Honouring the Blood: Call of the Morrigan by Awen Clement

As dusk fell we closed the gates to the ordinary world, allowed the land to envelop and cradle us. Quietly we came, healers and priests, craftsmen and warriors, gathering in Her name. Raven Queen, Battle Crow, Morrigan.

We cast a circle of light and dark, of flame and blood and weaving.  We asked the land to hold us, we asked the ancestors to stand with us, to guide us and guard us. We called our Queen in rich voices of fire and honour.


We cleansed away the old versions of ourselves, prepared to step into new skins, new shapes of our souls.  One by one, turn by turn we submitted to the needle. Gave our blood and received her mark. Gave shape to our prayers, made promises in ink. Witnessed by our brothers and sisters, nurtured by the hearth fire.

We wove together a pattern of story and song, of prayer and devotion as the land and the ancestors looked on. Brave voice of the young spoke in honour and faith. Men cried tears of truth. Women wove prayer and flame in devotion. Some sang in voices not their own and the drum echoed the heartbeat of the world.


And the Great Queen heard us call. She came to us. Accepted our offerings of blood and flesh and honouring. Some trembled, some wept, but all held steadfast in the truth of her sight. Her voice like the gentle roar of the river, we were held out of time. She gave voice of both warning and blessing.We gave thanks, we feasted and then one by one and two by two we slipped away, across land and sea. Returning home, forever changed, ready to face what is to come.And so it was done. The ashes went cold and the land fell quiet.

 ****

This writing is a reflection of my experience at Honouring the Blood: Call of the Morrigan Retreat 2016.Awen Clement – 2016 (c) This piece was originally posted at www.wildmagpiewoman.blogspot.co.uk

Awen is the Wild Magpie Priestess who serves The Morrigan and Brigid. She leads circles and workshops in the West Midlands (UK).
www.wildmagpie.co.uk
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This is my pain by Izzy Swanson

This is my pain

I long to grow. I feel the pull to something larger, something more than me. Something in me knows I will heal from this. My heart’s desire waits for me on the other side.

Deep down in the darkness inside of me I feel the shadow around my soul. It pulls at me from deep within my womb. I find in the darkness a frightened little girl. She holds me tight. She begs me not to leave the shadows.” What are you afraid of? Who made you feel this way?” I can hear the years of words spoken to me of my soul’s damnation and she says to me, “If I leave this darkness people might see me. They will see my pain. I will be unclean. It will hurt them. It will scare them. I will be weak. I can’t let people see me. I can’t be weak.” “What are you really afraid of?” “That I will fail, that I don’t belong here. I am a fraud. If they see me I will lose all that I love.” She falls into my arms weeping.

The memories of hidden pain resurface. I hold her. I love her. I make her promises. I cannot go until we are whole until she trusts me enough to protect her, until she is safe. This, this is darkness. This is trauma. This is pain. We hide inside of it. We run to it. It saves us. How could we ever believe that it isn’t all our fault? How can we ever believe that the world outside will accept us when we watch our world pretend that people like us don’t exist? When we watch our world remind us that we deserved it? How will we ever feel safe enough to climb out if we can’t believe that we will be loved, that someone will see our pain and say I will not run?

Izzy Swanson – 2016 (c)

www.transformationreiki.com
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In the Driver’s Seat: Owning My Own S&!T (How The Morrigan Claimed Me Part III)

Once The Morrigan claimed me, She began teaching me. The first and most important lesson She taught was that I needed to own my own shit. It was not an easy lesson. While I had always desired self-empowerment, owning up to my own mistakes and facing the less desirable Shadow Self was something I had always avoided. And since I refused to do so, I could not seem to achieve any sense of self-empowerment or inner peace. It was always easier to lay the blame for my wreck of a life at someone else’s feet.

Since I was resistant (at first) to this primary lesson, The Morrigan took away my ability to play the blame game. How? She removed everyone from my life. Friends, the majority of my family, professional contacts, everyone. I was the only one left around me. I could not run from me. So I had no choice at that point but to face myself.

Once I started taking an honest look at myself, I realized it was my own choices, my own actions that had gotten me into mess after disaster after tragedy. I determined the only way I could improve my life circumstances was to make better choices. I had to change.  I struggled for a number of years with forgiving myself. Some days, I still struggle with it.

But in my experience, The Morrigan takes with one hand and gives with the other. She gave me a new sense of power over my own life. A new sense of independence. A feeling of finally loving myself for who I am, the good, the bad and the ugly. While some people never reentered my life, I view that now as a blessing. She was clearing out the trash, so to speak. This allowed room for other, more positive people to enter my life. It allowed a NEW ME to enter my own life.

I got in the driver’s seat of my own life. I became self-empowered. I became Divinely Empowered, truly, because I learned to trust Deity. If something goes awry in my life now, I know I made an error and seek it out and correct it. Nothing or no one outside of me can have power over me unless I allow it. I took the bull by the horns (the bull being my life). And if true tragedy does strike (things do happen to us all in life we are not able to control) the first thing I do is go to Deity. I ask Deity for help. For there is no greater help in The Universe. Deity always has my back. Always.

