Covenant of the Goddess (CoG)
The Covenant of the Goddess (CoG) is the oldest and largest
non-denominational organization of Witches in North America.
Ten otherwise autonomous covens and several solitary practitioners
in California founded CoG. They wanted to foster cooperation
among Witches of various traditions and to ensure
that practitioners of witchcraft are afforded the same rights
and protections as clergy of other faith traditions.
Membership is open to covens and individual Witches. In
addition to Wiccans, the Covenant’s membership includes
Dianic (goddess only) Witches, Stregheria (Italian Witches),
family traditions, and diverse other eclectic Witches. CoG views
the autonomy, secrecy, and diversity of covens and individuals
as one of its strengths.
Prospective members must meet the following criteria
1. Generally focus its liturgy, theology, and practices around
the worship of the Goddess or the Goddess and the Old
2. agree to abide by a code of ethics compatible with that of
the Covenant; have been meeting monthly or oftener for at
least six months;
3. have three or more adult members, at least one of whom
is an initiate;
4. and be a cohesive, self perpetuating group.
Applicants must be sponsored by at least two witches
‘‘known to CoG,’’ meaning that they need not necessarily be
members, and must agree to a set of guidelines on finances.
The national membership reviews each applicant’s statement
of practice and letters of recommendation that are published
in The CoG Newsletter before full membership is granted.
CoG has also established an associates program for covens,
individuals, or campus groups that do not meet the criteria for
full membership in CoG, but still wish to participate in the CoG
CoG is organized through 14 Local Councils nationwide as
of 2000. In addition to Local Councils, there are covens at
large, solitaries at large, and a few international members (currently
only in Canada, although there have been members
from the UK and Australia). Prospective members must join
through their Local Council. If prospective members live in an
area where there is no Local Council, they may join at the national
level. When three or more covens of at least two different
traditions (denominations) within a reasonable traveling distance
of one another are granted membership, they are encouraged
to form a Local Council in their area. Sometimes a
Local Council grows large, and often ‘‘hives off,’’ or divides into
two or more Local Councils.
In late August or early September, business of the Covenant
is conducted at an annual meeting called Grand Council. This
convocation rotates around the country, being hosted by a different
Local Council each year. Decisions are made through
consensus process, with occasional exceptions.
The Covenant is empowered to issue clergy credentials to
qualified members. CoG clergy marry and bury people and
perform other duties traditionally done by clergy of other faith
traditions. Some members volunteer within the prison system
when the request is made by inmates and prison authorities.
Others work in hospitals, hospices, schools, colleges, and in
other venues when solicited.
Over the years CoG has sought to educate the media and law
enforcement about witchcraft. CoG provides speakers to
schools, colleges, interfaith groups, conservation groups, and
the funeral industry, and CoG members serve as consultants to
film and television producers. The U.S. Department of Defense
consulted with CoG members in the publication of its 1988 directive
entitled ‘‘Accommodation of Religious Practices Within
the U.S. Military’’ (U.S. Military Chaplains’ Manual). In addition,
representatives of the Covenant have cosigned with other Pagans
on statements of common concern, such as the July 4,
1999 Pagan Educational Network press release about First
Amendment freedoms issued in the wake of Georgia’s Republican
Congressman Bob Barr’s challenge to Wiccans serving in
the military.
In 1993 CoG participated in the second-ever Parliament of
World Religions (PWR) in Chicago. An important document,
originally drafted by Swiss Roman Catholic theologian Hans
Kung and modified by delegates to the Parliament, entitled
‘‘Toward a Recognition of a Global Ethic,’’ was signed on behalf
of CoG, Circle Sanctuary, and the EarthSpirit Community by
CoG member Deborah Ann Light.
CoG continues to work in the areas of international interfaith
with its active participation in the creation, formulation,
and ongoing work of the Parliament of World Religions. The
Parliament reconvened in Capetown, South Africa in 1999, and
in the United Religions Initiative. In addition, CoG members
in different localities participate in regional interfaith groups.
CoG has established a religion badge called the Hart and
Crescent Award. This may be earned by young persons age 11
or older who is a member of any Nature-oriented religion
(Witchcraft, Druid, Asatru, Native American, etc.). Members of
the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and other youth organizations can
also earn the award. An adult version, the Distinguished Youth
Service Award, is for any adult who volunteers excellent service
to youth. The award has been accepted by the Girls Scouts of
America, but so far rejected by the Boy Scouts of America. The
Hart and Crescent award have been granted to them nonetheless.
The group maintains a website at
Among other things, this site contains a bibliography of children’s
books suitable for Witch children, a memorial page, and
teen page. CoG may be contacted at P.O. Box 1226, Berkeley,
CA 94701. In 2000, CoG had 139 member covens and 92 individual
Starhawk. The Spiral Dance. San Francisco Harper & Row,
1979, 1989, 1999