- Also known as: Morrigu, Morrigna
- Origin: Ireland
- Birds: Corvids: Crow, Raven, Roo
- Creatures: The Morrigan owns a herd of enchanted magickal cattle
- Color: Red
- Day: Samhain
The Morrigan is a Celtic goddess of battle, strife, and fertility. Her name translates as either “Great Queen” or “Phantom Queen,” and both epithets are entirely appropriate for her. The Morrigan appears as both a single goddess and a trio of goddesses.
The Morrigan is a powerful spirit of birth, death, sex, destruction, and fertility. She is among the goddesses associated with Ireland’s well-being and sovereignty. Her name is variously translated as:
- Great Queen
- Sea Queen
- Phantom Queen
- Terrifying Queen
She is an oracular, prophetic spirit who can reveal the future and anyone’s destiny – that is, if she feels like it. The Morrigan is a headstrong, passionate goddess who does as she pleases. She is among those goddesses serving as Washers at the Ford
The Morrigan may be one spirit, a triple goddess, or three manifestations in one. The Morrigan may name a triad of distinct goddesses – usually Badbh, Nemain, and Morrigan, but sometimes Macha is included.
The Morrigan is most famous as a war goddess. She may instigate battle or meddle with it. The concept of minding her own business does not exist: Battle is her business. Anything that captures her interest is her business. The Morrigan is also renowned for giving sound battle advice. She advised the Dagda on how to deal with the fumorians.
The Morrigan determines war’s outcome, bestowing victory to whichever army or warrior she favors, but she has a reputation for being capricious. Her favors can never be taken for granted. Her frenzied war fury unnerves armies. Her shriek is deadly.
The Morrigan frequently appears in the ornithological guise of a hooded crow. She is one of the Tuatha Dé Danann (“Tribe of the goddess Danu” or the land of the Faries) and she helped defeat the Firbolg at the First Battle of Mag Tuireadh and the Fomorians at the Second Battle of Mag Tuireadh. She is often read about in books that are about the Fae.
Her many manifestations include, but are not limited to:
- A beautiful woman
- A hag.
- A crow
- A deer (doe or stag)
- A white heifer with red ears and no horns
- A black eel long enough to coil three times around the legs of Cu Chulain, a great man.
She appeared to the hero Cu Chulainn (son of the god Lugh) and offered her love to him. When he failed to recognize her and rejected her, she told him that she would hinder him when he was in battle. When Cu Chulainn was eventually killed, she settled on his shoulder in the form of a crow. Cu’s misfortune was that he never recognized the feminine power of sovereignty that she offered to him.
She appeared to him on at least four occasions and each time he failed to recognize her.
- When she appeared to him and declared her love for him.
- After he had wounded her, she appeared to him as an old hag and he offered his blessings to her, which caused her to be healed.
- On his way to his final battle, he saw the Washer at the Ford, who declared that she was washing the clothes and arms of Cu Chulainn, who would soon be dead.
- When he was forced by three hags (the Morrigan in her triple aspect) to break a taboo of eating dog flesh.
More than just a battle goddess, the Morigan is also a goddess of life, birth, and sex. She is sometimes identified as a mermaid. On Samhain, the beginning of the Celtic dark half of the year, the Morrigan stands astride a river with one foot on either bank to engage in the Great Rite – sacred, transformative, ritual sex – with the Dagda (Ireland’s All-Father).
- The Encyclopedia of Spirits
The dark powers emanate from the dark aspects of the Goddess and the God. This is the power of the Crone and the Lord of the Shadows; the Hag and the Hunter. The dark powers are more than just a personification of the negative influences in life, however, and the energy raised through the dark imagery of the Divine is very potent. As such, be careful what you do.
The Dark Goddess is manifested in mythology as various kinds of death crones, wise hags, devastation, war, disease and barrenness of the land. She is the Bone Mother who collects the skulls of the dead for the ossuary. In Irish mythology, Morrigan and Nemain would be considered Dark Goddesses in that they are associated with War and Death.
The Dark God is seen in mythology as the silent host to the dead in his underground realm of gray shadows and deep sleep, knowing of secrets and wise of the universe, death, war, destruction, gatherer of souls and harbinger of chaos. He is the Hunter, whose wild hunt, or raid, ingathers the energies of the soul.
