Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Being Visited

Pantheon.org tells this famous story of The Morrigan:

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.

SacredSource.com states:

Morrigan is the Celtic Goddess of Destruction/Creation.

One must precede the other.

An essay on Druidry.org, which looks to have been written by a junior high school student, spells out this important distinction:

Notice this however. Crows do not make people dead, they eat and transform bodies. Morrigan is not death itself, she is the keeper of death, and she is frightening.

Change. Is. Hard. But inevitable, and necessary. I have spent the last year of my life working very hard to embrace change. “Focus Fearlessly Forward” has become a mantra of mine. It felt like a death, moving out of my apartment. It definitely felt like death when the company I loved working for was sold. And my family… we have spent plenty of time with death this past year and a half.

RealMagick.com describes her vividly:

"The Dark aspect of the Celtic Triple Goddess” – Dark is not evil, it is merely hidden from view. My dream occurred during the dark (or new) moon.

"Crone aspect of the Goddess” – I have been courting the Crone’s wisdom for a long time. Small things that I do in my daily life, and in my ritual practice, have been intended to invite the Crone into my sacred space. Wearing a lot of black, for example, to represent the mystery. Working with red stones for passion and protection, rather than pink or pale blue ones. Wearing my pentacle more places, and my Waning Moon Ring (more on that below).

The Crone, or Hag, represents the third face of the goddess. Just as Christianity has a father, son, and holy spirit, The Old Religion recognizes the Maiden, Mother, and Crone aspects of the Goddess. The Crone is like the holy spirit in that she is the most powerful, and is the keeper of secrets. A woman doesn’t become the crone until she has passed through many experiences and learned from them, and accepted the passing changes in her life. In other words, you may be 80 years old, and you may not yet be the crone. It takes great acceptance and awareness – and fearlessness- of your own power to truly embody the crone. I have known very, very few women in my life who have ever attained this.

I have been so frustrated for so long, and I have been heartbroken so many times, that I have begun to pray to the Crone, asking her to share a secret with me, something that I may hold in my heart, to help me to understand what I have lived through, and what I must learn from it. Possibly, to help me more easily feel at peace.

"Patroness of priestesses, Queen of the Witches and Goddess of Magick” – Yeah, well, no point denying this is me.

"Associated with revenge, night, magick, prophecy, wisdom, war and peace” – I don’t like to admit that I want revenge on anyone… but I’d be lying if I said there is no one I’d like to see get a taste of their own medicine. Mostly though, I’m angry. I work on it a lot… but I’m a pretty angry gal. I suppress it a lot. Often I try to rationalize it out. I fear my own anger. I don’t trust myself. I have a lot to work through with my anger.

"Possibly a pre-Celtic Moon goddess” – The Crone is symbolized by the Waning Crescent Moon, also called the Balsamic Moon. Yes, balsamic, like the vinegar. As in fermented, transformed, become more potent than ever by a natural process. When the last slim crescent of moon shows before the moon goes dark… that is the crone’s grin.

I have a black Fimo ring that I bought a while back. It has Waning Crescent Moons all around it. I wear it a lot. Whenever I wear it, I can’t stop touching it. It feels good under my fingertips. I like to press it against my finger, squeezing it slightly, to watch it spring back into shape. It’s flexible, and it seems to adhere to my finger, making it difficult to remove. I always wear it on my right or left ring finger.

"In her Dark Aspect, she is the Goddess of War, Fate and Death” – Again, more rage, and more change. Also some inevitability.

My grandmothers were in their nineties, and they were ill. I still did not want to lose them. Illogically, I was utterly enraged that they were taken from me, one after the other. I knew it was inevitable. That knowledge brought me no comfort. I am simply too selfish. I miss them. I cannot help but want them back.

"As a War Goddess, she reigned over the battlefield, helping with her magick, but did not join in battles” – Isn’t that what prayer is? The witch who helps the victorious army is often called an angel. History is recorded by the winners, and any surviving losers. Who knows whose accounts are most accurate? We choose sides, and fervently hope one will win. We light candles, we pray, we send donations, we slap stickers on our car, we buy T-shirts and wear them around, we cast ballots and hope enough others make the same choice.

There are those who argue that magic is nothing more than focused intention. The power of intention, however, is very, very strong. Do not underestimate it.

