Reprinted From Sheela-Na-Gig Magazine
'All that is perverse and horrible among the supernatural powers', A Goddess of battles who appears in the form of a scavenging scald-crow or a ragged winged raven, glorying in death and battle'.
This is the commonly held image of the Morrigan in folklore and story telling and in this form she plays a significant part in both the mythological story cycle, and the Heroic cycle.
Before the Battle of Magh Tuireadh, she promises Lugh that she will pursue any who seek to flee from battle. She draws 'the blood of his heart' from the Formoire leader Innneach stealing his power, and offers two handfuls of this blood to his foes at the Ford of Destruction.
She also prophecies the Tain and seems to be there at significant points, disturbing and troubling its unfolding. In her first meeting with Cuchulain she is revengeful when her advances are rebuffed and she is there at his death.
She is, indeed, portrayed as wild and war loving. One late text describes her as "shrieking triumphantly over fighting soldiers....a lean hag, speedily leaping over the points of their weapons and shields." So she comes down into our time as a figure presiding over death and destruction or dwindled into dark and fearful figure, leading spirits out of the Otherworld cave entrance of Cruachain at Samhain and the dark enemy of children's stories.
But it is not just as a wild haired grey and nimble hag, pouring curses, hailstones and fiery showers on the assembled enemies of her people that she enters into the old stories. She may equally appear as a strong and beautiful woman as when she meets and mates with the Dagda before the battle against the Formoire.
A crimson robed, flame-headed warrior , she appears coming out of the Sid of Cruachain bringing a red eared white heifer to the brown Bull of Cuailnge.
".....a chariot harnessed with a chestnut horse. The horse had but one leg and the pole of its chariot passed through its body,.....Within the chariot was a woman, her eyebrows red and a crimson mantle round her. Her mantle fell behind her between the wheels of the chariot so that it swept along the ground........"
She appears to Cuchulain in similar form calling herself the King of Buan's daughter and offering him her treasure and herself . She is also a powerful shape-shifter appearing as a white heifer, an eel, a wolf, an otter as well as the more usual crow, black bird or raven.
It is generally accepted that Morrigan (Mor Rioghan, Morrigu) has the meaning of Great Queen or possibly Phantom, i.e. Otherworld Queen. It is certainly a title rather than a name. In the glossary to the Battle of Magh Tureadh her names are given as Danu and Ana, (Anu). Now Ana is one of the oldest names of the Great Mother Goddess and in that or similar forms the name appears in mythologies from all over the world. She was Anna-Nin, Lady of Heaven in Sumeria, Anat in Canaan, Anatha in Syria, Nanna in the Norse lands, Hannah, Di-ana, Inanna, Anna Perena, Grandmother time; the list is endless. She is the Great-mother, the Grand-mother and it is hardly surprising that She is remembered in Christian mythology as the Grandmother of Christ.
In Celtic mythology she is remembered as Anu, Danu, Mother of Her people, the Tuatha De Danaan. Her name is commemorated in the landscape, as in the Paps of Anu in Killarney, and elsewhere. (There are small hills known as "The Paps of the Morrigan" in Co. Meat). Anu, Danu, is the giver of Gifts, of inspiration of brightness. but she is also the bring of sleep and darkness. Danu's children revered the night and gave darkness precedence over day. And in folklore she becomes both the bright fairy woman, Erin and the black 'witch' Anis . As Great-Mother she encompasses both light and dark, both giving and receiving back.
If She is the 'Great Queen' of Ireland then the stories will show evidence of her sovereignty. There are many stories of a prospective king who is met and tested by a woman who changes from old to young, from hideous to beautiful These encounters often take place near water so that it is not unexpected to find that the Dagda mates with the Morrigan as she stand bathing with one foot on each bank of the river.
It is interesting that when she offers herself to Cuchulain he refuses her 'queenship'. Is the story seeing Cuchulain as a "solar hero", a patriarchal warrior type who no longer seeks the mating with the Goddess of the land? Perhaps, although other aspects of his myth do not wholly bear this out. Even so the Cuchulain story belongs to the 'heroic' rather than the 'mythological' cycle.
These great Goddesses are always triple and the Morrigan is no exception. She is usually viewed as one of a triad of sisters, including Badhbh, and Macha.
Macha is also a Goddess of the Land. Besides the well known story of her race with the king's horses and her birthing curse on the warriors of Ulster there is also the story of how she laid out the boundaries of Emain Macha with her broach pin. She is the horse Goddess and protector of her people.
Nemain is another known war Goddess as is Fea. At the battle of Magh Tuireadh they are all mentioned as wives of Nuada so perhaps they are all aspects of the Goddess of the land evoked for protection.
And why have they remained, remembered only as Goddesses of war and battle? The Goddesses of the Sacred Land, and all land is sacred, are givers of prosperity and fertility. Their chosen ones were pledged to uphold and cherish the gifts of the Goddess.
