Monthly Archives: July 2016

Me, The Morrigan, and Pilgrimage

November 1, 2011 – Rathcroghan Complex, Tulsk, Co Roscommon, Ireland

In 2011, I visit her cave for the first time, on a whim. My friend Jamie has featured it in one of her fictional stories, and suggested I go check it out while I am in Ireland.  With my friend’s new IPhone as my only light, I make it half way down before the fear of dropping her phone in the mud is quickly overtaken by the primal fear of the dark and death. I, who loves caves and the dark, am wondering if I am having a panic attack, and if I can make it out. This was the day and way I met the Morrigan. I did not know her by name until I visited the Rathcroghan Visitor Centre a few hours later.


July 2012 – Rathcroghan Complex, Tulsk, Co. Roscommon, Ireland

I am hosting a pilgrimage, and we visit the cave with a proper guide who would later become my good friend, Lora O’Brien. She takes some of us down, those that feel called, and again I feel fear, but this time I have my sister with me, and we hold hands in the dark, which helps just enough to keep me down in the cave. The Morrigan asks me many questions, and tells me to devote myself to something. To what will I devote myself? I answer her, and I do devote myself to that answer, and it changes my life from there on out. I am interested in the Morrigan now, and we arrange to speak again soon.


December  2014 – North Georgia, USA

In 2014, I get out of Atlanta for some fresh air. I head up North and go hiking. Mid-hike, I hear Her calling me loudly. I feel like I am in the cave again, though I’m not–it’s hot and humid, and the sun is burning me even though it’s December.  As I walk on, I find a sign indicating that this is a Civil War battle site. I ask Her if it’s Her site. She says yes, but it’s not her kind of war. She tells me what her battles look like, and they remind me of my own. Later that week, I will receive the catalyst, a phone call that will kick off years of battle in my own life. I will return to that site several more times to discuss my battle with Her. Battles that have left me stronger and victorious internally, but also with scars and heartaches that never seem to heal. She always tells me “I take first” when I complain about the pain.


September 2015 – Rathcroghan Complex, Tulsk, Co. Roscommon, Ireland

The battle rages on, quietly, internally, behind the lines, and escaping the notice of most, but never escaping Her’s. I once again go and visit the cave with Lora O’Brien. This time, I have plenty to be grateful for. Unwanted blessings released. She tells me the suffering will end soon, my rewards are just, and that life is messy and horrible. It soothes me, and I leave her my blood as an offering. When I come out of the cave, there is a little boy from a nearby farmhouse, with his pet bunny.  While I respect and honor Her cave, I am glad there are little boys with pet bunnies running around the world, and I spend sometime with both of them.


June 2015 – Morrigan’s Call Retreat, Orange CT

I have my most profound experience of the Morrigan yet. We are all in paint and feathers around a bonfire. She is calling us Her ravens. “What do you fight for?” She asks, “Are you brave?” I meet one of Her Priestesses, who through great grace, grounding, and devotion, holds the Morrigan for me. She tells me, “You are a star. You deserve what I gift you, take it.” It takes many moons for the message to sink in, and when it does, my path opens up before me and I receive blessings that stick with me to this day.

I now await re-visiting the Civil War battlefield, Rathcroghan, and The Morrigan Retreat in 2017  with equal anticipation. This Samhain, I will spend October 30, the day before Samhain, in Her cave with another group of pilgrims. According to local legend, we will be there the eve of when the cave turns into a portal to hell, and demons come out.  I am already scared, but I will go and hold hands, and see what She has in store for me next.

Vyviane Armstrong, July 2016



Vyviane Armstrong owns and operates Land, Sea, Sky Travel, which has a special focus on Liminal Travel and Sacred Site pilgrimages in North America, UK, and Ireland.

She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She lives outside of Atlanta, in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

You can find her at Land, Sea, Sky Travel


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Filed under Answering the Call, Pilgrimage, Reflections on Power & Practice


When I turned 40 my daughter came by and with a smug mouth stretched wide over red speckled cheeks, she handed me a card. Inside the card was pin that declared in a loud font with electric colors “I’ve survived damn near everything” I spit my drink out. We had a good laugh. She’d gone and found me the perfect “over the hill” gift.

