Morgane/Morrigan is in working with this section now. She's been sweet enough to help me with all the work!! Enjoy everybody!!
If you have any questions,
you may ask her here or you may use the comment box
in the dropdown window & I will forward it to her.
Hello all. I am Morrigan or Morgane, whichever you prefer. Debi and I have now made a semi-formal arrangement whereby I focus on the Pantheons and the holidays / Sabbats / Esbats of Wicca, while she concentrates on some of the many other aspects. I know she has loads to tell us about, and personally I'm dying to learn about runes and tarot! Merry meet and blessed be, all of you!
The story of Arachnae is really a subsection of the stories surrounding Pallas Athena of the Greek Pantheon.
Athena was the Goddess of Wisdom, patroness of arts and crafts, and a fearsome warrior. While her male countepart, Ares, focused on the blood lust of war, Athena espoused logic, reason and justice. She was represented by an Owl and is associated with the olive tree.
Athena and her uncle, Poseidon, fought to see who would be chosen as the benefactor of the capital city of Attica. Each was to give a gift, and whoever's gift was considered better would be chosen as patron. Poseidon struck the rock with his trident and from the resulting hole poured forth salty water. This represented his gift - a strong navy and new trade routes. This was a valuable gift indeed.
Athena struck the rock with her spear and an olive tree sprang forth. This represented the region's prime trade - olive oil was used in cooking, as lamp fuel, and in cosmetics, soaps and medicines. Athena's gift was considered the greater and the city was named Athens in her honour.
While she was a virgin goddess, her favours were reserved for men. Athena may have been an empowered female but that did not mean she was going to empower other females in her likeness. Quite the contrary. Athena was, in fact, a jealous goddess, allowing no competition or rivals to enter into her sphere.
On one occasion, a nymph happened to catch sight of her nude body as she bathed. As punishment for seeing her naked, Athena removed the nymph's power of sight. To temper the harshness of the punishment, Athena gave the nymph the ability to see the future. Such lenience would not have been shown to a woman.
Athena chose to support various men throughout Greek history. These included Achilles, whom she helped win the Battle of Troy and Hercules (Herakles), whom she helped in his twelve labours, set as punishment for the murder of his wife and children.
Women such as Medusa attracted a less sympathetic side of Athena. Threatened by the young woman's beauty - which rivalled her own - Athena changed Medusa into a gorgon, a creature whose head was covered not with hair but with snakes. A creature whose visage was so hideous that a single glance at her turned men to stone.
Athena then aided Perseus in his task to capture Medusa's head. He used a mirror so that Medusa saw her own appearance and became stone, whereupon he was able to look upon her safely.
Athena's pastimes included the art of weaving. When news reached her of a young woman, possibly a princess, named Arachnae, who had been bragging of her talent as a weaver, she sent for her and challenged her to a contest.
When it transpired that Arachnae's weaving in fact was comparable to Athena's own, Athena's vengeance knew no bounds. She turned Arachnae into a spider, forcing her to spend the rest of her life hanging from a tree, spinning her web.
Morrigan is a triple aspect goddess. While this implies a virgin, a mother and a crone figure (in this case, Nemain as the virgin, Macha as the mother and Badb as the crone), Morrigan is sometimes portrayed as three crones. As Debi has also said, she is an immensely strong figure, and as a protectress she "empowers an individual to confront challenges with great personal strength, even against seemingly overwhelming odds."
Samhain is a hugely powerful time of year for Wiccans. It is the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. It celebrates the fact that through death comes new life - whether or not they believe in reincarnation, Wiccans share the belief that at this time of the year the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest.
Indeed it is these "between" times that are so powerful in this religion. Dawn and dusk are between night and day and are important for that.
That is why the Morrigan - a Goddess associated with battles and war and death - is the appropriate Goddess for Samhain. An ending means a new beginning. Some Wiccans do not choose to associate themselves with the Morrigan because of her links with death, but a large number (myself included) choose her as the face of their Goddess for this very reason. She celebrates the circle of life.
It is at this point I want to remind you of the way Wicca works. We do not believe in countless different religions or Gods and Goddesses - we merely believe that each deity is a different representation of the same. One God, one Goddess. When I say people choose the Morrigan as the face of their Goddess, I mean that they choose her to represent The Goddess as a whole.
Traditions such as trick or treating have their roots in ancient customs. Some Wiccans believe that when you open your door on All Soul's / All Hallow's eve you must share what you have with whoever is there because they are the souls of the dead returning (disguised as the living) to ask that you remember and honour them. Pumpkins were carved and set out as lanterns to light their way back to their homes. By sharing food and honouring the dead - setting a place at the table for those who had died, for example - one would garner support from beyond the grave.
There are countless myths associated with the Morrigan. One of them is the one I wrote about on Debi's page - recounted in the Mabinogion (Welsh legends).
As a child, Setanta killed the great watch dog of his king, Cu. Enraged, Cu demanded to know who would guard his castle and flocks now. Setanta offered himself, and was "reborn" - or renamed at least - Cuchulainn - literally, "Hound of Cullen".
The legends of the Morrigan are closely entwined with those of Cuchulainn. In one story, she attempted to seduce him. When he rejected her, she changed into an eel, then a wolf, then a red cow in her attempts to wreak revenge on him.
Morrigan is also associated with Cuchulainn's downfall and death. When he became Cuchulainn, he was bound by two "geasa" - or oaths. The first forbade him from eating the flesh of a dog, since his name (literally "Hound of Cullen") was given when he replaced the great hound of Cu.
The second stated that Cuchulainn could not refuse food when offered it from someone's hearthfire. In this way, he could not refuse when offered dog's meat by the Morrigan at her hearthfire. Even as he ate, his limbs were slowly paralysed, and - unable to defend himself - he was killed shortly afterwards by Lugaid of Erin.
The Morrigan is sometimes seen as The Washerwoman. She sits by the river, wringing out the garments on the rocks. Any soldier whose garments are amongst those she washes is doomed to die the following day.
Badb, however - the crone aspect of the Morrigan - is associated with the Cauldron of Regeneration, where souls are kept until they can be reborn. Death doesn't just have to be about endings - it is about new beginnings as well.