Wednesday, May 27, 2015

New Brigit Book - Courtney Weber’s Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess

Courtney Weber’s new book Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess (Weiser 2015) is freshly out and she was kind enough to give me a copy as thanks for using the prayer I wrote after the Newtown killings. I asked her if she would answer a few questions about the book and her connection to it so that I could pass that on to you along with the publishing information. Here are her answers to my probing queries.

My perspective: Progressive Wiccan/Pagan with strong Celtic influences.

Why did you write the book?
Several reasons! First of all (and I tell this story in the book), I made a promise to Brigid back in college that if She would help me finish a short story for my fiction class, I'd write a book for Her. She sent along the inspiration, but I did not complete my end of the bargain. I forgot about it completely and went about my life, wondering why my writing career could never launch beyond a MySpace blog with 20 followers. Eventually, people started asking me about book recommendations about Brigid. I would refer them to Irish prayer books and Celtic myths. Finally, it made sense to just put one together with all the things I was sending people around to find, scavenger-hunt style. It was also about that time that in ritual, I was reminded of a promise I'd made a decade before. I knew I needed to write the book to make good my word to Brigid, and also try to help people find the resources they were looking for. (Continued below.)

Courtney Weber
photo by Theresa Pridemore

What does it mean to you?
First of all, it's the completion of a childhood dream. When I was little, I practiced scribbling my signature on notebook paper, pretending I was signing autographs in a book I'd written. As I grew up, when I engaged in moments of self-reflection such as, "If you died tomorrow, what would you regret?" my answer always was, "Never having written a book." There's a deep accomplishment, but also a thirst for more. I'm now working on my second book which will come out in the fall of 2016. I also feel like I've made a genuine contribution to the Spiritual community as a whole. I feel like it's the guidebook many practitioners could use to seal their understanding of the Goddess.

What do you hope it will do?
I hope it provides people with the understanding of the universality of this Goddess. There are a lot of individuals who are drawn to Brigid strictly for her Celtic connections. That is absolutely valid--please understand! Brigid was the Patroness of practically everything the Ancient and contemporary Celtic peoples found of paramount importance. But if someone doesn't come from Celtic roots, I want them to see how absolutely open and accessible she is. Celtic-Card not required! I'm also hoping the feedback and the responses will help me figure out what to write about her in the future. I don't think this is my last Brigid book, but I have no idea what that next one will be!

In addition I guess you could say why you are uniquely qualified to write the book.
I don't know that I'm uniquely qualified--I'm uniquely stubborn! I think this idea was floating around on a lot of people's minds and it landed on my mind, too. I've been to Ireland a number of times and did a lot of rituals in honor of Brigid. My sheer curiosity and desire to get this book out in the public made it happen. I was blessed with access to libraries of Columbia University and the New York Public Library which armed me with incredible information. I also took a massive research/pilgrimage trip through Ireland, Wales, and Southern England, looking at the ancient Churches and sites and piecing Brigid's identity together. At the risk of sounding far too vague, it was both impossibly easy and massively complicated at the same time. 

Highlights or lowlights on the journey?
The research was the highlight. Uncovering layers and layers of information about the Celts and Brigid that I could not have found in an simple internet search. I had to take a leap of faith that some of what I put together made some sense. For quite awhile, I was terrified that I was getting it wrong. I finally had a wonderful conversation with Ronald Hutton, who was so very affirming and supportive. He showed me what "routes" to avoid that could get me into a "Wrong trap" and revealed how much freedom I actually had to draw my own conclusions about Brigid and share them in the best way I knew how. A very low point came during the publishing process. The first publisher turned it down and decided to publish another Brigid book, instead. I thought I'd sold myself short and not given my manuscript what it needed--all of the time I'd put into travel and research a waste. Fortunately, that didn't last long as later that day I got a note from Weiser saying they were very interested and wanted to see more.  A scary point came the day before I found out my manuscript was accepted. I knew I'd get an answer the next day and had a complete loss of confidence: I was the wrong person to write this book...I wasn't Irish....I was an American hack....someone else should do this. My fiance told me I sounded like a woman about to give birth and doubting herself about motherhood. Hearing it like that gave me the new perspective--maybe I wasn't confident in my work, but I was going to go for it, anyway.

So far, sharing it with people has been a highlight. When I hear that things I've shared make sense to them, it gives me joy. More than one person has said, "I've had xyz visions of Brigid for years. When I read that book and saw those are true to Her, I know now that what I'm seeing is more than just something I'm making up in my head!"

Many thanks, Courtney, for your generous nature and devotion to Brigit and her fans!

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