Todays interview is with the incredible Stephanie Woodfield; Priestess of The Morrigan, author of several books including the very famous "Celtic Lore and Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess," which is many peoples first introduction to The Morrigan!
1. Your new and upcoming book is titled “Priestess of The Morrigan,” and – if it is fair to say - embodies the energy of spiritual path-walking with The Goddess. Could you describe what ‘priestess’ means to you when working with The Great Queen and why you chose this approach in your book?
When I wrote my first book, the Morrigan wasn’t considered a “safe” Goddess to worship in most Pagan circles, so it was meant both as an introduction and for a broad audience practicing different paths. For this book I wanted to delve deeper. I wanted it to be about my own journey with the Morrigan and how that path has shaped me. When I first started out as a Pagan one of my favorite books was Sybil Leek’s Diary of a Witch. I had read other books about how to be a Witch, how to cast a circle and so on, but her book gave me a window into what it was like to live as a Witch and that was very powerful to me. So, I wanted to take the same approach with this book. I share a great deal of personal experience - more so than I have for any other book - but I think the end result is that you both get practical information you can use in your on practices as well as a look at life as a priestess of the Morrigan. I think there is a lot of wisdom to be learned from the experiences of others, even if they don’t walk the same path as you do.
For myself, ‘priestess’ means being in service to the Gods, whether that is one deity or many. Service isn’t glamorous, it is hard work most of the time. It also requires you continue doing your own personal spiritual work and grow on a person level, as well as tend to the spiritual needs of the community you serve. It is also not a ‘hat’ or ‘persona’ you only wear for events or rituals, it is something that should be incorporated into all aspects of your life. That’s not always an easy task, but it is a rewarding one.
2. Between your last book solely on The Morrigan, “Celtic Lore and Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess; Invoking the Morrigan,” and your upcoming book how do you feel your understanding of and relationship with The Morrigan has evolved?
Well, I think whenever you start to think you “know” who the Morrigan is, She is going to challenge you and throw you for a loop. So, I’m sure my relationship and understanding of Her will continue to evolve even after twenty plus years! When I wrote my first book much of my work was solitary. My work over the last ten years has shifted to focus on community work, facilitating public rituals and events. It took me a while to find a balance between doing those things and my own personal work with the Morrigan. My relationship with Her is very different than it was ten years ago. She has pushed me and forced me to grow in many ways. I had a lot of battles to overcome in my life and that battle side of Her is the aspect I gravitated to the most back then. Now my focus is more on prophetic and oracular work and seeing Her as a bringer of victory. I think one of the hardest things for children of the Morrigan to accept is that time of peace, that time when your life isn’t chaos, and just being grateful for the gifts She gives you. When you are used to struggle, you become uncomfortable when there isn’t something to fight or overcome. So, sometimes instead of sitting down, resting and healing, we throw ourselves at the next battle before we are ready to take it on. So, in my own work, She has taught me that everything doesn’t have to be a struggle, and that I can enjoy the good things. The work has also taught me to appreciate Her other aspects more, and to explore them more in depth.
On the practical side of things, the way I approach ritual has changed vastly as well. A great deal of that comes from listening to what the Morrigan wanted for the public rituals and events I organize. For myself, crafting rituals starts with divination and listening to the messages the Morrigan sends to me. So over time the things She was pushing me towards evolved and changed my own ritual practice both privately and publicly.
3. Do you feel that The Morrigan has had a hand in recent events with the socio-political world stage or with how certain people have reacted to these events?
No more than She has in the past. Our history is full of times of unrest and upheavals. We only have to look back a hundred years ago and we were facing a world war, economic depression and a pandemic with the Spanish flu. If we look back further there are countless examples of dark times. There will always be times of upheaval and change and She will always be there. I also think the Morrigan inspires us to our own personal greater work, whatever that may be. She inspires us to fulfil the work we have incarnated to do in this world and in this lifetime. So, I think She inspires us to create the changes we want in the world. Because let’s face it, we’ve made a mess of it, and it’s our mess to clean up.
4. If you could convey one of the most important lessons that you have learnt whilst working with The Morrigan (that you are happy to share) what would it be?
I think the most important lesson to me personally has been to trust Her. That sounds simple, but it can be very difficult. We doubt ourselves at times, or sometimes we’d rather let someone else just tell us what the Gods want or what the right answers are instead of listening to the Gods ourselves and trusting the answers we get. For most Pagans who come out of Christianity they are told to just “have faith” in God. When they leave that religion behind, they want to toss out everything that their old religion had, including faith. Yet faith and trust are vital to the relationship with have with any deity. Having faith and trust in the Gods, the Morrigan included, is something that takes time and is a deeply personal journey. On my own path She had forced me learn to both trust in Her and in myself.
5. What – if anything – do you feel is a disservice to The Morrigan or working with her?
Well two things come to mind. Firstly, the infighting in the community. And it’s not just the Morrigan community, I’m seeing a lot of the same things happening among the followers of Hekate and other deities as well. There is no one true voice of the Morrigan, no one true way to worship Her. You shouldn’t belittle someone who is approaching worshipping Her from a Wiccan framework, reconstructionist framework or anything else. I’ve seen a lot of people get discouraged and walk away from honoring her because their experience with the community included being told that they were worshipping her the “wrong way”, and they needed to conform to someone else’s path. I think all She really cares about is that we speak Her name and answer Her call as best we can. My practices aren’t the same as they were five years ago, ten year ago or twenty years ago. Yet, She has remained a constant throughout all of my own stages of evolution as a Pagan. I do believe it is important to understand the culture She came from and studying the mythology, but as far as personal practice goes we need to be ok with the idea that the way I worship the Morrigan doesn’t have to be the way you approach Her in your practices etc.
The second is this idea that She is an angry goddess, all about war. There is so much more to the Morrigan than battle! I got stuck in this rut too for a long time. She really is so complex, that I think we do a disservice to both Her and ourselves when we choose only to see this aspect of Her and nothing else.
Thankee so much to Stephanie for interviewing with me!!! <3