Devotional art is a wonderful thing.
Statues, paintings, and other representations of our deities help us see Them here with us. They give us a clear focus for meditation, contemplation, and worship. They make it easy for us to concentrate on certain aspects of Their persons and Their character.
The physical presence of devotional artwork is a tangible reminder of the spiritual presence of our Gods.
But there’s always a challenge. How do you paint a God? How do you sculpt a Goddess? Some of us have statues that are recreations or reimaginings of ancient artwork – my Cernunnos statue is based off the artwork in the Gundestrup Cauldron. We assume it’s Cernunnos, but we have no way of knowing for sure. I am sure that statue has helped me form and maintain a connection with Cernunnos for many years.
Older doesn’t automatically mean better. At some point, an artist had to say “this is what this deity looks like to me” and then create that image. That’s an act of interpretation, one that will never be perfect but that can be useful, meaningful, helpful… and if it’s done exceptionally well, beautiful.
I had a small part in creating this statue. Now, I want to be absolutely clear: this is Joe Laudati’s statue. It’s his vision, and more than that, it’s his skill that created something so beautiful and so powerful. But I can’t tell Joe’s story – I can only tell mine.
And so I will.
I want you to do this for Me
My part began back in February, when I got a message from Lisa Stewart at The Awareness Shop in New York. She and Joe had been asked to create a Morrigan statue, but as Lisa said “none of the folks in our circle have a relationship with Her.” They saw that I was leading a workshop on the Morrigan (at Austin Witchfest) and asked if I could help them.
But they weren’t just looking for ideas. They wanted someone who is connected to the Morrigan here and now. Lisa said “we are working to honor the deities and include Their wishes – not just regurgitate pretty statues that could be mistaken for any God or Goddess.”
My first reaction was “someone else should do this.” That was quickly followed by that familiar voice behind my head saying “I want you to do this.” No explanation of why… which is typical for Her.
And so a few days later I sat down in meditation and I asked Her “what do You want in Your statue?”
Relaying messages from the Morrigan (again)
The first thing I heard Her say was that She wanted a mound. It could look like one of several mounds in Ireland or in other places, but it’s not a specific place. Rather, it’s a representation of the land and Her role as Lady of Sovereignty. Joe made the mound a combination of rocks, skulls, and captured weapons, which brings in Her role as a Goddess of Battle and of the aftermath of battle.
The second thing was three ravens and/or crows. They represent Her role as psychopomp and Chooser of the Slain. They also represent the multiplicity of the Morrigan. Is She one, three, or many? The only answer is “yes.” But She always appears singularly to me, so the statue is one Goddess, with three ravens and crows.
I asked how She wanted to be dressed – all I got from Her was “dressed.” The Morrigan is not a Sex Goddess.
The final thing was to be shown in action. The Morrigan is a Battle Goddess (among other things) and She is one of the most active deities in our world today. I think Joe did an excellent job of turning that vague idea into a pose that conveys not just being but also doing.
The blood of his heart and the kidneys of his valor
I will take credit (or blame, if you don’t like it) for one piece of this design: the left arm.
In the lore the Morrigan mostly fights with magic, not with physical weapons. So it didn’t seem right to have Her holding a sword. I tried to suggest other ways to depict action. I had several thoughts I didn’t really like, and then I remembered the line “I will take from him the blood of his heart and the kidneys of his valor” – spoken by the Morrigan in regards to the King of the Fomorians, before the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh.
Once art is finished, it belongs to the viewer as much as to the artist, or to the person in the artist’s ear. You are of course free to see Her hand about to grasp the soul of a fallen warrior, to guide them to the Otherworld. Or perhaps you see Her casting a spell for this or for that.
But I will see Her in the act of fighting for Her people, using the skills She knows best.
If I got one surprise from this statue, it was the wings.
I generally don’t see the Morrigan with wings, so it never occurred to me to mention them, either positively or negatively. But a survey of available Morrigan statues shows a good number of them do have wings. Musically, Omnia’s “Morrigan Crone of War” mentions wings – so does Damh the Bard’s “Morrighan” and Sharon Knight and T. Thorn Coyle’s “Morrigan Chant.” Plus Her association with corvids makes wings a reasonable connection to make – some people do see Her with wings.
And I have to say, these wings look really good.
If you like the statue but don’t like the wings, here’s a bit of good news: the wings come off. They weren’t designed to be optional, they were designed to ship wrapped separately (along with the left arm) to decrease the odds of damage (it worked – my statue arrived in perfect condition). They fit into place using a metal post and socket – when assembled you’d never know the whole thing wasn’t cast as one piece.
If you like the statue but just can’t see the Morrigan with wings, take them off.
I think I’m going to leave them on.
The Morrigan statue is available from Got-Deity.com. Each one is hand-cast, signed, numbered, and painted with a blue-grey color that make it look like the Morrigan is appearing at midnight.
The cost is $175. That’s more than I paid for any of my other devotional artwork, but when you consider the size, complexity, and level of detail in the statue, you understand why it costs what it costs.
The statue was opened for pre-orders a couple of weeks ago and Joe is still working on getting those orders cast, painted, and shipped. So there are none in stock at the moment. But you can place your order and get in line. Got-Deity will have stock once the orders are filled.
I’m writing this immediately after opening the box and seeing this new, brilliant, powerful statue of the Morrigan in person for the first time.
Powerful. That’s the word that keeps coming to me.
This is the Morrigan for our time – of our time.
This is the Goddess who told so many of us “get ready – a storm is coming.”
This is the Goddess who has called so many to Her service, and is calling more now.
This is the Goddess who said “I demand persistence, not perfection.”
There are many depictions of the Morrigan available today. Some of them are quite good. This is now my favorite.
Full disclosure: I received this statue (numbered 2 in the series) as compensation for my input. But I have no financial interest in the project. And unlike a book review, my opinion about the statue is unnecessary – you can see it for yourself and draw your own conclusions.
I’m writing about it because I’m honored to have had a small part in its creation, and because I think it’s a meaningful, powerful, and beautiful depiction of the Great Queen.