Early on in my practice of Wicca, I had no teacher. I didn’t even really have the internet because I started my journey before that became a big thing.
I did have the library.
I was very fortunate that my library had a decent selection of books on Wicca, Witchcraft, Magic, and Paganism. Some city libraries are sorely lacking anything in these areas that isn’t written from a very antagonistic point of view. But, all the books I could find talked about how gentle and loving the Goddess of the Craft was and how Pagans in general, and Wiccans in particular, should be peaceful and pacifist.
One author, the first one I read who even ventured into the territory of mentioning the darker gods and goddesses, admonished that they shouldn’t be worked with and that it was best not to get involved with them at all. Well, this author was highly respected, and I had enjoyed the books of his I either borrowed or bought, so since I didn’t really know any better, I went with it because I thought that was what Witches were supposed to be like.
But that itched. It itched like scales behind my eyes that I just couldn’t get to. By this time, I had decided that this was the path I was meant to walk because it had spoken so clearly to me and felt so right. But now it was starting to feel… off.
While I was experiencing this, I had the opportunity to attend my first public Wiccan gathering — at a store in Columbus, Ohio that is unfortunately no longer in business. It was incredible, and after that, I now had a focus and example of what all the stuff I’d been reading about in books and fumbling my way through on my own really did and felt like. It also gave me the opportunity to meet the people who became my first teachers and mentors.
Have you ever heard of something called cognitive dissonance? It’s when something you have built up in your mind as true comes into conflict with another thing that is different or opposite but also true. It’s a very strange feeling to have. Here’s how mine happened:
I’d been studying and reading and working things out on my own as a newly-dedicated Witch.
I participated in my first gathering with other Witches and got to see what it was like.
I met experienced, skilled, knowledgeable teachers who I began studying with and learning a lot from.
These teachers were Witches– smart, caring, compassionate, and genuinely kind and friendly people. I spent time with them, met their families, visited their homes, played with their pets. I never doubted who or what they were. I’m a very skeptical person and a critical thinker — which is really how I recognized my experience of cognitive dissonance for what it was — but they taught and worked and acted differently than the books said Witches taught, worked, and acted. Mainly, they understood and accepted working with the dark gods and goddesses that the softer authors had cautioned against.
I had to try and work out for myself which way I was going to go with things. Stay with the books, as they had been good to me so far.
On the other hand… Rituals I attended and people I talked to led in a slightly different area, but both of these things were still true to me.
It was in one of these lessons/rites that I was introduced to the Morrígan for the first time.
Morrígan is dark and brutal. She’s terrifying, awe-inspiring, powerful, strong, and currently one of the more popular goddesses in Neopaganism and Witchcraft. Her areas of specialization are battle and war, death, magic, sexuality and passion, and sovereignty. Her name has a few accepted spellings and translations are slightly different depending upon which spelling is in use. But the most commonly accepted translations are Great Queen and Phantom Queen.
She is no joke.
For me, Morrígan’s power and presence feel like hot thunder mixed with the earth-ripping force of a tornado.
Like many Celtic deities, she is a triune being — three goddesses in one. To my understanding, Morrígna is the name for the trinity of goddesses and using the name Morrígan could mean any one of the three, or all of them together. It’s confusing at times, but deity trinities usually are.
The trifecta has variations, but the one I know her as are Babd — the Crone goddess of death, Nemain — the frenzied goddess of war, and Macha — the enchantress goddess of magic and sovereignty.
I met Morrígan at a very difficult time in my life, which I think was her plan. I had married my high school first love and we’d been married for two years when I discovered he had been unfaithful. The breakup and subsequent divorce that followed was one of the most shattering things I have ever endured. Couple that with the cognitive dissonance I had going on, and it should be understandable why I had a horrible crisis of identity and faith at this time.
This is how Morrígan works, though. She comes when you need her lessons, and she forces you to deal with them. Other goddesses hold your hand in tenderness and sympathy, but when Morrígan takes your hand she puts a sword in it.
Omnia is one of my favorite Pagan musical groups. This is them performing their song “Morrigan” at Castlefest.