Morrigan Conway, D.J. The Ancient & Shining ones. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1993. 226
Graves, Robert. The White Goddess. New York: The Noonday Press, 1991. 143
Morrigan/The Morrigu"Great Queen"; "Supreme War Goddess"; "Queen of Phantoms or Demons"; "Specter Queen"; shape shifter. Reigned over the battlefield, helping with her magick, but did not join in battles. Associated with crows and ravens. The Crone aspect of the Goddess; Great Mother; Moon Goddess; Great White Goddess; Queen of the Fairies. In her Dark Aspect (the symbol is then the raven or crow) she is the Goddess of war, fate, and death; she went fully armed and carried two spears. The carrion crow is her favorite disguise. With her, Fea (Hateful), Nemon (Venomous), Badb (Fury), and Macha (Battle) encouraged fighters to Battle-madness. Goddess of rivers, lakes, and fresh water. Patroness of priestesses and witches. Revenge, night, magick, prophecy.
Morgan in Irish legend is "the Morrigan", meaning "Great Queen", a Death-goddess who assumed the form of a raven; and "le Faye" means "the Fate". According to Cormac's Glossary the Morrigan was invoked in battle by an imitation on war-horns of a raven's croaking. She was by no means the gentle character familiar to readers of the Morte D'Arthur but was like the "black screaming hag Cerridwen" big mouthed, swarthy, swift, sooty, lame, with a cast in her left eye.
The Morrigan (Morrigu)
by Danielle Dee
The Morrigan is a goddess of battle, strife, and fertility. Her name translates as either "Great Queen" or "Phantom Queen," and both epithets are entirely appropriate for her. The Morrigan appears as both a single goddess and a trio of goddesses. The other deities who form the trio are Badb ("Crow"), and either Macha (also connotes "Crow") or Nemain ("Frenzy"). The Morrigan frequently appears in the ornithological guise of a hooded crow. She is one of the Tuatha Dé Danann ("Tribe of the goddess Danu") and she helped defeat the Firbolgs at the First Battle of Mag Tuireadh and the Fomorians at the Second Battle of Mag Tuireadh.
The origins of the Morrigan seem to reach directly back to the megalithic cult of the Mothers. The Mothers (Matrones, Idises, Disir, etc.) usually appeared as triple goddesses and their cult was expressed through both battle ecstasy and regenerative ecstasy. It's also interesting to note that later Celtic goddesses of sovereignty, such as the trio of Eriu, Banba, and Fotla, also appear as a trio of female deities who use magic in warfare. "Influence in the sphere of warfare, but by means of magic and incantation rather than through physical strength, is common to these beings."
Eriu, a goddess connected to the land in a fashion reminiscent of the Mothers, could appear as a beautiful woman or as a crow, as could the Morrigan. The Disir appeared in similar guises. In addition to being battle goddesses, they are significantly associated with fate as well as birth in many cases, along with appearing before a death or to escort the deceased.
There is certainly evidence that the oncept of a raven goddess of battle wasn't limited to the Irish Celts. An inscription found in France which reads Cathubodva, 'Battle Raven', shows that a similar concept was at work among the Gaulish Celts.
Similarities between the morrigan and the Valkyries The Morrigan's role in the Irish cosmology is quite similar to the role played by the Valkyries in Norse cosmology. Both use magic to cast fetters on warriors and choose who will die.
During the Second Battle, the Morrigan "said she would go and destroy Indech son of De Domnann and 'deprive him of the blood of his heart and the kidneys of his valor', and she gave two handfuls of that blood to the hosts. When Indech later appeared in the battle, he was already doomed."
Compare this to the Washer at the Ford, another guise of the Morrigan. The Washer is usually to be found washing the clothes of men about to die in battle. In effect, she is choosing who will die.