There is sense to this ancient cosmology. Cults of ancient times focused on the dark aspects of the Divine so that their followers would move past their fear of mortality to seize upon the recognition of their eternal immortality.
In Irish mythology, Crom Cruach, and Donn would be considered “Dark Gods” or “Dark Powers” because Donn was the god of the dead Milsians. At death, Mannannan Mac Lyr carried the soul to Tech Dunn or the House of Donn. In texts like the Dinsenchus there is references to Crom being considered to be a dark god, contrasting a light god, in a way that is very similar to the Slavic god Czernobog.
As a power, the Dark Lord is the Chaos from which Order must evolve. Yet there is no ending to this cycle, Order resolves again as Chaos to be reborn as New Order. The Lord of Shadows as Death becomes the process of new life by gathering the energy of dying life, and the Passage into a new material form is through the Crone.
In the aspect of light, the god dies willingly by entering the ground to bring his vitality to crops that will be harvested to feed humanity. Through this selfless act, he revitalises the earth. He does this through the Crone. The marriage of Lugh in August, celebrated as Lughnasadh, is the start of the descent into Mother Earth. Once there, he is transformed into the son within the goddess. Hence, the pagan god is both Father and Son, which is yet another concept that Christianity absorbed from the pagans. The harvest comes, the seasons change, and the Mother becomes the Crone of Autumn and Winter, only to be transformed into Mother again at Winter Solstice with the rebirth of the Sun (her son, the god). See Also: Cernunnos, Green Man and Herne.
The womb-tomb is the domain of the Crone and is a place of great power. This is where the transformation takes place, with energies of death given repose and returned to form as the energies of life. When this power is confronted and recognised, there comes a freedom from fear, a new sense of independence and a recognition of personal responsibility. We are not judged in Death by the Lady and the Lord, but we are Self-judged. From the quietude of the realm, we move through her into new life. That is the balanced, pagan theme of the cauldron, the god of self-sacrifice and the resurrecting goddess. It is this power of the goddess that significantly differentiates the old and new religions.
Thus, in an historical sense, while the Dark Lord guides the chaos of social and cultural changes through the Crone into a new life, the Crone becomes not the terror of death, but the joyful passage to new vibrant societies through the death of the outmoded and stagnant ones. She is Fata Morgana, the Huntress Diana, Minerva, Cerridwen, Sati and Kali. He is Pluto, Hades, Cerunnos, Herne the Hunter, Set and Shiva. But the names may not convey the image needed by the practitioner unless you are able to move beyond the modern association of darkness as evil.
By accepting that the dark powers are in balance with the light powers, you are able to utilise the wholeness of the Power. The dichotomy of good and evil do not apply to what simply is. Energy can be drawn to the light or to the dark; thus death provides the soul’s passage to whichever realm the soul-energy has been drawn. Energy is always in motion, and flows back and forth between light and dark. What at one time is light energy turns and becomes dark energy. Through the practice of the Craft, the witch directs this energy for beneficial purpose. To do otherwise, is to inflict Self-harm.
To face the Underworld and the power of the dark aspect of the Divine is to understand that dark is part of the necessary blend of light and not something to fear. The unifying of the dark and the light within the individual offers wholeness and peace, which may then be transferred to external contacts.
From: Green Witchcraft II
- Also known as: Bella Donna; Duellona
- Origin: Rome; possibly Etruscan
- Feast Day: June 3
Bellona, Goddess of War and Conquest, was once extremely popular with Roman soldiers. Roman senate meetings pertaining to foreign wars were conducted in Bellona’s temple on the Capitoline Hill.
Bellona’s name derives from the same root as bellicose and belligerent. Some consider it safer to call her Bella Donna. Bella Donna, literally “Beautiful Lady,” contains the name Bellona within it. It may be a euphemistic pun so that one could refer to Bellona without actually calling upon this beautiful but fierce lady.
Classical Roman mythology classifies Bellona, Lady of War, as belonging to the family of Mars. She is variously described as the wife or sister of Mars, less often his daughter, and sometimes his charioteer or nurse.
- Favored people: Soldiers, those who battle.
