Updated: Nov 12
The initiatory traditional witch houses -- made up of clans and covens and hives -- are refineries of sorts, as well as a technology for witches to "immanentize the eschaton," or as I call it, Unfurl the Rose Bower. While some traditions have obvious influence from others (direct borrowing, syncretism through initiates of multiple traditions, etc), there are some houses that have no apparent waking-world link to others yet the similarities run deep, and they tend to be inheritances of covens that got up and going before the 1950s. There are some commonalities I've observed having studied and taken classes with witches of some of the other traditions I'm not an initiate of over the last several decades:
-At the core of our traditions many of us observe something akin to the Faerie Faith as the reverential spiritual impulse, and a recognition of witches as containing components of soul and form that are Otherwordly and in place since before birth, and knowledge that the true provenance of witchcraft is the Otherworld itself -Recognition of living multiple lifetimes with others so marked, drawn together through time again and again, bound (and unbound) to something wider and deeper than we may consciously understand -We tend to hold to the identity of Fate as the creating Weaver Goddess whose body is the entire universe unending (jives real well with Roger Penrose's cosmology) -We have understandings of cosmos and soul as both triune (and corresponding to one another). We present this Triple Soul work to apprentices to refine the Self toward ever-deepening Wholeness and to deal with habitual misperceptions, spiritual hygiene and fortification, reaccumulation of lost personal power, and technologies for shifting oppressive stories. This is, I suspect, why the spirits urged us to build the Houses to begin with! -A recognition of "fourness" to describe the movement of magical power and sentience through the cosmos -- four spirit courts, four serpent-powers, four primal elements, four primary witch gods (or sometimes 4x4). This often extends into the "vehicle" of our ability to traverse worlds, meet with spirits, and encircle the crossroads of life and death -- the Compass or Magic Circle or "Four-Sided Castle Four Times Revolving." -We also tend to have a special love of 7, connected deeply in multiple ways with stellar lore and the Watchers legend. -Experience of an Otherworldly locus/mode of awareness we (contemporarily) call The Sabbat, where we experience the depths and breadth of Creation, are conscious of multiple bodies and transformations between them, and are renewed from this Visitation.
The initiatory witch houses are places here and now where the White Thread of the spirits has been ruddied with witches' blood, our living and lusting and hard work, making it the Red Thread, anchoring it in the waking world with a vivaciousness that is only accomplished from fully living your Craft.
All these houses "popped up" in different places and have developed bioregional approaches to their Crafts. Their array of lore has become textured with the places they are nestled, and is scented richly of the lives lived and worked through their cooperative magic. It tastes of the spirits woven through the tapestry that is the Story around which a witch house is built.
These houses are an opportunity to explore much grander pieces of magic not able to be worked by one person alone, like the immanentization of the eschaton. And the principles of the world still apply to magic -- the greater the work, the more people you need to help. And every witch is a focal point of a retinue of spirits that follow them. A coven is always much greater in number than the bodies of living witches present. Whole legions are birthed from our backs.
They are places where we can refine not only our magical abilities but our whole selves, burning the dross as fuel for our transformation and using the grit of life as polish until we shine with the luster of the witchfire, with the glory of the spirits, realized in our Wholeness, our Mastery, at One with Fate.