An early German spell found in Merseburg mentions the Indisi, who decided the fortunes of war and the fates of warriors. The Scandinavian "Song of the Spear", quoted in "Njals Saga", gives a detailed description of Valkyries as women weaving on a grisly loom, with severed heads for weights, arrows for shuttles, and entrails for the warp. As they worked, they exulted at the loss of life that would take place. "All is sinister now to see, a cloud of blood moves over the sky, the air is red with the blood of men, and the battle women chant their song."
An Old English poem, "Exodus", refers to ravens as choosers of the slain. In all these sources, ravens, choosing of the slain, casting fetters, and female beings are linked.
"As the Norse and English sources show them to us, the walkurjas are figures of awe an even terror, who delight in the deaths of men. As battlefield scavengers, they are very close to the ravens, who are described as waelceasega, "picking over the dead"..."
"The function of the goddess [the Morrigan] here, it may be noted, is not to attack the hero [Cu Chulainn] with weapons but to render him helpless at a crucial point in the battle, like the valkyries who cast 'fetters' upon warriors...thus both in Irish and Scandinavian literature we have a conception of female beings associated with battle, both fierce and erotic."
The Morrigan and Cu Chulainn
She appeared to the hero Cu Chulainn (son of the god 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. Cu's misfortune was that he never recognized the feminine power of sovereignty that she offered to him.
She appeared to him on at least four occasions and each time he failed to recognize her.1. When she appeared to him and declared her love for him.
2. After he had wounded her, she appeared to him as an old hag and he offered his blessings to her, which caused her to be healed.
3. On his way to his final battle, he saw the Washer at the Ford, who declared that she was washing the clothes and arms of Cu Chulainn, who would soon be dead.
4. When he was forced by three hags (the Morrigan in her triple aspect) to break a taboo of eating dogflesh.
Badb is the Irish (Celtic) goddess of war. She often takes the form of a raven or carrion-crow (her favorite disguise) and is then reffered to as Badb Catha ("battle raven"). Not only did she take part in battles themselves, she also influenced their outcome by causing confusion among the warriors with her magic. The battle-field is often called 'land of Badb'.
She formed part of a triad of war-goddesses with Macha (Nemain) and the Morrigan.
Actually the Morrigan was three Goddesses: Madb, Ana and Macha .
Like many Goddesses, She was a shapechanger. She often turned into a raven or hooded crow.
Once She confronted the Celtic hero Cu Chulainn, attacking him in the forms of a crow, a gray wolf and a hornless red heifer. He was able to fight all of them off, but She had the last laugh: when he was dying in battle years later, She turned into a hooded crow and perched on his dying body as his enemies approached to finish him off.
She did not actually fight, but urged on Her chosen armies and intimidated the ones She wanted to lose with Her fearsome war cries. She survived into medieval times as Morgan Le Fay, the witch who haunted King Arthur and his knights.
"Like Macha , the Crone aspect of the Morrigan, Morgan as Mother Death cast the destroying curse on every man."
Barbara Walker, The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets
Stone, Merlin Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood. Boston Beacon Press. 1990 49-52
The Morrigan is a major figure in the Irish epic Tain Bo Cuaigne. The narrative of the epic makes it clear that The Morrigan's loyalties are with the Tuatha de Danaan and the Celtic tribes that had settled in the area of the large nation/state of Connacht. Though at times there is a tendency on the part of some to attribute a triple nature to Goddess images from all cultures, even when there is a complete absence of evidence of triplicity, there is no doubt about the triple nature of The Morrigan. This concept of the threefold nature of the Goddess among the Celts may also be seen in the Goddess as Bridget, as well as in the Three Matrons or Mothers who were often depicted in Celtic art, sitting side by side. But unlike the more sedentary images of The Mothers, The Morrigan was extremely active, even aggressive, and certainly always acting with a comfortable self-assurance.
