Column: An Interview with Author Courtney Weber

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On May 1, Courtney Weber’s new book Brigid: History Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess was released by Weiser Books. This is Weber’s first venture in publishing. While reading the book, I found myself most intrigued by the journey that led to the writing this book and by Weber’s personal relationship to the Goddess,Brigid. I decided to contacted her. And, through an interview, I had the opportunity to further explore this aspect of the book and more.

[Photo Credit: H. Greene]

[Photo Credit: H. Greene]

The Wild Hunt: I can see that a great deal of work was put into this book, not only through your own journey to learn more about Brigid, but also through the practical wisdom in the questions that you pose and the workings you present. Despite all of that effort and research, what really stands out to me is the story of how this book came to be; the story of the promise you made as a young witch to create this book in exchange for Brigid’s assistance. When I read about that promise I thought of some of the promises that I had made as a young witch and shudder at my foolishness. How do you now look back on your promise?

Courtney Weber: I look back and laugh. I truly underestimated the nature of Witchcraft and the Goddess, Herself. It’s been a blessed, although winding, journey. There were a lot of sacrifices I made along the way and many of them were painful, but now I’d much rather have this book out in the world than have any of the other things I had to give up in order for it to happen. I don’t think anyone could have explained to me the nature of honoring your word in Witchcraft back then. I think the nature of Gods coming to claim their debts is something that needs to be fully experienced, independently.

TWH: At the time you vowed to write this book, is this the end product that you had envisioned it would be? Is there anything you wished you would have, or could have, done differently?

CW: I originally thought I would write a book of poems for Brigid. I think I thought I would fill it up with poems put it on my altar and that would be enough. I bought a blank notebook, wrote two crappy poems, and then an apology note for not finishing it. I guess I thought the apology would be enough. The rest of the book is blank (I still have it). I’m not a great poet—or even a good poet—so I suspect Brigid is happier with my non-fiction. I really wish I had included my footnotes. Someone who proofread it for me suggested I omit them for practical reasons. As it was my first book, I didn’t argue as this person had far more experience in publishing than I. In retrospect, I really regret it. I also would have had my Irish friend who is extremely well-versed in indigenous Irish language and culture give the whole thing a once over as there are a couple of spelling and factual things that could have used tweaking.

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Courtney Weber at a book reading and workshop 2015 [Photo Credit: H. Greene]

TWH: In the book, you speak about how blocked you were between the time that you made the promise and the actual writing of the book. How have things changed for you since you’ve upheld your vow?

CW: I now write constantly. I can’t keep up with the ideas I have and opportunities I once fantasized about are absolute realities. This is a far cry from sitting over a blank notebook in a West Village coffee shop with absolutely nothing to put to paper, and conversations with potential literary agents that ended in “No” before I could finish my pitch. Maybe that’s just the journey to being a writer, period. I want to go back and comfort 24 year old me who so frustrated and angry by wanting to write and having nothing to write about. If I’d known, I’d probably have more hair as I wouldn’t have pulled so much out.

TWH: Much of your book is spent delving into the many aspects of Brigid – Brigid as Healer, as Warrior, as Bard, as Earth Goddess. Is there a particular aspect of Brigid that you find yourself most drawn to?

CW: It changes. Recently, with the events of the shooting in Charleston and the #blacklivesmatter movement plus the creation of the Pagan Environmental Coalition of New York, I’m feeling far more of Brigid the Warrior. Today, I came home from a weekend in New Hampshire and found my Brigid the Warrior effigy knocked off the wall. I’m not sure exactly what that means (other than naughty cats), but I suspect it means I have more Brigid-influenced warrior work to do. Five-seven years ago, I was far more in tune with Brigid the healer. I also flow into Brigid the Mother when I’m with my nephew and niece or my Godchildren. I feel like Brigid has a vested interest in the needs of our world and tweaks her Devotees for the work as necessary.

TWH: The chapter that I enjoyed most was about the Healer. There was a certain part that rang so very true that I read it a few times to let it sink in. In in your wrote, “The task of emotional healing frequently brings up deep wounds from the darkest wells of our souls. When this happens, it’s easy to want to pull back, preferring to exist in familiar illness than take the path of unknown and often uncomfortable healing.” I’m curious, how do you, as a teacher, support your students in diving in to the important and scary places they need to go to find the healing they need?

CW: I want them to know that they have a lifeline—they won’t sink. They also, if they are working with Brigid, need to know that the painful healing is part of the process. When She chips away at that which is holding us back, it doesn’t feel good. Knowing this and knowing it’s part of the process keeps them going so they don’t quit. The pain is temporary. The healing can be permanent if we let it.

TWH: In your writing, you talk about the importance of putting practice and effort into learning a craft and mention that this is “one of the tougher lessons for contemporary practitioners.” How do you think this impacts some Pagans in their spiritual and magickal practices? What role do you think the elders and teachers of our community have in addressing this issue?

CW: I’m a child of the 80’s. Like many of my peers, my schools had “Talented and Gifted” programs. I was never a “TAG” kid. Whether it was math, art, music, or something else, there seemed to be a great deal of emphasis at pulling children’s natural gifts out of them as opposed to teaching them to develop skills and strengths. I’m in my 30s now and I see this among a lot of my peers: if we’re not naturally good at something, we often don’t try and instead we look for something else to do that we are naturally adept at doing.

I do see a lot of students skip the process of honing Magickal abilities or write off aspect of spiritual development because “they’re not good at it.” As a teacher, I am very open about my journey and my mistakes. I want people to know the work that has gone into my talents and abilities. If I make the mistake of letting people believe I’m gifted when in truth, I’m a stubbornly hard worker, I’m not only being dishonest, I’m setting a poor example.

TWH: If there was one thing you would want people to take away from your book, what would it be?

CW: There are several things I hope make an impression. One, that spiritual practice with Brigid is accessible and feasible for the average person. Connection with her doesn’t require elaborate rituals or steep practices. Second, it’s important to me that readers know St. Brigid as not a denigration of the Goddess Brigid and in fact, the incarnation of Brigid as a saint adds to her rich history and lore. Finally, I hope people walk away deeply in love with her history and mythology.

TWH: Where can our readers find you and your book?

CW: I live on the internet. My website is www.thecocowitch.com and my [Facebook] page can be found at this link. I encourage people to ask for the book at their local New Age or occult bookstores, but I also carry it on my website, where I can sign it for people upon request