"The "Washer at the Ford" (seen washing bloody laundry prior to battle by those destined to die)” – This is an old Irish Legend, like a ghost story. It has survived to this day. In this guise, the Morrigan is called Ban Shee, which in Gaelic simply means “Fairy Woman” (Ban = Woman + Shee = Fairy.)

The Ban Shee has also been said to scream whenever someone dies. This earned her a reputation as an evil ghost – but the legend actually comes from the keening, the wail of mourning that the Irish are known for when in deep sorrow. I myself have keened several times in my life. Just last Christmas, one of my Grandmother’s things fell to the ground and broke, and I collapsed on my knees, clutching the broken pieces to my chest, and screeched. I wasn’t even aware I was doing it until I stopped and the house was so eerily quiet. The Ban Shee doesn’t scream in delight – she screams because a person she feels close to has died.

The Ban Shee is not a ghost. She is one of the Tuatha de Dannan – a race of people who, rather than surrender Ireland to the invading Milesian Celts, simply left their bodies, and, as spirits, took up residence in the land itself. This is why the trees, the rivers, the stones, the animals, even the mountains are said to be “haunted.” The gaelic-speaking celts named them the Shee, or the Fairy Folk. Throughout the ages, while people were building cities and towns, the Shee remained. If you built your house near a mountain, or a forest, and a certain Shee resided there, especially that of a woman, that spirit would become attached to you and your family. Women nurture – they keep house, they cook and clean and raise children. A Ban Shee could very well look upon those living on her land as her family. So when someone died, she keened.

I have to imagine that if someone attacked her adopted family, she’d have something to say about that as well. Possibly, something to do about it.

"Her symbol was the raven or crow” – Birds represent the element of Air. I have never been comfortable with Air. If you look at my Astrological chart, I am all Earth, with some Fire, a little Water and even less Air. Airiness has to do with being free-spirited, being flighty, being open to ideas that blow into your head from out of the blue. Being spontaneous. Going with the flow. My feet are usually bolted to the ground, and being the daughter of a stubborn Taurus, I am not easily blown over.

Knowing this, I have actively invited the Air into my life over the last two years, in the same manner that I have been inviting the Crone. I dress in more blues and whites. I try to be more open to suggestions for vacation spots, temp jobs, and people in general. I believe it is this shift in energies that eventually led me to enroll in Massage Therapy School, and to make friends with that nice saxophone player at my aunt’s party.

In addition to this, I participated in a guided group meditation, where we encountered an Animal guide, similar to the Native American tradition of Spirit Animals. I expected a cat.

What I saw was a bird. Not a raven or crow, but a blue bird with impossibly long tailfeathers. It was a creature of my imagination. I doubt anything like it exists in nature… but there it was. I should do more work with this image.

"Like many Goddesses, She was a shapechanger... The carrion crow is her favorite disguise. Could also appear as a beautiful Maiden or an ugly Hag” – Ah yes. Playing dress-up is one of my favorite games too.

Tradition says she has nine loosed tresses on her head” – OH I AM SO TRYING THIS HAIRDO!

Goddess of rivers, lakes, and fresh water” – this confused me. It doesn’t seem to match with the previous descriptions. However, it is also true that, along with the Air, I have been inviting the Water. Trying to get comfortable with it. Water represents the emotions, and I spent a lot of years being scared to death of my own emotions. My emotions run so powerful and swing so wide that I’ve thought I must be crazy. I’m not, but growing up in the Midwest around a lot of stoic Germanic and Slavic types made me feel crazy. I repressed a lot.

When I moved to New York, all of a sudden everyone was emotionally volatile! I have been working on letting my emotions flow, and hopefully not smacking everyone near me with a wall of psychic energy. It’s hard. I look to the Water for guidance here. I need to let the oceans flow in a healthy way.

"She did not actually fight, but urged on her chosen armies, and intimidated the ones She wanted to lose with Her fearsome war cries.” – This is a passive way of being part of the battle. I know all about this. I think a lot of us do this all the time. Have you ever “warned” a bitchy co-worker that the boss was on a rampage, knowing that your co-worker would get so nervous that they’d make themselves look even worse than if you hadn’t said anything?

Oh. Uh… neither have I. I was just using an example.