When I started to write this, I realized with a lot of trepidation that the reader is going to need some background. At first I thought I’d share in a very general way, because I don’t’ want anyone to focus too much on the details of my encounters (and other reasons). I wrote pages of smart little notes using a different color pen each time I sat down over the last month. I organized quotes. I studied the lore again looking for analogies to use. This morning I prayed to the Great Queen for some guidance or direction again. And then I threw all the notes out. It wasn’t authentic. It wasn’t me. This is how the Morrigan works in my life:

As implied with the birthday pin, which incidentally I still have, I’m a survivor. I’m not sure when I became a survivor exactly because the flash backs go as far back as I can remember. I’m going to try to give you a synopsis of some of the things I’ve survived. Brevity is a challenge so…. I was raised Christian. I feel like our Christianity as a household would’ve been mixed in with the white paint on the picket fence if we’d had one. Inside that false boundary though was something altogether different.

We had a smorgasbord of porn in our house. As a result, there was inappropriate sexual activity. My first sexual encounter outside of immediate family was being infiltrated at 12 by a man my much older sister brought home. After years of this infiltrating, I came out with it. My dysfunctional family could not or would not bring themselves to face what had happened and he wasn’t held accountable. In fact my sister married him and they had two children. But not to worry, the truth eventually came pounding on her door, they divorced, and he very recently hung himself. During these early years I am ever dreaming of snakes. Not one or two, great tangled masses of snakes. My gran assured this meant I was being chased by Satan and I needed to adjust accordingly, or else. I escaped life by walking to a place in the woods on the back side of a pasture with a little brook running near. It always beckoned with it’s soft mossy beds and the smell of trees that had been composting for eons. I named this place the Fairies Mounds. It’s still with me today.

Of course, I eventually rebelled against the family. In no small way. By fourteen years I spent most days anywhere but home. I partied in the surrounding cities with an older “more seasoned” crowd. I was searching for something. What I found was gang rape. The rapists did have the courtesy to drop me off at home later(a different home at this point). I’m very lucky, and I know it. I tell no one. I decide to get married and have a baby, because that’s the obvious answer to my misery. It will keep me safe. Still Christian at this point, pretty darn Baptist by now. And I’m still dreaming of snakes.

Fast forward through a divorce (at 18). I spent the following years alternating between working a trade in construction (which I still do) to support my daughter, getting a degree, and partying as hard as humanly possible to kill the flashbacks. I’d also changed my outlook on power at this point. I met my shame head on attempting to master my twisted view of sex by using it to my advantage. And many times it worked, other times I found more misery under those rocks. I did meet an awesome history teacher during this seven years of my “singlehood”. He introduced me to a lot of practices that I now see for the spiritual tools that they were. They were subtle land rituals. I also began to dream of talking ravens(maybe crows but for this, I’ll use ravens. They told me things I no longer remember much of.  I do remember they foretold of a trip I would eventually take with this man up the east coast to NYC and Toronto. A trip that would change my world view. I’d never been anywhere since we’d left the Air Force and settled in tobacco country where my parents grew up. I was happy. I was terrified. So I left him.

I got married again in a flash. It stunts my tendency to turn towards the wilderness right? If only for a while. I’m still a Baptist, but I’d encountered some Greek and Norse mythology (history teacher), and I loved it more than more than I thought I should. Oh, and I’d read Arthurian literature. And yes, I identified with the seemingly tortured protagonist in Zimmer-Bradley’s books, Morgan Lefaye. No, I don’t personally feel she’s at all related to the Morrigan. I do think some who are interested in Morgan Lefaye find themselves wandering through the lore of the Great Queen at some point and that is not necessarily a bad thing. That‘s not how it happened for me.

