Kent State students practice witchcraft at off-campus location, accommodating virtual participants

High Priest of the Black Squirrel Coven addresses the group at their meeting on March 5, 2021 in Kent.

Hannah Mayer Reporter

Two years ago the Black Squirrel Coven began in-person meetings weekly where local witches gathered to learn and work with each other, but when COVID-19 hit, leaders of the Coven paired their in-person meetings with a virtual meeting via Google Meet.  

Taylor Hilton, secretary of the Black Squirrel Coven, said witchcraft can be a very physical thing. In a socially distanced world, it can be difficult for this group to practice their craft. 

“This year we have a very limited number of people that will show up and attend,” High Priest Keith Reynolds said. “We have quite a few people in our group chat, but I get why it might be hard to come to the meetings with COVID going on.” 

Hilton said the hardest part of virtual meetings is not being able to feel the energy of other witches because “messing with energy can sometimes be a physical thing.” During in-person meetings, Hilton said the coven members will end up “mimicking each other’s energies because that’s just how witches are.” 

Along with virtual meetings, Hilton said campus capacity limits have been an obstacle for their group. 

“Because we don’t always know who is going to show up, we don’t feel comfortable possibly breaking the rules,” Hilton said. 

To help with this issue, the coven is currently meeting at the College Towers apartment lounge as a way to safely cater to ten or more members. Although there are many layers to unveil during these virtual and in-person meetings, Hilton said that in its purest form, witchcraft is the manipulation of energy. 

“We believe that everything has energy,” Hilton said. “When you meet someone and you become friends with them, you have an energy together.”

 A common misconception about witchcraft, Hilton said, is that witches mess with nature; however, they said what witches do is far from that. 

“We’re not messing with nature, we’re respecting it,” Hilton said. “We thank nature and the deities we work with, then in return, they give us help.”

Between divination, tarot and several other witchcraft practices, the coven meetings have been diverse, Hilton said. During the most recent meeting, members met in-person to embroider masks with sigils, or signs of protection and good luck.  

If members aren’t comfortable with meeting in-person, they are allowed to attend virtual meetings held weekly on Tuesdays. During these virtual meetings, members greet each other with small introductions followed by a presentation and group discussion. 

“Last week we were talking about altars,” Reynolds said. “How to set up one, how to take care of one, how to maintain it.” 

Hilton said these meetings have a less interactive structure compared to the group practices within an in-person meeting. 

As virtual and in-person meetings continue, Black Squirrel Coven invites people of any experience to join them in the practice of witchcraft. 

“It’s a place for anyone of any experience to come, learn and practice,” Reynolds said.

Hannah Mayer covers religion. Contact her at [email protected]