An Outer Court is an appendum to a coven, which also includes non-initiates.
As such, it stands outside of Wiccan tradition, and the rites it practices are not Wiccan, but it is very common for Wiccan covens to operatore one.
Originally, the first ritual someone would ever attend would be their First Degree Initiation. While this is still the first Wiccan ritual anyone will ever attend, people have found advantages in having prospective initiates work other forms of ritual prior to initiation for several reasons:
- It offers them a chance to judge how well the seeker would work well with them.
- It offers the seeker a chance to judge the same thing from their perspective.
- The larger amount of public information on witchcraft more readily enables such rituals to be created.
- Counter to this, the large amount of public information on witchcraft means that seekers may have a style of witchcraft the practice themselves, and very often misinformed ideas about what Wicca is, that they will have to unlearn before they can begin learning Wicca fruitfully.
Because the practice of running an Outer Court is not part of Wiccan tradition, much greater variety is found within the same Tradition on how it is run than with other practices. Commonly some or all of the members of a coven will also attend the Outer Court which will either be run by the High Priestess and High Priest of the coven, or by another member of the coven who is of high enough degree (Second Degree or Third Degree) to lead a ritual. There may or may not be a ritual created to welcome new members into the Outer Court either on their first attending or after they have made a commitment to continue with such training. Outer Court members who are not initiates are commonly called "dedicants" or "neophytes".