This 2nd marriage was formed in utter sickness. There was absolutely nothing healthy about it. I’d chosen an abuser with several untreated symptoms. I had untreated symptoms. I’d been through a slew of counselors over the years. He did what abusers do. I seethed over his drinking and did what enablers and battered wives do. I isolated with self-help and “wommyn’s” spiritual books. The ravens started to come back. They told me more things I can’t exactly recall. I’d read about women’s religions, and a tad about Wicca, but always with the fear of damnation on my heels. But it planted a seed and I began to organize an exit plan. That’s when she first made Herself known to me in a way I couldn’t deny.

It was a dream that wasn’t a dream. It’s been about 16 years now and some of the details have gotten scarce. However, I’ll never lose the image of her standing there in a long dress, dark auburn hair, surrounded by ravens or crows, and that voice. A silky, bellowing voice traveling a thousand years to reach me (best description I have). We were in a field with many paths running through it. She pointed and said “You are on the right path”. She gestured towards a path and told me to keep trucking. I found out in the next 48 hours that I was pregnant with our second son, my third child, so I stayed.

I swallowed my fate. I raised my children semi-sanely until they were all in school. After which time I took it upon myself to fight my husband as viciously as he fought me. I drank and drugged away the Morrigan’s attempts at communication. At this point Badb and Nemain are making terrifying appearances. I also ignored visits from the Good Neighbors who had shown up at some point in this blur though they always found a way to affect my life. I became one of the most toxic people I’ve had the displeasure of knowing. I was mad as hell. I fought everything and everyone. I fought everything in this world and the next. I fought myself.

Finally, when a considerable police presence became involved in the marital bliss, we decided to split. I was somehow holding a job as an analyst for a large pharma corp. Not for long. I met a new person at work. I quickly lost myself in that relationship. We were both eventually laid off along with 3K others. And then I dug the deepest hole possible. I watched everything I ever identified myself with or as walk out the door. My beautiful home, car, sanity, my freedom, and finally my children.  I overdosed often. I stopped breathing on occasion and I seized too many times. My vital organs were failing and I welcomed it all. I also railed at my mother’s pastor in ICU “Where is your god now!?” Admittedly, this is all very dramatic. I was consumed by drama. And one day that voice from far away spoke to me again, and I started the long and bloody knuckled climb out.

That was about four years ago. Waking from that nightmare(death) seems likened to waking from a coma. It was raw, knotted, and terrifying. Now I attempt to manage a mean case of PTSD. In that first year I managed to get my children back. It wasn’t hard. The abusive ex had discovered new outlets for his aggressions. I had to take sedatives (under medical care) to get through court. I locked myself in my house for most of 3 years. I healed some wounds. I studied the Morrigan and developed a spiritual practice. I built a thick, tall wall around myself. I felt safe. I felt stronger. I dedicated myself to her in a formal ritual.

After the dedication she promptly decided to shake my little glass globe up again. This time she directed me to find others. I dug my heels in deep for a while. This was scary stuff. Finally, in June of 2015 I went to my first Call of the Morrigan retreat and I was mortified. I could hear the constant rattle of my teeth. I stayed anyway. I did what she directed me to do. I transformed and I grew so fast it was maddening. I reclaimed some of my lost power. And I discovered my shadow self. We didn’t get along.

A cycle worth noting in all that unverified personal gnosis above; During the times I turned my back to the call of the Morrigan and walked away from my sovereignty, I caused myself suffering. She poked, needled, and screamed. Some of the time, I cowered and suffered. I could turn away again and try to go it alone. I have a choice in the matter. My experiences have shown me that I am a much better person when I walk this shadowy path.

This past June, one year later, I returned to the retreat. It had become, for me, a sort of scale by which I measured my growth. There were moments I wrestled with my shadow. Panic followed. Not enough to hinder me from strengthening bonds in the community I’ve gotten to know over the last year. I didn’t need to hide in the tent. I did occasionally hold a hand. I reaffirmed my dedication by way of sacred tattoo on the first morning. The following day I served Badb by becoming her eyes. I left there still feeling the effects of her dark energy. I felt strong. And then I came home. Immediately I realized I’d left behind my best friend in a Tarot deck. Next, my family fell to pieces. And I sold the last thing I owned with title attached.(a good thing, towards my sovereignty of self) And then there was an incident that triggered a handful of my demons. I’m still in the process of doing the work it takes to embrace the many faces of my shadow.

