A coven or covan is a gathering of witches.
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".
In Wicca and other similar forms of modern Neopaganism witchcraft, such as Stregharia and Feri Witchcraft, a coven is a gathering or community of witches, much like a congregation in Christian parlance. It is composed of a group of believers who gather together for ceremonies of worship such as Drawing Down the Moon, or celebrating the Sabbats. The number of persons involved may vary. Although thirteen is considered ideal (probably in deference to Murray's theories), any group of at least three can be a coven. A group of two is usually called a "working couple" (regardless of their sexes). Within the community, many believe that a coven larger than thirteen is unwieldy, citing unwieldy group dynamics and an unfair burden on the leadership. When a coven has grown too large to be manageable, it may split, or "hive". In Wicca this may also occur when a newly made High Preist or High Preistess, also called 3rd degree ordination, leaves to start their own coven. Wiccan covens are generally jointly led by a High Preistess and a High Preist, though some are led by only one or the other. In more recent forms of neopagan witchcraft, covens are sometimes run as democracies with a rotating leadership.
With the rise of the World Wide Web as a platform for collaborative discussion and media dissemination, it became popular for adherents and practitioners of Wicca to establish (often paid subscription-based) "online covens" which remotely teach tradition-specific crafts to students in a similar method of education as non-religious virtual online schools.
One of the first online covens to take this route is the Coven of the Fair Flung Net, which was established in 1998 as the online arm of the Church of Universal Eclectic Wicca.
However, because of potentially-unwieldy membership sizes, many online covens limit their memberships to anywhere between 10 to 100 students. The CFFN, in particular, tried to devolve its structure into a system of sub-coven clans (which governed their own application processes), a system which ended in 2003 due to fears by the CFFN leadership that the clans were becoming communities in their own right.