Coven: (n) an assembly of witches
In the tapestry of experiences I have quilted together to call my life, I spent some time in Shreveport, Louisiana, starting a work that was kind of a combination of an artist’s guild, a church and a food bank.
Now, any one of those three things could stand on its own as a formidable effort, but in my youthful arrogance, I felt it was necessary for me to tackle all three to adequately represent the entire girth of the message that was sitting on top of my heart.
We were not large, but the people we drew were very artistic, spiritually seeking, and often in need of some help with groceries. So as you see, we were right on point.
This Southern community I lived in thought that artists should stay downtown with the theater, churches should piously place themselves on Church Street, and food banks were better situated across town, where people’s skin had a deeper hue.
So when white, young me—with long hair—started to march about the community, putting on plays, performing music, teaching a little Gospel here and there, and passing out food in grocery carts near the projects, our city did not deem this to be a positive, but rather, decided it must be born of some sort of “dark spirit.”
They were especially concerned because we named this little gathering “The Haven.” Feeling no need to question their own assumptions, or even pick up a dictionary for definition, several of them insisted that the word “haven” was the term used for the Church of Satan. They were convinced we were a cult of witches with accompanying warlocks, who were doing good deeds to mask our real adventure, which was to pervert and smear true Christianity.
Several times I pointed out to them that the word “haven” actually came from an old hymn entitled “Haven of Rest,” and that the word they were seeking, which described a witch’s congregation, was “coven.” However, they refused to change their minds and accepted the rumor they had so carefully and perniciously put together.
Fortunately for us, those involved in the arts, the souls that were seeking answers, and people who were hungry didn’t give a shit whether the aid came from the Prince of Peace or the Prince of Darkness.