Triple imaged Morrigan, triple named Morrigan, Mighty Queen, Badb and Macha -it was She who protected the Tuatha de Danaan by cover of fog and rain and cloud so that the people of Danu could land safely upon the coast of Ireland. Those who say that She was three parts in one, say many things about Her: some say She was the three phases of the silver moon, waxing, full and waning, while others speak of the Three Mothers, The Divine Matronae who sat side by side with cornucopias of abundance upon their laps; some explain that The Morrigan was Maiden, Matron and Crone, saying that The Holy Trinity was once the Daughter, the Mother and the Grandmother.
Some saw Her as a vengeful crone, chortling in delight at spilled blood upon a battlefield, drowning enemy princes beneath Her white waves, battling against the Fomorians and the Fir Bolgs to protect those of the tribe of Danu. To others, She appeared as a young woman dressed in brightly coloured cloths embroidered with threads of glistening gold. Changing shape and form was but play to the mighty Goddess-and poetry and prophesy Her natural tongue.
Loud was Her war cry when She took the form of Badb; sharp were Her spears; powerful were Her enchantments; true were Her grim prophesies-as She flew across Celtic battlefields black as the sleek raven, making Herself visible only to those whose life would soon be over, Her raven caw filling hearts with dread, as death's call slid from Her widespread wings. And as The Mighty Queen, She took Dagda's body into Her own while Her feet were firmly planted upon opposite banks of a wide flowing river, from this joining giving birth to Mecha who had three serpents in his three hearts.
How filled with anger was The Morrigan when the lad named Odras used Her sacred bull to mate with his cow. Gathering up both bull and cow, She took them through the oak woods of Falga and brought them to the cave at Cruachan, not far from the River Shannon, where one might enter into the Otherworld. Desiring to retrieve his cow, Odras followed as fast as his legs would move but the fleet footed Morrigan, even with the burden of bull and pregnant cow, soon outdistanced the exhausted fellow-arriving at the cave of Cruachan while Odras was still far behind. When She later came upon him in the woods, his eyes closed deep in the sleep of his fatigue, She laid a magic spell upon him so that he changed into a pond, his spirit captive in the water of the oak woods of Falga until this very day.
But it was the warrior of Ulster, the arrogant Cu Chulainn, who most aroused the anger of The Mighty Morrigan. Some say that Her feud with him first began on the day that She had watched him bathing by a river bank and upon seeing his bared body, desired to lay him down beside Her. It was then that She approached him in Her finest robes, embroidered with all the colours of the rainbow. Though all the other soldiers could hardly look upon Her, so filled were they with awe and admiration, Cu Chulainn refused Her suggestion that he lie with Her in love, claiming that he was too weary from the day's battle.
Still, it was not this refusal that angered The Mighty Morrigan, who showed much patience and concern for the man that She desired, for She then suggested that She would help him in the battle and with the energy that he would save by Her conquests in the fighting, he would be able to accept Her offer of a loving bed. But this second offer was responded to with great disdain at the very idea of a woman helping in the battle and it was this reply that aroused the wrath of The Morrigan-thus making Cu Chulainn an enemy of the powerful Daughter of Eternity.
So it came about that on a morning when Cu Chulainn still lay fast asleep, he was wakened by a noise so loud and startling that it caused him to tumble from his bed on to the floor and to then rush half asleep through the door without a stitch of clothing. Jumping into his battle wagon, naked and unarmed, the mist of steep began to clear and Cu Chulainn soon realized that although his intent was to ride to a battle, he did not know in which direction he had meant to go.
Sitting there in naked puzzlement, he saw another wagon approach, that one drawn by a single bright red horse that walked upon three legs and pulled the vehicle behind it by a pole that ran directly through its body-the tip of the wagon pole emerging from between the horse's eyes. Alongside the horse walked a footman, a forked wand of hazel in his hand. And upon the high seat of the wagon sat a woman whose hair and thick brows were the colour and brilliance of flame, Her long cloak of blood colour spread out about Her-as if She sat upon a throne.
