morrigan / morgana le fay is my goddess. in both these forms, i worship and connect to her.
this is my morrigan altar -
info on morrigan/ morgana le fay, various sources
With a raven perched on her shoulder,
the Morrigan wields her
powerful sword which features the symbol of the waning moon.
In ancient Celtic myth, the Morrigan was a triple goddess of war
and death who, during battle, would shape-shift into a raven and
fly shrieking her war cry above the fighting soldiers.
Her dark, yet alluring gaze holds
the secrets of sorcery
and witchcraft. The Celts worshipped Morgana LeFey as
the queen of faeries and mistress of black magick. She was
also thought to rule the dark waters which had to be
crossed to reach the otherworld.
"MORGANA LE FEY"
"Morgana is one of the greatest of all Faery Queens. She is skillled in necromancy and the ancient art of shape shifting, able to be whatever she desires. She soars through the night on Raven's wings, landing silently in your dreams to work her Dark Enchantments. Well versed in star craft and arcane Healing powers (with knowledge gleaned from Merlin himself), she is the mistress of the mystical arts of Sexuality and High Magic.
Hers is a complex nature, neither totally beneficent not totally malign. Her faults are anger, resentment, and, true to Faery nature, using her cunnig Arts against those who affend her. Yet although she schemes against King Arthur (her half brother), it is on her lap that he rests his dying head as she and two other dark queens sail him to Avalon to be healed. It is her necessary role to be found at the Crux of the drama in our lives, working toward wisdom and healing in dramamtic, difficult times. She guides in moments of forceful emotions such as anger, bitterness, resentment, and sexual jealousy. The disturbing influence from this Dark Queen can lead to profund change.
The Three Powerful days at the dark of the moon are this Faery's special time-when all processes are internalized and concealed. It is then that Morgana comes to us to reveal the mystical starlight, the bright points of Faery consciousness, which permeates all of matter. Morgana is an enchantress who works her magic at the deepest levels- in the dark, secret, hidden places of our minds. She initiates us into mystic realms of creative imagination where all that is not yet manifest begins the journey into light and form."
Quote from Brian Froud's Good Faeries, Bad Faeries!
"The Morrigan" is depicted
as a Bronze Age Celt. A
triple goddess, her three aspects are known as:
Nemain, Macha and Badb. She holds two spears and is
known for being indomitable in battle. A shape
shifter, she would often appear as a raven or
hooded crow. As a protector she empowers an
individual to confront challenges with great
personal strength, even against seemingly
overwhelming odds. Roman chroniclers reporteed
that Celts went into battle naked, exposing, tattoos
to summon their magical forces.
~ info from wind sprites realm
by Danielle Ní Dhighe
Copyright © 1996, 1997 Danielle Ní Dhighe
All Rights Reserved
May be reposted as long as the above attribution and copyright notice are retained
The Morrígan is a goddess of battle, strife, and fertility. Her name translates as 'Phantom Queen,' which is entirely appropriate for Her. The Morrígan appears as both a single goddess and a trio of goddesses, which includes the Badb 'Vulture' and Nemain 'Frenzy'. The Morrígan frequently appears in the ornithological guise of a hooded crow. She is one of the Tuatha De Danann (People of the Goddess Danu) and She helped defeat the Firbolgs at the First Battle of Magh Tuireadh and the Fomorii at the Second Battle of Mag Tured.
By some accounts, She is the consort of the Dagda, while the Badb and Nemain are sometimes listed as consorts of Néit, an obscure war god who is possibly Nuada the Sky Father in His warrior aspect. It is interesting to note that another battle goddess, Macha, is also associated with Nuada.
The origins of the Morrígan seem to reach directly back to the megalithic cult of the Mothers. The Mothers (Matrones, Idises, Dísir, etc.) usually appeared as triple goddesses and their cult was expressed through both battle ecstasy and regenerative ecstasy. Later Celtic goddesses of sovereignty, such as the trio of Éire, Banba, and Fótla, also use magic in warfare. "Influence in the sphere of warfare, but by means of magic and incantation rather than through physical strength, is common to these beings." (Ross 205)
Éire, a goddess connected to the land in a fashion reminiscent of the Mothers, could appear as a beautiful woman or as a crow, as could the Morrígan. The Dísir appeared in similar guises. In addition to being battle goddesses, they are significantly associated with fate as well as birth in many cases, along with appearing before a death or to escort the deceased. It is interesting to note that some sources present Éire and the Morrígan as half-sisters.
There is certainly evidence that the concept of a raven goddess of battle wasn't limited to the Irish Celts. An inscription found in France invoking Cathubodva, 'Battle Raven', shows that a similar concept was known among the Gaulish Celts.
SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE MORRÍGAN AND THE VALKYRIES
The Morrígan's role in the Irish cosmology is quite similar to the role played by the Valkyries in Norse cosmology. Both use magic to cast fetters on warriors and choose who will die.
During the Second Battle, the Morrígan "said she would go and destroy Indech son of Dé Domnann and 'deprive him of the blood of his heart and the kidneys of his valor', and she gave two handfuls of that blood to the hosts. When Indech later appeared in the battle, he was already doomed." (Rees 36)
Compare this to the Washer at the Ford, another guise of the Morrígan. The Washer is usually to be found washing the clothes of men about to die in battle. In effect, She is choosing who will die.
An early German spell found in Merseburg mentions the Indisi, who decided the fortunes of war and the fates of warriors. The Scandinavian Song of the Spear, quoted in Njals Saga, gives a detailed description of Valkyries as women weaving on a grisly loom, with severed heads for weights, arrows for shuttles, and entrails for the warp. As they worked, they exulted at the loss of life that would take place. "All is sinister now to see, a cloud of blood moves over the sky, the air is red with the blood of men, and the battle women chant their song." (Davidson 94)
An Old English poem, Exodus, refers to ravens as choosers of the slain. There are links between ravens, choosing of the slain, casting fetters, and female beings in many sources.
