The Mystifying Morrigan

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I read this article about The Morrigan yesterday and almost dismissed it due to this line: “Her breasts were believed to form the hills in County Kerry called Da Chich Annan (the paps of Anu).”* I thought that the Paps of Anu referred to a different goddess, Anu or Danu. Then I kept reading more and more about The Morrigan and it seems that she is behind many Irish and Celtic goddesses, and to try to pull Her out and stand Her separately would be to rend apart an ancient and fragile weaving. Damaging it would not damage her; it would damage us. We, especially Americans, try to fit the most confounding deities of all into our notions of Archetype.

We Americans learn a little about Greek and Roman mythology in high school. We have to take advanced university classes to learn Celtic mythology. Or, we have to learn on our own.

I did minor in Folklore at my university, but I couldn’t finish the four-year degree because my student loans were cut, and I thought it best to just work, take a second job on top of the job at the library at night after a full day of classes.

My first job was a clerk in the library, so I was able to continue my education on my own. I got a little lost in Buddhism in 2003. I did have a great love for Kwan Yin. I rejected it when my ex-husband turned it into a weapon–I was unworthy because I couldn’t “fix” my mind. I floundered about a bit and then went back to the first religion and Goddess I had known–Mary. I clung to Mary and Mary Magdalene, which suited my in-laws but not my husband–until I left him in 2010. But I still hung onto those Christian Goddesses who made me feel safe until 2015. I was living with my mother again, praying, studying the rosary . . . and we were hit with a financial crisis that endangered our home.

Many Christians would say it was a test of faith. I didn’t have that luxury. You see, the difference in Christianity and Wicca is faith versus action. I remember the date my faith in Christianity died. And what I came back with was a desire for power and a way to act to change my circumstances.

I turned back to Wicca, I acted, and I saved our home.

I’ve struggled for the past year with specific deities, all-encompassing deities . . . and two came to me at different times. I am moving, for a time, from working with Rhiannon to asking The Morrigan if She will work with me. As she calls to me so often, in the voices of crows and ravens, and the long black feather that I found in my yard, I think that She might have an interest in me.

Is what I want what She knows that I need? That is my question, and I will draw cards and ask for an answer.

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Harvest Moon 2017 and Altars

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Sorry for the poor quality. I took this with my iPod Touch. It’s a corner of a large (fills the top of a chest of drawers) nature altar.

2017 oct harv moon altar

I just added the pumpkin. I picked up the leaf from my yard. The object on top of the leaf is a miniature besom. My athame from Scotland is in the foreground. The little figures are miniature fairies, and you can see two miniature mushrooms with spirals painted on them.

The Goddess figurine, I bought on Ebay. She’s green and she has yellow accents from nature, like dragonflies and flowers, and a crescent moon on her left breast. She’s supposed to hold a tealight candle, and I’ve done that a couple of times, but She tips over too easily. At first I put stones in her bowl. Now I’m gathering seed heads from my garden and putting them in the bowl so that She can hold them over the winter.

I’m interested in fairy witchcraft, hence the miniature fairies, and I bought this book. I also like my big working altar with the green Goddess, the fairies, and the mushrooms just because it will remind me of the green time of the year during winter. Living by the 13 moons and the Wheel of the Year is healthier, I believe, than wishing it was spring, or summer, or fall. Almost no one wishes for winter. They associate it with bad weather and/or hectic holidays. The more that you understand each month’s moon, the easier it is to live by real time and feel connected to your ancestors. Changing the altar decor every month (adding miniature pumpkins or real gourds, pine cones, mini animals, real plants, leaves) makes your altar a living thing.

Many people don’t like a lot of things on their altar, but if you want an altar that’s a little world inside your house, you can find miniature fairies and animals on Etsy and goddess figurines on Etsy and Ebay.

 

Why Wicca?

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I am Irish, Scottish, English, Dutch, German, French, Comanche, and Choctaw.

I have a deep and rich culture. My Native American blood is in my father’s family. He died two years ago. I hadn’t seen him since I was ten, and his family didn’t keep in touch with us after he left my mother. It feels strange, being descended from the invaded and the invaders.

