An Overview of the Covenant of the Goddess
The Covenant of the Goddess is one of the largest and oldest Wiccan religious organizations. Wicca, or Witchcraft is the most popular expression of the religious movement known as Neo-Paganism. Wicca or Witchcraft is the fastest growing religion in the United States according to the Institute for the Study of American Religion. It’s practitioners are reviving ancient Pagan practices and beliefs of pre-Christian Europe and adapting them to contemporary life. The result is a religion that is both old and new, both traditional and creative.
Background and Formation
In the 1970s there was a marked rise of interest in Witchcraft not only in the United States, but throughout the world, reflecting a growing feminist awareness and global concern for the environment. In the Spring of 1975, a number of Wiccan elders from diverse traditions, all sharing the idea of forming a religious organization for all practitioners of Witchcraft, gathered to draft a covenant among themselves. These representatives also drafted bylaws to administer this new organization now known as the Covenant of the Goddess. At the 1975 Summer Solstice, the bylaws were ratified by thirteen member congregations (or covens). The Covenant of the Goddess was incorporated as a nonprofit religious organization on October 31, 1975.
Organization and Activities
The Covenant is an umbrella organization of cooperating autonomous Witchcraft congregations and individual practitioners with the power to confer credentials on its qualified clergy. It fosters cooperation and mutual support among Witches and secures for them the legal protections enjoyed by members of other religions. The Covenant is non-hierarchical and governed by consensus. Two-thirds of its clergy are women.
The Covenant is coordinated by a national board of directors. Many of its activities are conducted at the regional level by local councils. The Covenant holds an annual national conference open to the Wiccan community, as well as regional conferences, and publishes a newsletter. In recent years, the Covenant has taken part in spiritual and educational conferences, interfaith outreach, large public rituals, environmental activism, community projects and social action, as well as efforts to correct negative stereotypes and promote accurate media portrayals. Its clergy perform legal marriages (handfastings), preside at funerals and other rituals of life-transition, and provide counseling to Witches including those in the military and in prisons. The Covenant also provides youth awards, sponsorship of college and university student groups, and legal assistance in instances of discrimination.