"As the Norse and English sources show them to us, the walkurjas are figures of awe and even terror, who delight in the deaths of men. As battlefield scavengers, they are very close to the ravens, who are described as waelceasega, 'picking over the dead'..." (Our Troth)
"The function of the goddess [the Morrígan] here, it may be noted, is not to attack the hero [Cúchulainn] with weapons but to render him helpless at a crucial point in the battle, like the valkyries who cast 'fetters' upon warriors...thus both in Irish and Scandinavian literature we have a conception of female beings associated with battle, both fierce and erotic." (Davidson 97, 100)
THE MORRÍGAN AND CÚCHULAINN
She appeared to the hero Cúchulainn (son of the god Lugh) and offered Her love to him. When he failed to recognize Her and rejected Her, She told him that She would hinder him when he was in battle. When Cúchulainn was eventually killed, She settled on his shoulder in the form of a crow. Cú's misfortune was that he never recognized the feminine power of sovereignty that She offered to him.
She appeared to him on at least four occasions and each time he failed to recognize Her.
1. When She appeared to him and declared Her love for him.
2. After he had wounded Her, She appeared to him as an old hag and he offered his blessings to Her, which caused Her to be healed.
3. On his way to his final battle, he saw the Washer at the Ford, who declared that She was "washing the clothes and arms of Cúchulainn, who would soon be dead."
4. When he was forced by three hags (which represent the Morrígan in Her triple aspect) to break a taboo of eating dogflesh.
THE ROLE OF THE MORRÍGAN
For modern Celtic Pagans, the role of the Morrígan in our religion is different than what it was for our ancestors. Most of us are not involved in life-or-death struggles on a daily basis. The Morrígan is an appropriate deity for strong, independent people, particularly those on a warrior path.
RITUALS FOR THE MORRÍGAN
Many devotees of the Morrígan have a permanent shrine set up in Her honor. They use such items as a bowl of brine and blood, a raven or crow feather, or even a piece of red cloth (to symbolize the Washer at the Ford). Some people use menstrual blood, which is very appropriate. Blood, especially menstrual blood, is a symbol of both life and death, fertility and war.
Rituals should be kept simple. Find something that symbolizes the Morrígan and meditate on it. When you feel Her presence, you may wish to offer Her something of value. This can be as simple as some ale or as difficult as spilling your own blood.
When I dedicated myself to Her, I meditated on a crow's feather and a candle flame. I called Her name until I could feel Her definite presence. When I offered myself to Her, the flame blazed up and filled the entire room and I felt that my offer had been accepted.
Davidson, H. R. Ellis, Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe (Syracuse NY: Syracuse University Press, 1988)
Our Troth (Ring of Troth)
Rees, Alwyn and Brinley, Celtic Heritage (NY: Thames & Hudson, 1994)
Ross, Anne, Pagan Celtic Britain (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967)
The Morrigan is a goddess of battles, war, death, strife, and fertility. Her name translates as either "Great Queen" or "Phantom Queen". The Morrigan appears as both a single goddess and a trio of goddesses. The other deities who form the trio are Badb ("Crow"), and either Macha (also connotes "Crow") or Nemain ("Frenzy"). She is one of the Tuatha Dé Danann. She can take the form of a crow or raven. If seen by a warrior before battle, that warrior will die.
(Morgen, Morgana, Morrigan, Mara, Fata) A death goddess to whom wells were sacred. The raven is her bird, the shamrock is her plant. A goddess of the sea, fate, death and rebirth, a great healer and shapeshifter.
As the final incarnation of the Irish Valkyrie Morrigan, Morgan plays a critical but ambiguous role in the Arthurian cycle. Portrayed as a mortal female deeply learned in Magick and Arthur's maternal half-sister, she is always at odds with Arthur, and is responsible for any of a number of attempts to drag him down. When Arthur is mortally wounded though, and his cause seems to an ultimately futile victory, it is Morgan who appears at his side, nursing him and bringing him to the Isle of Avalon, to rest until his presence is needed once more. She was one of the the greatest contributors in the rise of Arthur to the status of hero, to create an Eternal Champion of Britain.
This notion is supported somewhat by the earlier Morrigan's ambiguous relationship with CuChulainn, in which she took him up on his desire for a short but glorious life, and violently opposed him until, at his doom, she used his blood to nourish the soil of Eire. (Sea-sprites in Brittany are still called "morgans").
She was vilified as Morgan Le Fay, an evil sorceress, in later versions of the King Arthur legend.
Morrigan (pr. mor-ee-gan) Ireland, Whales, Britain Morrigan - with royal torque, two spears, celtic sword, sheild and cape. In the tradition of the Celtic warrior, she is naked, Her skin covered in tattoos. To uncover the tattoos was to activate the magic they contained, giving the warrior strength, courage, ferocity and good fortune in battle. Also given as MorRoighain (mor-ree-an), Morrigu (mor-i-goo), and later as Morgan. Great Queen or Phantom Queen The name Great Queen makes the most sense to me as the word for great, even in the modern Irish language is Mor, and the modern Irish word for queen is banrion (ban-ree-an). Along with Her sisters, Macha and Badb, forms a triple aspect Goddess of war. Many people, upon seeing this, may decide to write Her off as unworthy of their attention. According to Steve Blamires, in his book Glamoury, Because She is associated with war, grief, mutilation, shapeshifting, and sexual gratification for its own sake, She is not a contact to be encouraged. While I highly recommend Mr. Blamires book, I cannot agree with that statement. There is far more to this Goddess than is readily apparent. Ill attempt to give a more in depth presentation of Morrigan and Her aspects here. Once again, quoting from Glamoury, She appears in both the Mythological Cycle and the Ulster Cycle (of the old Irish tales) particularly in the Cattle Raid of Cooley, which is very heavily battle oriented. (The entirety of the Ulster cycle focused on Warriors and their feats of bravery and self-sacrifice for home and kin). Memories or her survive in modern Celtic folklore as the Washer of the Ford (not Ford as in my Ford van, but Ford as in river or stream, even though it would be pretty cool to have a Goddess washing my van), who is seen as a weeping woman washing blood stained shrouds at a ford in the river. This is obviously a bad omen, especially if you happen to be a warrior on your way to battle! ( This last statement I would also disagree with. We know that the ancient Celts held warriors in high esteem and