Ever more puzzled and confused, Cu Chulainn asked their names and purpose. But he found that the riddles that he received as answers were far beyond his ken. As he added questions to his questions, the riddles grew in sarcasm so that his confusion soon became frustration. Just as he realized what a fool he must seem, sitting naked and unarmed in his own wagon, puzzled by words of his own language, holding the reins but ignorant of his intended destination-all disappeared except the woman, who suddenly became a great black bird, cawing in laughter at his plight as Her wings slid off into the morning air.
But Morrigan was not satisfied to have shown the man a fool. When next the warrior Cu Chulainn fought upon a battlefield, She gathered fifty white heifers and linking them together with a perfect silver chain, She took the form of a heifer without horns, thus leading the herd across the fields and waters-until the confusion they had caused among the troops of Cu Chulainn gave the advantage to his enemy. The Morrigan then made Herself into a long black eel and twisted about the arms and legs of Cu Chulainn so that he was unable to move in the waters but just as he was almost able to pull the eel from his body, She became a sharp toothed wolf, cutting deep and painful gashes on his arms. In this way they battled, until the dark of evening began to cover all. Then She left him on the battlefield-knowing that he would make his way towards home to heal his cut and broken body.
The Morrigan too had been badly hurt, especially about the face and eyes. Realizing that She could best be healed by the one who had caused the wounds, if She could win three blessings from him, She soon devised a plan. So it was that at the next noon, She became an old woman with a milking pail, sitting with a cow by the side of the road, the path that Cu Chulainn would have to take upon his journey to his home. When he came along the road, as She knew that he must do, his body as dry and tired as She suspected, She called out the offer of a cup of milk, suggesting that it might be pleasant to feel the wetness upon his throat. Not knowing who the woman was, he came gratefully to Her side and drank the creamy liquid from the cup, blessing Her for Her kindness as he took the empty cup from his mouth. When She poured a second time, again he drank and blessed the woman and yet a third time did he do the same until-thrice blessed-The Morrigan was healed.
Cu Chulainn was startled as The Morrigan then spread Her raven wings and more so when the old woman disappeared and the large raven that took Her place perched itself upon a nearby bramble. It was then that he heard the shrill cawing prophesies of a future grim and short in time, and watched as the wide black wings of The Morrigan disappeared into the distance-as he stood earthbound and fearful of Her wrath and magical powers.
My Goddess )O(
My Goddess is a lusty Lady and loves to walk my path with me.
A sword wielding Bitch, no gentle Lady she.
We share all adventures life sends my way
With Her guarding my back, night and day.
Sorry are they that try to do me harm,
They quickly learn the strength of Morrigan's arm.
On her, I always rely
She will be with me in whatever I try.
When I rush an enemy in a frenzied fight
She is there, guarding my right,
Her sword forever with me, sure and strong
Never a question of right or wrong.
I must assume all moral responsibility
Her purpose is protection and company.
When I am lonely or filled with desire
Her lusty passion will comfort me and soothe the burning fire.
Our journey through this life has been so very grand
That I bear no dread of the time She takes my hand
To approach Styx, Death's mighty river.
Of life and death, Morrigan is the generous giver.
Both gifts I accept with joy, never with fear
Each is merely a season of my year.
As I rest in the Summer Land, waiting for my next lusty romp with Morrigan
She will be waiting, both our swords in her hand.
One afternoon I was strolling through the mall
Nothing on my mind at all
When I spied a tall statuesque female
With hair like fire against skin ivory pale.
My heart almost stopped it's beat
Then began to accelerate with tribal heat.
I walked up to her and quoted some corny line
She smiled and placed her hand in mine,
Led me down the stairs and out the door
My head was spinning as we lay on a forest floor.
I kissed her mouth with raging desire
A kiss that filled my soul with searing fire.
My lips found her ample breasts
I gave each my very best.
I traced her flat abdomen
My tongue thrilled to the taste like cinnamon
As I smelled the rising musk,
Into that fragrant valley, my face I thrust.
