To Craft a Coven—Shelly Jones

Materials: Wool, heather, fennel, salt, water, willing initiates  


Draw the curtains before you begin, so cowans cannot look upon your divine magic. If you feel a shuddering at the door, wood shimmying as the wind whips, slip fennel in the keyhole: no demon will scry on your covenstead. 

Soak and scour the wool in salt water. Let it dry in the chimney, a cloying trap for any bad spirits invading your work. 

Spin the wool with a sprig of heather from a besom, speaking the incantation of the All-Maker with each undulation of the treadle. 

Blessed be the cord that will unite the coven. 

Weave the binding cord around the wrists of each initiate, turning the cloth widdershins. Repeat the pattern until all initiates have been grafted to the All-Maker like scions to the rootstock, two lives bound as one.  

Remember those whose life already feeds the earth, feel the connection to them through the trailing ends of the binding cord sweeping the dusty ground. 

Steep the athame in the fire until its blade glows, like the starry oracles of Asteria, mother of Hekate, born in the dark. Run the steel across the binding cord and wait, breathless, to see if the cord unravels: the crossroads of a coven. 

If the cord breaks, scatter the unworthy, driving them from your home, and salt your doorstep to prevent their return. 

If the cord holds true, blessed be the union knitted in the name of the All-Maker.    

Shelly Jones is an Associate Professor of English at a small college in the Catskills, where she teaches classes on mythology, folklore, and writing. Her speculative work can be found in PodcastleThe Future Fire, and elsewhere. 

photo by Ksenia Yakovleva (via unsplash)