that to die in battle was an honorable thing. In many tribal cultures, it was even desirable, for the Vikings it assured ascension to Valhalla, for many Native American Tribes, it also guaranteed entrance into their versions of paradise. For other cultures, to die bravely in battle could even turn the slain warrior into a God. There are many stories of Celtic warriors receiving an omen of their impending death in battle, but it never swayed them from their course. It wasnt that they ignored the warning, simply that sometimes a mans gotta do what a mans gotta do. They would simply prepare themselves and put their affairs in order. See the tales of King Conchabar of Ulster). It was Morrigan, who attempted , unsuccessfully, to seduce the hero Cu Chullain. She tried to avenge the snub by impeding him at the most critical times of life and death struggles. After being defeated, she turned to his aid. appearing as Nemain and causing his enemies to die of terror and heartbreak. She also showed Herself to High King Cromac just before he was killed in battle. Yet she also raised the water, enabling the king and his entire army to walk across the very river in which she was seen prophetically scouring the blood from his armor. In the Arthurian legends, as Morgan le Fey (Morgan of the Fairies), She was accused of trying to kill Her royal half brother. She is later, however, among three queens who bear him off to Avalon to be cured of his wounds. Her skill as a healer is also mentioned by Chretian de Troyes. That there were three queens inthe tale further helps to identify Morgan le Fey as the triple Morrigan. Morrigan reigned over the battlefield, helping with Her magic, but did not join in the battles directly. In Her dark aspect She is associated with ravens or crows. She is depicted fully armed and with two spears. She is the Goddess of rivers, lakes and fresh water. It may have been to Her that the weapons often found at the bottom of lakes and bogs were offered as sacrifice. Fate and prophesy are two of Her more favorable aspects. She is said to be patroness of priestesses and witches, evidenced by Her association with ravens, crows, fairies, magic, fate and prophesy. When studying deities of ancient pantheons, it is necessary to also study the culture and lifestyle of the people that first worshipped them. These people lived a very different life than we do today. Their ideas and beliefs about humanity, the universe, life, death and sexuality were of an entirely different paradigm than what most of us in western civilization grew up with. As pagans, we often give great lip-service to being open-minded, but as soon as some of us come across ideas that deeply challenge the core beliefs of our upbringing, they are rejected wholesale. Prime examples of this are beliefs about death, evil, nudity and sexuality. I had a short conversation with some women who were relatively new to Wicca recently. The subject of skyclad rituals came up and one woman said Is that what weve degraded to?. She was clueless to the tradition, the reasoning, and the purpose of being skyclad in ritual and simply assumed it to be of a base and sexual nature (as if theres anything wrong with that, either). When confronted with Gods or Goddesses of death or war, many assume them to be sinister or evil. Once again, look at the origin and the people who worshipped them. Death is not sinister or evil. Death is an important part of the wheel of life. War is a reality of human history, and possibly even human nature. These deities provide comfort, wisdom and guidance through the harsh realities of life and its mysteries. To reject part of the mystery is to weaken it. To reject part of the wheel of life may leave you lost, alone and very afraid. Life and nature are not always gentle and nurturing, they can be very cruel and very harsh. We take power in understanding all aspects of the world we live in. Get to know deities like Morrigan, She may be of great help when life gets cruel and harsh.
The Morrígan's Prophecy
Peace to (as high as) the sky
sky to the earth
earth beneath sky
strength in everyone
a cup very full
a fullness of honey
summer in winter
spear supported by shield
shields supported by forts
forts fierce eager for battle
"sod" (fleece) from sheep
woods grown with antler-tips (full of stags)
forever destructions have departed
mast (nuts) on trees
a branch drooping-down
drooping from growth
wealth for a son
a son very learned
neck of bull (in yoke)
a bull from a song
knots in woods (i.e. scrap-wood)
wood for a fire
fire as wanted
palisades new and bright
salmon their victory
the Boyne (i.e. Newgrange) their hostel
hostel with an excellence of length (size)
blue (new) growth after spring
(in) autumn horses increase
the land held secure
land recounted with excellence of word
Be might to the eternal much excellent woods
peace to (as high as the) sky
be (this) nine times eternal
Morgan Le Fey is most often presented as an adversary of Arthur's, however, in some versions she is shown to be a woman of healing and compassion (Geoffrey of Monmouth). In what is known as the Vulgate Cycle of Arthurian Legend, we learn that she became Guinevere's lady in waiting and fell in love with the King's nephew, Giomar. Guinevere did not approve and exposed the affair. Morgan later got her revenge by exposing Lancelot and Guinevere's affair. The compassionate side of Morgan is seen when she is one of the women who takes Arthur in a barge to Avalon to be healed. This side of her has it's roots from the beginning and possibly when she was a part of Celtic Mythology.
There is a common misconception that has worked its way through recent Arthurian Legend. It has been presented by some that it was Morgan that used her sorcery to provoke the incestuous affair with Arthur. This is not the case and is what led to many author's merging Morgan Le Fey and her sister Morgause together. In recent Arthurian Legend, Morgan is thought to be the evil sister that plots against her brother and tries to bring his downfall with their child Mordred.
Origins: Celtic Mythology - One of nine sisters who rule The Fortunate Isle
Father: Gorlois the Duke of Cornwall
Siblings: Arthur, Elaine, Morgause
Aunt: Sometimes Morgause
Consort: Sometimes King Urien of Gore
Children: Sometimes Mordred, Sometimes Owain
Other Names: Morgaine, Morgana La Fey, Morgan of the Fairies, Morganna, Morgaine, Modron
Texts: Accolon of Gaul, Morgan
Le Fay, Aavalon, The Mantle, Morgain
Morgan Le Fay
Read more about Morgan Le Fay in Arthurian Legend
Morgan Le Fay: popularly known as Arthurian sorceress, benevolent fairy, priestess, dark magician, enchantress, witch, sea goddess, shape-changer, healer, and the sole personage of Avalon the Isle of Apples, not to mention daughter of Ygerna (Igraine) and Gorlois, half-sister to King Arthur, mother of Mordred, lady-in-waiting to Guinevere, husband of Uriens, lover of Sir Accolon, fancier of Sir Lancelot, and 'as fair a lady as any might be'.
