To look at me, you might think I am an unlikely choice to be a daughter of the Morrigan. Somewhat petite in nature, I have been told I seem very approachable and friendly. You will often find me with a smile on my face, and if I had a dollar for every time I had been described as “sweet” or “nice” in my life I would be writing this from my mansion overlooking the ocean while being fed grapes and having my feet massaged. Aside from when I am really, REALLY pissed off, most folks would say that I don’t come across as the least bit intimidating. And when I am having to confront an adversary in my work life, I am not the storm you see coming; rather, I am the ocean wave wearing away at the rock which can be easily overlooked if you are not paying attention. If you had told me years ago that I was, in fact, connected to the Morrigan you would have been met with an outburst of laughter.
In my family, the most obvious candidate for the Morrigan’s attention would, without a doubt, be my sister. I am in awe of her strength. She is a warrior in the physical sense – school dean by day but kickboxer by night. Although still considered an amateur, she has competed in tournaments and has defeated women half her age. In some cases, her opponents have left the ring bleeding while she had barely a mark on her. All of this, despite suffering from arthritis. A tomboy when we were kids, she grew up to be a gifted athlete with a brilliant mind who is not afraid to say what she is thinking or stand up for what she believes in, public opinion be damned. In fact, I do believe that the Morrigan has called on her and stood by her side more than once in her life. She just doesn’t know it.
In many ways as a child I was the exact opposite of my sister. Due to having a rare medical condition, I was often sick and my bone age was consistently 2-3 years behind my chronological age, giving me a fragile appearance. I was in and out of hospitals and doctor’s offices throughout my childhood. I was a shy, quiet child with very low self-esteem. I got used to people doing things for me, to the point that I believed I was not capable of doing much for myself, let alone for others. I had a skewed perception of my value (or lack thereof), and thus being nice and acquiescent became my currency. I felt much more comfortable spending time in my vivid imagination which may explain why denial and self created illusion became my allies when confronted with something I didn’t know how to or want to deal with.
At some point those around me realized that they were enabling me and that doing so would do more harm than good. Once I fully understood that I had to be able to rely on myself, I fought fiercely for my independence. I think even then Morrigan was nudging me, but I had no idea of that at the time. All I knew was that some phantom part of me was urging me to develop my resilience and to keep moving forward no matter how difficult things got. It wasn’t until I was in college -miles away from my parents and therefore my safety net- that I started to believe that perhaps I had evolved into someone stronger than the shy, fragile, scared child that I had once been.
This recognition was sparked, in part, by someone I loved deeply who sometimes saw me more clearly than I saw myself. He stunned me one day by telling me that I was brave. Given that this was someone who had been through more horrific things than anyone I knew and had somehow survived with a generous and loving heart intact, I considered his calling me brave to be a compliment of the highest order. At first, however, I was sure he was mistaken. How could I possibly be considered brave? But as he shared a perspective that only someone outside of myself could see, I became emboldened by this possibility and began seeking out tales of strong, powerful women from both history and fiction. It was from these women-women such as Cleopatra and Boudicca whose ability and drive to surpass the limits others imposed on them and whose fiery spirits led them to fight against all odds- that I felt I could learn how to further develop and unleash my own sovereignty.
Whether I was riding the high of an accomplishment brought about by my strength or immersed in sadness and despair, I held tightly to this self concept of courage and continued to seek out mentors among the pages of history and myth so that I could continue to evolve. Not surprisingly, at some point I stumbled across the Morrigan and knew that it was she that had been whispering in my ear and encouraging me to fight for myself. It was she who taught me that there are many ways to embody strength and many ways to honor her, but the most important thing was to be true to who I was in doing so. When I shied away from her wisdom, she held the mirror up; sometimes in the guise of others with whom I was having conflict and sometimes as herself.
Increasingly over the years, I have heeded her wisdom. I began to learn the value and importance of commitment to complete and utter honesty with one’s self, to the point where I need and rely on this just as much as I need and rely on the air that I breathe. It hasn’t been easy by any means. The journey from the child ruled by her fears who shielded herself with the comfort of illusion (albeit fleeting) to the woman who would unfailingly choose an uncomfortable truth over a lovely lie has been an arduous journey. There have been many times that the Morrigan has held the mirror up and I have had to confront what I have considered to be some of the darkest, ugliest, most frightful parts of myself and my life. Sometimes the best that I could do was to cover my face with my hands and only peek at the haziest outlines of my reflection – and often then, only for seconds at a time.
Sometimes the mirror reflected not me, but the people and situations in my life who I had refused to see clearly. This too, caused its own form of pain at times. Loving yourself enough to establish healthy boundaries and standards can force the mask to slip from those you care about. This can be a joyous epiphany as you realize just how much you are loved but it can also be a jarring loss as you realize that with some, you have misplaced your trust or overestimated their sincerity and perhaps even their love.
The Morrigan has taught me to to look in the mirror without flinching and to fully experience the pain and joy that can accompany this glimpse and to move forward. In my vocation, there are unfortunately a lot of politics to deal with and it is necessary that I be a strong advocate for the issues and people that I believe in. There have been many times that this advocacy has placed me at odds with someone who has underestimated my strength due to my gender, age, appearance and/or demeanor. Many have mistaken my kindness for weakness. This used to bother me, until the day she whispered, “Let them. Use it to your advantage in the battle ahead. Let them underestimate you at their own peril.”
She has shared wisdom in many ways and on many topics, and when I have listened, it has served me well. No matter how excruciating, each painful moment or “death” experienced on the battlefield of my life has, in retrospect, been the death of either my ego, my fear/demons, or a behavior or aspect of my life which no longer served me. While it may seem contradictory, love, too, has its place in the battlefield. In fact, love is a necessary part of the work of the warrior.
She speaks to me as I immerse myself in the shadows.
“Listen to me,” she says.
“I am not a gentle goddess. I will not coddle you. I will lead you into the depths of your own darkness, so that you may arise illuminated.
I will hold you steady while you face your fears. Illusion has no place in my realm and I will not grant you permission to lie to yourself or look away.
But I will love you.
I will love you enough to not lie to you.
I will love you enough to denounce and reject the bullshit excuses you make and the attempts to give your power away when the demons start taunting you, wearing down your defenses, and telling you that you are not enough and that you are not capable. I will scream at you when they tempt you to simply give in so that your fears can begin to take the wheel
I will love you enough to refuse to allow you to deny your sovereignty. I will prod you to keep going.
And I will love you enough to be here for you whenever you call, no matter how strained or how quiet your voice.
Above all, I will love you enough to remind you in the end that every battle scar and every perceived blemish is an invaluable part of the uniquely beautiful mosaic that is you.”
I am still very much a work in progress and the Morrigan is not the only sovereignty whose call I heed. (It takes a village, after all). At times she takes a backseat to others depending on the lessons my life is presenting me and the direction in which I am headed. But even when she is not front and center in my life, she is always there, quietly standing beside me and reminding me of my strength when I start to forget. When the doubt and the battle fatigue begin to creep in, she helps me to build my reserves for the next battle. For it is only by taking up her sword of clarity and courage and her shield of love that I may grow wings and experience the freedom that comes from soaring in her guise as the raven, strong and free.
Robin Corak – September 2016 (c)