I encourage everyone to get in their driver’s seat.

Pedal to the metal…..

Morrigan Odin – 2016 (c)

Originally published at The Morrigans Nest

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Daughter of the Morrigan by Robin Corak

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)

Blog/Website: www.peacelovemischief.com

Personal Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/robin.corak
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On Warriors & Healers

As the sounds of battle died away and the host moved on, came then the priests and healers to the battlefield. Walking amongst the fallen, saying prayers for those whose spirits had left their bodies. Tending to the wounded, trusting that the Great Queen would bring the mercy of death where needed. Later there would be grief, later there would be songs of honouring, later when the work was done.

The Great Queen calls us all differently. Many feel drawn to the warrior’s path in her name, but even that comes in many different forms.  There are those who feel that followers and devotees who are not learning to fight or bear arms are not true warriors of our Goddess. I challenge those people to consider the truth of a battlefield.   There are many, many types of warrior, many types of fighter and each has a different kind of role to play in any battle. But also, I put it to you, the battle field needs healers and priests too. Not all of us are called to fight, and not all of us are called to heal. We are all called to serve and to serve in the way that fits best with our soul.

Some of us are called to fight in a very literal way, to learn martial arts, to learn to bear arms and there is great value and importance in this. Just as important as learning how to fight, is learning when. To discern when physical force is necessary.  It may be that learning how to fight, is less about the fighting and more about becoming physically stronger and accepting a level of mental discipline and behaviour acceptable to our Great Queen. To be the very best version of yourself you can be.

Some of us are called to be warriors in other ways. To fight for the vulnerable. To stand for the abused and beaten. To stand for those who are killed, for those whose land and livelihood would be taken. To stand for the planet and all the living beings upon her, not just the humans. To stand for the right of each human being to have autonomy over their lives and actions.  Let us not create further divisions by criticising each other about how we stand for Her in this world.

And after the warriors, after the fighting, then the priests and healers are needed. The healers who can sew up the bleeding, the healers who can bring peace to damaged minds. The priests who can bring solace and comfort and leadership to their communities. For community, our tribe, our families are the point of it all. What are we fighting for if not for the future of our communities, of our tribes, of our world.

We are each called in Her service to bring our whole and true selves, not to force ourselves to be something we are not. She will push us, she will stretch us, but your path with Her is yours and should not be dictated by what another believes it should be. Each of us is valuable to Her and to each other, let us remember this and treat each other so.  Let us be united behind her banners for the future of us all.

Awen Clement – September 2016 (c)

AwenClement

Awen is the Wild Magpie Priestess, living and working in the West Midlands (UK). She walks a path with Brigid and The Morrigan, guarding the land and bringing teaching and guidance to women walking a Goddess path. More about her can be found at www.wildmagpie.co.uk

Awen is teaching a workshop at this years Call of the Morrigan Retreat – Honouring the Blood, being held in West Wales 26th-30th OCtober 2016.  It is still possible to join as a day guest on Sunday 20th.

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Free Will

When we make a vow, a promise, some kind of commitment to deity, it matters.


Sometimes these moments of dedication – beautiful, profound, awe-inspiring, frightening as they may be – can feel so distant from our ordinary, everyday reality. Big or small, these dedications, these promises, these commitments count. Even (especially) when we return to ordinary reality.  So often, it’s here, in our every day lives, that this dedication, this commitment, will be tested. 


And you know what? We always have a choice. However urgent, or even inevitable, certain commitments feel, we always have a choice. We have the choice to make the commitment. We have the choice to bring that commitment to fulfillment. We have the choice to take action – or to refuse to take action. 


Sometimes what’s presented to us will be testing a promise or commitment we’ve already made. Very likely, for any significant promise, this will be the case many times over. How far are you willing to go to bring your promise to fulfillment? Will you play at fulfilling your obligations, or will you take it seriously? What are you willing to sacrifice to make it real? Will you dare to keep saying ‘yes’? Or when will you hit that point where you say ‘no’?


Some requests come on powerfully strong. You still have a choice, and indeed, you have an obligation to honor your capacity for choice. 


One thing I know for sure is that when the Morrigan asks something, what She asks is very likely to bring deep and profound change.  She may ask of us things that stretch the boundaries of what we believe ourselves capable of. She may ask of us things that challenge us to act or to be other than what we have been before. She may ask us to do things we’d very much rather not do, in fact. But She never asks of us that we become less than what we are or are capable of becoming. 


And we always have a choice, not only in that moment of making the promise, but also in it’s enactment and fulfilment. This is the beauty and danger of free will: it is actually possible to get it wrong, to fuck it up in small or large ways that change the trajectory or the outcome of even the most binding commitment, causing harm to ourselves and others. 


We all have this gift of free will. It holds us under obligation to take full responsibility for our actions, even  when we are acting under guidance, in accordance with our vows or commitments. Free will demands that we take the risk and our full share of responsibility for our part in how things go forward, regardless of the outcome. 