Morgan Le Fay was first introduced into Arthurian legend by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the Vita Merlini (c. 1150) but her true origin, as with many Arthurian characters, leads back into Celtic mythology and inevitably develops with each new rendition of the tale. Morgan Le Fay's character is interesting enough, but so is her name.
The name 'Morgan Le Fay'
In Celtic terms, Morgan (or Morcant) is a man's name. The feminine version is more correctly Morgain (or Morgue or Morgne). Also Morrigan equates with Morrigu of Irish mythology. According to Celtic tradition the Morrigan (a Triple Goddess of Celtic myth, thought of as the Goddess of Death) flew over battles, shrieking like ravens and claiming dead soldiers' heads as trophies. Or the answer may lie in Uriens - in early Welsh literature Modron (a version of Matrona) was the daughter of Avallach, wife of Urien, and mother of Owein. The Welsh and Arthurian story lines were later merged, forming a link between Modron and King Arthur. Further, there was a sixth-century Cumbrian ruler called Urien Rheged who presided over a loose coalition of kings (according to some accounts there was also an Arthur, son of King Aedan of dal Riada). Urien had a loose ally: Morcant Bulc - a man - who eventually plotted to assassinate him, which could have been Sir Thomas Malory's inspiration for the plot in Le Morte d'Arthur where Morgan Le Fay attempts to kill Arthur and Uriens.
'Le Fay' is an ancient word for a fairy and to this day, apparently, the Breton name for a water-nymph is a 'Morgan'.
The possible roots of the Arthurian character Morgan Le Fay therefore run deep into early British mythology and can be traced across several hundred years up to her final act as one of the three women who transported the fatally wounded King Arthur in a barge to the Isle of Avalon to be healed (outcome unrecorded). A speculative summary, based on Welsh and other Arthurian legend, suggest an identification with Modron and also with the river goddess Matrona, possibly derived from the Irish goddess Morrigan. Given the superstitious Christian attitude to supernatural women in the medieval era, the more she is humanised, the more the name Morgan Le Fay descends into an easy literary metaphor for devious, sometimes evil mischief.
Nonetheless the much-maligned Morgan Le Fay never becomes purely evil. Her attractive qualities remain - a healer, she is associated with art and culture, she is sexy, and in the end is worthy of redemption.
Morgan Le Fay pre-Malory
In Monmouth's Vita Merlini, Morgan was the chief among her nine sisters: Moronoe, Mazoe, Gliten, Glitonea, Cliton, Tyronoe, and Thitis, and Morgause. She could change shape at will (and to be young or old, beautiful or ugly, or an animal or other object) and to fly with wings, hence - 'Le Fay', or Faerie. There was no suggestion of a blood relationship between Arthur and Morgan - she was simply his healer. In Chrétien de Troyes' Erec and Enide, Morgan le Fay was a friend of Guingamar, Lord of Avalon and one of the guests at the wedding of Erec and Enide. Chrétien descibes her as a giver of healing ointments but she is more typically portrayed as a wicked enchantress who learned her crafts in a Christian nunnery, powers which were subsequently extended with the help of Merlin. She was referred to later as Arthur's sister (and again as a healer), and in Le Chevalier au Lion her ointments cured Yvain's madness. Neither Geoffrey of Monmouth nor Chrétien de Troyes described her as the wife of Uriens.
In the The Vulgate Cycle (1215 to 1235) Morgan Le Fay is however married to Uriens. She is also Queen Guinevere's lady in waiting and fell in love with the King's nephew, Giomar, but Guinevere put an end to the romance. Morgan responded by betraying the Queen's affair with Lancelot to King Arthur. She had herself become infatuated with Sir Lancelot though he consistently refused her attentions, despite being imprisoned by her several times. The suspect nature of Morgan Le Fay's character appears to have been fuelled by the Cistercian monks who wrote the stories of the Vulgate Cycle, prejudiced by the earlier concept of the Morrighan. They undoubtedly considered the idea of a non-religious female healer to be the mark of blasphemy.
In another well-known work - the anonymous late 14th Century poem 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' (the Green Knight was, like Morgan, a 'shape-shifter') - she was the instigator of the plot which began the story. Here, the Virgin Mary (as the female archetype representing spiritual love, obedience, chastity, and life) is contrasted with Morgan Le Fay's representation of courtly love, disobedience, lust and death.
Morgan Le Fay in Sir Thomas Malory's
Le Morte d'Arthur
In Le Morte d'Arthur Morgan Le Fay is fully established as wife of Uriens, sister of Arthur, but is not, truly, a major character. Her best-known part in the tale is as follows:
When Uther Pendragon married Igraine (Book 1), Morgan was the youngest of her three daughters from her previous marriage to Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall, who had been slain by Uther's army just before he raped her at Tintagel Castle (and begat Arthur). Morgan was then sent to a nunnery. According to Malory's timescale, at the time of Uther's death two years later, Morgan would have been between thirteen and sixteen and already married to Uriens. At any rate, when the young King Arthur waged war against the five kings Morgan had a grown son, Uwaine, who was close to knighthood.
King Arthur and Morgan Le Fay first came face to face when he sent for Igraine to verify his parentage. At that stage there are no indications of any feelings either way between Morgan and Arthur, but at the burial of Lot and the eleven kings (Book 2) Merlin told Arthur, "Sir, take care with the scabbard of Excalibur, for ye shall lose no blood while ye have it upon you, no matter how many wounds ye have." Arthur passed the scabbard to Morgan Le Fay for safekeeping, but she loved another knight more than she did her husband (or King Arthur) so she secretly had made a replica of the scabbard and gave the real one to her lover, Sir Accolon of Gaul to protect him.
Following the war with the five kings, Arthur, Uriens, and Accolon went on a hunt (Book 4). Their horses exhausted, they found themselves near nightfall by a great lake where they saw a silk-clad ship approach. Venturing on board, they were greeted by twelve damosels, banqueted, then shown separate chambers. Once in a drug-induced sleep, each was magically transported away, Uriens back to Camelot (where he awoke beside Morgan), Arthur to the prison of the evil Sir Damas (minus his sword and scabbard), and Accolon to a well close to manor of the good Ontzlake, younger brother of Sir Damas.
