Completed the Great Rite
|“||Has our hive not survived when so many others have perished?||”|
— Mary Sibley about the Essex Hive
A Hive, occasionally referred to as tribe, is a name used to describe a coven of witches. A coven is generally a group of twelve or more witches who occasionally meet to practice magic, celebrate sacred holidays and discuss topics on witchcraft.
|“|| In some respects, the witches are not unlike us. |
They have factions, they have power struggles.
— Increase Mather
A coven of witches specifically referred to as "hive," is an organisation that acts for different purposes and may, in some cases, have rival factions within it, as members of the same hive may have different visions or purposes. Hives appear to be seen with disdain by some Cradle witches, such as Countess Von Marburg, known for the aversion to sharing power. The name, in fact, suggests a group of equal, working together to achieve a final end, while witches like Countess Von Marburg aspire to be undisputed queens.
Hives of witches are present all over the world, though over the centuries their numbers has dropped drastically due to internal struggles, feuds among rival hives, and above all because of the violent witch hunting exploded in Europe and spread like a fire across the Old World. The hives gather in special nights of the full or new moon, and on ancient pagan festivals for the celebration of the Sabbaths, rituals in which to give vent to the most atavistic passions, namely lust and death. During these events, great spells and rituals are accomplished, such as the beginning and the end of the Grand Rite, or the celebration of its various stages along with important sacrifices.
When it comes to administration and laws, witches are governed according to a specific hierarchy. Each hive also has specific traditions and rules. According to the words of the Countess Von Marburg, covens of witches follow a matriarchal government. Reverend Increase Mather once stated that covens of witches are no different from Christian congregations and denominations, and consist of internal factions often in rivalry with each other. According to John Hale, it is in the full right of an Elder to kill a member of the hive being discovered, in order to avoid revealing the names of members of a hive. To ensure control over members of a hive, the leader of the hive, known as "Samhain," retains personal belongings of each member to be used if necessary to bewitch them. While the "Samhain" is the chief of the coven, the Elders are the secondary leaders of the Hive and must still answer to the reigning Samhain.
- Main article: Samhain
The Samhain is the leader and Supreme witch of their Hive and is employed to guide, protect and oversee the witches. The position of the Samhain is considered the highest ranking governmental body within the Witchcraft community and has existed for several centuries. According to Mary Sibley, the Samhain is not only responsible for the protection of their hive, but also for keeping the Old Ways alive and well. One of the ways this is done is by the fact that after a witch dies their Book of Shadows will magically find its way to the reigning Samhain as a means to keep the books from being lost or falling into the wrong hands. Furthermore, it is known that whoever claims the head of a fallen Samhain will become the next leader. It is also known that whoever is believed to the next most suitable witch for the position will become the Samhain.
The Elders are the secondary leaders of the Hive and are commonly known for creating and enforcing the laws of the hive. Aside from being the legislators of the Witchcraft community, the Elders are also assigned the task of choosing important people, places and things that might benefit the witches. For example, prior to the death of the Essex Elders, these witches were responsible for choosing Salem as their new haven, and also for choosing Mary Sibley to complete the Grand Rite.
|“||Did you never wonder what happened to the witches of the other old lands? The Scythians, the Magyars, the Roma? Only a handful of the old breeds survives, hidden in burrows or scattered like dust on the wind.||”|
— Tituba about extinguished hives
Several hives have been mentioned and shown in the course of the series. Below are listed the most famous and important having played a decisive role in the events narrated. Some hives, such as the Scythians, the Magyars, the Roma suggests that some hives may be organized according to culture or ethnicity, while others like the Essex Hive - or the rebel groups under Mercy Lewis' orders seem to be formed by disparate individuals united by common ideals.
- Main article: Essex Hive
The Essex Hive is a hive of endangered witches, and the first hive in history to complete the Grand Rite after centuries of failures. Not much is known about the Essex Witches except for the fact that many of them died in Europe during the brutal Witch Hunt of Britain and are commonly considered unclean and uncivilised by more sophisticated covens. Since the Essex Witches fled Europe to the New World, they have made Salem, Massachusetts their new home and haven. Before securing a covenant with the Devil centuries and centuries ago, the ancestors of the Essex were a group of pagans worshiping nature in the British Isles.
A tribe of Germanic witches that according to Cotton Mather worshiped an ancient pagan siren - clearly an earlier incarnation of the Countess Von Marburg - and were on the verge of completing the Ritum Magni before being interrupted by Increase Mather, who by killing the Samhain made vain the sacrifices. Taking account of the words and pride of the Countess is possible that this tribe was formed by a higher lineage of witches than that of the Essex hive.
