The Morrighan

 Crow Comments & Graphics


                    Irish or Celtic Morrigan

Name: Morrigan / Morrighan / Morrigu / Morgan / 'Great Queen'/'Phantom Queen'/ Queen of fairies, Matron and Queen of Witches.

Father:  Aed Ernmas

Dark Goddess, Crone, Battle, warrior

Element Earth- Realm North

Symbols- Crows/ Ravens/ Wolf/ Horse/ Vulures/ black dogs

Battle weapons, sword, athame, sickle, caulron

Waning and dark Moon

Colores Red and black, silvery-grey

Herbs Mugwart,  Trees, Yew. and Willow

Stones Moonstone and Clear Crystal

Goddess of Magick, Divination, inspiration healing, banishing  Shapeshifting. Goddess of war, death, and life

Sacred to Her is blood, esp menstral blood,red bloody meat , raw, red wine.

Morrighan is also closly associated with Tuatha Dé Danann

She is Goddess of rivers and fords




Crow Comments & Graphics



Morrigan Healing: An Exploration of an Archetype

Reprinted From Sheela-Na-Gig Magazine

'All that is perverse and horrible among the supernatural powers', A Goddess of battles who appears in the form of a scavenging scald-crow or a ragged winged raven, glorying in death and battle'.

This is the commonly held image of the Morrigan in folklore and story telling and in this form she plays a significant part in both the mythological story cycle, and the Heroic cycle.

Before the Battle of Magh Tuireadh, she promises Lugh that she will pursue any who seek to flee from battle. She draws 'the blood of his heart' from the Formoire leader Innneach stealing his power, and offers two handfuls of this blood to his foes at the Ford of Destruction.

She also prophecies the Tain and seems to be there at significant points, disturbing and troubling its unfolding. In her first meeting with Cuchulain she is revengeful when her advances are rebuffed and she is there at his death.

She is, indeed, portrayed as wild and war loving. One late text describes her as "shrieking triumphantly over fighting soldiers....a lean hag, speedily leaping over the points of their weapons and shields." So she comes down into our time as a figure presiding over death and destruction or dwindled into dark and fearful figure, leading spirits out of the Otherworld cave entrance of Cruachain at Samhain and the dark enemy of children's stories.

But it is not just as a wild haired grey and nimble hag, pouring curses, hailstones and fiery showers on the assembled enemies of her people that she enters into the old stories. She may equally appear as a strong and beautiful woman as when she meets and mates with the Dagda before the battle against the Formoire.

A crimson robed, flame-headed warrior , she appears coming out of the Sid of Cruachain bringing a red eared white heifer to the brown Bull of Cuailnge.

".....a chariot harnessed with a chestnut horse. The horse had but one leg and the pole of its chariot passed through its body,.....Within the chariot was a woman, her eyebrows red and a crimson mantle round her. Her mantle fell behind her between the wheels of the chariot so that it swept along the ground........"

She appears to Cuchulain in similar form calling herself the King of Buan's daughter and offering him her treasure and herself . She is also a powerful shape-shifter appearing as a white heifer, an eel, a wolf, an otter as well as the more usual crow, black bird or raven.

It is generally accepted that Morrigan (Mor Rioghan, Morrigu) has the meaning of Great Queen or possibly Phantom, i.e. Otherworld Queen. It is certainly a title rather than a name. In the glossary to the Battle of Magh Tureadh her names are given as Danu and Ana, (Anu). Now Ana is one of the oldest names of the Great Mother Goddess and in that or similar forms the name appears in mythologies from all over the world. She was Anna-Nin, Lady of Heaven in Sumeria, Anat in Canaan, Anatha in Syria, Nanna in the Norse lands, Hannah, Di-ana, Inanna, Anna Perena, Grandmother time; the list is endless. She is the Great-mother, the Grand-mother and it is hardly surprising that She is remembered in Christian mythology as the Grandmother of Christ.

In Celtic mythology she is remembered as Anu, Danu, Mother of Her people, the Tuatha De Danaan. Her name is commemorated in the landscape, as in the Paps of Anu in Killarney, and elsewhere. (There are small hills known as "The Paps of the Morrigan" in Co. Meat). Anu, Danu, is the giver of Gifts, of inspiration of brightness. but she is also the bring of sleep and darkness. Danu's children revered the night and gave darkness precedence over day. And in folklore she becomes both the bright fairy woman, Erin and the black 'witch' Anis . As Great-Mother she encompasses both light and dark, both giving and receiving back.