Morgan Le Fay's wicked plan
Despite being brothers, Sir Damas and Sir Ontzlake had become mortal enemies, the younger offering to resolve their differences in combat but the latter always refusing, preferring to elect another knight to fight for him. But Damas was too hated ever to find such a knight. At this point a damsel came to Arthur with an offer from Damas that he and his fellow-prisoners would be freed if he would take on the fight, to which Arthur agreed. The damsel was of course 'false', having been sent by Morgan Le Fay.
At the same time a dwarf came to Sir Accolon by the well, sent by Morgan to remind him of his earlier (secret) promise to fight an unspecified knight whenever she chose the moment. Accolon would bring her the knight's head and Morgan Le Fay would become Queen. And now was the moment. The dwarf gave him Excalibur and the scabbard, sent by Morgan, and Accolon made himself ready for combat, on behalf, as it turned out, of Sir Ontzlake against his brother. As Arthur in turn readied himself another damsel came, once again sent by Morgan, and gave him a sword like Excalibur and its scabbard, from which he took reassurance not knowing they were nothing more than poor replicas. The whole monstrous ruse, evidently, had long been planned by Morgan Le Fay so that she could replace Guinevere as Queen.
Nimue, the Lady of the Lake, saves
The duel, watched by Nimue, the Lady of the lake, was prolonged and bloody and Sir Accolon, boldened by Excalibur, almost won after Arthur's useless sword snapped off at the handle. Nimue took pity and with the help of her enchantment Arthur was able to deal such a blow to his opponent that the real Excalibur fell to the ground and he leaped to it and took it in his hand. About to kill Accolon, he asked his name and Accolon confessed all, and thus was spared but died from his wounds soon after, prompting Arthur to despatch his remains to his half-sister at Camelot as a warning.
In the meantime Morgan would have slain her husband, confident of Accolon's success with Excalibur and the scabbard, but Uriens was saved at the last moment by the intervention of Uwaine, his son, by whom Morgan would herself have been slain had she not agreed to leave Camelot forever. She rode to the nunnery where Arthur was recovering from his wounds and tried to steal back the real Excalibur and scabbard while he slept, but was only able to take the scabbard because the sword was in his hand. When Arthur awoke he set off with Sir Ontzlake in pursuit of Morgan, but she cast the scabbard into a deep lake. She then used her shape-changing powers to disguise herself and her entourage as standing stones to escape further pursuit.
Morgan Le Fay then retreated to her domains (still Book 4). En route she came across a knight leading another bound knight, Manassen (a cousin of Accolon) to be drowned in a fountain for adultery with his wife. For her lost love, and because Manassen swore his innocence, she released him and let him bind and drown his accuser.
At this point Morgan fades somewhat from the mainstream of the story. She went to occupy her lands in Gore, and then to her Castle of Tauroc. To thwart any reprisal by Arthur she sent a damosel to give him a rich mantle embellished with precious stones (in atonement for her sins). But the mantle was laced with poison - Nimue intervened to save Arthur, who made its bearer put it on, who fell down and burnt to coals. Uwaine was later suspected by Arthur of being instrumental in Morgan's earlier escape from Camelot, and was banished from the court.
The Royal court appears to have
thought Morgan Le Fay dead, until King Arthur came across her residence while
out hunting one day, and the two were reconciled. In later life she moved
to the Isle of Avalon, where she and her allies, the Queen of Northgalis,
and the Queen of the Wastelands (and also many damosels, including Nimue)
took her dying half-brother to be "healed" after his last battle.
Morgan le Fay, Morgana, Morgen, Morrigan
The mysterious Morgan le Fay is one of the most misunderstood of the Arthurian characters. Throughout the tales, she seems to be attempting to kill Arthur and his knights, yet she is sorrowful at Arthur's death and takes him to Avalon to be healed. She is often believed to be a malevolent enchantress, but this is not accurate.
Morgan's role is vital to the success of Arthur and the Round Table fellowship, for her role is that of the challenger. By presenting perilous situations to the warriors, she is testing their abilities and helping them develop into the archetypes they ultimately represent. As a spirit guide, Morgan places obstacles in our path in order to draw the best from us. She is testing our ability to cope with awkward situations, and showing us how to find inner strength.
It is the reality of life that we cannot always cope with difficulties on our own, but as we can see from the Arthurian legends, sometimes Morgan's games are best solved with teamwork. We should recognise those times when we need to ask our friends for advice and support. Morgan may be harsh with us at times, but she is always pointing us in the right direction.
Often associated with the raven, Morgan is an Arthurian version of the Irish goddess Morrigan, who appeared on the battlefields in raven form. Her purpose was to guide the fallen to the Otherworld, and Morgan's appearance after the Battle Of Camlann reflects this theme. She is one of the faerie queens who takes Arthur to Avalon. Therefore Morgan is a powerful ally, for not only does she guide us through life but stays with us when it is time to venture to the next realm.
Morgan is half-human and half-faerie. She is a shamanic figure who can pass with ease between Earthworld and Annwn. She is a shapeshifter, and her magick is so powerful that she has the ability to alter the form of others; Gromer Somer Joure, Ragnell and Bertilak being the most famous examples from the myths.
Every task set by Morgan has a
purpose, every riddle has an answer. Morgan guides us through the complexities
of life, never once trying to delude us into thinking that everything is straightforward.
She helps us understand something of the nature of the universe.
Morgan le Fay
Aka 'Carvilia', 'Fata Morgana', 'Morgana le Fay', 'The fay or fairy Morgana', 'Modron' (from Morrighan), 'Mordron', 'High Priestess' and 'Lady of the Lake', 'Argante, Queen of the Otherworld' (See Argante), 'Elven Queen of Avalon'.
