Lessons From a War Goddess

Morrigan-203x300Someone asked me recently why I choose to honor the Morrigan, a Goddess of war. This is a very good question; I am not a soldier, nor a warrior in any martial sense. I am not skilled with weapons, barring some past experience fencing. And yet, I am a priestess of Macha, a war Goddess, or at least a Goddess who has war as one of her main purviews and is closely associated with other war goddesses including the Morrigan. I choose to honor the Morrigan regularly, and I choose to include her as one of my household Gods. Why?

The mythology surrounding the Morrigan is varied and diverse. She prophecies. She steals cows. She wields magic and is called a Druidess. She changes form and age. She strengthens and gives victory, or weakens and ensures defeat. But above all the strongest theme in her stories is battle. She causes wars and incites warriors to fight; in the Irish epic the Tain Bo Cuiligne she appears in a pre-tale to Cu Chulain and gets him to boast of how he will succeed in the coming fighting, in effect committing himself to the war, and later appears to Queen Medb and encourages her to fight to avenge her slain son.

In many stories she flies over battlefields in the form of a crow or raven, bringing madness or terror to the opposing army. In one battle it was said she was seen dancing from shield rim to sword point of the army she favored in the form of a grey haired hag. When she fought on the side of the Gods in a battle against their enemies the Fomorians she promised to chase that which fled and kill that which might otherwise be subdued. In that same battle she gave two handfuls of blood to the army as a sign she had weakened the opposing army’s king; at the end her appearance rallied the troops to victory.

This is Morgan Daimler’s second go around at Raise the Horns. You can read her first article for us, The Morrigan, War, & How We See Our Gods, at this link.

What place does such a Goddess have in my life, when I do not fight in wars nor have to worry about success in cattle raids? Perhaps because I see war in a larger way, not only as combat and bloodshed but as the mindset that accompanies it and as strategy. Also I see war and understanding what war was, as a way to understand how to live an honorable life today. To the ancient Irish war and the closely related cattle raids, were rigidly structured affairs in which a person could earn esteem and renown through not only victory in battle but also a reputation for right behavior.

Martial skill was best tested against enemies of equal skill, and battle was as much about showing off and intimidating the enemy, or conversely not being intimidated, as it was about actual fighting. I look at the lessons of the Morrigan as a Goddess of war and see as much about strength in living as strength in fighting. If I were a soldier I would take her lessons and apply them to a battlefield, but I am not so I apply them instead to my life. She teaches me to be strong, and bold, and fierce, to protect what is mine and do what needs to be done under any circumstance, something that served me well as an EMT. These are all valuable lessons to me which speak to both war and sovereignty.

HastingsCelticWomanSo, then, why the Morrigan? Because there is something in me that resonates with her and something about her that calls, inexplicably and unavoidably, to me. Because she, Goddess of war, Goddess of carnage, Goddess of sovereignty, is ultimately a teacher of many valuable lessons about life, death, and strength. Because more than any other deity she and her sisters, Macha and Badb, taught me to stand in my own power, be proud of my scars, and keep fighting.

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I’m Jason, I usually write most of the stuff here at Raise the Horns but I’m on vacation pilgrimage in the British Isles. Since I won’t have a lot of time for writing anytime soon I got some of my friends to help me out! Morgan Daimler is the first person other than me to have two posts on Raise the Horns. She gets a gold star or something along those lines. Thank you so much Morgan for helping me out!
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Morgan Daimler is an Irish Re-constructionist with Heathen tendencies who has been a polytheist since the early ’90′s. She is a Druid in the Order of the White Oak and witch who follows a path inspired by the Irish Fairy Faith. A wandering priestess of Odin and dedicant of Macha, she teaches classes on Irish and Norse magical practices, fairies, and related subjects around the northeastern United States. Morgan’s writing has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies including “By Blood, Bone, and Blade: A Tribute to the Morrigan.” Morgan is also the author of nine books including “Fairy Witchcraft” and the forthcoming “Pagan Portals: The Morrigan.” She blogs regularly at Living Liminally.

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