A few months ago, I finished up a fairly gruelling masters degree and lost a regular writing gig. There was a lot of spare time left to fill with something, anything as long as it wasn’t connected to clothing. I was discombobulated and bleary from too many cheap jam donuts and not enough fresh air.
Fashion journalism had burned me out. Not so much the industry itself, but grappling with the minutiae – listing and collating trends for future use, squirrelling away product shots, polishing off a CV so shiny it was starting to give off an obnoxious glare.
I was starting to get a repetitive strain injury of the brain; it happens to everyone, no matter how much they love their job.
Perhaps the happiest I was at that stage was finishing up my final report – a 10,000 word magazine of fashion essays and analysis on whatever the hell I wanted. The words could flow out of my fingers, a thin silver thread running from the tips to the keys to the screen, thoughts converted into light and signal. Writing can be magic.
Elsewhere, my friends were doing and thinking similar things. In London, in Cork, in San Francisco. Through the internet we shared our aspirations instantaneously, technology replacing telepathy. The Coven was forming itself.
In her (excellent) book on witches, curator and writer Anna Colin says, “At least three types of witches exist: those who practice witchcraft, those who are characterised as witches (by courts, religious institutions or public opinion), and those who proclaim themselves witches but do not practice witchcraft.” The average woman is at least one of these things at any given moment.
It seemed inevitable that this month’s theme would be ‘Coven’. April is all about witchy women, in one shade or another.
On a surface level, witches have long been a source of fascination for women. They represent our deepest fears; being misunderstood, misrepresented and vilified. A witch is a slur, a witch is a convenient patsy. And yet, women don’t fear being witches (because, in a sense, we already are), we fear being called witches. We’re afraid that people will be afraid of us. As a collective group, for good or bad, we are just that powerful.
The Coven is a space to let ourselves get some air, to buoy each other up, to do a little dark magic. Before shine theory, there was the coven.