I have read of the Morrigan a number of times, but my favorite description of her comes from Morgan Llewellyn’s Red Branch:

Two women approached him from the direction of the lake. One was a slender creature with the limped loveliness of a drop of pure water. She wore a mantle of deep green and moved like a flowing stream, and she had been crying recently.

Ok, this isn't the Morrigan. The woman described is the goddess Fand, wife of Manann mac Lir, God of the sea. “Him” refers to Cu Chulainn, one of the great heroes of Irish Mythology.

Her companion was russet-haired, tall and strongly built. An eyeful of woman, yet it was the other who drew Cuchulain’s gaze.

That's her. That's the Morrigan. And that's my friend, who wanted me to buy a futon cover in Army Green. I recognize you, Morrigan!

They came to a stop beside him as he lay on the ground. “Here is a man for you, Fand,” said the red-haired woman. “Take his birch rod and strike him hard; I promise it will make you feel better.”

Fand taps Cu Chulainn lightly with the stick, which is all she has the heart for. The hero and the weeping goddess are instantly attracted to each other. The Morrigan is pissed. In her own words:

Prompted by misguided impulse, I have occasionally attempted to perform a kindness. It never turns out well, and I should know better. Kindness is another of those human concepts that has no place in the natural order. Stones and hawks and comets are not kind.

A cold goddess, indeed. And I have many, many times said, through clenched teeth, after someone had let me down, that I was a fool to have ever been kind to someone.

But I had felt a rare spark of sympathy for Fand, wife of Mannan mac Lir, ruler of the waves. He had abandoned her, and she was as sad as if she had a human heart...
...I had decided the time had come for Cuchulain to see me in one of my other forms, something more attractive than the Battle Raven. A large black bird holds little sensual interest for the human male. And I thought it would be doubly clever to appear before him with a foil, a contrast. Beside pallid Fand, I would show to my best advantage. He would see a woman of spirit and power, and exciting creature as capable of inflicting pain as the Hound himself.
But the fool looked at her instead of me. He smiled at and desired the tepid wife of Mannan mac Lir.
So I beat him until he was paralyzed and half-dead.
You see what harm is done by surrendering to a kind impulse.

I am sorry, friend. I too have been spurned by men who have preferred silly girls over smart women. And I am much like Fand, prone to excessive weeping, and not the least bit comforted by hurting others. I am, however, merely human, and not bound by marriage to anyone, never mind a god. I am not an unchanging eternal being. I can learn, and grow.

Self defense is good. Assertiveness is good. Aggressiveness is good too. The more in touch I am with my own power, the less likely I am to be victimized.

I told my mother about this dream, and my feeling that the girl I was shopping with might have been the Morrigan in modern-day dress.

"She'll be good for you," Mom replied matter-of-factly. "You need a warrior in your life."

Throughout my adolescence, I had a recurring character in my dreams, a "best friend," who was always blonde, pale skinned, shorter than me, and faceless. A delicate girl who loved me and always had supportive things to say, but who was unable to stop me from whatever bad idea I was pursuing in the dream. I had nightmares that wrenched me from sleep in the middle of the night, sweating, hearing her sweet little voice ringing in my ears, screaming that I would be all right, just HOLD ON, as the visuals dissolved into blackness and I lay awake in the darkness shaking, unable to get back to sleep for hours.

I haven't had a nightmare that bad in close to a decade - but I had one a week or so ago. I dreamed of death, of someone very close to me, someone who, right now, I absolutely cannot handle the idea of living without. I woke up at about 4am, crying and shaking, and G held me until I lay quiet again.

And then a few nights later, I had this dream of the new apartment, and the singing salesman, and my uber-cool redheaded friend, whose face I could see clearly, in her Army jacket and her blood-black-red nail polish. The New Moon had just begun to seed.

I haven't dreamed since, but I am very aggressively pursuing a new job opportunity for which, a while back, I never would have dreamed I'd feel qualified. I had an interview today. I wore black. It went well.

Yo, M. Don't be a stranger.


Pua; Bakin' and Tendin' Bar said...

WOW! You've really done your homework.

"Focus Fearlessly Forward". In Hawaii, we say, "Imua". I love both. May I borrow your mantra?

I look forward, with great expectancy, at your good news regarding the new job.

Much aloha.

MsHep said...

Fantabulous blog, m'dear!!

~Kim Hep