One translation for Morrigan is “Nightmare Queen.”* In my journeys with the Morrigan, I have experienced powerful nightmares. I know I’m not alone. But don’t let this scare you off from working with Her. The Nightmare Queen might bring a fitful sleep, but those frightening dreams can also provide important information. Examples can be found in her myths, but also in personal experience. The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book: “The Morrigan: Celtic Goddess of Magick and Might.”
While I was living in New York City, I had a potent nightmare.
I dreamed I was in Oweynagat, the Cave of the Cats. In waking life, visiting the cave was an exhilarating experience, but in my dream it collapsed and trapped me inside. I pounded on the cold stone walls and screamed for help. I awoke gasping in my bed. When I went back to sleep, I dreamed again of being trapped in the cave. I woke, again gasping for breath. I tried to stay awake, afraid of having the same dream a third time, but I couldn’t. The dream returned before I was even fully asleep. This happened several nights in a row. A tarot reader interpreted the dream: “Awake and prepare for battle.” I was scared. Would a jilted ex-lover appear at my door? Would there be a terrorist attack? What kind of “battle” was the dream—and the Morrigan—talking about?
A battle did come. But it wasn’t the type I expected.
A few weeks later, the Occupy Wall Street movement erupted in New York City, and I was recruited as a protest chaplain. I listened to the angry and traumatized people. I broke up fights and lent support to those arrested. I had complicated feelings about the movement, and still do. Outside of the spirited marches, the hours were long, cold, frustrating, and sometimes scary. Most of the time, I didn’t know what I was doing there. I had just started a new job and knew I should focus on it instead of a movement that I wasn’t sure I fully supported. But because I felt the Morrigan had sent me, I kept going back.
A year later, the true mission took shape.
Hurricane Sandy hit the city and the Occupy connections were essential. There was widespread discomfort, illness, and trauma. My coven’s Samhain was one of the few that could take place amid the storm damage. We used it as an opportunity to collect supplies from and for our community. The Red Cross and National Guard were slowly making their way to help, and Occupy Wall Street organizers were some of the first to reach those affected by the hurricane. My coven worked with the partnerships I’d formed to help get supplies to where they were needed.
The strategizing spirit of the Morrigan summoned me to one battle for the sole purpose of preparing me for another one.
The warfaring reputation of the Morrigan can repel or attract people to Her. Sometimes, this seems like the only face of the Morrigan that people give her credit for. It was certainly the first face that I saw. I believe I was summoned to battle the way She summoned kings to arise when they were tired of fighting, but it was more than that.
The Morrigan embodies the ancient power of nightmares to warn and inform. My nightmares warned me of dangers coming to my community. Later, the Morrigan would warn me of dangers coming to me. This powerful trait of this Goddess ought to be remembered, acknowledged beside the great Warrior Queen and not languishing behind it.