Practical Warrior in a Scary World

A practical warrior thing you can do in a scary world

The world seems a scary place, I’m not going to rehash all the scary stuff in the news recently, but you know what I’m talking about right? When it gets scary it is perhaps a normal reaction for pagans, especially followers of a war goddess such as the Morrigan to think about warrior stuff. Self defense, martial arts even hitting the shooting range. However a lot of people I speak to express frustration at where to begin what can be done immediately. Tragic and terrible events are difficult to comprehend and can leave you feeling powerless and responding to them is the job of the authorities. However there is a fairly simple thing you can do which I believe can help.

***Learn First Aid***

Learning first aid is a brilliant life affirming thing, often it’s possible to get a degree of training for free, paid for by charities or even your workplace. In the US it is possible to get EMT training via community colleges, in the UK you will have to make do with a St John’s Ambulance or Red Cross Course (or get creative in how you access this kind of training). Even getting a qualified first aider to show you the basics without any associated qualification is better than nothing. As a minimum you need to be able to deliver CPR to adults or infants, deal with choking, bleeding, broken bones, shock and burns. Being shown how to use an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) and an Epipen takes minutes and could quite literally save a life. In an incident a little training goes a long way, add a basic first aid kit and the good you can do expands exponentially. When you are undergoing your training interact with your trainer and talk about worse case scenarios like multiple casualties and responding to the aftermath of violence. First Aiders love to relate the training to real life incidents and I find I learn as much from the conversations around training as the training itself. Also ask them about improvisations for when the incident exceeds the contents of the first aid kit supplied.

When there is an incident in which people are hurt, the immediate seconds and minutes while the authorities respond are vital. The more first aiders there are in the community the faster the response can be. People can be like antibodies rushing to the affected area. They react and try and help as well as they can but without training this can be to little avail and it is a sad fact that sometimes the people helping are just another problem for the authorities to deal with. Where there are multiple casualties, the first responders will often leave people who know what they are doing to get on with it or enlist their help in responding to the situation. Obviously as more responders arrive they will take over and this is right and proper.

Having first aid training will allow you to know what to do in the aftermath of an accident, or violent incident (if it is safe to do so). Instead of thinking “somebody should do something” you can be the person who can do the thing. Finally, first aid makes sense for the really minor stuff, it means you know what to do when someone (perhaps you) cuts themselves with that ceremonial knife or burns themselves on a candle.

 

From a original post made in the Call of the Morrigan Community by Rob Preece

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A thousand blessings

I was sat in meditation in my temple space, contemplating the retreat we are hosting for The Morrigan in September and She came and gave me these words to share with you all.

***

Come one, come all
Come to my fire
Come seek vision in ember and flame

Travel with me on the winds of the night
Dance among the stars

Take my hand, let go of fear
Feel the strength of ancient warriors at your back

Remembering our beloved dead, never forgotten
Drink of the power of the land

A thousand blessings upon you
A thousand blessings upon you

I am the earth at your feet
I am the light in the sky
I am the name on every warrior’s lips at death

Be as one tribe, protect all the children
Be the wolf, many headed and clawed
Be the ever watchful crow

A thousand blessings in my name
I am the old one, my name carried on the wind
I am the fire in the hearth and in your belly

A thousand blessings upon you
And a thousand blessings more

Awen Clement (c) June 2017

***

If you feel called to join us for this years retreat – The Queen’s Vigil – follow the link for details and do be in touch with any questions.

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Having a spiritual practice when you feel you can’t

Sometimes in life we find ourselves in places that make it difficult to honour our spiritual practices.  Perhaps you have to live with family who are not comfortable with your beliefs, perhaps you want or need to keep it hidden from friends, neighbours or children for safety reasons. Perhaps you are away from home and away from your sacred spaces.  So what can you do to maintain your spiritual practices, to keep honouring your Gods and deepen your connection?

Probably the first thing to recognise is that your connection with your Gods and guides begins within you.  Whilst we may build altars and have devotional practices to help us maintain that connection, these things do not make the connection external from you.  Whilst They may appreciate your efforts in maintaining altars and shrines or in performing devotional rites, they are not specifically necessary (I will add the caveat that some people do have specific direction on this from their Gods but that isn’t the point of this article).

So what can you do when life gets in the way of your devotional practices?

Pray

Prayer can sometimes be seen as bit of a dirty word amongst pagans due to the overtones it has acquired from the Christian faiths.  However, our ancestors were talking to the Gods of their land and people long before Christianity came along.

You can pray anytime, anywhere and it doesn’t have to be out loud.  It’s a really good practice to designate a time and space for it in your life, daily if possible. But if you’re working long hours, commuting a lot or have a schedule that makes truly regular practice difficult, then fit it in when and where you can.

