Ditch Your #Squadgoals for A Grown Ass Coven

There’s no denying it: this summer was all about #squadgoals. If you and your girl-crew weren’t palling around on blow-up swans in beautiful infinity pools, wearing matching PJs, and joining one another on stages across the globe, then did your summer even happen? But hang on. Wait a sec. You’re not Taylor Swift, and neither am I. None of us are, and that’s fine, because you know what’s better than a squad? A COVEN. Covens are to squads as Stevie Nicks is to Tay Tay: grown. A coven is about more than a cute Instagram photo and ‘ILYSM’-adorned group texts. Covens are where you do the real work.

Strictly speaking, a coven is a group of more than two but not more than thirteen witches, who work together to perform spells and rituals, using their collective strength to bolster the power of their incantations. In modern day relationships, your coven is your squad plus real life stuff — real trust, real communication, real work. The women in your coven are there to create a whole that’s stronger than the sum of its parts. It’s some Women Who Run With the Wolves shit for 2015.

If you’re a practitioner of Wicca or any other form of formalized modern-day witchcraft, the coven may mean something different to you than this article suggests. That’s fine, and to be honest, for the sake of this writing, the word is being appropriated somewhat, to reflect the dynamics of modern day relationships. Groups of women have long been given names, in the same way a group of lions is a pride and a group of flamingos is a flamboyance, and those groups deserve more weight than the childish #squad provides.

The Swift-approved #squad appeals so deeply because it’s performative. By definition, the hashtag-squad is a way to organize your individual experience according to a pre-determined set of values created entirely for Instagram. Designed to communicate togetherness and friendship to the outside world, the #squad is a way to organize your particular clique, whether it exists BFFL-style of just for the length of your photogenic weekend away. It’s like a summer romance. It’s fleeting, electric, and something to tell your real friends back home about. It’s immature.

That’s not to say a #squad is worthless. For those situations where bonds are formed out of necessity and not necessarily genuine friendship (bachelorette parties with your adult-friend’s friends from high school, corporate sponsored press trips to deserted island raves, etc.) a temporary #squad can be essential to your mental and physical well-being. After all, if you don’t have your coven with you, you need to figure out someone to go in the lazy river with you, am I right? Those #squadgoals never last much beyond a #tbt, however, and the whole time, you have your coven on group text.

I have a small coven myself. Or maybe I have more than one. There are a few groups of women I personally feel this way about — they’re the people I tell everything to, from what new fad workout I’m trying (“The Class” with Taryn Toomey, if you’re curious) to how my relationship with my therapist is going (fine, silent). We eat chips together but alone, group texting into the night from our respective homes. They’ve met my mom, and know all about my relationship with my boyfriend. They’re the people who text me after a job interview, or after a wild party. But we rarely post photos of each other on Instagram. When we hang out, it’s just about us. It’s not that we don’t want to share it with the world, it’s that we’re too busy plotting, scheming, and enjoying one another’s company to care to.

Fall and winter are the seasons to establish your coven. The beauty of these friendships is that you don’t have to physically be in the same place to get power from them — just knowing you have these women on your team is enough — so a season where you’d really rather not leave your house is ideal. Think about the people you trust the most, and who trust you, and who trust each other. Part of the coven-relationship is that it’s not at all cliquey. Because there are no secrets, and no judgment, there is also no drama. Coven-sisters know that they can be real with each other, so those bad vibes are never allowed to fester. With a #squad it’s essential that the appearance of joy and harmony is upheld at all times, so it can be hard to get down to the rough stuff.

Here’s the thing about that though, it’s the rough stuff that gives you your real power, and the women around you just make it stronger.