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Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Morrígan


Hymn to the Morrigan by Isaac Bonewits

O Morrigan, we call your name Across the dusty years.
You speak to us, of blood and lust. You show us all our fears.
You are a goddess, old and wise. Of holy power you have no dearth.
Beneath your wings : Black, Red and White, We learn of death and birth.

You walk about, this ancient land, Your hungers raw and clear.
You make the crops, grow rich and strong, As well your geese and deer.
A flirting maid, a lusty hag, A mother of great girth :
Without the touch of your black wings, We cannot heal the earth.

You float upon, a blood red wave, Of swords and spears and knives.
Your voice inspires, fear and dread, That you'll cut short our lives.
You try the warriors', courage sore, Our inner souls unearth.
Without the touch of your red wings, We cannot know our worth.

You fly above the silver clouds, To Manannan's shining Gate.
You lead the dead along that path, To meet our final fate.
The joke's on us, we find within, A land of laughter and of mirth.
Without the touch of your white wings, We cannot have rebirth.

 The origins of the Morrígan seem to reach directly back to the megalithic cult of the Mothers. The Mothers (Matrones, Idises, Dísir, etc.) usually appeared as triple goddesses and their cult was expressed through both battle ecstasy and regenerative ecstasy. Later Celtic goddesses of sovereignty, such as the trio of Éire, Banba, and Fótla, also 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." 
Éire, 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 Morrígan. The Dísir 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. It is interesting to note that some sources present Éire and the Morrígan as half-sisters.
There is certainly evidence that the concept of a raven goddess of battle wasn't limited to the Irish Celts. An inscription found in France invoking Cathubodva, 'Battle Raven', shows that a similar concept was known among the Gaulish Celts.