I considered sharing many different aspects of what it’s like to be dedicated to this War Goddess who is always with me. I could talk about experiences with her as Prophetess or as Sorceress. Around those aspects I will share that the more I study her culture of origin, their land, language, and people the stronger and more intimate our relationship becomes. I could talk of experiences with the Others who often precede her. I could share more on my practice around the warrior aspects of this path. I don’t currently risk my life to protect others on a regular basis. I do work on strengthening physically with plans to return to martial arts. I stand for right causes and social justice. I also serve the Morrigan and my communities by way of supporting other survivors in their quests for self sovereignty. It’s in that spirit I share this. I read an article last night that spoke to me on this topic. I’ll share a quote:

“The most anti-capitalist protest is to care for another and to care for yourself. To take on the historically feminized and therefore invisible practice of nursing, nurturing, caring. To take seriously each other’s vulnerability and fragility and precarity, and to support it, honor it, empower it. To protect each other, to enact and practice community. A radical kinship, an interdependent sociality, a politics of care.”

I’ve found this community to be overflowing with survivors of all manner of traumas. We’re a hodge-podge of colors, races, paths, and genders. I’ve had chance to witness that common issues most of us struggle with at least once are typically around our worthiness in the form of our perceived weaknesses. I’ve also heard it said more than once that The Morrigan covets, or has affection for the wounded. I don’t feel like she covets the wounded so much as she knows how much we are capable of enduring. I want survivors, myself included, to always know that we’re called because of our strength, not the lacking of it.  We are strength and resiliency embodied. We are valuable to the Morrigan. We also have much to offer this broken world and its people if we fully embrace death of our old selves that so often comes with this call.

In solidarity,

Iníon Préacháin

Quote – Hedva , Johanna. Sick Woman Theory.

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Filed under Answering the Call, Healing, Reflections on Power & Practice

Rag Tree Tradition by Lora O’Brien

So, I’ve worked for the last 12 years as a professional tour guide to the sacred sites of Ireland, and let me tell ya, I’ve seen some shit.

8 of those years were spent managing the sites and visitor centre at the royal complex of Rathcroghan, Cruachan; which (as many of you know, unless you’re believing the nonsense that there’s no Morrigan sites in Connacht), is where the Morrigan ‘resides’ – Her primary site in Ireland is the Cave of the Cats, Uaimh na gCait. This site is an ancient cave, worked by human hands in later times, known as the primary physical entrance to the Irish Otherworld, which Medieval Christian scribes referred to ‘the Gates of Hell’ due to the unfortunate amount of monsters and demons (to their perception) which flowed out from this hole in the earth on an all too regular basis.

I’m probably telling y’all stuff you already know here, being folk who are interested in Herself. I’ve been Her priestess for 13 years, and I know how hard she pushes us to do the work, and how important real information is to Her.

But what you might not be aware of, and what I’d really, really, like you to be aware of (and tell all your mates), is the absolute misconceptions and horrific disrespect that Pagan or ‘spiritual’ visitors to Ireland show at our sites.

Let’s talk about the Rag Tree tradition, shall we?

In Ireland, we have long had the custom of the ‘Raggedy Bush’ or Rag Tree, and there’s similar in Scotland, with what they call ‘clooties’ tied to certain trees. The trees are Hawthorn, one of our most prominent native trees/bushes – Crataegus Monogyna, or in Irish, the Sceach Gheal. The Irish name literally means something like, ‘that which makes the hedgerow bright’, and when it’s covered in colourful rags it sure does. Most often, there’s a particular hawthorn, growing near a particular holy well, and this is the local Rag Tree.

