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The Morrigan
By Karma
(Written for Ecclasia)


The Morrigan is a goddess of battle, strife, and fertility. Her name translates as either "Great Queen" or "Phantom Queen." The Morrigan is also known as Morrigu, the Celtic goddess of war and strife. The Morrigan appears as both a single goddess and a trio of goddesses. Other deity's who form the trio are Macha, Anann, and Badb. Macha fed on the heads of her enemies, Anann was a mother goddess (the Paps of Anu were named after her), and Badb, a goddess of war who took the form of ravens.

She frequently appears in the guise of a crow. She helped defeat the Firbolg at the first battle of Mag Tuireadh and the Formorians at the second battle of Mag Tuireadh. During the second battle, the Morrigan said she would go and destroy Indech son of De Demnann and "deprive him of the blood of his heart and the kidneys of his valor" and she gave two handfulls of that blood to the hosts. When Indech later appeared in the battle, he was already doomed.

The Washer at the Ford is another guise of the Morrigan. The Washer's usually to be found washing the clothes of men about to die in battle. In effect, she is choosing who will die.

She appeared to the hero Cu Chulainn (son of Lugh) and offered her love to him. When he failed to recognize her and rejected her, she told him that she would hinder him when he was in battle. When Cu Chulainn was eventually killed, she settled on his shoulder in the form of a crow. His misfortune was that he never recognized the feminine power of sovereignty that she offered him.

By some accounts, she is the consort of the Dagda, while Badb and Anann are sometimes listed as consorts of Neit, an obscure war god who is possibly Nuda the Sky Father in His warrior aspect.

According to Druidic beliefs, Morrigan was the dominant goddess of Europe called the Great Goddess. She is a bird goddess, an earth goddess, and her breasts not only nourish the living they also regenerate the dead. Her breasts were believed to form the hills in County Kerry (the Paps of Anu).

She is the Irish Morrigan, goddess of death and guardian of the dead. She has in these early Celtic aspirations, a birds head (often a crow, raven or vulture) and breasts, and on the vessels depicting her there is a symbol for the number three. Sometimes these lines are connected and depict a triple energy that flows from her body, as she is giver and sustainer of life. She is understood to be a shapeshifter, and a triple goddess, a three part person.

Finally in the Arthurian vision: many scholars trace Morrigan and her two sisters, Macha and Modron, to Morgan Le Fay. She was the most beutiful of nine sisters, living on the Isle of Avalon. She was Fata Morgana Le Fay. Lancelot suffers at the hands of Morgana in the Valley of No Return, where he must face trials and tests in the shape of dragons and spectral knights, a wall of fire and a gigantic knight with an axe. In the same volume, Morgana plots to murder Arthur, and give his power to Accolon of Gaul, and she almost succeeds in this, since she had given Accolon Excalibur, but during the battle he loses control of it and the sword flies back to Arthur. So in an overview, Morgana is a villainess and uses illusion to try and destroy Arthur although she fails. Some tales say Arthur was taken to Avalon by Morgana, and that as transporter, she is neither good nor evil.

A tomb shrine stands in Newgrange Ireland for the Morrigan. In it's three stone cells, three stone basins engravings of triple snake spirals, coils, arcs and brow ridges. Her signs appear on spindle whirls, altars, sacrificial vessels, vases, pebbles, and pendants. She is the chevron and V, the inverted triangle, the earth element. She is the triple source of power needed to regenerate cycles, to take one from life to death and from death to life. Figurines that pair sprouting seed and vulvas, fish in the ocean, and the female body as a passageway. Vultures and owls are associated with her. Spirals, crows, and ravens. Lunar circles and snake coils. Female figures lock to form circles and fairy rings. Her followers do energetic ring dances, dangerous to an intruder who tries to break in. Her circles transmit energy by the increased power of stone, water, mound of circling motion. She is the moon's three phases, maiden, nymph and crone. The moons, new, waxing and old. She is the source of life giving death and transformation, regeneration and renewing.

Rituals for the Morrigan:

Many devotees of the Morrigan 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 Morrigan 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.

Morrigan Healing:

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 so easy, but what she transforms is cleansed to the bone.

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This page last updated May 5, 2008