The idea of covens is comparatively modern, originating in the works of Shakespeare and Renaissance depictions of magic-using women. In reality, any witch will tell you, covens became a real tradition because of these works, or because modern young witches watched TV and saw them depicted there.
Once the idea gained traction, covens enjoyed a brief golden age through the 1900s to the 2000s, up until the cataclysmic destruction that reshaped the world and the societies within it. In Moss Bay, the idea of the coven still exists, but it has fairly little weight: the city’s witches built their own, extremely loose, community structures based on their shared need for safety and their strong individual personalities.
That outside observers sometimes call their gatherings “covens” is inertia more than anything, because there is nothing official about the average gathering of Moss Bay’s witches.
The witches lounge together on a faded grey three-seat sofa, tiny bits of lint hanging from its cushions. Their robotic maid, friend to all three witches, passes by behind the couch, offering the contents of a plate to each of them in turn. Eleanor, the bombastic blue-haired witch of hell, takes a trio of brightly-coloured spicy peppers. Ain, the physically strongest and tallest of the three, takes a protein bar, still wrapped. Vivian, the thinnest of the three, with wavy green hair, a crown of sunflowers and a crescent moon smile, takes a bundle of salted wheat crackers.
Behind them is a low wall, and then an apartment kitchen, with all its attendant cupboards and a sink and even a few appliances. The fridge that the apartment came with has broken down, and Eleanor, the apartment’s owner, has never felt like allowing someone inside to fix it. So instead, a mini-fridge hums along on the floor.
What the witches talk about is not sex, not the subversion of men, not serving higher and darker powers than they. Sometimes it is about magic, but usually it is about the noisy group of sports players down the street, or the difficulty of the day’s crossword puzzle (leading Eleanor to attempt it and then swear profusely), or what they’re planning to do this week.
And usually those plans are not malicious, even though they can be destructive.
“I’m gonna see if I can make a hot spring,” Eleanor told the others. “There’s this lake by the mountain, I don’t think anyone lives in it.”
“Alright, so how are you going to do that?” Ain asked.
“I’ll set the lake on fire. Duh.”