Recently, I came across a debate on Tribe.net about the Morrigan and what kind of goddess she "really" was. This reminded me of something that happened to me several months before, when I was having dinner one evening with a few friends, some Pagan and some not. I began talking with one of them asking her how a shamanistic experience she had recently done had gone and she replied by saying that it had been interesting. She then told me she had been chatting with the Morrigan and that my name had come up! Now since I hadn't had any experiences with the Morrigan and had known her to be clearly a "war and death goddess," I was thinking, "hmmmm now why am I getting a bit nervous right now?" *s* I asked my friend "uh what did you two talk about?" and she said, "I can't really say. You need to talk with her. I can tell you it will be painful." So I was thinking, "Oh great. And also how am I going to talk to her? It's not like I could say "Yo Morrigan, over here. You wanted to talk with me?" *g*
My friend assured me that she'd be in touch. And she was. As we all were leaving and I was walking over to the BART station near the restaurant, I heard her speak to me. It's quite an interesting experience walking down the street having a conversation with a goddess, and one you've never spoken with before. She spoke to me about the closure I needed with my parents, both of whom are now on the other side. My father died of cancer when I was quite young, and my parents decided it would be better if they didn't talk about my dad being sick, in effect pretending everything was fine when it wasn't. Bad, bad move. When my father died several months later, I was furious. Furious because one of the chief role models in my young life was gone. Furious because "no one had told me" this was going to happen. Furious because I didn't get the chance to say goodbye to him.
This doesn't even get into the trauma of losing someone that close to you. I made up a lot of "coping mechanisms" at that time to deal with the loss, mechanisms that to this day decades later I struggle to get rid of. Not to mention the anger I still felt about how my parents had handled all of this.
And now the Morrigan was telling me it was time to deal with this once and for all. As we continued our discussion in the BART station men's restroom, I remember telling her I had no idea how I would do this. And as we talked, she reminded me I was about to miss my train home! We continued our discussion on that train. I don't remember too much of the discussion, other than my thinking, "Whoa, no way I can figure out how to do this. My parents are gone." And while I can "talk" to them on the other side if I want to (being psychically gifted does have its advantages at times), I still wasn't sure how I would do this. The Morrigan assured me that she would help me with this.
A couple nights later as I meditated, the Morrigan appeared before me and said "OK I have your parents here. Tell them what you've wanted to say for so long." And so I did. I told them how I hated them for 'hiding' the truth from me, that I forgave them for what they did, but that they needed to know how I felt. And after that I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I came out of that meditation feeling drained but also knowing I'd done something very important to my emotional well-being.
A couple days later, I was in a San Francisco bookstore in the New Age section when the Morrigan again spoke to me. "Remember how any articles about people with cancer freak you out, how it makes you cry?" she asked. I said "Yeah?" "OK," she said, "You need to lose that too." I was thinking, "Oh man not again!" I went into a MacDonalds to grab a Coke. I could imagine her sitting across the table from me, holding my hand and gently telling me how this was not helping me either. So I took a deep breath and said "OK." The next day I started reading an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about a Chronicle employee battling a rare form of cancer. I managed to read the whole story without losing it like I usually did. Yes it still affected me as it was at times a sad and also courageous story of this young woman's fight. But I was able to read it without tearing up.
A few days later, I began experiencing the gamut of emotions about the work I had done. Fear, sadness, anger, you name it. It was rough the next few days but I got through it. I wouldn't have come to terms with it and dealt with it without the help of the Morrigan. Morrigan, the war and death goddess! I can still see the Cheshire cat smile she gave me when I asked her about that. And yet I saw a nurturing side to her. Which I was OK with, I never refuse a goddess' help nor do I ask a lot of questions when it does happen.
I wouldn't have thought more about all this until a few months later when I saw the Tribe.net thread about the Morrigan I mentioned at the start of this essay. It seems others had a problem with this duality that they saw. I read one post and it seemed to say, "The Morrigan is a war goddess, dammit that's just the way it is." Ok yeah whatever. I read a couple more of the posts, rolled my eyes and decided it was best to let others argue the point. Too many times all people seem to do in online forums is argue. It's one reason I've unsubscribed from most mailing lists I'm on and try (but don't succeed) in keeping the list of Tribes on Tribe.net I'm on for example down to a manageable one. Too many people always wanting me to join their brand new tribes. grrrr..but I digress.
At Pantheacon 2006, I attended the lecture Isaac Bonewits gave called Danu, Bridget, and the Morrigan, which touched briefly upon this duality. It seems that yes the Morrigan in old myths was indeed a war and death goddess, but she did have a nurturing side to her. It's just over the centuries, other myths that showed her other side "disappeared," most likely because the powers that be decided that they only wanted people to know The Morrigan as an evil, war goddess. Gee, that never happens to any deity does it? *g* I found that interesting and it made sense to me. Why would I have seen a side of her no one else ever sees?
The next morning, I saw Mr Bonewits having breakfast and I mentioned the online thread and how silly I felt it was. And then (borrowing heavily from the old Certs TV commercial) I said, "The Morrigan is a war and death goddess! No, she's a nurturing goddess! Hey, she's TWO goddesses in one!" He just about fell over laughing when I said that. But he got my point.
Perhaps it's too simplistic to expect people to suddenly change their mindset about any god or goddess when for too many years (and/or centuries), they've been portrayed a certain way. Gee imagine that, expecting Pagans to act a certain way or change a long held belief. *g* I certainly wouldn't try. I have other more important things to do.
I've learned over the years not to get too settled in my thinking because when I do that, I get hit with a surprise. If you'd told me back in my "born-again" days 20 years ago, I'd be Pagan now I would have thought you were crazy. And yet here I am.
So is the Morrigan a war & death goddess or a nurturing goddess? Yes.
©Copyright Todd H., 2006