40 years in Wicca – an interview with Morgana, part I


I met Morgana in June last year, when – along with other Wiccans – we celebrated an important anniversary. At that time, I decided to talk to our Wiccan Elders, partly just for myself – as I am always interested in opinions of more experienced Wiccans – but mainly because I think it important for our readers to know the opinions of those members of the Wiccan community whose impact has been so rich. Below, you can read the first part of the interview with Morgana, one of the well-known European Wiccan High Priestesses, the author of the book Beyond the Broomstick (which will soon be republished). She is one of founders of the Silver Circle network. This year marks the 40th Anniversary of Silver Circle and the magazine Wiccan Rede.

How do you think Wicca is going to change?

It’s one of those things I keep wondering about as well. I have been in Wicca for 40 years and I’m thinking about what has survived and grown and where we are going. Also, I was thinking about what ideas I had when I started. In my experience things will continue to  develop how they should develop anyway.

I remember at one point when there were all these groups mushrooming up and at that point, I felt kind of responsible for them.

Lots of people were running around, saying there were claiming to be this and that. I was thinking that I had to correct people all the time but then I thought well this is really not useful or productive because things will evolve how they’re meant to evolve anyway. So you might have an idea but often things don’t turn out quite as you expect them.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about recently is what are the expectations of people who are searching for the craft right now and what we can give them or offer them and that’s perhaps an indication of how we’re going to evolve. First of all, the thing that’s really changed is the amount of information that’s available. When I was looking for the Craft, there was very little information. This change is connected to how people communicate nowadays. There’s social media, so now people can go through the training living in different parts of world thanks to email and other forms of social media.

Also, how we’re going to practise our craft will change. I try to do the rituals outside as much as possible and try to connect to the Spirits of the Land. Even in small groups, we have people from all over Europe using different languages. Recently at  my celebration of 40 years of Wiccan practice, there were people from many different countries speaking a variety of different languages. I realised how much has changed. We’re much more mobile, using the internet, even if we don’t travel physically.

But then I thought maybe in fact nothing has changed that much, because we’ve always communicated on a kind of astral level, also in a very intuitive way. So in the physical world things are developing actually more and more as to how we communicate in an astral sense. How is it going to change? I think we’re going to become much more aware about how to develop this kind of virtual communication. This is a development in consciousness that many young people are aware of. Maybe in the next 30 years we’ll be connecting even more in that sense.

Somebody asked me recently how I can continue practising in an international coven, when we don’t really meet that often physically. I replied that it’s never been a concern of ours. We’ve always managed to work on that astral level, and well, I’ve been doing it for 40 years! Of course, there will be those moments when physical contact will be preferable, like initiations, but maybe in 30 years someone will do them astrally.

The other thing is about the level of acceptance and I think in the future that various ways of working will become more acceptable as much as the connections we have with people as unique human beings. There’s obviously this thing about whether it matters if someone is male or female, because of the change of perception in gender. Gender fluidity. I think it’s the next big change that there is going to be a greater acceptance of people being individual. And yet we can also have this collective experience. I think this is another huge change that people started to realize already that we can’t define our covens by male or female, that we have to start thinking in terms of people as people. I’ve always said that “we stand as witches in the circle”.

I realized when I was looking back at 40 years that one of the things, I’ve never really had a big problem with is the fact that people can identify as neither male nor female. I’ve always realised that it’s all right. I see people as being unique and I think that’s going to have a greater acceptance in the future as well. Some people in the craft are going to stick to the tradition and will keep to a very heterosexual attitude. I think that particular way of working is going to fade out at least in the sense that it’s not going to be the norm. I think the norm is going to be a much wider acceptance of people as human beings and being part of human nature.

I think we’ve only really started understanding what we can do from a conscious point of view and our abilities and potential as human beings. So I think that the sooner we accept that everybody has a huge potential, whether they’re male or female, you come also to  the idea of people who are less able, or differently abled. Anyway, what is less abled? Some people could be seen as such in comparison to fully abled, but they can have other talents, like having an inner eye. We’ll be realizing that people have different abilities and we will have the greater understanding of how people can work magically, heal, understand in different way. We will experience the human being in all its potential so I think that’s a big change as well.

What do you think about the tradition itself?

Well, first of all, tradition is not set in stone. It can also evolve. What does tradition actually mean? I understand it means something which is rooted/has roots. It has a definite root in a specific culture, for example, so I think what we’re actually looking at is how this tradition itself is going to change naturally. Tradition is also something that connects us to the family, to the land.

For me Wicca is organic, it changes naturally because anything which is organic will evolve by its very nature. The more the tradition evolves, the greater chance is that it will survive. It should be used as a reference. We can use it as a point of learning, to know how our ancestors worked, and learn from it, but we must look at it critically, otherwise we’ll do it a disservice. Personally, I celebrate the fact that the tradition evolves, and yet it reflects our ancestors hopes, our hopes. In a way, one of the things I’d like to do in the craft is to fulfil my ancestors’ dreams. To follow their steps and to heed the messages that they had from the Gods.

You can argue that some of the things from the past were not necessarily something to strive for, but, as I said, we can be critical, we should look at what our ancestors did and why they did these things.

