coven


coven
/kuv"euhn, koh"veuhn/, n.
an assembly of witches, esp. a group of thirteen.
[1500-10 for sense "assembly"; 1655-65 for current sense; var. of obs. covent assembly, religious group, CONVENT]

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      basic group in which witches are said to gather. One of the chief proponents of the theory of a coven was the English Egyptologist Margaret Murray in her work The Witch Cult in Western Europe (1921). According to her a coven consists of 12 witches and a devil as leader. The number is generally taken as a parody of Christ and his 12 disciples. (An alternate theory, stressing the Murray view of a pre-Christian tradition of witches, explains 13 as the maximum number of dancers that can be accommodated in a nine-foot circle.)

      Each member of a coven is said to specialize in a particular branch of magic, such as bewitching agricultural produce, producing sickness or death in humans, storm raising, or seduction. The actuality of covens was also accepted by Montague Summers, a well-known Roman Catholic writer on witchcraft in the 1920s and 1930s, and more recently by Pennethorne Hughes in his Witchcraft (1952, 1965). Many students of witchcraft, however, dismiss the Murray theory of covens as unfounded and based on insufficient evidence. Nonetheless, 20th-century witchcraft groups continue to use the term coven, and reports of coven activity in the United States and Europe are not uncommon.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • coven — a gathering of witches, 1660s, earlier (c.1500) a variant of covent, cuvent early forms of CONVENT (Cf. convent). Association with witches arose in Scotland, but not popularized until Sir Walter Scott used it in this sense in Letters on… …   Etymology dictionary

  • coven — index assemblage Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • Coven — Coven: palabra inglesa equivalente a Aquelarre. Se trata de un grupo de 12 personas más un Sumo Sacerdote, que se reunen para realizar un ritual Wicca …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • coven — ► NOUN ▪ a group of witches who meet regularly. ORIGIN variant of archaic covin band of people , from Latin convenire come together …   English terms dictionary

  • coven — [kuv′ən] n. [ME covin, a group of confederates, agreement, secret plan < OFr covin or ML covina: both < ML convenium < VL * convenium, an agreement < L convenire: see CONVENE] a gathering or meeting, esp. of witches …   English World dictionary

  • Coven — This article is about covens in witchcraft. For the film, see Coven (movie). For the band, see Coven (band). For the village, see Coven, Staffordshire. A coven or covan is a name used to describe a gathering of witches or in some cases vampires.… …   Wikipedia

  • Coven —  Ne pas confondre Coven et Convent. Coven était à l origine un mot écossais du Moyen Âge tardif (vers 1500) qui signifiait un rassemblement de personnes. Il dérive du latin convoco qui signifie être ensemble ou se rassembler qui donna aussi… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • coven — UK [ˈkʌv(ə)n] / US noun [countable] Word forms coven : singular coven plural covens a group or meeting of witches …   English dictionary


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