There is something brewing at the new Kenyon Coven club. Kenyon Coven had its first meeting last Saturday and is excited to establish a Witch, Pagan, Satanist and heathen organization in Gambier, Ohio.
The Coven is an inclusive “inter-pagan” religious group that aims to provide a home for people at Kenyon who are seeking a spiritual journey. The club intends to hold rituals as well as events that are open to the campus.
Founder Lucca Burgess ’26 derived “the Coven” from the traditional term meaning a group of people practicing witchcraft. According to Burgess, calling a group a coven was historically a tool to invoke fear in others, but over time the name was reclaimed as an inclusive term for all people practicing witchcraft, including Wiccans and Pagans. Burgess wanted to use a name that will encompass all spiritual practices as well as be something that many people can associate with and recognize.
Burgess explained that the inspiration to start the club came at the beginning of the school year due to his own religious journey. After researching various religions, he decided he identified most with a form of Paganism. However, at Kenyon, Burgess felt a lack of religious and spiritual diversity. “I was like, we need more representation. This can’t be all of the religious life here. So that’s what got me started on the club,” Burgess said.
Around that time, Coven Moderator Catherine Norton ’26 had a discussion with Burgess about what a Pagan organization would look like at Kenyon. Norton herself does not identify as Pagan, but she has always been interested in the relationship between spirituality and physical movement — which she plans to bring to the Coven. “Doing things with your body really heightens your experience when looking for higher power or any other sort of guiding support,” Norton said.
During their first meeting, the club held an opening ritual where they placed electronic candles in a circle, and attendees stood around the circle and did a rhythmic breathing exercise. After this, participants had a conversation about future plans for the club. Leaders were eager to hear feedback from members on specific events they would look forward to doing. Many people were interested in the relationship between spirituality and nature. “The celebration of spring is coming up soon. We thought we might involve flower crowns or crystals or maybe go down to the BFEC [Brown Family Environmental Center] … walk around, be mindful,” Norton said.
About 20 people altogether attended the meeting, which Norton felt very encouraged by. She said that there were also plenty of people who showed interest through emails to the Coven with questions about the club and inquiries about future meetings. Most people in attendance were first years, but there were a few upperclassmen who showed their support for the Coven as well. Both Norton and Burgess are first years and are excited to spend time working on their new spiritual outlet throughout their time at Kenyon.
The Coven will include many different realms of Paganism. Historically, Paganism and witchcraft revolve around traditional mythologies all over the world. The club wants to incorporate ritualistic traditions from many different cultures. Some members are interested in East Asian ancestor magic, and others are inspired to do Wiccan Celtic mythology. For some, spirituality is about connecting to a higher power, and in turn connecting more to themselves. Burgess wants to provide a space accepting of all cultures and open to a variety of spiritual practices. The club’s main goal is to create an atmosphere for everyone to feel included and comfortable in trying out a new belief system in their lives. “I feel like by starting this big-tent Pagan club, we can get a whole lot of ideas and a whole lot of philosophies, but also a set of shared values that we can kind of get behind,” Burgess said.
However, as the club develops its image, pop culture is a subject on many students’ minds. With historical-events-turned-movies like the “Salem Witch Trials” and cult classics like “The Craft” shaping people’s ideas of Paganism, the Coven wants to set the record straight about what their club will encompass — and no, there won’t be any magical floating or sacrifices. Rest assured, students interested in witchcraft can still be on the lookout for Coven movie nights.
The process of starting the Coven is an exciting but strenuous task for the new leaders. The club is referenced as an interfaith religious organization. It will have more meetings on the process of starting a club, including drafting a mission statement. For now, Burgess hopes to have club rituals and open events, like leading a Weaver Wednesday or being involved with a spring festival on campus, with the goal of being an official club by the fall semester of 2023.
Norton put the goal into words: “We want everybody to feel comfortable. And I think that the core important stuff that we’re talking about in spiritual practice is to find yourself and be happy. You can do that in any way you want, and we’re just happy to be along for the ride.”
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