I identify most with Appalachian culture: the Scots-Irish. My grandfather was a son of the Appalachians. A Protestant. After my father left, my grandfather put me in a Catholic school. It was the first of many gifts that he gave me. I learned that women figure in religion just as much as men. Oh, Mary and Mary Magdalene were denigrated, not goddesses, but I got that they should have been equal to Jesus, equal to God.

That set me out on the search that led to Wicca. I learned about the Celtic gods and goddesses. I learned that I had an indigenous European culture. I realized that my grandmother, Christian though she was, was a wise woman, and so was her mother. And my grandmother passed down some of my great-grandmother’s knowledge . . . cooking, healing, sewing . . . to me.

My white Christian grandmother said that my Comanche grandmother was a witch. She didn’t like my father. She had no knowledge of Native American culture. She gave me a box of photos, some over a century old now, and told me that I was the only one that she trusted to care for them. My father put a stone spear head into my hands. He found it in the Ozarks when he was a teen.

In one hand, I hold sewing needles and photographs, and in my mind I hold recipes and herbal medicine. In the other, I hold this piece of stone formed by the hands of someone who might have been my ancestor.

I realized that the earth itself was the connecting factor in my bloodlines. The moon and the feminine are essential parts of any religion to me. A religion that does not elevate the feminine isn’t real to me. Wicca combines all of the things that, to me, are holy. I study, endlessly, goddesses of Ireland, England, and Wales.

I read on Twitter that I can’t pick up a feather and a stone and make magic out of them unless they were handed to me. They were, physically, a stone was put into my hand, and I was given heirlooms and oral tradition.

Please don’t tell me what I can’t have or think or love. It’s taken me a long time to get over hating my father for abandoning us, but I claim all my cultures, regardless of which one calls to me in the most insistent voice.

Your Favorite Pagan Books

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Many of us got started on our path by happening across a book. My book was The Spiral Dance, but the original, not this 20th anniversary edition. I was 12 or 13 and I read The Mists of Avalon, and The Spiral Dance was listed in the concordance as a reference. Miracle of miracles, the local library had the book. It was hardback and had a red cover. I read it over and over. I photocopied long sections because I was so young and yet old enough to know that I would never be allowed to buy the book, at least for a very long time, until I became an adult. Now I do have a copy, but not the original.

My other favorite pagan book is Celtic Magic. As I mentioned in this post, it is a great book for people new to The Craft. You can find history, mythology, goddesses and gods, and ingredients for all types of spellwork in this little book.

Please feel free to add your favorite books to this discussion with a comment.

Hey Pagans, Some Discussion Would Be Nice

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Or even a “thank you.”

The Twitter pagan/Wiccan community is not, shall we say, up to speed on some basic social niceties. Like being nice. Half-a-dozen times, I’ve responded positively to a post, or raised an issue of concern to me, or DMd a popular Wiccan or pagan account and got . . . nuttin’.

And these were not situations where the person or persons running the accounts were inundated with responses to their tweets linking to their blog posts. Maybe I was supposed to go to their blog to comment? Well, I just don’t f’ing feel like jumping through all the hoops to comment on everyone’s blog, and NO, I am not signing in with Facebook. Ever.

If someone links to their new blog post, and I respond, “Great post, really made me think about Topic X” is it so damn hard to respond and say, “Thank you!” Or, “For more discussion, visit my blog.” Or even, “F*ck you!”

If you keep running into the Pagan Wall of Silence, it’s not just you. I can’t give you an explanation for the bad behavior, but it’s not just you.

Someone presenting her or himself as an authority on paganism ought to answer a question. Or at least say, “Hey, can you ask that over here on my blog?” I personally am not going to anyone’s Facebook page because I use FB as little as possible.

It is tempting to unfollow people who have no manners, but oftentimes they write the most insightful articles. I think–I hope–that their Twitter accounts are automated and that explains the lack of manners, but that’s still not okay. Protip: Everyone hates automated accounts. Everyone. Stop it. I don’t care if you’re the High Priest of Cthulu. You’re still acting dickish.

Sometimes, the articles you comment on and don’t get a response  address noob concerns or basic, important topics. And then there will be a post about not doing the thing the person wrote about but ignored questions. So what the hell are you supposed to do?

Well, just because someone doesn’t reply to comments doesn’t mean everything they have to say is wrong. If the post resonates with you, study it for answers to unanswered questions. If you find it confusing or upsetting, go on your own search for answers.

