The faction war is an ongoing feud between the Voodoo Witches and the Salem Witches covens of New Orleans, Louisiana. This conflict between the witches is a prominent storyline in American Horror Story: Coven.
When Zoe Benson discovers her Black Widow ability, her mother informs her that she comes from a long line of witches. She gives her daughter a book on the witches of Salem, so that Zoe can read up on her family's history. Zoe learns that her ancestors were witches during the Salem trials. The puritans never found the real witches during these trials, as the majority of the coven migrated to New Orleans for their safety.
Territory Dispute and Treaty
The Salem witches migrated to New Orleans, Louisiana at some point after the trials in the seventeenth century. They were met with some resistance, as the city of New Orleans had long been solely inhabited by the Voodoo practitioners and their Queen.
The coven and the tribe quarreled for centuries. At some point in the mid-twentieth century, this tension escalated into ten years of outright war, where "blood ran through the streets".
The current Supreme Anna-Lee Leighton met with Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen. In order to keep the peace in their city, they drew up a treaty. They decreed that there would be no more bloodshed at one another's hands and no further acts of war between the covens if all members only lived and practiced magic within their own designated territory.
In 2013, Cordelia Foxx crosses the boundary and pays a visit to Marie Laveau at her salon in New Orleans. The Voodoo Queen allows her to enter and Cordelia sits before her and asks for her help to complete a fertility ritual. Cordelia is aware that the Voodoo tribe practise magic unknown to her own coven, and is hopeful that Marie may be able to help her fall pregnant. Marie tells Cordelia that she recognizes her as Fiona's daughter. She blatantly refuses to offer help to Cordelia or any member of the opposing coven and sends her away.
Fiona takes her young students to a tour of Madame Delphine Lalaurie's house, which has been converted to a museum about her life and crimes. Upon their exit, Nan's clairvoyancy allows her to sense the presence of Madame Delphine Lalaurie herself buried beneath the bricks outside her former home. She alerts her Supreme about her findings, and Fiona returns to the site during the night and digs up Madame Delphine's coffin.
Over a century earlier, Marie Laveau had spiked Delphine with a potice that granted her immortality. Marie had then buried Delphine alive in a coffin on her own property and bricked up the ground surface. As punishment for Delphine's years of inflicting torture, Marie had sentenced her to live out her immortal life in hunger and isolation while the world went on.
Fiona releases Delphine from her confinement and takes her back to the Academy. Fiona is desperate to discover the key to immortality, as she believes the Voodoo Queen to have done. Due to the boundaries laid out by their treaty, Marie Laveau nor any of her tribe may follow to that side of town. The Voodoos send forth a minotaur to track down Delphine in their stead. The Supreme finds the Voodoos' minotaur on the Academy's property after it severely maims Queenie, a member of the Salem coven. In retaliation, Fiona decapitates the minotaur and sends its head to Marie's salon in a cardboard box.
Marie is furious about the death of her minotaur and declares to Chantal that their truce with the witches is over. On Halloween, Marie waits until night falls and once again performs a ritual to reanimate the dead. As vengeance, she sends an army of the undead to the Academy's front yard; including the corpses of Delphine's young daughters. These creatures stand idle on the lawn and succeed in scaring the girls of the academy, who huddle inside and close all of the windows. Thinking that the creatures in the yard were merely participants in an elaborate prank, the girls' neighbor Luke Ramsay walks outside and Marie activates her creatures. They chop Luke down with an axe to the back, and move to kill Nan. The creatures then invade the house itself, advancing on Queenie and Delphine. Zoe eventually knocks down Marie's minions with a chainsaw.
Tension builds at the Academy as each of the young witches fight over who they believe will become the new Supreme of their coven. Queenie decides to leave the coven in response and defects to Marie Laveau and the Voodoo practitioners of New Orleans.
The Academy witches are attacked by an unseen and armed Witch Hunter outside. Fiona retrieves the bullet as evidence and approaches Marie Laveau about the threat. Marie dismisses Fiona's insinuation that the hunters might target Marie's own people in time. Marie states that she is happy that the Witch Hunters are targeting Fiona's coven. She ridicules Fiona, musing that "you come down here 'cause you're weak, expect me to do it for you." Marie tells her that she is happy that the hunters are targeting Fiona's coven, and will "pop the champagne" when the hunters have finished them all off for her. Fiona leaves.
The Hunter's association organizes an assailant to blind Cordelia with an acid attack, so that she might become more dependent on her husband Hank's support. Since becoming blinded, Cordelia discovers that she has gained a new power to see into peoples' minds and memories through touch. Upon touching Hank's hand, Cordelia discovers that her husband is a member of the Witch Hunter's Association, and that he only married her to infiltrate her coven. She kicks him out of the Academy, ashamed that she had put the lives of her girls in danger. Hank is ordered to shoot down Cordelia and the fellow members of her coven. Instead, Hank crosses over to Voodoo territory and goes on a shooting spree in Marie Laveau's salon, breaking their pact with the Hunter's association. Hank dies in the shooting when Queenie turns the gun on herself and activates her voodoo power.