Occasionally there’s no well or spring to be found, but my theory on that is that there used to be one and it’s gone now, or that the misconceptions around Rag Trees stretch back further than your average modern American tour group, and some fecker just decided at some stage that a single growing hawthorn was actually a Rag Tree, way back in the mists of time, and it stuck. Now, that doesn’t mean there’s no magic there today… just that it probably didn’t start out that way. The water nearby is a pretty important part of the magic here.

What’s it all about then? Well, basically, the tradition goes that you take a piece of cloth from a sick person, tie it to the tree (often with prayers), and the sickness disappears as the rag rots away. The water nearby is most often a holy or healing well, which helps of course.

Sounds simple enough, right? From a magical perspective, we’ve got sympathetic magic in the rotting of the fabric – the visual representation of the illness losing power and strength and eventually disintegrating. We’ve got an energetic loop that’s formed between the sick person (it has to be an item they’ve worn while ill, so imbued with their DNA or essence) for illness to flow to the tree, and back the way then with the healing energies from the water, through the roots of the tree. Make sense? Sure!

You know what doesn’t make sense though? Folk who come along and tie their rubbish to the tree. Or tie strings or cloth so tight they damage the tree branches. I’ve removed everything from crème egg (candy) foil wrappers to junk jewellery rings to plastic covered wire wrap ties from the branches of our Rag Trees on this island. Not cool people, not cool. That, at least though, can be written off as ignorance of a ‘quaint’ local tradition they want to be a part of, by people who are really just here for lip smacking the Blarney Stone and the Guinness.

What’s more worrying is the visitors who come to sites where there’s no Rag Tree, on supposed spiritual pilgrimage, and tie their shit to whatever tree happens to be there.

The Cave at Cruachan is a prime example of this. I was a guardian there for 13 years, and for 8 of those I was paid to be in and out of it most days of the week. There’s a hawthorn that grows over the mouth of the cave, but it’s a relatively young one. Maybe 20 or 30 years old is all. It’s a fairy tree in the sense of it being smack bang over the mouth of a Sidhe dwelling, and it’s definitely magical… but it’s not a Rag Tree. Every week though, there’d be some new bit of tat tied to it. One tour group got a nylon umbrella off their bus, ripped it to bits, and tied the bits to the tree. Then they left the umbrella carcass in the field, got on their bus, and drove off.

There were obviously some who wanted to leave an ‘offering’ at the site, to connect themselves there in some way, and perhaps that’s how some of the cloth strips got into the tree. Maybe some were even cloth from the garments of sick people. But this is not a healing site. In my experience – personally, and collected from feedback of those who energetically interacted with the site – the entities at this site will gleefully follow any connection you choose to make there, go right back to source, and tear down anything weak that they find there. Ostensibly ‘for your own good’, of course, but they are absolutely merciless about it… if you lay a pathway for them they will follow it. This is not a good thing, for most people. Especially unprepared people. People who maybe think that Irish entities and Sidhe spirits are essentially pleasant and good natured, full of the craic, and harmless to let in. People who are perhaps sick, and not at full energetic defensive strength.

There was once a baby’s bib tied through the branches of the hawthorn tree at the Morrigan’s Cave. Just take a moment, and let that sink in for yourself.

You see now why I might be a bit ranty on this topic? Can we not do this anymore?

My best advice is to take local advice. If you want to find a real Rag Tree, there’s websites and books that will tell you where to begin your search, but first and foremost you should be talking to local people. Get exact directions. Check that the tree you think might be the one is actually the one. And remember, just because some eejit has tied something to it before you got there, doesn’t make it a Rag Tree.

Please, be sure?