Maybe there are clues in the stories. Macha's secrets are raped and her gifts abused through pride and jealousy. When she is forced to race against her own natural cycles and to give birth before her time her blessing becomes a curse. When Cuchulain refuses the Morrigan's gifts he begins a cycle of competition rather than co-operation. Is it any wonder that she is perceived as angry? He wounds her in her shape shifted forms and is only healed when he consents to drink from the teats of her cow and offers a blessing. He accepts her nourishment and healing takes place.
It is clear that in the stories, conquest of the land becomes paramount. and therefore conquest of the Goddess by whatever name she is known. How can it be otherwise when She is the land. Where we seek to abuse, there we also fear. She has become the recipient of our fearful projections and so becomes fearful herself.
So why Morrigan healing? If we regard her as dark and fearful then we will treat the Sacred land in the same way. If we see her as guide and protectress then she will grant us the clear vision of her ravens. Her healing will be cleansing, not easy maybe, because as the earth rots away and transforms all that is dead, or as fire consumes and transmutes static energies, or as the scavengers pick clean, so her cleansing is to the bone. Not easy, but what she transforms is cleansed to health.
Remember that after the Tain, the cattle raid, it is she who tells the trees and the rivers the outcome. It is she, who after the battle of Magh Tuireadh, sings the song of blessing and regeneration.
Peace up to the skies;The skies down to the earth;The earth under the skies;Strength to everyone.
A Goddess of natural cycle then, And with the natural cycles of the land so threatened and damaged the battle aspect cannot be ignored. But if we are cooperating with her and not in competition then any conflict will become part of the healing process, not an end in itself.
The Morrigan; Goddess of no pain, no gain.
And why should I write of her now at this brightening turn on the path of the year? Brightness, energy; She comes armed and crimson robed. But as traditionally the young warrior was armed and blessed by the mother, as Scathach armed Cuchulain, gave him training and focus and let him go, so the Goddess gives us the tools and the focus we need to fulfill our tasks, blesses us and lets us go. We choose how we use them.
She gives us the knowledge; it is our will to survive.
Now yesterday I was out getting gas there was three huge ravesns sitting and looking at me. so just saoid hello to them and to my Mother
Morrighan. Between the exp of three ravens sitting lit looking at me while I was getting gas and my dream gonna have t meditate .
Yea I hope me not in trouble LOL She definat got my attention so I will later on today or tonight . and The Morrighan when she gets your attention one best listen to Her.
I did try take a pic of the three and then poof the fly like in slow motion and I couldnt take a pic all I could do was watch like they said no pic thank you very much.
This morning about 3 July 11 th I got up from an interesting dream/ experience LOL
I was standing at an opening to a hge door way a portal of some kind it was dark dark and dark It was like an entrance to some kinda of cave I could see rocks bolders all around
As I entered I heard voicesn it was very erie,
Somwe of the voices sounded like " demonic" like what youd hear ina devil move its hard to explain, then I heard one that was loud not screaming I got into this arrea where I could see different passageways
I could see vapors liken to spirits. I could hear water like a slow moving river or streams They enicricled me I head as if they carried sorrow like a moan erie
I saw one that looked like a dark shadow was not me in a cloak
Then I got this thought or a whisper who is to say welcome to the realm of the Phantom Queen....
Then I heard I saw myself an saw on my one arm my tat with the crow and crescent moon it became red like it shone like on fire but not I wish I had words to ex-plain this
I am not sure what is happening or why but I am keeping careful notes on this
I suddenly woke up and said out loud, Yes what what and no one there
Restorer of womens, soul and heart.
Great Morrigan phantome Queen, Fairy Queen Queen of my heart
THE ROLE OF THE MORRÍGAN
For modern Pagans, the role of the Morrígan in our religion is different than what it was for our ancestors. Most of us are not involved in life-or-death struggles on a daily basis. The Morrígan is an appropriate deity for strong, independent people, particularly those on a warrior path. SHe teaches women to stand up be counted, confront, no longer be bullied and to rise above the abuse and lies of the past.
RITUALS FOR THE MORRÍGAN
Many devotees, children of of the Morrígan have a permanent shrine set up in Her honor. They use such items as a bowl of brine and blood, a raven or crow feather, or even a piece of red cloth (to symbolize the Washer at the Ford). Some people use menstrual blood, which is very appropriate. Blood, especially menstrual blood, is a symbol of both life and death, fertility and war.
Rituals should be kept simple. Find something that symbolizes the Morrígan and meditate on it. When you feel Her presence, you may wish to offer Her something of value. This can be as simple as some ale or as difficult as spilling your own blood.
As a a quote from a devotee put it..."I meditated on a crow's feather and a candle flame. I called Her name until I could feel Her definite presence. When I offered myself to Her, the flame blazed up and filled the entire room and I felt that my offer had been accepted. "