If She is the 'Great Queen' of Ireland then the stories will show evidence of her sovereignty. There are many stories of a prospective king who is met and tested by a woman who changes from old to young, from hideous to beautiful These encounters often take place near water so that it is not unexpected to find that the Dagda mates with the Morrigan as she stand bathing with one foot on each bank of the river.

It is interesting that when she offers herself to Cuchulain he refuses her 'queenship'. Is the story seeing Cuchulain as a "solar hero", a patriarchal warrior type who no longer seeks the mating with the Goddess of the land? Perhaps, although other aspects of his myth do not wholly bear this out. Even so the Cuchulain story belongs to the 'heroic' rather than the 'mythological' cycle.

These great Goddesses are always triple and the Morrigan is no exception. She is usually viewed as one of a triad of sisters, including Badhbh, and Macha.

Macha is also a Goddess of the Land. Besides the well known story of her race with the king's horses and her birthing curse on the warriors of Ulster there is also the story of how she laid out the boundaries of Emain Macha with her broach pin. She is the horse Goddess and protector of her people.

Nemain is another known war Goddess as is Fea. At the battle of Magh Tuireadh they are all mentioned as wives of Nuada so perhaps they are all aspects of the Goddess of the land evoked for protection.

And why have they remained, remembered only as Goddesses of war and battle? The Goddesses of the Sacred Land, and all land is sacred, are givers of prosperity and fertility. Their chosen ones were pledged to uphold and cherish the gifts of the Goddess.

Maybe there are clues in the stories. Macha's secrets are raped and her gifts abused through pride and jealousy. When she is forced to race against her own natural cycles and to give birth before her time her blessing becomes a curse. When Cuchulain refuses the Morrigan's gifts he begins a cycle of competition rather than co-operation. Is it any wonder that she is perceived as angry? He wounds her in her shape shifted forms and is only healed when he consents to drink from the teats of her cow and offers a blessing. He accepts her nourishment and healing takes place.

It is clear that in the stories, conquest of the land becomes paramount. and therefore conquest of the Goddess by whatever name she is known. How can it be otherwise when She is the land. Where we seek to abuse, there we also fear. She has become the recipient of our fearful projections and so becomes fearful herself.

So why Morrigan healing? If we regard her as dark and fearful then we will treat the Sacred land in the same way. If we see her as guide and protectress then she will grant us the clear vision of her ravens. Her healing will be cleansing, not easy maybe, because as the earth rots away and transforms all that is dead, or as fire consumes and transmutes static energies, or as the scavengers pick clean, so her cleansing is to the bone. Not easy, but what she transforms is cleansed to health.

Remember that after the Tain, the cattle raid, it is she who tells the trees and the rivers the outcome. It is she, who after the battle of Magh Tuireadh, sings the song of blessing and regeneration.

Peace up to the skies;
The skies down to the earth;
The earth under the skies;
Strength to everyone.

A Goddess of natural cycle then, And with the natural cycles of the land so threatened and damaged the battle aspect cannot be ignored. But if we are cooperating with her and not in competition then any conflict will become part of the healing process, not an end in itself.

The Morrigan; Goddess of no pain, no gain.

And why should I write of her now at this brightening turn on the path of the year? Brightness, energy; She comes armed and crimson robed. But as traditionally the young warrior was armed and blessed by the mother, as Scathach armed Cuchulain, gave him training and focus and let him go, so the Goddess gives us the tools and the focus we need to fulfill our tasks, blesses us and lets us go. We choose how we use them.

She gives us the knowledge; it is our will to survive. - Chris Thompson


        Celtic Raven Goddess


Cúchulainn and the Morrigan



Cúchulainn attracted the attention of the Morrigan (Celtic Goddess of Birth, Death and War), because of his exploits.  While sleeping deeply after an exhausting day of single combats, Cúchulainn was startled awake by a great shout coming from the north, which in Celtic legend is the realm of the dead, justice and the element of Earth.  He ordered his charioteer Laeg to get the chariot ready for them to seek out the source of this strange cry.

They travelled north and met a woman riding towards them in another chariot, she wore a red dress, a long red cloak, had red hair and eyebrows and carried a long grey spear.  Cúchulainn greeted this woman and asked her who she was, and she replied that she was daughter of a king called Buan  (the Eternal One) who had fallen in love with him after hearing about his deeds.  Cúchulainn did not recognise the woman as an incarnation of the goddess and brusquely replied that he had better things to do than concern himself with a woman's love.  The Morrigan replied that she had been helping him throughout his combats and that she would continue to do so in return for his love.  Cúchulainn arrogantly replied that he did not need the help of any woman in battle.  "If you will not have my love and help, then you shall have my hatred and enmity" she said.   "When you are in combat with an enemy as good as yourself, I shall come against you in many shapes and hinder you, until your opponent has the advantage."