Pray while you’re on the train travelling to work or college, pray on your lunch break, pray in your garden or bedroom when you have five minutes in the evening.  Pray when you find yourself in a space where nothing else is going on, where you can turn your focus and intention to your Gods and speak with Them.

Don’t know what to say? There are lots of great prayers out there in books and on the internet. Learn something short off by heart and use it with intention. But otherwise, speak what is in your heart. Tell your Gods how you feel about Them, show them honour with words. Prayer can also be a conversation about something that you may need from Them (and what you will give in return) but fundamentally it is about honouring your Gods and showing your appreciation for their presence in your life.

Think of it as being like maintaining a friendship, the relationship you have with the friend you call every day or every week is stronger than the one you only call once a year or when you want something. Your Gods are going to appreciate a regular five minute call with you over you worrying about having the right candle to light.

Meditate

Some people might not think of meditation as a devotional practice as we tend to see it as a space of emptying the mind or focus on the breath and so on. But actually it can be a really strong devotional practice. It’s kind of like a deeper version of prayer. Above I have advocated for the quick, five minute, when you can approach. But if you can make space for a longer session, then you can go deeper in your connection with your Gods.

To continue the friendship analogy it would be like going to visit somebody in their home for tea every day or once a week.  When we sit down in devotional meditation, we are sitting down for a longer visit with our Gods.

It may be that you combine devotional meditation with prayer or other rites and practices, but at absolute core it is about sitting down and putting your focus on your God(s) for a period of time. To sit and be with Them, be in their presence. To feel Them with and around you. To be open to Them, to listen for Their words or directions.

This may not be an easy practice to begin with, but committing to a regular practice of devotional meditation is extremely valuable in building a deeper relationship with your Gods and guides.

Make Offerings

I have written about offerings before. I wrote about it from the perspective of what you can offer when you have nothing, but actually the principles apply for those people who for whatever reason cannot make obvious or overt offerings due to living restrictions or the discomfort of others.

But in short, offerings of prayer, of story or song, of time in voluntary service or the clearing up of the land or sacred sites are offerings that are well received by most Gods. All of these offerings are things which can be done when our living situation prevent us from making physical offerings or working with devotional spaces.

Be on the land

For me, being out on the land is a massive devotional practice for a number of the Gods and other entities that I work with. Putting your bare feet (if possible) on the land and feeling your connection to the life of this planet, to the connection with all things. To the connection with your ancestors who stood on this land before you. To the connection with all those who have honoured the Gods before you. To feel the Gods in the land.

It is also possible to combine all of the previous suggestions in this article with being on the land. Pray on the land, meditate on the land, sing on the land, clean up the land.  Being outside is free and allows us a powerful connection pathway to our Gods. Whether you sit at the bottom of your garden, go to your local park or take yourself out into the wild somewhere.

 

Deepening your connection with your Gods does not require objects and gifts and fancy rites, though they are appreciated, it is about strengthening the connection that begins inside you, about maintaining and honouring the relationship you desire to have with Them. Whether that’s a five minute call every day or a weekly trip to the local park to meditate.  Do what fits in your life as it is now, add to it or deepen it when life allows. But do the work, every day.

Awen Clement © June 2017

Awen is a priestess of The Morrigan who lives and works in the West Midlands of the UK. She is leading the 2017 Call of the Morrigan Retreat – The Queen’s Vigil in West Wales in September.

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Answering the call

The first time She comes to me, I don’t recognise Her. I see a crow. I’ve never seen one here before. The crow in that place, at that moment, piques my curiosity, and I think, “I’ll come back later.”

I do come back later.

The crow is there waiting. It leads me deeper into a wood of late Autumn birch, leaves a gold and brown carpet on the forest floor. The crow lands on a naked branch above me. It looks down on me, and suddenly transforms.

The crow is not a crow.

She takes me to a cave. It’s empty there, but for us, cool, dark.

She tells me to sing. I sing and there is a merging of time, we are where we are in the dark, and we are in the cave with many women singing, and fire in the darkness.

When it is done, we ascend, and she asks me the first time, “Will you serve?”

I don’t want to answer. Quite honestly, I am afraid. I just want to get away.

I snap out of the journey space into the ordinary reality of my bedroom, thinking to escape.

She’s there, with me. “Will you serve?” This time louder, more insistent.

I don’t want to answer. What answer could I possibly give? I know who She is. I don’t know why She is there, or what She wants with me.

“Will you serve?”

With the force of the question, it’s clear there must be a response. I am silent, and shaking. I don’t want to answer.

And then She says, “You named your daughter for me.” These words echo in my mind. I know that this is true, though when I named my daughter, I did not know that this is what I was doing.

“You named your daughter for Me,”

The resonance of these words hits me like a code unlocking memory, falling back back back deep into time, calling to life pieces of me that She knows, that I have forgotten, an unraveling.