The Hive of Mercy Lewis
The Hive of Mercy Lewis is a hive of rebellious witches who have joined the insubordinate Witch, Mercy Lewis, to fight the Puritans who have oppressed them, as well as the Essex Hive, who stand in their way. While most of the hive is made up of teenagers, it appears that some of its members are older men and women who were considered deviants of society and thus shunned by the Puritans.
- Mab: "You've come here to kill me?"
- John Hale: "It would be within my right to do so. The code of the hive is clear. But, no, we have agreed to spare you. I would allow nothing else. Still, to the issue at hand. He will interrogate you."
- Mab: "And I will give him nothing. I will swallow the blackened pill before I betray the cause."
- -- Departures
- Mary Sibley (to Anne Hale): "If there is one thing you should take away from this conversation, child, it's this. You are in my hive, I'm your Samhain and you are an Essex witch. You cannot hide anything from me."
- -- The Wine Dark Sea
- Countess Von Marburg: "I will admit you're impressive for a common Essex witch."
- Mary Sibley: "Has our hive not survived when so many others have perished?"
- Countess Von Marburg: "Yes. But your strength is also your weakness. You are, as you said, a hive filled with lovely, little bees, but no true queen. You are in reality mere sister drones, little, meek equals whose power is shared. Why? You're like the foot of a pyramid. But you will make a fine and mighty base for one more naturally designed to rule."
- -- The Wine Dark Sea
- Cotton Mather: "My father was the very scourge of witches in the old country not only in Old Essex, but also in Germany. There, he stopped this tribe of Germanic witches, led by this ancient pagan siren that he sent back to Hell. He often told me that was his proudest moment."
- -- Ill Met by Moonlight
- Sebastian Von Marburg: "O’ brothers and sisters, gathered here from every dark place on the Earth. We have so long been orphans of the great gone gods, but no longer. Our Father has come home. Their God is dead or lost in senile slumber. But not ours. Our God, their devil, is alive. Awake. And now, finally, he’s here."
- -- After the Fall
- Dark Lord: "What tribe of witches is so exalted that they will not bend the knee before me? "
- Good Mother: "The Essex witches, my Lord. It is we Essex who brought you forth to walk the earth again."
- -- After the Fall
- The word "Coven" was originally a late medieval Scots word (circa 1500) meaning a gathering of any kind according to the Oxford English Dictionary. It derives from the Latin root word convenire meaning to come together or to gather, which also gave rise to the English word convene. The first recorded use of it being applied to witches comes much later, from 1662 in the witch-trial of Isobel Gowdie, which describes a coven of thirteen members. The word coven remained largely unused in English until 1921 when Margaret Murray promoted the idea, now much disputed, that all witches across Europe met in groups of thirteen which they called "covens."
- Adam Simon and Brannon Braga wanted to distance themselves from mainstream terms, using "Hive" as the name for a coven, and Samhain for its leader.
- Traditionally, there are thirteen witches in a coven, one leader, and twelve members.
- The term "Coven" was originally created to give a name to a group of witches, but at present, the term is also used for a group of vampires, as well as "clan" and "den."
- The title "Samhain" is taken from the homonymous neopagan festival of Celtic origin that falls the night between October 31 and November 1, the basis of modern celebration of Halloween. The correct pronunciation of Samhain is [ˈsɑːwɪn] (approximately "Sow-in" or "SAH-win").
- One of the most widespread and certainly the one that has received the most attention in modern studies about witchcraft, whether scholarly or popular, is the notion of witches gathering for orgiastic rites, named "Sabbath" by the Christian Church. It is only in the late Middle Ages that the presentation of witchcraft activities begins to change from accusation of relatively folk magic to a much more complex organisation, diabolical activities by witches. Although the Romans recognised and banned practices considered immoral, as the festivities in honour of wilderness deities that included blood sacrifices and other atrocities, it is in the Medieval Christian mythology that this crucible of perversions finds its form in the so-called procession of Satan, or the witches coven.
- Fragmentary are the depositions of the accused and a lot of the material comes from sources reworked during translations, but traditionally the coven is made up of thirteen members guided by a Master, known as "the Devil", or in the case of a woman "Queen of the Night" or "Devil's Bride". The purpose of these assemblies of witches was to make revelry, perform curses and blasphemies against the Christian religion. In recent times, the majority of the academics have reassessed these concepts, bringing forward the theory that the covens were what remained of pagan cults and the rituals that they performed had a pre-Christian heritage, which had merged with the new official religion.