Birthing Hereditary Witchcraft: Family Coven?

Firmly ensconced in my new home office, I hear Nathaniel and Sam downstairs watching YouTube, and I am reminded why I wanted a ranch style home – everything on one level. I mull over the idea buckling down to work instead of going downstairs, but eventually, I decide that the trip is avoidable. I venture down and ask Nathan about this column.

“So, I’m writing about Family Coven, and I need to talk it through with someone.”

Nate crosses the living room in his wheelchair and turns off the Xbox, then wheels to face me. “OK. Shoot.”

Taking in his battered body from a motorcycle accident just a few weeks ago, I watch him wind and unwind the bandage around his arm several times while I talk through the ideas I have for this column. Eventually, I send Sam up for the box of ace bandages from when Sam had his accident with a mountain and broke his foot. Pretty soon Sam and I have outfitted Nathan with a new bandage that is clean and fits better than the one Nathan was worrying. Talk then turns to dinner: the smells that only crockpot pot roast can provide are wafting through the house. We playfully argue with Sam about setting the table before Tony, my husband, gets home.

I begin a game of fetch with Ziek, an eleven-month-old terrier mix, all black, gray and white. Alice, the five-year-old service lab mix, takes up residence in the only patch of sunlight streaming through the windows on this October evening. Her red and tan coat shimmers in the light, her black and red service vest easily stretching as she makes herself comfortable. She watches my game with Ziek, ever mindful of whether or not I will need her. Ziek, still in training, plays fetch as reward for going through various commands that Nathan has been working with him on. He has all the enthusiasm and energy of the puppy he is, and he is given the latitude puppies always get. Occasionally he is on the couch crawling all over myself or Sam, getting plenty of attention to make up for his day all alone with only Nathan as a companion. Through all this discussion and activity, no one leaves the comfort of the living room, including Alice and Ziek, until we hear the garage door open announcing Tony’s return from work.

Sam, with all the piss and vinegar of a 15-year-old, jumps up and runs toward the dining room, declaring he is going to set the table before Tony can unload his car and get back into the house. Without as much urgency or energy, Nathan and I head into the kitchen to gather drinks and condiments and arrange the crock pot on the table.

For a brief moment after the chaos of dinner prep, we all bow our heads and I repeat my sister Sarah’s prayer for a meal:

“Lord and Lady, thank you for our food and all our many blessings. So mote it be.”

We have a brief hand squeezing contest and then launch into our meal, everyone a little grateful that this meal was actually prepared hours before — we just have to sit and consume. Talk begins with an analysis of Sam’s day at school and his afterschool volunteering for Chorus. Tony talks about visiting the latest church he is creating a sound and video system for; Nathan talks about who called him and how much sleep he got during the day, since he is still recovering from the two surgeries required to mend the damage caused when mini-van met him on a motorcycle.

Soon the conversation turns to thoroughly exploring hot sauces, the hottest foods we have ever eaten, where and when they were consumed. We talk about flirting and how you know when you are being flirted with, leading Nathan to reminisce about being single in Japan while wearing a Navy uniform.

“Navy uniform and single, not a bad way to be,” I comment with a wink and grin.

“Single sound engineer in cowboy boots at a different bar every couple of weeks, not a bad way to be either,” counters my husband with a wink and grin of his own, referring to his five years as the front of house sound engineer when he was in his early twenties.

This gets the teenager going, and we discuss women and dating, which leads us to a comparison of exotic dancers and waitresses at Hooters and the Tilted Kilt. This conversation turn comes by some chauvinistic statements Sam made off the cuff. Eventually Nathan and Tony call Sam’s bull and dinner begins to break up. Everyone chips in: clearing the dishes, putting away condiments, and storing the rest of the roast for pulled pork sandwiches the next night. When it’s obvious the boys have everything under control, I take Tony’s computer bag and make my way back to my office to sit down. Then, I begin what I had run from about an hour and a half earlier, this new column here on Agora about Family Covens and Birthing Hereditary Witchcraft.

Just as I begin to type, Alice comes in and lays at my feet, and Sam pops his body in the doorway.

“Hey mamma, ‘Distraction, distraction, distraction, distraction.’” Every distraction is punctuated with jazz hands blinking my direction. I smile, and he settles a bit and then says, “Good luck with that article.”

As he turns to leave, he passes Tony who comes in to set up at his station behind mine, saying, “I guess we will figure out how well this new office configuration is going to work, since I have drawings to complete.” I just nod and smile and think….

THIS IS FAMILY COVEN. These every day, ordinary moments, these are the building blocks that give birth to hereditary witchcraft.

When a house is set up as a temple to the gods, and the persons who have been charged with the safe keeping of those within that temple honor divinity in what they say and do, hereditary witchcraft flows through every connection created in that temple.

We birth our hereditary witchcraft in these little rituals: prayers of thanksgiving before food, an encouragement of group effort in clean-up, support for each other in our endeavors. We birth hereditary witchcraft with our discussions: the differences in how men and women are viewed directly related to their choice of vocation; the differences in how men and women relate from flirtation to serious issues; an easy acceptance that all acts of love and pleasure are of the goddess, when done with due diligence and respect by the use of safer sex practices. Even a discussion about the shock and awe around something fiery hot and created from the earth is a building block of strong family coven and a paving stone for hereditary witchcraft.

I think I sought Nathan out early this evening because I tend to break down Family Coven and the practice of Birthing Hereditary Witchcraft into clinical and academic explanations. Yet this seems to miss the mark at times. I have thoroughly done my research and vetted my ideas with other family covens around the United States and Canada. But explanation of what Family Coven is seems to fall incredibly short of what actually happens in a family coven.

In coming columns, I will give the academic, magical and psychological reasons why Family Coven is a powerful way to view your family. I will discuss tips and tricks. I will tackle the hard issues around Family Covens with multiple spiritual paths, blended family units and dealing with extended family groups, as well as schools, clubs, and society.

Through all this, I will strive to remember this evening in October when I sat down to write my first column for Agora. This evening held within a few hours all the things I hold sacred about Family Coven. As you read my column, I hope you will remember that Family Coven is not something you take up as a new challenge or a new way of living; it is the opposite. It is more about how you integrate ideas around spirituality, emotional security, raising children, defining family, and defining social justice and privilege (including the differences in sexes and sexual orientation) into the daily act of living.

It is a million little conversations you have with those with whom you share food, shelter and resources with to survive. It is using those conversations to push your family beyond survival and into spiritual thriving, growing, and developing. It is achieving and accepting that every being in your home, including yourself, is sacred and an accurate reflection of the Divine. That makes playing with the animal pet, setting the table, eating a meal, conversing with family members, cleaning up afterwards and breaking up to go and do the work of living all acts Divinely inspired, divinely led and divinely fulfilled.


Birthing Hereditary Witchcraft is published on alternate Mondays. Subscribe via RSS or e-mail!

  • Katie Thackrey

    love this!!

  • Jessica Mortimer

    wonderful words by a wonderful women you inspire me to bring new ways of being a pagan family into my home you are a true inspiration

  • https://www.lydiamncrabtree.com/ Lydia M N Crabtree

    Thanks Jessica and Katie… please keep returning!

  • Kyler Pettry

    Insightful and inspiring. As a single gay man (with roommates and a dog who is most assuredly certain of his place as head of household) the idea of family coven didn’t seem necessarily to apply to my situation. But within the family structure we’ve created I think there is a good deal of room for this same perspective! I am really looking forward to upcoming articles!

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