Daughter of 'Igraine' (See Igraine) and 'Gerlois, the Duke of Cornwall' (See Gerlois), younger sister of 'Morgause' (See Morgause) and 'Elaine of Garlot' (See Elaine of Garlot), half-sister of 'Arthur' (See Arthur). She is also reputed to have been Arthur's fairy sister. As the Fata Morgana character in the Arthurian romances she is also referred to as the 'fairy Morgana' or 'fata morgana', and in this form is associated with visions. The most popularised version of her in this form was in the legend of 'Huon of Bordeaux', where Morgana as an Otherworldly (See Otherworld) woman desires mortal men above all others.
Lover of 'Guiomar' (See Guiomar) then 'Accolon' (See Accolon of Gaul) with whom she is associated with the disappearance of the sword 'Excalibur' (See Excalibur), and in later Arthurian romances the wife of 'Urien, King of Northumbria' (See Urien), mother of a son 'Uwain' (See Owain).Whilst wife of Urien she is said to be a lady-in-waiting to Guinevere who she despises. With the help of Accolon she is said to have plotted Arthur's downfall, but ultimately his dedication to Morgan was to be his downfall according to one legend.
Arthur is said to have been tricked into Morgan's grasp by enticement. Whilst out hunting he spied and boarded a boat made of crystal and silk sails. Arthur fell into a deep sleep and the boat rushed down river and when he awoke he was in a cold and dark prison cell with other men who revealed that hey had been there many years for their refusal to fight for a lord named 'Damas'. The men were freed by Arthur agreeing to fight for the lord against his brother in order for Damas to win an inheritance, and Arthur was given both armour and a shield. The same woman who had given him these gave him 'Caliburn', later known as Excalibur, together it seemed with the scabbard, telling him that his sister Morgan le Fay had sent this to him. A fight began with his opponent, but Arthur was powerless to defend himself and he began to fail. At the very moment of Arthur feeling his life was about to end a woman appeared and his opponent's sword was ripped from his hands. He had been tricked. The word used by his opponent was Caliburn. As she announced this Arthur reclaimed his sword and killed his opponent revealed to be Accolon, his half-sister's lover.
This legend is typical of the many which show how determined Morgan is to defeat and kill Arthur.
Reputed to be the daughter of 'Affallach of the Otherworld', and therefore known to be a shape-shifter and a mistress of the arcane. Said to have lived in 'Calabria'.
'Malory' (See Malory) describes this character as being schooled in a nunnery, whilst she is also said to have lived on the 'Fortunate Isles' or the 'Isle of Apples' with her nine muses or twelve sisters. According to 'Geoffrey of Monmouth' in his work entitled 'Vita Merlini' (c.AD1150) (See Geoffrey of Monmouth) she is the first of the sisters, and together with the Italian poet 'Aristo' (AD1474-AD1533) in his work 'Orlando Furoso' (AD1516) the sisters included: 'Tyrone', 'Gililen', 'Cliton', 'Glitonea', 'Goroien', 'Thitis', 'Morganetta', 'Alcina', 'Logistilla', 'Mazoe', 'Marrion'.
It has been suggested that perhaps the development of Morgan's muses was influenced by the Norse myths that told of the handmaidens of 'Odin, God of the Dead' (See Odin), known as the 'Valkyries', travelling to 'Valhalla' and awaiting the arrival of the heroes. A further parallel is drawn here between the belief in the Norse kingdom of Valhalla and that of 'Avalon' (See Avalon). Just as heroes were welcomed in Valhalla by sacred female forms, Morgan is seen to be present through her sisters on the sacred barque which transports Arthur to Avalon to be healed after the 'Battle of Camlan' (See Camlan). Despite her involvement in many legends, particularly the 'Vulgate Cycle', as a woman whose dislike of 'Guinevere' (See Guinevere) is demonstrated, being the catalyst of the confrontation between the 'Green Knight' (See Green Knight) and Arthur here, at the hour of Arthur's wounding, she is seen to represent a Goddess, one of healing, and she is therefore associated with deriving from Celtic mythology. It is said that by staying with her Arthur would be healed.
This image is also said to be influenced by her associations with 'Morrighan' (See Morrighan) who was depicted as a triple-goddess, having three facets. As Arthur is placed in the boat in later legend the figure of Morgana is seen to be accompanied by two veiled women, perhaps her sisters Elaine and Morgause, but perhaps also these women are of the Otherworld (See Otherworld). The development of Morgana mythology is said to be heavily based upon 'Morrighan' (See Morrighan) who was an ancient Celtic Goddess of War, although some contemporary writers reveal her to perhaps be connected with 'Modron' (See Modron).
She is described as Arthur's foremost enemy and desired to destroy all that loved, including his precious 'Guinevere' (See Guinevere), the sanctity of the Knights, the Round Table fellowship (See Round Table) and Arthur himself. One of her main aims was to recover 'Excalibur' (See Excalibur) from Arthur.
Medieval texts were known to ignore
the character of Morgan, preferring to focus on the relationship of the King
and his Knights. Although there has been an interest in her being the mother
of 'Mordred' (See Mordred), rather than her sister Morgause, in twentieth-century
texts, Morgan is seen to appear on the sacred barque, to represent the saviour
of 'Camelot' (See Camelot). A very different picture to that associated with
early Christian portrayals.
Morgan le Fay
by Brian Edward Rise
Cite, rate, or print article Send comment Used sources
Introduced in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Vita Merlini, her name (there spelled "Morgen") implies ties to the realm of Fairy. She is also a magical figure as well as a priestess presiding over a sisterhood of nine inhabiting an enchanted isle. She receives the wounded king after the last battle and offers to cure him if he remains long enough.
There are many Celtic traditions evident here, not just of fairy queens ruling magic lands, but of actual sisterhoods of healers and miracle workers recorded in classical literature. Such a group might have been led by a priestess that served as the earthly manifestation of a goddess. Giraldus Cambrensis and other medieval authors were well aware of Morgan's divinity. Comparison of Welsh and non-Welsh Arthurian matter show her to be somewhat identified with Modron and ultimately with the river goddess Matrona, similar to and possibly derived from the Irish goddess Morrigan.
