When I was a child, I broke a mercury thermometer. I don’t remember if it fell out of my mouth or if I was simply playing with it, but when it broke, perfect silver balls scattered across the bathroom tiles, shiny and tantalizing. I tried to pick them up, but they slipped beneath and away from my fingertips. The harder I tried to collect them, the more impossible they were to catch–breaking into smaller bits, collecting into larger puddles, impossible to catch either way. That experience mirrors me now trying understand the nature of the Morrigan: beautiful and irresistible as the bits of mercury on the bathroom floor, but made of something that can never be fully grasped. Perhaps also like the mercury, there may be danger in even trying.
The Morrigan is no fairy Godmother. The Queens are not cutesy or precocious. But the Morrigan is not without a sense of humor, either.
This story involves a Priestess, a pig, and two women who never grew up. It began twenty-two years.
I was fifteen and my friend “H” was sixteen. She came over one summer afternoon and we were bored. We didn’t have any money or a car and the two friends we’d spent all summer with were dating and ignoring us. We happened to know that our girl-friend was over at the boy-friend’s house and presumably making out. The only reasonable thing to do was to walk the two miles to their house and make barnyard animal noises under his bedroom window, which is exactly what we did. Our friends weren’t too happy, but we knew we were hilarious.
Since then, we’ve been obsessed with pigs. When one calls, the other answers the phone with pig noises. We gift each other pig things and “gif” each other pigs via text. It’s silly and weird but it gives us so much joy.
Last week, I was invited to a Morrigan ritual at the home of priestess whom I respect, but did not know very well. I brought along H. The living room was dark, and the altar to the Great Queens was expansive and beautiful. The air was scented with a gorgeous incense and everyone looked ethereal in the candlelight. It would be a serious ritual, I could already tell. And although I come from a tradition who reveled in what we called “Sacred Silliness,” bringing laughter to even the most serious rituals, this group was a stoic bunch.We’d arrived close to start time and the majority of the guests were already there, chanting and swaying and getting themselves into the zone to meet the Great Queens. The Priestess’s wife kindly and quietly greeted us, ushering us to the last two seats in the room–next to a sculpture of a pig.
Who keeps a sculpture of a pig in their living room???? Who would have a sculpture of a pig, at all??? Besides me. Or H. Oh, Christ, kill me. Why did she have to seat us next to it????
H chortled behind me but hid it with a cough. I couldn’t look at her. I’d probably have peed my ritual gown if I had. This was going to be a tough night.
The Priestess began the ritual. I listened to her praise the Morrigan and felt myself calm down. So long as I didn’t look at the statue or my friend, I would be fine. I wouldn’t think of barnyard animal noises. I wouldn’t laugh and embarrass myself. I could be a big girl.
Then, the music began.
I guess it was a recording of a didgeridoo–a low hum that would have normally been relaxing….except for the fact that the speaker was directly behind the pig statue, giving the impression that the pig was moaning. Around us, people prayed, sang, and wept quietly. It was a beautiful ceremony and one I very much admired, but I spent the entire time white-knuckled and jaw-clenched while H coughed to hide her giggles. I never thought I could be almost sick from not-laughing.
After the ceremony, we thanked the priestess and left quickly, racing to the Uber and holding our breath as we round the corner before absolutely losing it.
“Why would She do this to us???” I asked my friend, laugh-crying, while I still tried to find the meaning of it all. “Was She testing me? Was she trying to kill me?”
H finally caught her breath. Her cheeks were purple. “I just think the Goddess has a sense of humor.”
It is weird and clunky to write about an inside joke. I’m sure it’s not funny to anyone but us. Yet, my sides hurt just remembering it and now, if I know anything about the Morrigan, it’s that She does indeed have a sense of humor–one sick, twisted, and slightly mean.
Honestly, who would expect anything otherwise?