I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb
Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website
each week and be added to the archives.
The Articles started December 2007.
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A visit to a local witches' coven
By Barry Schrader.................................November
Two years ago, while driving in the eastern part of DeKalb,
I was intrigued to see the car ahead of me with bumper stickers
that read: Im Pagan and I Vote and No
war was ever fought over witchcraft. The driver parked
at a residence, so I noted the location and returned sometime
later to inquire about the strange slogans.
woman who answered the door explained she was a modern-day witch
and belonged to a coven of witches in northern Illinois. I swallowed
hard and said I would get back to her and maybe do a column on
Well, it is two years later
and I finally got around to pursuing this further by asking to
attend one of their gatherings. I was invited to one of their
high holy days, Oct. 31 to be exact, and met several women and
their spouses having a nice social afternoon party.
high priestess was a woman named Novalla Sutter from the Elgin
area, and she explained that the dozen or so people who belonged
to this particular coven, similar to a congregation in the Christian
religion, come mainly from DeKalb, Kane and Ogle counties. This
group is known as a Faery Covenstead and they meet
at homes of members on a regular basis.
to a decorated room in the basement, known as the Underworld,
we sat down for an hour of conversation. A woman named Tiffany
said a witch is a witch, just like a Baptist is a Baptist
There are good ones and bad ones in both religions.
She added that the thing that bonds us all together is
we see the divinity in all things.
particular sect does not believe in Satanism or the Black Arts,
and its heritage comes mostly from the country witches
movement that included midwives, shamans, soothsayers and healers
in ancient times.
Gathered in the DeKalb basement on Oct. 31 are these "country
witches" from left: Karin R and High Priestess Novalla S
in front; Terri B, Karen S, and Andie S in the back.
Witches' High Priestess Novalla Sutter of Elgin with
a cat named Sassy.
(Barry Schrader photos)
Legend has it that witchcraft goes back some 35,000 years and
it wasnt until the 1300s that witchcraft was declared a
heretical act. Millions were persecuted until the 1700s, mostly
in Europe, but even at Salem in the new colony of America.
They see their paganism somewhat like that practiced
by certain Native American tribes before Christianity was forced
on most of the reservation Indians. Witches have eight Sabbats,
or holy days, annually, which are mostly based on harvests and
planting. They often use a basement room for worship and give
thanks for the bounty, crossing over and stepping onto
the shining shore of the new world (season) as they emerge from
the basement, as it was explained to me.
said they believe each person has the same standing before the
supreme power, someone they choose to call The Mother,
because we believe to give life you need to be female.
But she was quick to add that they dont demean the mans
role. In fact, one of the spouses of a female witch was himself
a practicing witch.
A tenet of their religion
that could be equated to one of the Ten Commandments is Harm
no one do as you will, but unlike Christianity they
do not recognize a devil. We believe in self-responsibility.
The devil did not make you do something you have free
will choices, Sutter said. And they have no one sacred
book like a Bible.
I found they do have a sense
of humor about witchcraft; one coven member told me she has a
bumper sticker that reads My other vehicle is a broom.
I learned a lot that Halloween afternoon and
was also given a website for more information: www.faerywoodcovenstead.com
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115