It’s an uncomfortable place to be, when things go wrong, as they sometimes do. 


Sometimes they go wrong through no fault of our own, through no lack of commitment on our part, but simply because there are other people involved, each equally endowed with free will. We rarely stand alone in our choices. Rather we remain part of a complex web of interactions, and others equally have the capacity to choose – their choice may be other than what we would wish, perhaps other than what they have promised, and sometimes this tips the balance. (But the future is generally malleable and we have incredible capacity  for creation and recovery even when things do go wrong – and commitment, it always counts for something – new pathways can and will be forged from loss.)


It’s not ever just the promise that matters. The promise – the moment of commitment – is a kind of conscious binding, a strengthening of our ties to a chosen course of action or quality we want to cultivate within ourselves. It is a powerful articulation of intention and commitment that carries consequences. If we fail to honour the commitment there is likely a price that will be paid. 


Ultimately, what makes it real? The action. The manifestation. The living and breathing it into being. We can choose to do it, embrace it fully, or we can choose to live it superficially, or to abandon it. What we choose changes things.


Free will, commitment, responsibility, action. Our choices matter, our actions matter. 


by Rebecca Wright 2014

11220130_10205174634701604_7207325183716550703_n(1)Rebecca Wright is a mother, doula, healer and teacher, and one of the founders of the Call of the Morrigan FB Community and UK retreats. You can find her on FB in the Call of the Morrigan Community group or at http://www.rebalancingwoman.com.

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Surrendering to the Great Queen

by Roberta V.

I first meet her on a dancefloor. The dance floor is a therapy space in which I mostly grunt, howl, roar, crawl. I sought it out, sought this therapist, to begin to create space for holding the legacy of murdered relatives, mass graves, for the great grandfather stolen so cruelly that no-one would speak his name aloud, for the ghosts of unspoken names.

I grunt my way through it, unpretty, feral. Some pain runs too deep for words. It’s in my belly bones blood soul. Fuck socialisation. I have to reach under it, just keep going, unravel it. As I writhe there is a visual in my mind’s eye. Birdwoman. Scabbed and bloody, thick black matts of hair, hawk eyes, beaked. Horror and strength intermingled.

Months later I see a named image. The Morrigan. And then I know I have been seeing her along. The strength that rises up and moves through me as I become a force of nature, fierce fearsome unstoppable. It gains a name. The deity I have been worshipping, unknowing, as she moves through my body.

 

*

 

She finds me proper, formalised, on a retreat. On a trance journey, she lands in my womb, illuminates it as she sees it. Right then, it has frozen over. And she whispers to me my path forward. The path is sex and the right kind of darkness, the darkness capable of holding me, the darkness into which I can sink, heal, not drown. She whispers strength and surrender. Sex is just one doorway. She lays out my pathway for that, tells me how it’ll go. All I need to do is follow, and from there I will, do, follow. Things happen just as she says they will.

Her paths twine, intermingle, separate. Sex. Death. She’s in my shadow and I hers. She finds the grief in my body, turns it to treasure. You know grief, she’s whispering inside me. Hold it for others. All those murdered relations, all that death you’ve been dragging with you. You understand grief and shadow and darkness, and that makes you a keeper: of souls, of stories. A woman who can meet the darkness, see the glitter in it. Climb in.

She lays out this pathway, too, for me. Become a death doula. Do my work that way. Walk with the dying. Guide their souls, meet them. Hold their grief. Sink into this great beauty and use your knowing this way. Do my work.  Voice. Use your voice. Do my work.

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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

 

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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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Courage

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. http://www.maskmagazine.com/not-again/struggle/sick-woman-theory

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Beyond the Veil by Alicia Lavoie

Beyond the Veil

Cloaked by twilight darkness,
Ancestral whispers swirl around me
On widdershin tornadic winds,
While crows dance overhead,
Their glossy black wings caressing
Rough thundercloud-peaked skies.

Cawing Raven, fathomless depths –
The Morrigan calls to me:
“I am within and without you,
Our breath united between worlds,
Where losing center brings you home
To the forged connection between us.”

I mourn for blood spilled
By repeated fists against delicate skin,
My voice silenced by cries of pain
As I fought to right myself years ago,
Seeking balance at labyrinth’s altar –
A yearning to find that lost girl.

The primal Sovereign stirs then quakes
Inside Her earthly cauldron,
Shattering life’s veil of illusion;
And it is here, in this liminal place,
Where I offer up my insecurities
Before the Morrigan’s raised sword.

Alicia Marie Lavoie

About – Grounded in eastern Connecticut, Alicia is a caregiver, herbalist, Reiki master, soul midwife, witch, and writer. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a minor in journalism from Johnson State College in 2003 and a certificate in herbalism from Wisdom of the Herbs School in 2013. She walks with the Morrigan, Brigid, and Freyja, attempting to live each day in the present moment.

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