New women’s workspace uses Wiccan terms to empower its members

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MINNEAPOLIS — A woman-focused shared workspace called “the Coven” has been opened in this city. Despite members being addressed as “witches,” it does not have a specific Wiccan or Pagan religious identity and appears to be completely secular.

The Coven was opened March 8, International Women’s Day, by Alex West Steinman, Bethany Iverson, Erinn Farrell, and Liz Giel. It is a membership-based workspace for female and non-binary-gender identified people.

All four women had worked in advertising, and elected to use the term “coven” to attract female entrepreneurs with whom, they felt, the term would resonate. While this could sound exploitative, these four women are not using the word “coven” to tantalize with lurid hints of some dark matter of the occult. Rather, it’s intended to signify female empowerment.

“We call our business ‘The Coven’ because it has power and energy,” according to a statement on the group’s web site.

“We believe when women gather together, they create magic. Those who practice Wicca believe in doing the most good, and so do we. All of our business decisions are made following this mantra, in the spirit of doing the most good for our community.” T

They also reportedly consulted with some local Witches about possible offense.

This move might indicate the mainstreaming of Paganism in the U.S. Regardless, a name like “the Coven” does still repel people in parts of the U.S. and among many Christian fundamentalists. In contrast, among feminist-identified women, the term “coven” may carry no stigma at all; it might even have some cachet.

While not explicitly Wiccan, founders of the Coven reportedly feel Wiccan-“adjacent.” The Coven has a program of special events, as well as being a shared workspace.

Its March programming schedule includes two Pagan-adjacent workshops. One focuses on wild and vibrant sexuality; the other is a spring equinox meditation and visioning workshop. One of the founders reportedly meditates, does yoga, and starts her morning with a tarot reading. Another also says she practices yoga.

Another similar women-focused shared workspace has recently opened in New York. It also has the” advancement of women through community” as its mission and calls its shared workspaces “covens.”

On its website, the Minneapolis-based group describes the Coven as a “coffee-shop style co-working space.” The four founders felt that traditional work spaces and cultures failed female and non-binary-gender identified people. The founders wanted to make networking and mentoring easy and simple. They designed the Coven to create a supportive atmosphere for female and non-binary gender identified entrepreneurs.

Annual membership costs $2,200, slightly less overall than the $200 monthly cost. The four founders set a ratio between paying memberships and scholarship memberships. For every five paying memberships, they would award one full scholarship. This would result in a target of scholarships as 16.7 percent of all memberships.

These scholarships would favor people from “historically marginalized backgrounds.” That would include people of color, LGBT+ people, and people with different levels of ability.

The founders used crowdsourcing platforms to raise $315,000 by press time. The Coven had 200 members by its opening day, 30 of which were paid for via scholarships, a 15 percent scholarship rate.

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