Cúchulainn drew his sword to attack this threatening woman, but saw only a crow sitting on a branch.  The crow was the totem bird of the goddess and Cúchulainn finally realised that he had rejected the help of the fearsome Morrigan.

On the following day Cúchulainn met a great warrior called Loch in battle.  Loch scorned him as a beardless youth and refused to fight him, so Cúchulainn rubbed blackberry juice into his chin until it appeared darkened with a growing beard he also said an incantation over some grasses and they adhered to his chin.  Then he found out what it was like to be on the wrong side of the Morrigan.  While he was in combat with Loch, she came against him three times.   The first was in the shape of a red-eared heifer who tried to knock him over; the second was in the shape of an eel that wrapped itself about his legs as he stood in the stream; and the third time she came against him as a grey wolf that grabbed his sword arm.  Each time his opponent gained an advantage and managed to strike Cúchulainn, however he also managed to strike back at the goddess in her forms, he broke the heifer's leg, he trampled on the eel and poked out the eye of the wolf.  In spite of his worsening odds against Loch, he finally managed to kill him with his magical spear - the gae bulga with its thirty barbs.

After he had killed Loch, the Morrigan appeared to him again in the form of an old crone who was milking a cow with three teats.  Cúchulainn requested a drink of milk from her, she gave him a drink from the first teat but that did not quench his thirst, so she gave him a drink from the second teat but still his thirst was unquenched and then she gave him a drink from the third teat and finally his thirst was quenched and he was grateful to the old woman and asked what reward she wanted.  She requested that he heal the wounds that he had inflicted on her while she was in animal guises as only Cúchulainn could heal the wounds which he caused, which he graciously did. 

She appeared to him after that on the day of his death in the form of three old crones who cajole him into eating a piece of cooked dog which was a food forbidden to him, thus he broke a geas which had been imposed on him and this was extremely inauspicious.  After he had been killed in the Battle of Muirthemne she appeared as the crow which landed on his shoulder.

 Crow Comments & Graphics



The Morrígan also appears in texts of the Mythological Cycle. In the 12th century pseudohistorical compilation Lebor Gabála Érenn she is listed among the Tuatha Dé Danann as one of the daughters of Ernmas, granddaughter of Nuada.[19]

The first three daughters of Ernmas are given as Ériu, Banba, and Fódla. Their names are synonyms for Ireland, and they were married to Mac Cuill, Mac Cécht, and Mac Gréine, the last three Tuatha Dé Danann kings of Ireland. Associated with the land and kingship, they probably represent a triple goddess of sovereignty. Next come Ernmas's other three daughters: the Badb, Macha, and the Morrígan. A quatrain describes the three as wealthy, "springs of craftiness" and "sources of bitter fighting". The Morrígan's name is said to be Anann, and she had three sons, Glon, Gaim, and Coscar. According to Geoffrey Keating's 17th century History of Ireland, Ériu, Banba, and Fódla worshipped the Badb, Macha, and the Morrígan respectively, suggesting that the two triads of goddesses may be seen as equivalent.[20]

The Morrígan also appears in Cath Maige Tuireadh (The Battle of Mag Tuired).[21] On Samhain she keeps a tryst with the Dagda before the battle against the Fomorians. When he meets her she is washing herself, standing with one foot on either side of the river Unius. In some sources she is believed to have created the river. After they have sex, the Morrígan promises to summon the magicians of Ireland to cast spells on behalf of the Tuatha Dé, and to destroy Indech, the Fomorian king, taking from him "the blood of his heart and the kidneys of his valour". Later, we are told, she would bring two handfuls of his blood and deposit them in the same river (however, we are also told later in the text that Indech was killed by Ogma).

As battle is about to be joined, the Tuatha Dé leader, Lug, asks each what power they bring to the battle. The Morrígan's reply is difficult to interpret, but involves pursuing, destroying and subduing. When she comes to the battlefield she chants a poem, and immediately the battle breaks and the Fomorians are driven into the sea. After the battle she chants another poem celebrating the victory and prophesying the end of the world.

