For the most part, they are a tyrannical group who create foolish and nonsensical laws.
The Witches Council seems to be made up of many different witches. It is lead by the Head of the Witches Council, who in the beginning of the series, was Drell. As Head of the Council, he presided over a type of governing senate which included himself, Skippy and Cassandra. It appears that the next level down consists of Judges within a sort of court system. Three judges have been noted, the elderly Judge Samuels that presided over several trials involving Sabrina herself; the eldery female witch judge that presided over Sabrina's loss of her Quizmaster and the incident with Dash's uncle and the shape-shifting Witch Judge that helped Sabrina's aunts teach her a lesson about pitting them against one another.
During Sabrina's numerous times before a Witch Judge, there are typically groups of witches dressed in Medieval garb sitting in a jury box waiting to give their verdict.
Apparantly, regular members of the witch community may sit on the The Witches Council as well. Derek Axelrod mentioned that his father, Dr. Axelrod, a dentist, sat on the Council.
At one point in the series, Zelda Spellman was ordered to perform the witch equivalent to jury duty by sitting on the Witches Council for a while.
The Witches Council has very specific jurisdiction over Quizmasters and even has the power to reassign Quizmasters to pupils.
The Witches Council has had a long-standing history of creating and instituting laws that govern the magical population in both the mortal and the magical realm. Some decrees of the Witches Council of note are:
- When a witch marries a mortal and they sire a child, that child, upon their powers awakening on their 16th birthday, is not to set eyes on their mortal parent face-to-face or else that parent will be turned into a ball of wax. This rule is to discourage mortal witch marriages.
- Witches are discouraged from tampering with life lessons, such as dealing with embarrassment.
- Witches are also warned against using their magic for charitable purposes. As it is difficult to understand what would truly make another happy, charitable magic is discouraged as it too can lead to unforeseen and potentially harmful consequences.
- Money and currency is something that cannot be conjured permanently. Any money that is conjured simply dissolves within a few hours.
- Witches have to honor copyright law and aren't allowed to conjure brand names. This law was passed after witches in the 1970s wore only Gucci clothes. Because of this, even witches have to work for their money if they want brand name things.
- When a witch first kisses a mortal, that mortal is transformed into a frog. In order to turn that mortal back, the witch must face three trials in order to determine if it is true love; a test of friendship, a test of fidelity and a test of faith. If the witch fails then they are turned into a frog as well.
- Once a witch turns seventeen, they must be tested for a year by an assigned Quizmaster in order to be granted their Witch's License. If a witch fails their first test, they are sent to Witch Boot Camp for a day.
- Young witches are required to solve their family secret by a certain date otherwise they will not be able to use their Witch's License. Their legal guardians must encourage them to solve the secret as well, or risk being fined.
- If a witch freely tells a mortal that they are a witch and that mortal betrays them by telling another mortal, that witch has 12 hours to turn that mortal into a pile of stone or they will be stripped of their magic and cast out. Witches are legally pardoned should a mortal figure out, of their own accord, that they are a witch. Additionally a witch can regain their power should they marry into another witch family.
- Witches are forbidden from using magic to conjure Thanksgiving dinner, in protest of witch-hating pilgrims.
- On Friday the 13th, witches can freely tell mortals they're a witch and they can know for a whole 24 hours, after which their memory is erased.
- Witches cannot abuse their powers to take over the mortal realm, which is largely defenseless against magic (with the possible exception of Witch Hunters). Being one of the more serious crimes, the punishment is becoming a Witch Familiar, usually in the form of a cat, for at least 100 years.
Change of Order
As seen in The Whole Ball of Wax, the Witches Council changed completely. As opposed to the old governing "senate" headed by Drell, it was taken over by much younger witches who put the old Council out to pasture. This council was somewhat more progressive but still very much tyrannical, though aloof. Although they were more sympathetic to Sabrina's problem when her mother Diana was turned into a ball of wax, they did not have the power to undo the decree of the previous Council, though they did offer to turn her into a throw pillow or a glass eye.