This can relate to any topic really but I want to focus more on common words in the spiritual community, specifically in the pagan / witchcraft community. When does the actually definition of a word not matter anymore? When does someone’s own personal experience (or a group of people’s experiences) or opinions begin to dictate what that word now means and who can use it?
Of course we’ve seen it with feminism (ya’ll know how much I love to bring this topic up lol). People don’t want to call themselves a feminist because of the way other people, who call themselves feminist, behave. Or they say that so and so isn’t a real feminist because they did
Interestingly on the Pagan Youtube FB group someone posted about a young lady on Youtube who has started a, sort of, course or class online about witchcraft that she charges $300 to sign up for. The original poster on the FB group didn’t seem to be the one bothered with the use of the word “coven” but when I read the comments I wasn’t surprised that not many could agree if the use of the word was okay or not. Or more importantly if it was misleading.
Some stating that they simply don’t see a problem and some flat out saying that this “isn’t a real coven” because it isn’t similar to any coven they’ve been a part of in the past or present. And some saying it isn’t because you shouldn’t have to pay to be a part of a coven dynamic. Which brings us to a whole other discussion altogether about charging for “witchy” or spiritual services (which I plan to talk about next week on Spiritual Tea). Someone else said that the use of the word “coven” (in the context I’m assuming) is misappropriating the word.
So this brings me back to my original question: When does the actually definition of a word not matter anymore? When does someone’s own personal experience (or a group of people’s experiences) or opinions begin to dictate what that word now means and who can use it?
The definition of the word coven is: a group or gathering of witches who meet regularly. Or a secret or close-knit group of associates.
Nowhere in the definition does it explicitly say that someone couldn’t charge to be apart of one or that it must be X amount of witches of X age. Nor does it say who can form a coven or what the coven members need to do or how they should do it. So by definition you could literally call any close group of friends / associates a coven and it wouldn’t be misappropriating the word.
But what about the money part? Well some may argue that it isn’t ethical or appropriate to charge to be a part of a coven. And some will argue that a coven of a certain size, taking up a certain large amount of the “leaders” (or teachers) time would be something one would be expected to pay for. Not to mention that online covens and “in person” covens are different in that one can be hosted at someone’s home with little to no money needed to connect to each other. An online coven however relies on internet connection and website hosting, among other things like webcam, computer programs and not to mention the most expensive thing of all, time. Creating videos, blog post, ebooks, courses, ezines, podcast and much more takes a lot of time and planning. Like I said before, I will be discussing the topic of charging money in exchange for spiritual / magical goods and services next week.
Since we’re on the topics of words being misappropriated, I’d like to talk about how I think using the word “Tribe” is misleading and kind of makes me cringe.
So the definition of tribe is: a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.
By definition people who refer to their group (this was popular amongst the witchy / pagan community for a while last year, not sure about now) as their tribe consider themselves to be the leader of said group or recognizing that there must be a leader of their group. Of course I know this isn’t true. It was a term that was adopted to describe a close group of people who have similar interest (whether social or religious) to you and that you connected with.
“Your vibe attracts your tribe” I believe was the phrase that was popularized in late 2015 and early 2016. Witches made videos discussing “finding their tribes”. As I said I personally cringe at the use of the word but that’s just because I already have my own idea of what a tribe should be or look like that is completely based on my own personal experiences. That being said, it is not my place to push my own personal ideals of what something should be or should look like.
So I ask you again, for the last time I promise, When does someone’s own personal experience (or a group of people’s experiences) or opinions begin to dictate what that word now means and who can use it?
Follow up question: Who or what gets to dictate or determine what is or isn’t a “real” coven? And do you have any experiences within a coven?