Christianity humanizes and eventually vilifies her. Early on she is a type of benevolent fairy that aids Arthur throughout his life, not just at the end. The Welsh claim her father to be the obscure Avallach, king of the magical island with it's Welsh name, but he fades from legend. Morgan is essentially the sole personage of Avalon, the Isle of Apples. She is further humanized with the progress of Arthurian storytelling. The former goddess becomes a daughter of Ygerna and her first husband Gorlois, the Duke of Cornwall, making Morgan Arthur's half sister. Glastonbury's identification with Avalon leads to beliefs that she ruled in that area but romances place her in various locations. She becomes the owner of the Castle of Maidens, possibly near Edinburgh while a few continental romancers move her to the Mediterranean entirely. Sicliy is one such place. She is named Fata Morgana by the Italians and that name is given to a mirage that appears in the Straits of Messina attributed to her magic in the past.
Medieval Christianity had a difficult time assimilating a benevolent enchantress, she becomes more and more sinister. She is now a witch taught the black arts by Merlin and is a bedevilment to Arthur and his knights with a special hatred towards Queen Guinevere. Oft times she is involved in a plan to ensnare a knight for her own pleasure by sending them into a "valley of no return," or against a mighty adversary. Other times she is married to Urien and bears a son, Owain or Yvain. Yet she never becomes purely evil. Many attractive qualities remain and Morgan is associated with art and culture. Despite the scheming and plotting at court, she is still the one who bears the wounded King to his place of healing on Avalon.
Part of Christianity's failure
to understand the character of Morgan was their misapplied versions of morality.
They imposed a Judeo-Christian ethical structure over a Celtic one and tried
to eradicate the conflicts. The monks basically misunderstood the beliefs
of Celtic rule. Women had equal if not greater power than men and were expected
to take lovers. This is evident in the transcription of the Tain, the national
epic of Ireland (except here scribal ignorance of Celtic ways actually preserved
many of them). This is also the reason why Guinevere is seen as unfaithful
rather than a free woman free to make her own choices in who she beds. Morgan
necessarily becomes a witch to explain her sexuality.
Aka : Dame d'Avalon
Race : Fea
Morgan also gave her name to the mermaids of Brittany called Maries Morgan or Morganes and the mermaids of Wales called Morgen. The treachery of these aquatic females was so renowned that storytellers carried the fame of these demons as far as Italy, where mirages over the straights of Messina are to this day called Fata Morganas.
Element : Water, Fire and Air
Origin : Morgan Le Fay was a malign fairy or sorceress who appeared in many guises throughout Arthurian legend. A mysterious figure, she has been related to the Irish death queen, Badb, and to the celtic mistress of death and war, Morrigan. She had eight sisters and mothered three children by Urien, an ancient Brettonic deity of war and minstrelsy. In British legend, Morgan le Fay was related to King Arthur.
Powers : Endowed with supernatural skills in the art of herbal medicine, and occult magic powers, Morgan was one of the most powerful sorceress of her time. The t popular tales mentions the source of Morgan's magic knowledge. She was the mistress of Merlin, and had been trained by the great magician in her youth.
Appearance : Either beautiful or with a deformed face, Morgan can shapeshift into a variety of human and animal forms. If so, her beauty could be only a charm. In the legend of Sir Lancelot of the Lake, Morgan appears as a vicious hag, but in the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, she was an imposing crone and remained in the background until she was revealed as 'Morgan the goddess'. In Ireland she assumed the shape of a wolf-bitch or a heifer, crowned with a silver crescent instead of horns. If she was insulted in any manner, she took on the form of a crow that swooped down and stole children.
Lore : Morgan is the ruler of an underwater paradise, the island Avalon but inhabited at times other places besides Avalon. Her chief fortress was Mongibel in England, and she was the mistress of a castle full of beautiful but wicked fairy servants near Edinburgh, called the castle of the Maidens. But her main home always remained Avalon, where she resided with her demon husband, Guingamar.h
Story: In Malory's La Mort D'Arthur, Morgan plotted constantly against her half-brother, Arthur, and once succeeded in stealing his magic sword, Excalibur. Ironically, it was she who took Arthur to her island retreat to cure him of his wounds after the fatal battle of Camlan. Another medieval writer described Avalon, which meant the isle of apples, with the following words:
'Avalon, which men call the Fortunate Isle, is so named because it produces all things of itself. The fields there have no need of farmers to plow them, and nature alone provides all cultivation. Grains and grapes are produced without tending, and apple trees grow in the woods from the close-clipped grass...Thither after the battle of Camlan we took the wounded Arthur...with the Prince we arrived there and Morgan receved us with becoming honour. In her own chamber she placed the King on a golden bed, with her own hand uncovered the wound, and gazed at it long. At last she said that health could return to him, if her were to stay with her for a long time and wished to make use of her healing art.'
In one account, Orlando, a great hero, went to rescue the many worthy men who had been imprisoned in Morgan's castle. After overcoming many obstacles, such as dazzling beauty which blinded him temporarily, Orlando gained the silver key to the prison. Morgan warned him to be sure not to break the key in the lock or he would 'involve himself and all, in inevitable destruction.' This made Orlando ponder how 'few amid the suitors who importune the dame, know how to turn the Keys of Fortuen.' On another occasion, Morgan hexed the heroic child, Ogier the Dane, compelling him to live with her for one hundred years.monstrous.com
Morrigan Healing: An Exploration of an Archetype
Reprinted From Sheela-Na-Gig Magazine
'All that is perverse and horrible among the supernatural powers', A Goddess of battles who appears in the form of a scavenging scald-crow or a ragged winged raven, glorying in death and battle'.
This is the commonly held image of the Morrigan in folklore and story telling and in this form she plays a significant part in both the mythological story cycle, and the Heroic cycle.
Before the Battle of Magh Tuireadh, she promises Lugh that she will pursue any who seek to flee from battle. She draws 'the blood of his heart' from the Formoire leader Innneach stealing his power, and offers two handfuls of this blood to his foes at the Ford of Destruction.
She also prophecies the Tain and seems to be there at significant points, disturbing and troubling its unfolding. In her first meeting with Cuchulain she is revengeful when her advances are rebuffed and she is there at his death.
