What is the meaning of the name ‘Get Woke Coven’?
AM: Get Woke refers to the social activist play on words that has been in the media in recent years. Basically a call to awaken, to increase your awareness to encompass a greater understanding of yourself, “others”, to become sentient, particularly with issues that might be outside of yourself secondary to privilege. By expanding your sense of self, your connection to “others”, your awareness about impactful issues (environment, social justice, etc) you are more educated, you turn on your light, you awake, and you can awaken others. That is a personal goal of mine – to See into issues, to learn more, to help right wrongs, and to awaken/aid others.
Shakiyla Love: Thanks for getting us started, AM. I love this play on words. For me, “Get Woke Coven” resonated with the somewhat playful and complimentary African-American colloquialism of being “woke” or “getting woke”. Being “woke” means having a level of social and cultural consciousness that is clear seeing (as opposed to distorted), awake/engaged (as opposed to asleep), and knowing (as opposed to uninformed). Similar to what LR offered, we wanted the name to serve as a call or invitation to ourselves and others to awaken into deeper and broader awareness, seeing, and knowing about self, each other, and the social and physical world. Indeed, these are challenging times that demand that we be ‘woke’ and engaged rather than asleep and shut-down.
The word coven may also feel rather loaded, as it usually refers to a gathering or community of witches. The word ‘witch’ conjures a lot of meanings and connotations for different people – some negative and some positively reclaimed. While we don’t shy away from this word, we are mostly using it to mean a gathering of like-minded, powerful women. It feels important to name this explicitly for both political and energetic reasons. Specifically, the feminine (note: it is crucial to distinguish between female and feminine) has been revered, reviled, and subjugated throughout history. We wish to support and promote the reclamation of the feminine as a necessary counterbalance to the masculine, and more specifically to the toxic manifestation of masculinity (as opposed to a healthy manifestation) that has been in power in more recent human history. So, we use the word coven as a signal to the importance of calling out and gathering the feminine. For me, it also is a reminder that I cannot become ‘woke’ or do the work of waking up and becoming more aware alone. I need my sisters around me to both hold and challenge me. It is a reminder that being woke is both a personal path and commitment, but it must be done in community. For true impact and planetary change, we must get woke together.
What’s with the word coven? Are you witches? What does witch mean?
AM: I hesitate to take on a word that is so charged, without first defining it for myself. A witch is a woman who has stepped into her power (see Burning Woman by Lucy H Pearce). I am in the process of giving myself voice and claiming my own power by getting to know my inner world and awakening to myself. I utilize techniques for my self-care that some might associate with the occult or witches, such as shamanic journeying, meditation, ritual and ceremony; all are for the purpose of self-inquiry and healing.
We use the word coven because that is a word for a group of women. We are a group of women writers, 2 founders, plus guests that we will feature to expand our coverage of topics as well as allow other women voice and an outlet when they might not have that ability otherwise.
Shakiyla Love: Yes, AM, what a charged word. I have referred to myself and have been referred to as a witch before. Sometimes I still use it. I like it because it is a sort of reclamation of a lost history of women unashamed and grounded in their own, each other’s, and nature’s power.
What is the intent of GWC?
AM: The intention of GWC is healing and creation of community. We heal by creating a space for voice, evolution, reclamation, and reckoning on salient issues that impact all of, including sexism, racism, class, the political, the spiritual, and environmentalism. We will write on resonant topics, as well as post pieces by friends to encompass greater perspective, foster community, and allow others to heal through voice.
Shakiyla Love: Yes! All of this! And I believe our intent is to support our own and others’ awareness/awakeness, which is a quality that must be constantly cultivated and supported within inclusive, diverse community. We hope to cultivate a community of connected, socially-conscious, critical, and compassionate folk who are committed to being in inquiry around and growing together in our understanding and engagement of the big challenges of our time that LR mentioned. These are difficult times filled with complexity and ambiguity. We do not yet have the capacity – individually or collectively – nor the answers to address the problems of our times. But I believe that together, we can learn and grow into greater capacity to meet these challenges. GWC is our love offering toward this. It will be imperfect and insufficient, but it is a start.
Who are you? Background information on the founders of GWC
AM: There are 2 of us that started this group. We have known each other since 2007 and share similar ideas and values in terms of where we see current social issues, progress that needs to be made, and our desire for change. At this time, I reserve the right to use my full name, initials, or a pseudonym in writing to allow me more freedom. I am a mother in my 30s with a background in yoga instruction and 2 graduate-level degrees. My degrees are not in or specific to law, social justice, or gender studies – all topics I will be writing on; however, I do have the privilege of time and an insatiable appetite for reading and knowledge. Rather than using my time, knowledge, and inquisitiveness for my personal self, I’d prefer to share it with others to foster change, community, and collective healing.
Shakiyla Love: I am a yogi, reiki practitioner, and tree hugger. I am a daughter, sister, and friend. I am also a 40 something black woman who grew up in Philadelphia during the 1980s crack epidemic. I have a Masters in Public Health and have been working in violence prevention for 15 years. I also have a doctorate in Adult Education and most of my practice and scholarly work is in the area of adult learning and development, action inquiry, and learning about how we grow in and through relationship and community.