Here, I wonder about the question of homosexuality, and beside it, the separate topic of gender expression. What do you think about them in the context of Wicca?

With regard to the question about homophobia and the notion that Gerald Gardner was homophobic I would like to point out that the culture and the time he was living in did not accept homosexuality. In fact, during his lifetime it was illegal. His views reflected the attitudes in the society of the day. But I wonder whether if Gerald lived today, he would be homophobic? Probably not!

Gerald was a naturist. I remember asking Eleanor Bone about being  naked in the rituals. She pointed out that Gerald could have been arrested as a pervert at the time if he had been caught holding rituals where people were naked . I also remember Doreen Valiente at one of the Pagan Federation conferences in the ‘90s, hinting that she was very pro-gay. And taking into consideration that in Gerald’s time they could have been arrested for participating in naked rituals, we can assume that things definitely would have changed for these older Wiccans who – at the time were openly anti-gay. As I said, Doreen was very open about homosexuality and outspoken in her views. Also, I would never call Gerald a saint, but he was like a visionary, and Doreen surely was a visionary. The only person that I know who was very homophobic was Lois Bourne. She wrote in one of her books that Gardner was homophobic and she agreed with him.

And what about gender?

Coming back to the gender issue. In the ‘90s, I remember, people were making a huge thing of polarity, nearly everything was polarised to ‘male and female’. I think people got The Law of Polarity mixed up with The Law of Gender. It has everything to do with  genetics, of becoming, The Law of Polarity has to do with things that are seemingly opposite. We have a creative dynamism between two absolutes, two poles of hot and cold, up and down. Do we have a male-female polarity? Well, males and females as human beings all have certain aspects within that represents a polarity. But I think what happened was that people didn’t really have the understanding that when we were talking about male or female polarity, we were not always talking about the genetic side of people.

To me, when we talk about polarity, we talk about dynamic forces. Of course, in a circle of males and females we do create this tension and there is sexual energy. But again, I don’t think we should mix that up. To me, we work with erotic rather than sexual energy. Erotic energy that we work with in the circle is very powerful. I think, when it comes to gender, people should be more aware about how energies are being called up or invoked or evoked. From a genetic point of view, everyone in the circle is unique. If I see a man standing before me in a circle, I don’t necessarily see him as having male energy only. Body parts do not automatically create a specific set of rules and regulations. In the end, we talk about individuals. Some people will identify more with male or female aspects, and it can change from ritual to ritual. Sometimes I can feel extremely male, even as far as being stereotypical. I can get quite aggressive and assertive, but then again, is aggression a male quality? It is something you should  be very careful about.

I think in this case it has more to do with  Astrology. It definitely  has a role in understanding how people work. I’m an Aries, and  I have a lot of Martian energy which may account for my assertive behaviour. So, while doing magic we have to understand the mindset of a specific person we do this magic for, and in the circle we have to understand people’s backgrounds.

I think  the most important thing is that gender fluidity is something which we all need to be aware of, but also we must remember about other things such as someone’s biography, whether they had the history of abuse, and so on. All these things count. Sometimes we must do it on a very intuitive level. We have to use our own intuition to do successful magical work also if it comes to polarity and gender. We have some stereotypes, because it helps to get a bigger picture, but ultimately we have to make our own decisions about how we actually act and in this sense we’re coming to the ethical side of things.  We cannot use the argument of ‘it’s the Tradition’ without really thinking about what we’re doing.

Do you think that the individual practice is as important as the group one?

Even if we practice in groups, we have individual ways for individual people, because we have all have so many different characteristics and personalities.  In this way we can act in a universal sense. To understand human nature, we have to be very good psychologists. The Psyche is something which we work with daily. We have to understand a person’s psyche to do effective magic for them. If we don’t have a good sense about how they work psychologically we should not be doing magic, as we might become a danger and really harm somebody.

When we do magical work, we have a huge ethical responsibility and taking your oath makes you personally responsible for your actions. During First Degree, you’re responsible for yourself, and then, at Second, you’re taking responsibility for others as well as yourself. As an elder, you’re responsible for how the Craft evolves. I remind people of what they actually promised while taking their oaths. People should take it to heart. Doctors and other people in various professions also take an oath. People should remember that as a mystical and magical path, we do use an oath system. It is after all the path of Initiatory Wicca, a Mystery Tradition.

How much is the oath a kind of responsibility?

What are our responsibilities? We’re responsible for our own actions, for the coven, family, and I wonder how many people really take this seriously? Sometimes it is heart breaking to see what happens, when people do something which we might not consider to be a part of our tradition, our core values. It’s a paradoxical thing that in the coven you are working on your own self-development but you’re also working on the group development. As a community, we should consider what our level/threshold of acceptability is, what’s acceptable, what’s not, what about tradition? Does it change? What are our core values? Are there things that do not actually alter simply because the oath is still the same as people took, let’s say, fifty years ago?

It is important for every ritual to remember why you started this path and to remind yourself of the oath. I am asking myself whether I fulfil those expectations that I had when I took my First Degree? In short, I think it’s quite important that people reflect on what they signed up for in the first place, and honour their Oath.

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