I'm finally getting around to posting my thoughts on the 2023 Morrigan's Call Retreat! Go me!
It’s taken me a bit to sort through the aftermath of the Morrigan’s Call retreat. Aftermath is sort of a harsh word, but there was a lot of residual things that happened for me on a personal level. The retreat itself was amazing, and I highly recommend the experience for anyone who wishes to delve deep with The Morrigan, and connect with amazing other individuals who are also called to The Morrigan. I don’t recommend it to anyone who is close minded, or a bully, anyone with a “this way, or no way” mentality. One of the biggest pluses, in my opinion, to this community is that it’s full of different paths and perspectives. And no one is shouting and screaming “I’m right, you’re wrong”, and instead, simply listen and find the beauty of others finding their own path. People do their own work, and leave others alone to do their thing.
This year, personally, was a hard year for me. As I said in my “what does your devotion look like” post, I almost didn’t go out of stress, anxiety and my own doubts. I went because I didn’t want to let my community or my Goddess down. And I am forever grateful that I found the strength to push through all of those things to be there.
This might be a long post.
I’m going to start with the Temple staff. And I’m going to admit, I’m fully biased because these are my sisters. I started training with Stephanie, Karen, Gina, Nikki and Ruth in 2019, but of course, 2020 was a thing, and we had two years of online retreats. They were good events, but nothing beats the experience of the in-person event. I served last year, my first year as a priestess in person for the community, and that was an incredible experience for me.
Our staff this year was amazing. All of them are dedicated to serving the community to the best of their abilities. To make this a fulfilling experience, to help foster that connection between attendee and The Morrigan, to help everyone go deeper, do the work and start to figure out the path before them. They aren’t fools, they know that not everyone is at the same place, or even on the same journey, and all we can do is stand tall, holding the torch to help those searching find their path. We believe in what we’re doing though. What The Great Queen wants us to do. They place so much love and care into the rituals, and into the creation of the Temple. Into creating just the right atmosphere. It might be spread over a year and culminated on the weekend, but it’s hours of work and planning.
Temple and Oracle time this year was absolutely amazing. It was smooth, and despite the cold (and damn, was it cold standing there for hours!) the power that emanates from that time and place was palpable. Each Temple staff member takes it seriously- which is why we never hesitated to ask anyone inebriated to come back the next day, or asked others to keep it quiet and respectful if they simply passed while being too loud. This place might simply look like another cabin in the woods, but our energies, and Hers, make it sacred.
Last year was my first year as staff, and there’s a definite difference in what happens as staff versus attendee. I wasn’t free to simply slack, times when I wanted to talk to others, I didn’t always have time. I missed going to the fire every night, sharing mead and laughter. I was also in mourning a bit- my first retreat with Cori. I admit to feeling isolated and sad. This didn’t take away from my experience, but instead, it enhanced it with such intense emotion.
This year, I felt much more connected to everything. Did I miss the fire still? Yes, but I also felt deep satisfaction and connection standing vigil at the Temple with the other priestesses. I gained a new appreciation from hearing the drums at a distance. I still missed Cori, of course- I will never NOT miss her. But I didn’t allow myself to feel isolated. I worked hard to push through those feelings and seek connection to others. I allowed the flow of the event to take over, happy to serve The Morrigan and her community there, and simple BE.
For my own personal development, a lot of things came up. At the retreat, and after, I’ve done a lot of talking to The Morrigan- over coffee, meditation, walks, showers, by the fire. Mostly, feelings of inadequacy and imposter syndrome, feelings of “I’m too whiny, others have it much harder” and “My battles are shallow” showed up and I needed to work through those things. The Morrigan set a lot of things straight for me, and in a way validated that just because I’m going through shit that I might call silly (or feel others may think as silly) doesn’t mean they are silly and not serious. They are real for me, and important. It doesn’t make me less of a priestess- in fact, dealing with it is something one should be doing if they want to serve. If I can’t deal with my own crap, how can I help others deal with their own?
My health, both physical and mental, are important.
My feelings are important.
My fears, doubts, anxieties are real, and not just something I can simply “get over”.
My trauma and scars may be invisible to others, but they are real too.
I am a complex person, just like everyone else, and as much as my smile, my laughter, my strong points make me, so do all of my weaknesses and tears.
I will lose battles. But I won’t lose the war.
Those are the messages that came to me over the weekend, for myself. That I needed to stop comparing myself to others and let myself be. That my growth was my own, and my path belongs to me and me alone. That my dreams were hard, but worth fighting for, and even if they seemed impossible, working for them was better than simply giving up and finding something “easier.” And that message goes for everyone, and not just myself.
Beyond the temple staff, there’s the rest of the staff- our housekeeping/grounds staff, the meal planning staff, the workshop presenters- all of whom do everything they can to go above and beyond the call. Roanoke doesn’t stop moving, I swear and the campgrounds are so well-cared for and cleaner after, and his staff doing all the heavy lifting and cleaning just made the experience so much smoother. Even amongst the hard work, there was laughter and playful banter. Jenny did an amazing job with our new caterer (omg the food this year was delicious!) and honestly, if I start listing everyone and the reasons they did such an awesome job, I’d be writing for hours. Just know that all the staff worked so hard to keep things well run and safe, and we’d be lost without them. There’s so much gratitude to each and every one of them who sacrificed their time, energy and their backs!
I wish there was a way to go to every workshop. To be honest, I went to one, and was too busy the rest of the time- with my own workshops, ritual prep (I admit, I was a little grateful for only a few lines to memorize this year!), temple care, vendor table work (Thanks to everyone who bought Living in Magick, and to Shellie who kept an eye on things while I wasn’t there!) and just simply having to take the few moments I had to rest when needed. I crashed at least once for 20 minutes and it was the best 20 minutes that kept me going the rest of the day! But I know the workshops were great, and that each presenter put themselves and their respect to The Morrigan and the retreat into it.
We had wonderful vendors this year too. There were a couple of new faces, and I get really excited when there are new faces. I might have a cackle or two, thinking “One of us! One of us!” It’s really more because there’s almost always a good connection. Yes, vendors are there to sell stuff and make money, but they are also connected to us through The Morrigan. They usually attend rituals, and almost always are around for good conversations- related or not related to our devotional relationships! But we had everything from crystals, incense and candles, to books, jewelry, art and ceramics.
Did I mention the food was really good this year? It was so nice to have a caterer that was happy to work with us, excited to bring their best and interested in actually making the attendees happy and stuffed! It felt like everything was made by hand- even the rolls, and I don’t think there was anything that disappointed. This caterer understood the difference between vegetarian and vegan, all the gluten free alternatives were delicious, and even their deli meat was higher quality than you’d expect.
This year we also got a taste of all 4 seasons, or so it felt. It was way too hot for me on Friday, and then Saturday, I was super cold in the evening as I served at Temple during oracle. Brrr! We had only a little rain, and honestly, none of this is a complaint. I’d rather have the weather we did than having it pour the entire weekend, and only a few days later, the area was hit with smoke from the Canadian wildfires- that would not have been fun!
Honestly, as the memories fade into the distance, the one thing that truly sticks with me are the camaraderie between the staff, the attendees, the vendors- everyone, and that sense of divine presence from The Morrigan itself. It was a powerful, and wonderful weekend, and I never regret attending. I might try to retreat into my anti-social shell, but years of experience with this have me understanding that it’s just my reflex and that attending is one of the best things for my mental health and spiritual self that I can do. I’m so grateful for the Morrigan’s Call Retreat, and it’s staff that puts in so much work to make it the experience that it is.
And I’m ready for 2024’s retreat.