She is, indeed, portrayed as wild and war loving. One late text describes her as "shrieking triumphantly over fighting soldiers....a lean hag, speedily leaping over the points of their weapons and shields." So she comes down into our time as a figure presiding over death and destruction or dwindled into dark and fearful figure, leading spirits out of the Otherworld cave entrance of Cruachain at Samhain and the dark enemy of children's stories.
But it is not just as a wild haired grey and nimble hag, pouring curses, hailstones and fiery showers on the assembled enemies of her people that she enters into the old stories. She may equally appear as a strong and beautiful woman as when she meets and mates with the Dagda before the battle against the Formoire.
A crimson robed, flame-headed warrior , she appears coming out of the Sid of Cruachain bringing a red eared white heifer to the brown Bull of Cuailnge.
".....a chariot harnessed with a chestnut horse. The horse had but one leg and the pole of its chariot passed through its body,.....Within the chariot was a woman, her eyebrows red and a crimson mantle round her. Her mantle fell behind her between the wheels of the chariot so that it swept along the ground........"
She appears to Cuchulain in similar form calling herself the King of Buan's daughter and offering him her treasure and herself . She is also a powerful shape-shifter appearing as a white heifer, an eel, a wolf, an otter as well as the more usual crow, black bird or raven.
It is generally accepted that Morrigan (Mor Rioghan, Morrigu) has the meaning of Great Queen or possibly Phantom, i.e. Otherworld Queen. It is certainly a title rather than a name. In the glossary to the Battle of Magh Tureadh her names are given as Danu and Ana, (Anu). Now Ana is one of the oldest names of the Great Mother Goddess and in that or similar forms the name appears in mythologies from all over the world. She was Anna-Nin, Lady of Heaven in Sumeria, Anat in Canaan, Anatha in Syria, Nanna in the Norse lands, Hannah, Di-ana, Inanna, Anna Perena, Grandmother time; the list is endless. She is the Great-mother, the Grand-mother and it is hardly surprising that She is remembered in Christian mythology as the Grandmother of Christ.
In Celtic mythology she is remembered as Anu, Danu, Mother of Her people, the Tuatha De Danaan. Her name is commemorated in the landscape, as in the Paps of Anu in Killarney, and elsewhere. (There are small hills known as "The Paps of the Morrigan" in Co. Meat). Anu, Danu, is the giver of Gifts, of inspiration of brightness. but she is also the bring of sleep and darkness. Danu's children revered the night and gave darkness precedence over day. And in folklore she becomes both the bright fairy woman, Erin and the black 'witch' Anis . As Great-Mother she encompasses both light and dark, both giving and receiving back.
If She is the 'Great Queen' of Ireland then the stories will show evidence of her sovereignty. There are many stories of a prospective king who is met and tested by a woman who changes from old to young, from hideous to beautiful These encounters often take place near water so that it is not unexpected to find that the Dagda mates with the Morrigan as she stand bathing with one foot on each bank of the river.
It is interesting that when she offers herself to Cuchulain he refuses her 'queenship'. Is the story seeing Cuchulain as a "solar hero", a patriarchal warrior type who no longer seeks the mating with the Goddess of the land? Perhaps, although other aspects of his myth do not wholly bear this out. Even so the Cuchulain story belongs to the 'heroic' rather than the 'mythological' cycle.
These great Goddesses are always triple and the Morrigan is no exception. She is usually viewed as one of a triad of sisters, including Badhbh, and Macha.
Macha is also a Goddess of the Land. Besides the well known story of her race with the king's horses and her birthing curse on the warriors of Ulster there is also the story of how she laid out the boundaries of Emain Macha with her broach pin. She is the horse Goddess and protector of her people.
Nemain is another known war Goddess as is Fea. At the battle of Magh Tuireadh they are all mentioned as wives of Nuada so perhaps they are all aspects of the Goddess of the land evoked for protection.
And why have they remained, remembered only as Goddesses of war and battle? The Goddesses of the Sacred Land, and all land is sacred, are givers of prosperity and fertility. Their chosen ones were pledged to uphold and cherish the gifts of the Goddess.
Maybe there are clues in the stories. Macha's secrets are raped and her gifts abused through pride and jealousy. When she is forced to race against her own natural cycles and to give birth before her time her blessing becomes a curse. When Cuchulain refuses the Morrigan's gifts he begins a cycle of competition rather than co-operation. Is it any wonder that she is perceived as angry? He wounds her in her shape shifted forms and is only healed when he consents to drink from the teats of her cow and offers a blessing. He accepts her nourishment and healing takes place.
It is clear that in the stories, conquest of the land becomes paramount. and therefore conquest of the Goddess by whatever name she is known. How can it be otherwise when She is the land. Where we seek to abuse, there we also fear. She has become the recipient of our fearful projections and so becomes fearful herself.
So why Morrigan healing? If we regard her as dark and fearful then we will treat the Sacred land in the same way. If we see her as guide and protectress then she will grant us the clear vision of her ravens. Her healing will be cleansing, not easy maybe, because as the earth rots away and transforms all that is dead, or as fire consumes and transmutes static energies, or as the scavengers pick clean, so her cleansing is to the bone. Not easy, but what she transforms is cleansed to health.
Remember that after the Tain, the cattle raid, it is she who tells the trees and the rivers the outcome. It is she, who after the battle of Magh Tuireadh, sings the song of blessing and regeneration.
Peace up to the skies;
The skies down to the earth;
The earth under the skies;
Strength to everyone.
A Goddess of natural cycle then, And with the natural cycles of the land so threatened and damaged the battle aspect cannot be ignored. But if we are cooperating with her and not in competition then any conflict will become part of the healing process, not an end in itself.
The Morrigan; Goddess of no pain, no gain.
And why should I write of her now at this brightening turn on the path of the year? Brightness, energy; She comes armed and crimson robed. But as traditionally the young warrior was armed and blessed by the mother, as Scathach armed Cuchulain, gave him training and focus and let him go, so the Goddess gives us the tools and the focus we need to fulfill our tasks, blesses us and lets us go. We choose how we use them.
She gives us the knowledge; it is our will to survive. - Chris Thompsonwitches cauldron.net