When the Witch Hunters now clearly threaten the survival of both factions, the leaders of each New Orleans coven make a temporary pact to take them down. The Supreme and the Voodoo Queen meet together at the Academy to devise a plan to take down their assailants. Once there, Marie admits to having previously made a pact with the Hunters against the Salem Witch coven at Miss Robichaux's Academy. Fiona and Marie devise a spell to bring misfortune upon the Hunters' association, and they fall into financial hardship and disorganization. With the hunters at their most vulnerable, Marie, Fiona, and the Axeman enter the premises and butcher the remaining hunter leaders.
With their mutual threat eradicated, the alliance is strengthened and Marie returns to the Academy of Fiona's coven. There, Delphine attacks Marie and dismembers her, scattering her living body parts across the city. Unable to keep her promise to the Voodoo deity Papa Legba in that form, Marie Laveau's immortality is forfeited and she dies. The Voodoo practitioners must elect a new Voodoo Queen. The fate of the alliance is unknown.
The witches that reside in Miss Robichaux's Academy are direct descendants of the Salem Witches. This group is known as the Salem Coven, or the 'white witches' by Marie Laveau. During the ascent of a new Supreme, at least one of the seven wonders' abilities begin to manifest in each member of the coven. The Supreme witch is the coven member who inherits all seven inherit abilities. In the last few decades, the coven's membership is declining due to some witches' reluctance to pass on the genes and the outside threats from their enemies. Their enemies include the Voodoo practitioners (before the unnamed treaty and after it was broken), the witch hunters, and normal humans.
- Fiona Goode: The Supreme witch in charge of the Coven from 1971-2013.
- Cordelia Foxx: The Supreme witch from 2013 onwards. Daughter of the previous Supreme, and headmaster at Miss Robichaux's Academy.
- Myrtle Snow: Head of the Witches Council up until 2013.
- Anna-Lee Leighton: The Supreme witch until 1971.
- Meme Delongprei: The Supreme, Anna-Lee's predecessor.
- Marion Warton
- Miss Robichaux: The founder of Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies.
- Millie: Millie was a witch of the coven in 1919. She vowed to take a stand against the Axeman and facilitated his murder at the hands of her coven.
- Rosie: Rosie was a witch of the coven in 1919.
- Sunny: Sunny was a witch of the coven in 1919.
- Christine: Christine was a witch of the coven in 1919.
- Madison Montgomery: Madison was a witch who enrolled at the Academy in the years before 2013.
- Zoe Benson: Discovered her powers and joined the coven in 2013. Current member of the Witches Council.
- Nan: Nan was a witch of the coven until her death in 2013.
- Queenie: Realigned with the coven in 2013. Member of the Witches Council until her death in 2016.
The members of the Voodoo tribe are humans with a penchant for Voodoo magical practices. Its members are subservient to the Voodoo religion and even draw some of their strength from the Voodoo deities. The Voodoo practitioners of New Orleans had long held dominion over New Orleans. Therefore, they are strongly at odds with the witches who descended and migrated from the Salem Witches of the seventeenth century. Their queen, Marie Laveau, has reigned over their tribe for at least a century after gaining immortality.
Known Voodoo members:
- Marie Laveau: The Voodoo Queen and leader of the tribe since the nineteenth century, if not earlier. Marie made a pact with Papa Legba, and gave away her soul in exchange for an immortal life without ageing.
- Queenie: Queenie was a witch who betrayed her coven and joined the voodooists before eventually rejoining the coven.
The witch hunters, or the association operating under Delphi Trust, are a group established in 1826, dedicated to eradicating witches across the North American continent. Their original mission statement was to hunt down and execute all known magic practitioners, but they become involved in the New Orleans territory war when Hank Foxx forged an alliance of his own accord. In the early 21st century, he forged a temporary truce with Marie Laveau of the Voodoo tribe to leave the New Orleans Voodoo practitioners alone in exchange for information. The witch hunters' association assigned Hank to marry Cordelia and infiltrate the Salem descendants' coven. As Headmistress of the Academy, Hank's wife Cordelia researched possible witches in the country. Hank gained intelligence from the inside for years and reported all findings back to the association. This benefited Marie Laveau and her fellow Voodoo practitioners at the time, as she was happy to see the opposing coven's numbers diminish.
- Racism and reconciliation are dominant themes in American Horror Story: Coven. The conflict between these two covens could be a metaphor for racial tensions throughout American history.