A tip for people new to pagan belief systems:

Wicca and paganism are NOT about renaming yourself “Sister RavynnMorgyn” and posting digital art of voluptuous witches morning and evening and greeting all your friends with “Blessed Be, Sister GoldenDragonWing!” That’s a bunch of crap. That’s not real. The vast majority are struggling along just like you, struggling to learn, struggling to resolve conflicts between Wicca and our birth religion. And the people who put themselves out there as sources of knowledge should BE sources of knowledge instead of ignoring questioners. Wicca is all about questioning. You don’t have dogma. If you do have dogma, you shouldn’t.

Books. Libraries. Used and new book stores. Acquaint yourself with them, and accept that Wicca is like a university course that goes on until the day you die and then after.

Don’t let bad-mannered Wiccans turn you off.

Start At The Beginning Of The Book

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Do you flip right to the back of the book when you buy a new book about Wicca, witchcraft, paganism, magic, or deities?

  • Moon Goddesses: Artemis/Diana, Arianrhod, Rhiannon
  • Gemstone: Moonstone
  • Metal: Silver
  • Colors: White/Silver
  • Day: Monday
  • Incense: White Musk
  • Animal: Cat, Rabbit/Hare

Or maybe you want to do a . . . hmm . . . love spell!

  • Love Gods and Goddesses: Aphrodite/Venus, Angus mac Og, Guinevere
  • Gemstone: Pink Quartz, Diamond
  • Metal: Gold
  • Colors: Pink, Red
  • Day: Friday
  • Incense: Vanilla
  • Animal: Swan

I just pulled some of that from memory and some of that from . . . the air. Do you know anything about Angus mac Og? Why is Guinevere listed as a Goddess?

When you’re new at this, you think you can skip to the back of the back, pick a deity who suits your needs, light the right color candle, and you’ll get what you want.

That ain’t happening.

Many people like to place abstract Goddess and God figures on their altars. The pregnant Earth Goddess, the wasp-waisted Spiral Goddess, the Horned God. They may have a separate shrine for a certain deity. They may have a figure or something relating to their special God or Goddess on their altar. They may have multiple shrines.

How do you move beyond the correspondences and find the Goddess or God that is your magical soul mate? They usually find you. The name Athena may pop into your head for no reason. Then three nights later, you may hear an owl calling, and hear it every night for several nights. Maybe Athena is tapping you on the shoulder. That’s one great reason to study, study, study, so that you’ll already know that the owl is associated with Athena.

You may also meet a deity through a deck of oracle cards. Oracle cards are vastly different from Tarot cards. They’re usually based on a theme (Goddesses) or a type of being (vampires.) You might ask your oracle cards if someone in particular is trying to get your attention, and then turn over the Ceridwen card. Then, you need to study, study, study.

Maybe the darkness fascinates you. Maybe you genuinely feel at home outside in the night. Or perhaps you see ghosts or other spirits. Then the lists at the end of the book can give you some suggestions. You might be feeling the influence Hecate or The Morrigan.

And what do you do? Study.

I read this article tonight. It inspired me to write this post, which is derived from my own experiences over the last three decades. Please read the linked article, because it is so important in understanding why skipping to the back of the book is almost certainly going to bring you confusion and disappointment.

If you’re drawn to Celtic magic and deities, you need this book. I referred to it so often since 1995 that I had to buy a second copy, and now that copy is yellowed and has loose pages. It contains Celtic mythology, information on deities and fairies, holy days, spellwork, and yes . . . tables of correspondence.

 

Searching for Info about Wicca? Avoid These Sites.

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If you google anything about Wicca, you’ll likely come up against false evangelical Christian sites trying to convince you that you’ll go to hell if you practice Wicca.

You won’t.

You probably, as I did, escaped an evangelical church and/or school and found your way to Wicca. They don’t have the moral right to continue to lie to you, but then again, they haven’t any morals to begin with.

Focus On the Family

This is the main anti-any other religion than evangelical Christianity site. This is, ironically, the organization that my private school tried to use to convince me that Wicca and Stevie Nicks were evil. I’ve been a student of Wicca since I was 15 and a fan of Stevie Nicks since I was 13. Avoid these lying losers.

To be continued