- Manifestation: A beautiful woman with long windswept hair, girded for battle.
- Attributes: Scourge; whip (to whip troops into frenzy); torch (to light her opponents’ funeral pyres).
- Sacred plant: Belladonna, (atropa belladonna), a beautiful but lethal killer, shares her essence.
- Sacred Sites: In addition to her Roman temple, Bellona had a temple outside York, England, and a shrine in Arfeuilles, France, now home of the Black Madonna of the Hollies. She was venerated wherever Roman soldiers traveled.
This goddess did not play a significant role in either myth or legend, and her worship appears to have been promoted in Rome chiefly by the family of the Claudii, whose Sabine origin, together with their use of the name of Nero, has suggested an identification of Bellona with the Sabine war goddess Nerio.
Her temple at Rome, dedicated by Appius Claudius Caecus (296 B.C.) in fulfillment of a a vow during the Third Samnite War with the Samnites and Etruscans, stood in the Campus Martius, near the Flaminian Circus and Porta Carmentalis (the Carmenta gate), and outside the gates of the city. It was there that the senate met to discuss a general’s claim to a triumph, and to receive ambassadors from foreign states. In front of it was the columna bellica, where the fetialis ceremony of declaring war was performed, in which a spear was cast against the distant enemy.
This native Italian goddess should not be mistaken for the Asiatic Bellona, whose worship was introduced into Rome apparently by Sulla, to whom she had appeared, urging him to march to Rome and bathe in the blood of his enemies. Her feast day was changed to the 24th of March, after the confusion of the Roman Bellona with her Asiatic namesake. See Day of Blood
- Titles: The Mighty One, Great of Magic, Lady of Terror, Lady of Action, The One Before Whom Evil Flees, Mistress Dread, Lady of Flame, The Scarlet Woman
- Element: Fire
- Color: Red
- Consort: Ptah
- Son: Nefertem
- Origin: Upper Egypt
- Attribute: A two headed snake; Sekhmet holds one head in each hand. Also arrows
- Manifestation: Sekhmet manifests as a woman with a lion’s head or as a lioness.
- Feast Day: Feast of Sekhmet – Egyptian New Year’s Day – Jan 7
Sekmet, lioness goddess, epitomizes the blazing, scorching power of the sun. She is the goddess of war, justice, destruction, and healing. Her name may derive from a root word meaning “to be strong, powerful, mighty, or violent.” Sekhmet is among the fiery manifestations of the Eye of Ra.
She is a fierce guardian goddess of Upper Egypt. Her hot breath created the desert. Sekhmet was associated with plagues and pestilential diseases; illnesses that blew in on the desert winds. Sensational descriptions of Sekhmet tend to emphasize her destructive aspects, but she was also among Egypt’s most significant healing deities and remains an active healer today.
Sekhmet was represented by the searing heat of the mid-day sun (in this aspect she was sometimes called “Nesert“, the flame) and was a terrifying goddess. However, for her friends she could avert plague and cure disease. She was the patron of Physicians, and Healers and her priests became known as skilled doctors. As a result, the fearsome deity sometimes called the “lady of terror” was also known as “lady of life“. Sekhmet was mentioned a number of times in the spells of The Book of the Dead as both a creative and destructive force, but above all, she is the protector of Ma´at (balance or justice) named “The One Who Loves Ma´at and Who Detests Evil“.
Most spirits must be asked before they will openly intervene in someone’s life. (It’s possible that many perform acts of rescue anonymously). Sekhmet appears when invoked. She is also renowned for appearing in dreams and visions in order to perform successful healings even when no one summoned her, at least not consciously. Instead, Sekhmet recognized a need and personally took the initiative.
If Sekhmet heals you without first being asked, offerings are in order. Sometimes this is a one time favor but it may also be her way of extending matronage. If you wish to accept her offer, then create an altar or make some other gesture of acknowledgement.
- Beer by itself or blended with pomegranate juice
- Silver medical tools
Sekhmet heals all illnesses except those of the eyes. She is associated with blood ailments. She has dominion over the menstrual cycle and women’s reproductive systems. Sekhmet should not be bothered for trifles, but she is an intensely powerful and proactive healer. She is the matron goddess of reiki.