Irish-American Witchcraft: When The Morrigan Calls

Irish-American Witchcraft: When The Morrigan Calls September 17, 2018

Some pagan deities are known to be more active in the world than others, and more assertive about reaching out to people. In my own experience I’ve found that Odin and the Morrigan are probably at the top of the list for this – obviously based on the communities I’m involved in – with Brighid a close second behind the Morrigan. For people who are new to paganism or new to the Morrigan more generally having Herself come into your life may be an intense experience and often raises questions. For today’s blog I thought I’d look at some common questions I see or am asked and give my own answers.

Rook, Teamhair, Ireland, picture M Daimler 2016

Where Do I Even Start?

Starting to connect to any deity can be overwhelming, especially if you are coming to that deity with no previous knowledge or experience of them. My own approach to this with the Morrigan or any other deity is threefold: be open to what comes to you in your own experiences, read and research, and talk to other people who honour that deity. Take it slow and try not to feel overwhelmed because while there can be a feeling like you need to become an expert immediately the reality is this is just like any relationship and it takes time to grow organically. Also remember that none of this is one size fits all so what works for other people may not work for you, and that doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong.

Journaling your own experiences can be a good way to start, and will also help you see any patterns in your own experiences. It’s also helpful to keep an open mind and not assume it is the Morrigan – unless She’s explicitly appeared in a dream or vision and told you her name – because there are other similar Goddesses. Even people with lots of experience in spiritual matters sometimes misidentify spiritual beings so if your only just starting to feel like Someone is around you its alright to take your time figuring out who it is.

Reading blogs by other people who have connections to the Morrigan is helpful, or going on youtube and watching videos if reading isn’t your thing. Checking out the original mythology and folklore is also a really important starting place.

Finally its a good idea to try to find other people who also honour Her that can answer questions or share their own experiences with you. There’s lots of options for that now thanks the internet.

Uaimh na gCat, Roscommon Ireland, picture M Daimler 2016

What Are Good Sources on the Morrigan?

This is a very understandable question, as there is a lot of information out there about the Morrigan and it varies from good to horrible. There are also a lot, and I mean a lot, of different opinions on who and what she is usually based on the person’s own spirituality or religion and sources they learned from.  If you consider Gods to be archetypes then your view of the Morrigan will naturally be different than someone who sees the Gods as individual beings, and in turn that will be different from someone who sees all deities as aspects of one greater whole. When considering sources it is important to at least think about the sources bias in that area.

Personally I tend to recommend people look first at the older material on the Morrigan which would be her mythology. You can find these free online, for example at Mary Jones Celtic Literature Collective.  By reading her older stories you get a feel for who she is and was in the culture she comes from before you move into who people today think of her as. Many of the modern books on her make claims about her appearances in mythology that can’t be backed up so it’s amazingly helpful to know the mythology first. The main stories or references to her that I’d recommend reading include:

Cath Maige Tuired Cunga (the First Battle of Maige Tuired)
Cath Maige Tuired (the Second Battle of Maige Tuired)
Lebor Gabala Erenn (the Book of the Takings of Ireland)
Banshenchus (the Lore of Women)
The Ulster Cycle
– specifically the Tain Bo Regamna, Tain Bo Cuiligne, Wooing of Ferb, Wooing of Emer, Death of Cu Chulainn, Debility of the Ulsterman
Togail Brudne Da Derga (Destruction of Da Derga’s Hostel)
and the Dindshenchas stories of Odras and Teamhair

There’s a very good dissertation by Gulermovich-Epstien called ‘War Goddess: the Morrigan and her Germano-Celtic Counterparts‘ that I highly recommend for people to get a feel for the Morrigan and the culture she came from. It’s not light reading but its very thorough; unfortunately it can be hard to find now.  Generally the more academic material is often a good place to look, as is material from native Irish sources. I tend to be wary of authors who don’t include bibliographies, don’t include original source material (like what I’ve listed above), or are too vague or broad in discussing the Morrigan.

Last year I wrote a list of good online Morrigan resources which you can find here.

Ireland 2018 M Daimler

Can I Honor Other Deities With Her?

I’ve seen a lot of people who are very concerned about whether or not it’s alright to include other deities in their spirituality, or whether the Morrigan expects some kind of exclusivity. Some people seem to worry that she will expect you to only honour her in a kind of monotheistic way or else that she will react possessively or jealously to the inclusion of other deities. I can only say that in my own experience with the Morrigan and her sisters Badb and Macha I have never had that problem and have often included other deities in spaces where I am honouring her, including altars and rituals.

I was dedicated to Macha, who is one of the three Morrigans*, for a long time and included both of the other Morrigans as well as Nuada, Brighid, and Flidais – as well as Odin and Frau Holle – in my regular worship and it was never a problem. Just because the Morrigan is showing up around you doesn’t mean you need to throw out every other deity you’ve ever honoured.

I’ve also found that She tends to be pretty direct with her feelings so if she did have an issue with anything I’m confident you’d know.
That all said though I always encourage people to trust their own intuition. If it bothers you that much maybe just focus on her for a while until you feel more confident about things.

How Do I Find Community?

That is a  much more complicated question that it sounds like it would be. There is no one cohesive Morrigan community out there and there are many strong personalities that you will encounter. Some people find it off putting to seek for others who also honour this Goddess only find disagreements and conflict. My best advice here is to try to remember that the Morrigan is a deity of battle, victory, and war so her followers tend to be feisty by nature, and you will see that reflected in communities dedicated to Her. Don’t worry if it takes you awhile to find a place that feels comfortable; I know it’s disheartening to look for other people to talk to, share with, and ask questions of only to repeatedly find that the groups your running across aren’t a good fit but these things can take time.

Some Other Opinions

There are many views on this topic because, to no one’s surprise at this point, followers of the Morrigan tend to be opinionated and assertive people. So here is a selection of other articles by a variety of authors looking at ways to respond when you feel like the Morrigan is around you:

The Morrigan’s Call

When You Hear the Call of the Morrigan

‘Daily Practice as a Morrigan Priestess’

So You Want to Worship the Morrigan’

Hopefully this gives everyone some idea of how to begin if you feel like the Morrigan has taken an interest in you, or if you are interested in Her. Don’t be afraid to explore a connection to the powerful Goddess or let the diversity of viewpoints and opinions overwhelm you. Good luck.

*for people who are newer to the Morrigan this can be a bit confusing – the simplest way to explain it is that ‘Morrigan’ is both the name of an individual being and also a title that we see given to at least two other deities in the source material. The three Morrigans are listed as the Morrigan, Badb, and Macha who are sisters, all daughters of Ernmas and Delbeath.

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