13625325_10154343445948833_754878224_nLora O’Brien is a native Irish Author and Guide to Ireland, facilitating your authentic connection to Ireland one small step at a time. You can get involved with the excellent Irish Rewards by becoming a Patron of her work at, or visit her website to find out about her upcoming on-line course, Meeting the Morrigan. You can find Lora’s blog, books, mailing list, classes and more at


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Filed under Pilgrimage, Reflections on Power & Practice

Music & Magic by Sheena Cundy

I honour the Goddess through my life and music. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than sharing the words and melodies I am inspired to create with Her help.

sheena singigIn fact I think She’s been helping me out for longer than I’ve been consciously aware of for many years…

The horse, the transformative life lessons of loss and music have all been the great healers in my life. And the more I learn about the Morrigan and her energy – I’m pretty sure She has played a major part in the spiritual engineering of my life… especially at the moment.

The music is now such a strong connection with Her that I struggle to find the words to express how I feel without it… I would rather sing you a song!
I find my inspiration from the earth beneath my feet, at the edge where the land meets the water and touches the sky… the magic of nature is everywhere.
And so is She.

Here is one of my favourite treasures found on the beach!

sheena treasureI’m blessed to have a large expanse of land, sea and sky around me, living on the South East Essex coastline here in the UK. It’s wild and beautiful and I walk most days with my dog along the beach and beyond. I hear Her in the ripple of the waves, the birdsong and the north wind when it cuts through to the bone. I see Her in the seasons coming and going, the crows circling the fields and in the clouds… all constant reminders of Her presence.

And within the walls of a 7th century Celtic chapel by the beach where I sing and send out healing – I am touched by Her spirit.

sheena chapel

Every song, a spell. A prayer. An act of magic.

Last year at the time of Samhain on a Full Moon, I held a Healing ceremony on the beach in front of a nuclear power station which has been gracing the land for some fifty years or more… It’s a wretched eyesore of a building and although in the process of de-commissioning since 2002, news of the Chinese planning to build another in its place did not bode well. That is, for anyone who cares enough about the earth and her people – which you’d assume would be all of us wouldn’t you? Not so for those who would have only their own interests of money and power in mind.
Small minds at that.

It was time to get to work, to protest, to heal the land in any way we could. Time to call in the Battle Queens, to drum up the Ancestors and draw down the moon.
We chanted, we drummed and we danced.
We worked our magic. And they came. The Mighty Ones, the Old ones and the bright and shining Silver Lady.

It was a night charged with power and I won’t forget it, ever. When faced with such an ugly notion of the future, something had to happen.
Inspiration struck and out of that night, a song emerged.
So I’ll give you the words… although I’d much rather sing them to you. The song is featured on the next album due out in July, so not too long to wait! And for those who are coming to the Wales retreat in October – you’ll get the live version which is always better.

I shall look forward to being there, in Her energy and meeting like-minded Souls. All with much in common I’m sure, not least the Great Queen Herself. No doubt it’s another of Her divinely orchestrated affairs!

Have a good Summer,
Musical blessings to all,
Sheena )O(

sheena band

Draw Her Down

What do you care enough to fight for?
Enough to wear your battle crown?
Why do you stand and stare at the moon this night for?
The power there…and draw her down

Let Her in now…blood and bone
Make a moon vow…of your own
…body, you will give birth!
Draw Her down into the earth

What do you know is right or wrong now?
She of the sky, the land and sea
Ask Her where do we belong and how…
Will She talk to you, will She talk to me?

Let Her in now…blood and bone
Make a moon vow…of your own
…body, you will give birth!
Draw Her down into the earth

Now draw your sword and think of glory
A warrior’s word and a maiden’s shield
It’s time to write a different story
And tell it on the battlefield

Let Her in now…blood and bone
Make a moon vow…of your own
…body, you will give birth!
Draw Her down into the earth

Morrigans Path

Sheena is author of The Magic of Nature Oracle, singer songwriter with Morrigans Path and her debut witch-lit novel The Madness and the Magic released in November 2015 with Moon Books. She is a Witch, Reiki master and teacher of the Tarot.

Sheena is currently writing the sequel to her novel and a non-fiction book on psychic development for the Witch as a work in progress on the Moon Books blog, Your Magical Nature.

Info on the Warrior Spirit Workshop can be found here. 

Morrigan’s Path can be found on Facebook here.

© Sheena Cundy 2016





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