Coven

From Academic Kids

Coven or covan was originally a late medieval Scots word (c1500) meaning a gathering of any kind according to the Oxford English Dictionary. It derives from the Latin root word convenire meaning to come together or to gather, which also gave rise to the English word convene. The first recorded use of it being applied to witches comes from a much later date from 1662 in the witchtrial of Isabel Gowdie which describes a coven of 13 members. Margaret Murray used this evidence to claim that all witches across Europe met in groups of thirteen which they called covens. She went on to manipulate the figures in other trials to come to a similar total, though even then she could only come up with eighteen total out of the hundreds of recorded trials. She also provided no evidence the word itself was used outside Scotland at the time of the witchhunts, nor why her ancient prehistoric religion were using a word which of recent date derived from Latin. After Murray popularised the word in the 1920s Gerald Gardner adopted it in his works on Wicca hence its modern use in that religion.

Contents

The Coven in modern Wicca

A coven is, in brief, a gathering or association of witches. The number of persons involved may vary, although while thirteen has been suggested any number above three can be a coven. Two would usually be referred to as a working couple (in any combination of sexes.) It is commonly said that a coven larger than thirteen is unweildy as group dynamics make it difficult. The term has been used with both positive and negative connotations, largely dependent on the speaker's view of witches and witchcraft.

In Wicca and similar religions, the term coven implies a gathering similar to that implied by congregation in Christian parlance. It is composed of a group of believers gathered together for a ceremony of worship such as Drawing down the Moon.

Covens in literature and popular culture

An intermediate view is often portrayed in fantasy stories and popular culture. In this usage, a coven is a gathering of witches to work spells in tandem. Such imagery can be traced back to Renaissance prints depicting witches and to the three 'weird sisters' in Shakespeare's play Macbeth. More orgiastic witches's meetings are also depicted in Robert Burns's poem Tam O'Shanter and in Goethe's play Faust. Movie portrayals have included, for example The Craft and COVEN (pronounced ko ven) (documented in the movie American Movie).

Coven, The

In John Allen's REALM series, the Coven is the sister organization to the Circle. Its members, called Collectors, adhere to a theological belief that the universe is sustained by a delicate balance of life-energy, also called etheric or ethereal energy. Their theory states that the universe teeters on the brink of collapse and is only kept in check by moderating the amount of active life-energy the universse contains. In order to maintain this balance the Collectors must either save lives, thereby retaining the necessary proportion of etheric energy, or by destroying lives, therefore redistributing the needed amount of energy. This process is often magnified on a much grander scale; where genocide is deemed essential to preserve the balance. In the third and final installment of the first REALM trilogy the House War, the prophesized apocalyptic war between the Circle and the Coven, just begins and takes center stage in the second trilogy. Most notable members of the Coven include BLANE SUMMERS and DARIUS.

External links

  • Finding a Coven (http://http://www.avalonia.co.uk/book_of_shadows/finding%20a%20coven.htm)
  • Working in a Coven (http://http://www.avalonia.co.uk/book_of_shadows/working_in_a_coven.htm) - notes from a lecture
  • Choosing a Coven (http://www.draknet.com/proteus/Findcovn.htm) by Judy Harrow

de:Hexencoven fr:Coven nl:Coven

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