Deities Associated with Tuesday – The Morrighan, Celtic Goddess of War and Sovereignty

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The Morrighan, Celtic Goddess of War and Sovereignty

In Celtic mythology, the Morrighan is known as a goddess of battle and war. However, there’s a bit more to her than this. Also referred to as Morrígu, Morríghan, or Mor-Ríoghain, she is called the “washer at the ford,” because if a warrior saw her washing his armor in the stream, it meant he was to die that day. She is the goddess who determines whether or not you walk off the field of battle, or are carried off upon your shield.

In later Irish folklore, this role would be delegated to the bain sidhe, who foresaw the death of members of a specific family or clan.

The Morrighan often appears in the form of a crow or raven, or is seen accompanied by a group of them. In the stories of the Ulster cycle, she is shown as a cow and a wolf as well. The connection with these two animals suggest that in some areas, she may have been connected to fertility and land.

In some legends, the Morrighan is considered a triune, or triple goddess, but there are a lot of inconsistencies to this. She often appears as a sister to the Badb and Macha.

In some Neopagan traditions, she is portrayed in her role as destroyer, representing the Crone aspect of the Maiden/Mother/Crone cycle, but this seems to be incorrect when one looks at her original Irish history. Some scholars point out that war specifically is not a primary aspect of the Morrighan, and that her connection to cattle presents her as a goddess of sovereignty. The theory is that she can be seen as a deity who guides or protects a king.

In modern literature, there has been some linking of the Morrighan to the character of Morgan Le Fay in the Arthurian legend. It appears, though, that this is more fanciful thinking than anything else. Although Morgan le Fay appears in the Vita Merlini in the twelfth century, a narrative of the life of Merlin by Geoffrey of Monmouth, it’s unlikely that there’s a connection to the Morrighan. Scholars point out that the name “Morgan” is Welsh, and derived from root words connected to the sea. “Morrighan” is Irish, and is rooted in words that are associated with “terror” or “greatness.” In other words, the names sound similar, but the relationship ends there.

Patti Wigington, Paganism/Wicca Expert
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Irish: The Veneration of the Holy Thorn Tree

Irish Holiday honoring sacred wells. Put some fresh spring water on your altar today. Drink some as a prelude to any healing work or for trance induction prior to Otherworld journeying.

Fairy Day. According to Irish folklore, it is on this day that the mischievous fairy folk emerge from their hiding places. To prevent human children from being stolen by the fairies and replaced by grotesque changelings, an offering of tea and bread must be left on the doorstep for the little people. For protection against fairies while traveling (especially through heavily wooded areas or open fields), wear your coat inside out. This is said to cause them such great confusion that they are unable to cause any trouble.

Ireland: Hawthorn Month – Sacred to Goddess Sheila Na Gig, the protector of the poor. Believers hang old clothes on hawthorn bushes all month beginning on this day to avert poverty.

Greek: The fourth day of every month is sacred to the Goddess Aphrodite and the God Hermes.

Pilgrimage to St Mary’s Well – A writer for the London Times reported on 25 May 1957 about his pilgrimage to St. Mary’s Well in Culloden on the first Sunday in May, the traditional time for performing a ritual that survived for centuries. Pilgrims first threw a coin into the well, as a tribute to the spirit dwelling there, then took a sip of the water, made a wish, and tied a “clootie” or small rag to a branch of the over-hanging tree. The prayer flags were left up to be rotted away by the elements. To remove them would be to bring upon yourself the afflictions the original owners were trying to shed. Blackburn, Bonnie and Leofranc Holford-Strevens, Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press 1999

St Monica – She is the Matron of Mothers, although she sounds more like the matron of martyrs. She married a pagan, a man of high temper, who made her life miserable, but eventually through her good influence, he was converted. Her son, Augustine, who was 17 when his father died, was equally a cross to bear. He was wild and dissolute, drinking too much and patronizing prostitutes. He had a mistress and became a Manichean heretic. But eventually the prayers of his mother paid off and he became a devout Christian (and a devout misogynist).

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Courtesy of GrannyMoonsMorningFeast