I spent my happy hour there
My face pressed into curly garnet coloured hair.
When I rose to the test
And gave her my very best
I thought we were finished but she whispered do it all once again
And never forget the Goddess Morrigan.
angel © fall1997/spring1998I have come to love your many faces,Love
Tho' I never know which to expect.
Will you be the Maiden of Love
Or the Raven of Death?
I await your arrival with both hope and dread.
Will you bring victory in battle,
Honor upon the field,
Or will you steal from me, life's sweet breath.
Goddess, giver and taker of life,
You are the mistress I choose to serve.
I evoke your presence each day
Knowing the consequence of incurring your wrath.
I have embraced you, in all your many forms,
The Mother, the Maid, the Battle Hag.
When the time is right for me to return to you,
Morrigan, please lead me down the path.
Dear Mother I send this message,Coming Home
to tell you that I'm coming home.
Yes, I'm returning,
it should be soon.
I spied a lovely maiden,
cleansing my bloody cloak
'neath a waning moon.
Deep in the shadowed forest, far from trodden paths
Morrigan reverently strolls through a sacred oak grove.
Completely engrossed by her thoughts, lost to the beauty
Of this tranquil wildwood alcove.
The Goddess, beautifully tall, muscular, statuesque,
Copper tresses confined by a simple silver tiara, designed for a Queen
Adorned with woad Celtic battle tattoos that accentuate
Skin like polished ivory, glowing healthfully contrasted by deep shades of green.
Preoccupied and mind adrift, she was unconscious of the eyes that focused on
Fiery locks, down to her own gray-green eyes flecked with brown sparkles,
Majestic face and proud mouth, lingered on the full firm breast , then on down the
Smooth stomach, powerful legs and back to the garnet nest between solid thighs.
The eyes smoldered with unabashed overpowering lust,
The blood hot and wild with passion and burning desire
Surged through the trembling lust consumed observer.
Plans of seduction, visions of success added fuel to the volcanic fire.
Obliterating all reason and control
Possession of the irresistible body, to savor the womanly taste
By any means, at any cost
Laid all reasoning or control to waste.
Plans of seduction quickly formed.
The eyes move quickly and silently through the thick brush
Locates the exact spot to step into the projected path.
One last effort to abate the compulsion, then enters the trail with a rush.
The Goddess, though unaware of the eyes and the scheme
Trembles with pleasant sensations that tingle in her breast, vulva and her core.
Then she spots the figure that breaks through the thicket wall
And slumps to a heap on the forest floor.
Morrigan stands above the form lying motionless on the ground
The skin a soft beautiful shade of light translucent green
The long thick mane of hair spread round the pale green face
Was such a dark green shade that it had a black sheen.
The body was tall and slender as a willowy reed
Small firm breast s provocatively jut proudly from her chest, long slender legs
Flow into a lean trim torso, all the same tantalizing shade of green
And just where the legs meet, a very dark green nest.
As Morrigan stands looking at the Dryad
Feeling the heat pulsating from the dark mat between her thighs
The Warrior Goddess was lost deep in the ancient heart of the forest
As she was captured by the emerald green eyes.
The Dryad lie there looking up into the object of her desire
Wondering why she had so foolishly let herself into a position such as this.
Morrigan looked once more into the smoldering eyes
Dropped to her knees , embraced the surprised Dryad with a hungry kiss.
The beauty and elegance of contrast
Ivory skin wrapped in dark green strands
Copper hair draped over translucent green
Green and ivory flashes of many dancing hands.
Time loses all meaning as Goddess and Dryad entwine
Every thing in the universe unites once more
All passions, knowledge and wisdom of all mothers
Exchanged as Goddess and Dryad become one on the forest floor.
Magick is being created to shape the next millennium
One that will change years of history and heal the Earth.
But for this special moment in time and space
All that can be felt is feminine pleasure, passion and mirth.
angel © july 1997