Conversation on Facebook
“Never thought about it much. I never had a special deity in mind, ‘just’ the God and Goddess. Just recently I discovered the Morrigan and also just recently I found that they are / she has been with me way much longer and I am talking about decades! It is, on a personal level, very interesting how things can work out and through, so I’ll stick with the fact that deities choose us although we often think that we ‘pick’ them”.
That was my answer on a question on Facebook. And yes, the Goddesses, in the appearance of Badb, Nemain, Anu and Macha, made their presence clear to me without a doubt! A good reader sees four Goddesses. And that is, according to me, the only way I can see them. It was a bit of a struggle for me nevertheless. Raised with the principle of Maiden/Mother/Crone there was one too many! But as I did a fair bit of reading and research (and still not finished), I can tell you this; this ancient Celtic Goddess is a shape shifter! And there are a lot of guises! And all these guises are there to help us through everyday life, that is, if we are willing to listen and do not flee. For me She is the one that helped me through a lot of life’s struggles, yet not knowing or recognising her, but now I know that she was there with me all my life.
About 28 years ago, I first met the Morrigan in a little book written by Merlin. It was just a few of Her aspects linked to trees and Moon phases. And also the fact that She was considered a Dark Goddess made me very curious. What did it mean… Dark Goddess? But I did not understand at the time and I did not search any further. My personal life was filled with work, my daughter and all those other mundane things. When I look back at my life until this moment, there have been many ‘signs’ of Her to let me know She was there for me. A few of these ‘signs’ are the name of my first born daughter, Kayleigh, which means probably wise woman, and has a connection to a shape of the Morrigan known as Cailleach. A second one was my fear of goats, cattle…, the Morrigan in her shape as guardian of the livestock. I am now the owner of an organic goat farm on 1,5 acres and there I have found more or less a piece of acknowledging of sovereignty on an earthly basis, one of the Morrigan’s aspects is Earth Goddess and as bestowal of Sovereignty. So, in that aspect I do not feel like I own the land, but that I am a caretaker of the land! I could go on for a while but that is not very interesting.
All the things I have been reading has brought me to a simple conclusion. The Morrigan comes to us from Irish history and mythology although not always recognised. I believe that, like all other Gods or Goddesses, the Morrigan can be seen as a later form of the Earth Goddess. To me it is completely clear that if ‘society’ evolves so do the Gods and Goddesses. And how is She manifesting in today´s society?
I have to approach Her as if she was a real person and in some way they, deities that is, are ‘real’. They live their ‘lives’ just like us human beings and that is a wonderful gift. So if we are relating to Her as a human being it is easier to recognize in all her shapes and aspects. We humans are also ‘shape shifting’ through all the stages of life: we are the new born baby, the child, the youngster, the adolescent, the mother to be (girls only 😉 ), the Mother, the Crone and the Hag.
And just like us humans there is a Battle if we go from one phase to another. It is not the ‘real’ battle for our lives and livestock anymore but it is more or less a battle on the inside of us our spiritual side that in today’s mundane society is so neglected! If I try to imagine how hard life must have been in comparison to today’s live for most of us (which is quite comfortable), She simply had to be there! You had to fight for your life, for your food, for your offspring, your tribe. She helped by offering her shrieks when battle was due, She was there to protect the cattle, the livestock! She was there to place sovereignty upon that man that was worthy to be King, so they could work for the greater good of their tribe. And since the Ancient ones lived, fought, loved, died and were reborn, according to the Wheel of the Year, there had to be so many guises of Her. She is the Beginning and the End, She is the Door and the Key, She is Ugly and Beautiful. She is the Old Hag and the Young Maiden and everything that is in-between! She is unconditional Love. And that can be frightening for we humans are so capable of ‘hiding’ ourselves to ourselves! Our true selves. The one that we are supposed to be! The one that is Divine.
We humans put on literally everything a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ tag. For the Morrigan there is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. She just is. As is Nature. To explain what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is also based upon the ‘reference frame’, the skills learned (or not) in childhood, the decisions made through life itself, the culture you were born into, the lessons, provided by Divinity itself, learned and integrated in yourself. When I come to think of it, you can either flight or fight for Her. For those who are willing to fight She will be there, and She teaches you Her ways.
Coincidences do not exist, for everything there is a time and place to learn the lessons of the Divine but as of today (16-11-2013) I simply know that The Morrigan has been with me all along, I just did not recognise her! Quite funny is that I choose the name Nemain for my Facebook alias because I had read something in Manda Scott’s Boudica, “Dream of the Eagle”. It just had a nice ‘ring’ to my ear. Most of the time I just pronounced it (Dutch way) like it was written but apparently it is pronounced as NEE-vuhn. This aspect I will talk about later for it begins when our Goddess is dwelling in the Underworld but realizing that She has to be born again with all that comes with it. We begin with the aspect of the Crone in her last days as the Morrigan in the shape of the Cailleach, pronounced ky-lee-ACK.
But what does the Cailleach tell me? What is she doing? We know that the wand or staff that she uses to stir the cauldron of death and rebirth with in the season of Samhain, is now the wand or staff that reawakens the Earth. I see this as bringing to life of the Spirit, the ‘sparkle‘ of life.
Today I was looking for the meaning of the King of Bows (Wild Wood tarot) on the internet. ‘Coincidental’ there was also a reference to the Cailleach, and thus indirectly to the Morrigan, on the card Adders. According to this source the adder represented the power of the Cailleach. Adders are also the symbol of fire and transformation, after all, when they grow they do so literally: they shake off their old skin and the new one emerges. In this specific time (in my mind synonymous with the period from Yule to Imbolc, a cross quarter day) they are very vulnerable for their skin is very soft and delicate. Just like the life to be reborn, still veiled, still a delicate process, but with so much promise!!
I feel that the Cailleach, which means ‘the veiled one’, is the quintessence of all the shapes of the Morrigan herself, and the fact that she is wearing a veil means to me that she is holding herself secret to us, maybe even secret to herself. While Badb is related to the festival of Samhain, I feel the core essence of the Cailleach is from Midwinter, the turning point where days are growing longer and nights become shorter. She cries as if she knows that Her days will not last and that She too has to be reborn, going through all the phases again, just as us when we have rested in the Summerland. Is she crying out loud because she knows? Is she cold and blue because of the ‘cold days’ ahead, without her spouse in the Underworld. My guess would be yes, and in her teachings there is also comfort. For if she can endure it, so can we.
From Yule to Imbolc is the time of the immaculate conception*, and developing into new life, yet veiled but ready to be born again. And there is another, dark (hidden) aspect. The stick and the cries the Cailleach is using, are tools to provide a sincere and thorough wake-up call for dormant live which is hidden in the earth and in ourselves. See yourself as a seed, with all the potential to become a beautiful plant. The hard shell of the seed has become softer by the snow She provided, and by her cries and slamming with her stick she is urging you to become a warrior, to grow into the light and face another cycle. “Do not be afraid”, She says, there is absolutely no reason to stay hidden inside, no reason to imprison yourself although it feels save. It is a false safety.
“This is another chance for you, wake up, wake up! Grow to the light and meet Bride.” That is what the Cailleach tells me now. I know there is much more to discover, but that has to wait for another time.
Sources, Books and links:
I Merlin Sythove: Een jaar en een dag, de maankalender en de acht jaarfeesten.
– The guises of the Morrigan, Goddess of… by David Rankine and Sorita D’este
– Celtic Lore & Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess: Invoking the Morrigan by Staphanie woodfield
* meaning: the Mother impregnates herself.