Thanks to Bard Mythologies, keepers of ancient wisdom, for this story of the Morrigán.
Morrigán means “phantom queen” and the Morrigán in Irish Mythology was a deity who could change shape and would influence the outcome in battles by playing with armies psychologically. Rather like Dionysus in Greek myth, the Morrigán could embody the darker side of nature, and work through alternate means, whether through drink or metamorphosis.
The Morrigan is a goddess of battle, strife, and fertility. She sometimes appears in the form of a crow, flying above the warriors, and in the Ulster Cycle, she also takes the form of an eel, a wolf, and a cow. She is generally considered a war deity comparable with the Germanic Valkyries, although her association with cattle also suggests a role connected with fertility, wealth, and the land.
Tales of the Morrigán
One tale of the Morrigán’s changing appearance concerned Cúchulainn. She appeared to the hero in the form of a beautiful young girl and declared her love for him. But he spurned her advances and in revenge she attacked him, first as an eel, then as a wolf, and then as a heifer. Cúchulainn overcame her and in her exhaustion she appeared to him as an old woman milking a cow. She gave him milk and he blessed her.
The Morrigán also represented sexuality, and she ritually mated with Daghda astride a river, with one foot on either bank. She also possessed herbal magic and used it to cast spells. She turned Odras into a pool of water as Odras’ bull had mated with the Morrigán’s cow.
The Morrigán had close associations with magic and death and her dark nature was a danger to her enemies.
Herstory is delighted to partner with Bard Mythologies, master storytellers and keepers of ancient wisdom. The primary purpose of the Bard is the re-engagement with a unique traditional heritage in order to help us reflect on where we are today. At the very start in August 1995 in the Pearse Museum, was Sandy Dunlop, his wife, Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop and Bill Felton, the creative talent who created all the wonderful images at the beginning of each story. Since then, Clare Island, Co. Mayo has been the location for the Bard Summer School week in July, and The Civic Theatre, Tallaght, plays host to monthly workshops. CandleLit Tales also host incredible nights of mythic storytelling and music around Ireland. Discover more: bardmythologies.com