Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Stephanie Woodfield, author of Celtic Lore & Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess: Invoking The Morrigan.
â€śWhy would you want to worship a goddess of war?â€ť Usually this is the first question Iâ€™m asked when I tell someone my patron goddess in the Morrigan. My own experiences and research have taught me that the Morrigan has many guises. She is a goddess of sovereignty, power, and magick. She is the Great Queen who teaches us to take control of our lives and empower ourselves. The Morrigan is a complex figure; she is far more than a goddess of battle, but it is this aspect that has become the most familiar to us. And unfortunately it is the Morriganâ€™s connection to warfare that make some hesitate to work with her.
Why is it that we fear the warrior goddess? While most people today would think of war as belonging to the realm of the â€śmasculine,â€ť there are a surprising number of female deities connected to battle. To the Celts she was Andraste, Maeve, Cymidei Cymeinfoll, and the Morrigan, who flew over battlefields in the form of a crow, lending encouragement and strength to her favorite warriors. In Egypt she was Sekhmet and Menhit, the lioness goddesses who drank the blood of their enemies. To the Greeks she was Athena, in Rome, Bellona, in India she appeared as Durga and Kali. The list goes on and on. In mythological terms war has a distinctive feminine side. If so many cultures of the past revered the warrior goddess and held her sacred, why now do we fear her?
We must take into consideration that our modern concept of battle is vastly different than the cultures from which these warrior goddesses arose. Unless you are in the military, war is something we watch on TV or read about in the newspaper. When you leave your house in the morning you donâ€™t worry about the neighboring town attacking while youâ€™re gone and stealing your food stores for the winter, but these were real concerns for our ancestors. Their warriors were akin to our firefighters and policemen; they kept the community safe, and thus warriors were held in high esteem. And it should be no surprise that deities connected to battle were also revered. To those who worshiped them they were deities of protection. By deciding the outcome of battles, they held sway over life and death.
But how does that translate to todayâ€™s world? Does the warrior goddess still have a role in our lives today? Absolutely. The role she plays in our lives may have changed compared to cultures of the past, but that does not make her mysteries any less valid. I personally donâ€™t think the Gods remain stagnant; they evolve and change as humanity does. When we look at the Morriganâ€™s originsâ€”which point towards her originally being a tutelary earth goddessâ€”we can clearly see that her role within Celtic spirituality evolved and changed over time. So why would that evolution stop now? Life is always full of battles. Whether its finding a way to pay all the bills, fighting your inner demons, standing up for a cause you believe in, ending an abusive relationship, or conquering any number of the battles we face in life, the warrior goddess still stands ready at our sides, encouraging us and leading us to victory if we let her. Maybe your â€śwarâ€ť is against animal cruelty, or your â€śbattleâ€ť is for social change. Maybe you wield a pen and a business suit instead of a sword and shield, but if you see a crow flying overhead, or find one perched by your office window, ask yourself if that isnâ€™t the Morrigan watching over you.
Whatever your battle, the Morrigan remains a source of strength, wisdom, and power to those who call to her. So for those who would ask â€śWhy worship a goddess of war?â€ť, I would have to respond that we need to rethink our concepts surrounding war and battle. I face battles within my life all the time; they may be rather mundane ones, but regardless Iâ€™d still like to have the Morrigan watching over me, leading me towards victory.
Our thanks to Stephanie for her guest post! For more from Woodfield, read her article “The Great Queen and the Sovereignty of Self.”