pdf comes with a transparent background so you can print it on any type of parchment paper.