Saturday, July 20, 2013

Frequently Asked Questions of a Traveling Priestess

   In doing workshops and other events there tends to be a few questions that I am always asked.  They are all great questions and have led to some great conversations so I thought I would share them on the blog for those who haven’t seen me speak or gone to one of my workshops.  And if anyone else can think of any good questions feel free to ask here!

Morrigan and Morgan Le Fay are they the same?

   This is perhaps the most popular one.  This is my own opinion on the subject so if you feel differently there is nothing wrong with that!  Are they identical, one and the same- No.  Do I see a connection between the two- Yes.  When I work with the Irish Morrigan/Morrigu, I am working with the Morrigan.  When I work with Morgan Le Fay, I am working with Morgan Le Fay.  Their energies feel different to me.  But when we look to mythology I do see a connection, or perhaps the correct word would be evolution, between the two.  The etymology of their names are dramatically different, Morgan Le Fay comes to us from Welsh mythology and Morrigan from the Irish lore.  But like other gods like the Irish Lugh, who has a counter part in the Welsh lore as Lleu Llaw Gyffes, much of the ideas and deities that the Irish celebrated migrated to other regions.  I see many connections between the Welsh Modron and the Morrigan.  Like Lugh and Lleu they are not quite the same but the connection is still there.  Modron eventually evolved into Morgan Le Fay, both having the same husband and having many parallels within their stories. (I could write a whole blog about those connections so you can reference by book for more details)    For me the connection is there. I work with them separately but with that evolution in mind.  I take a similar approach with Lugh and Lleu, not the same but the connection is there.   

You compare the Morrigan to a lot of Goddesses in your book why?

   Part of the what I wanted to do with Celtic Lore & Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess: Invoking the Morrigan was to have everything you’d possibly want to know about the Morrigan in one place.  So that being said it is impossible to do that without going into all the goddesses that have been connected to (correctly or not) with the Morrigan.  Do I think they are interchangeable goddesses? No, absolutely not.  Goddesses like Modron, Aine, Nemain (who I consider to have been confused with Badb and be a separate deity) all have their own distinct energies.  They are connected to Morrigan, some in big ways and others in smaller ways, but they are not the same as the Morrigan. For example Lady Gregory tells us in her collection of Celtic lore that Aine was said to be the Morrigan herself.  There’s the connection, and it is worth exploring.  Whether you decide that connecting with Aine will further your study and worship of the Morrigan is up to you, but at very least it is important to note that there was a connection drawn between the two for whatever reason.  Same goes for Nemain who is only once mentioned along with Badb (one of the three goddesses that form the Morrigan) in the Cattle Raid of Cooley, and in my mind is a similar goddess who has come to be confused with Badb, and thus the Morrigan. When I first began searching for information about the Morrigan I came across these comparisons to other goddesses and I feel it is necessary for those working with Morrigan to explore theses connections and make their own decisions as to if they will be useful in the their own practices.           

Should we label the gods?  Why do you consider the Morrigan a Dark Goddess?

   When I think of the Morrigan I think of her just as the Morrigan.  Words like Mother come to mind- for she is my mother, and has become an inseparable part of me.  She is so many many things.  She embodies so many powerful lessons and guises.  It’s not hard to understand why she was seen as a shape-shifter, she doesn’t really like to be pinned down to one thing for very long.  But if I have to put a label on her Dark Goddess would be it.  Of course this all depends on what you consider “dark” to mean.  For me “dark” deities are gods that embody transformation, liminal deities, gods that deal with death, and are connected to the underworld.  Dark for me conjures up images of dark rich soil, fed by the decay of other life, yet nurtures the seed and new budding life.  It reminds me that I can never create without destroying.  These god challenge us, they lead us to transformation which is at its core a process of destruction to create anew.  They also embody the things we fear, which are usually the things we need to look at the most. 
   I don’t think that the Celts would have seen her as a dark goddess, they were closer and more at peace with the things she teaches, where we in modern times are not.  Who knows maybe in a hundred years Aphrodite will be a dark goddess to the pagans of the future.  The label of dark goddess is a starting point.  Just like saying Artemis is a moon goddess is just a starting point for her mysteries.  This of course brings up the idea of whether or not we should label the gods.  As humans we give things labels in an attempt to understand them, and wrap our heads around ideas and concepts.  It’s impossible to not try to categorize the gods, and that can be both a good and bad thing.  When we pigeon hole a deity and see only the label and fail to see what that deity is truly saying to us or embodies then it becomes a crutch and does not serve us spiritually.  It is something we have to remind ourselves not to do when working with any deity.  The Morrigan is a very well rounded figure, there is a lot to her personality and mysteries.  I call her a dark goddess based on my own definition of what a “dark” deity is, but she is far more than just that, just like any deity.         


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