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Celtic Lore & Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess: Invoking the Morrigan
Title: Celtic Lore & Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess: Invoking the Morrigan
Author(s): Stephanie Woodfield
Published 2011 by Llewellyn
Paperback, 432 pages
View this Book on Amazon
Reviewer: Mike Gleason
I cannot comment on any editing errors in this book, since what I received was an Uncorrected Proof, and thus not in final form. Additionally, the information contained here is drawn primarily from personal experience since there is a dearth of historical details to work with. There is some mythology available as guide posts, but there is little consistency in these myths, except for the admonition to avoid working with the Morrigan. This reliance on personal experience versus academic sources makes it difficult to verify the information, since everyone has different experiences and interprets them in various ways.
The first portion of this book is devoted to providing background information and thus is an absolute must read starting point, while the remaining three sections can be read in any order you like.
Some of the "authorities" cited as sources of information are considered by many as less than reliable, but that is only to be expected since there was a gap of several centuries between the introduction of Christianity in Ireland and the recording, in any detail, by the Irish Christian monks of the mythology and beliefs of the Celtic people.
Guided meditations (aka Pathworkings) are provided to help the individual get to know the various aspects of the Morrigan, who is (at the very least) a triple-aspected goddess. Some very basic correspondences are provided to help you begin to experience the various forms for yourself. Be aware, however, that these are merely a jumping off point. As you relate to each of the Morrigan's aspects - Macha, Badb, and Anu (and their own variants) - you will fill in much greater detail. What is given to start you off is what is generally acknowledged as being true through the length and breadth of the Emerald Isle, and the span of time prior to Christianity gaining a foothold and beginning to record the oral teachings which had sufficed for many generations. The variants occur, most likely, due to the variant dialects which dominate various regions of the island even today. There is no "Irish language" as such just as there is no "American English" language (witness "soda," "pop," and "tonic," which all describe the same beverage in various regions of the U.S.).
On a personal note, as much as I understand the desire to make the worship of the Morrigan accessible to everyone, I am disappointed by the ease with which important aspects are modified for modern usage. I accept the substitution of red wine (or apple cider) for blood, but feel that the statement "If it's winter or if you live in a city, bring plants into your ritual area to help you connect to Anu's earthy energy. If you can't have real plants, fake flowers can be used as well. [italics mine] is setting the bar too low. No matter where you live there is likely a local florist, greenhouse, or grocery store which could provide you with living plants year around - or how about a pot of herbs in your kitchen or a container of grass for your cat?
The pathworkings Stephanie presents are varied, yet uniform; varied in that each leads you to a manifestation of the Morrigan and locations associated with the Goddess; uniform in that each is clearly drawn from and representative of some aspect of Irish Celtic belief. Of course, you may find yourself going off on a tangent since each individual has their own mindset and experiences to mold what is encountered.
The pathworkings make up a fairly reasonable percentage of the material herein, and well they should. It is through these pathworkings that the individual comes to know the Morrigan in all her various aspects. This knowledge exposes one to aspects of oneself that we may be unfamiliar/uncomfortable with.
Unfortunately, as this is Uncorrected Proof, there is some information which has not been added yet (as well as the index at the back of the book), so I have only an idea of what the final form will look like. Still, based on what I have read, I would not hesitate to recommend it as a starting point for your own investigation into the mysteries surrounding the Morrigan ("mysteries" in the sense that the information and experiences are incapable of being expressed through the use of language, since they must be encountered to be understood).
Over the past decade plus that I have been reviewing books I have ofter bemoaned the fact that there are, in my opinion, far too many "101" books being produced. This is a "101" book, but it is one which covers territory which is largely unexplored by other authors. It is one which is well worth adding to your library if you are interested in working with the Morrigan.
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