In another story she lures away the bull of a woman called Odras, who follows her to the otherworld via the cave of Cruachan. When she falls asleep, the Morrígan turns her into a pool of water.[22]

 Nature and functions

The Morrígan is often considered a triple goddess, but her supposed triple nature is ambiguous and inconsistent. Sometimes she appears as one of three sisters, the daughters of Ernmas: the Morrígan, the Badb and Macha. Sometimes the trinity consists of the Badb, Macha and Nemain, collectively known as the Morrígan, or in the plural as the Morrígna. Occasionally Fea or Anu also appear in various combinations. However the Morrígan also frequently appears alone, and her name is sometimes used interchangeably with the Badb, with no third "aspect" mentioned.[citation needed]

The Morrígan is usually interpreted as a "war goddess": W. M. Hennessey's "The Ancient Irish Goddess of War," written in 1870, was influential in establishing this interpretation.[23] Her role often involves premonitions of a particular warrior's violent death, suggesting a link with the Banshee of later folklore. This connection is further noted by Patricia Lysaght: "In certain areas of Ireland this supernatural being is, in addition to the name banshee, also called the badhb".[24]

It has also been suggested that she was closely tied to Irish männerbund groups[25] (described as "bands of youthful warrior-hunters, living on the borders of civilized society and indulging in lawless activities for a time before inheriting property and taking their places as members of settled, landed communities")[26] and that these groups may have been in some way dedicated to her. If true, her worship may have resembled that of Perchta groups in Germanic areas.[27]

However, Máire Herbert[28] has argued that "war per se is not a primary aspect of the role of the goddess", and that her association with cattle suggests her role was connected to the earth, fertility and sovereignty; she suggests that her association with war is a result of a confusion between her and the Badb, who she argues was originally a separate figure. She can be interpreted as providing political or military aid, or protection to the king — acting as a goddess of sovereignty, not necessarily a war goddess.

There is a burnt mound site in County Tipperary known as Fulacht na Mór Ríoghna ("cooking pit of the Mórrígan"). The fulachta sites are found in wild areas, and usually associated with outsiders such as the Fianna and the above-mentioned männerbund groups, as well as with the hunting of deer. The cooking connection also suggests to some a connection with the three mythical hags who cook the meal of dogflesh that brings the hero Cúchulainn to his doom. The Dá Chich na Morrigna ("two breasts of the Mórrígan"), a pair of hills in County Meath, suggest to some a role as a tutelary goddess, comparable to Danu or Anu, who has her own hills in County Kerry. Other goddesses known to have similar hills are Áine and Grian of County Limerick who, in addition to a tutelary function, also have solar attributes.

 Arthurian legend

There have been attempts by some modern authors of fiction to link the Arthurian character Morgan le Fay with the Morrígan. Morgan first appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Vita Merlini (The Life of Merlin) in the 12th century. However, while the creators of the literary character of Morgan may have been somewhat inspired by the much older tales of the goddess, the relationship ends there. Scholars such as Rosalind Clark hold that the names are unrelated, the Welsh "Morgan" (Wales being the source of Arthurian legend) being derived from root words associated with the sea, while the Irish "Morrígan" has its roots either in a word for "terror" or a word for "greatness".[29


Crow Comments & Graphics

The Guises of the Morrigan: The Irish Goddess of Sex & Battle: Her Myths, Powers and Mysteries (Paperback)
Author: Rankine, David and Sorita D'Este

"Over his head is shrieking
A lean hag quickly hopping
Over the points of their weapons and shields
She is the grey-haired Morrigan"
Dubhdiadh, The Druid

The Morrígan is the pre-eminent and most powerful of the Celtic Goddesses. She is the Bestower of Sovereignty, and it is she who shapes the land and rules the faery as Queen.

She is a Goddess of both sex and battle, and she uses her potent magic and sorcery to shapeshift, assuming the forms of numerous wild animals. In this book the many parallels between The Morrígan and other Goddesses and figures from both British and Gallic folklore, including Morgan Le Fay, the Banshee, Black Annis, Danu, Epona, Grian, Modron, Nantosuelta and Rhiannon are explored.

Her manifold roles, titles and guises weave a rich and colourful tapestry showing the continued dominion of The Morrígan in mythology, folklore and literature.

She was the tutelary Goddess to the ill-fated hero Cu Chulainn; she was the Faery Queen and the Washer at the Ford.

She was also the wise crone the Cailleach, and the battle crow Badb, the frenzied Nemain and the Warrior Queen Macha.

Her roles and guises which are brought together for the first time in this carefully researched volume, the work of many years of study, demonstrate clearly the significant status that she held in the ancient Celtic world and continues to enjoy today.


Morrigan's Nest

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