She asks once more, commanding, “Will you serve?”

And I, I find myself answering, speaking from a place beyond who I am in that moment, speaking words that come from me but from a place beyond thought, affirming ancient vows that I have surely made before and even more surely will make again, a gift of memory and awakening.

Anon (c) May 2017

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What to offer when you feel you have nothing

I am sure many of us are familiar with times that are financially thin, times when we have to make difficult decisions about what to spend our money on. At such times we can feel the weight of needing to honour our Gods with offerings, feeling that we cannot afford to spend food or heating or medical bill money, but fearing Their displeasure if we don’t.

Perhaps first it is worth mentioning why we make offerings. We make offerings to our Gods as an honouring, as a sign of our love and respect for them. We may make offerings because of something we wish to receive in return. We make offerings to strengthen our connection to them and maintain their presence in our lives. I recently heard Morpheus Ravenna explain it really well. If we think of our relationship with our Gods as being like a friendship. If we forget to stay in touch with our friends, if we don’t manage to honour or maintain the friendship, the friend doesn’t disappear but the friendship will wither away.

Fortunately offerings don’t have to cost anything, there is much you can offer that is absolutely free and in some ways may be better received than bought objects.  The key thing with all of this is the intention with which it is done. That the offering is made with active focus and consecration in the name of the deity it is intended for.

Here are a few suggestions for you, and maybe they will spark some other ideas of your own.

Prayer

Prayer has become almost a dirty word for some pagans because of its association with Christian practice. But we spoke in quiet contemplation and focus on our Gods long before Christian priests had any say in it. Speak with your God(s), speak from your heart, honour them, show gratitude for Their presence in your life. Sometimes we pray because we need something, but it can also be a simple act of devotion.  If you’re not sure what to say there are prayers available online and in books that are perfectly acceptable to use with the right intention and attitude.  In time you may find your own words and voice to offer.

Story, Song and Music

Telling the tales and stories of our Gods is how we keep Them alive in the world, even if it’s only between us and Them. But if you can, tell others Their stories, tell them to friends and family, tell them to your children or if you can find the right opportunity tell them to your community.

Sing for your Gods, and never mind whether you think you have a singing voice. Song is prayer carried on voice and breath.  Simple chants are just as effective as songs of many verses and no it doesn’t matter whether you learn the words by rote, use a book and sing with intention and heart.

Make music, if you play an instrument play it for Them, compose for Them. Or if you have a drum, drum for Them, the beat of the drum carries to the otherworld.

Song and story connect us with our ancestors who would have done the same, sharing with their families, tribes and communities. In this way we strengthen the ancestral lines behind us and before us.

Acts of service

There are so many of these it could become a long list but I will mention two really strong ones that in my experience the Gods really appreciate. Volunteering in your community and the clearing of sacred or natural places.

Can you spare a little time in your week to those in need? Whether it is for an elderly neighbour in your community, a young mother struggling with her children or time given to a charity in an area that matters to you. This time, these acts are a way to show that your tribe, your community matter and as such that you honour the God(s) that watch over you and them. Think about what your particular Gods represent and align your act with that.

It is an ongoing and maddening thing for many pagans to find natural or sacred sites covered in rubbish, the saddest thing is that sometimes it is pagans who add to it! None of us should be leaving rubbish on the land, and if we come across it clearing it away is a strong act of honouring, a way of showing that our lands matter. I encourage you to carry a bag with you wherever you go so that you can do this. Also think before you leave an item at a sacred site. It is better to leave a non-physical offering at a sacred site than an item that can cause damage. Even items that can biodegrade are not necessarily ok, things won’t biodegrade in sites such as caves and items tied to trees and plants can choke them and stunt their ability to grow.

Study and Learning

Dedicate some learning or study to your Gods. It might literally be the study of Them and Their stories, getting to know as much you can of Them. Or it might be your college or university studies, or training for your job.  Dedicate the growth of your knowledge to Them, your efforts to be able to do more for yourself and your community.

Physical Training

This may not be right or appropriate for everyone but many Gods welcome fit and strong devotees. Make an offering of your physical training, your exercise regimes, take up a fighting art in Their name.  Make your body your offering to them.

There are of course many ways of making offerings to our Gods and different things will be appropriate at different times in our lives and our spiritual practices. These are just a few ideas that may help you when you feel you have nothing to give.  Give only what you can manage, do not harm yourself to make an offering. Better to make a promise of an offering in the future and sing Them a song for now.

Awen Clement – May 2017

*Some of the thoughts in this article have arisen from taking the class ‘Polytheist Devotional Practice’ with Morpheus Ravenna of the Coru Cathubodua, with thanks to her for her teaching.*

Awen is a priestess of The Morrigan who lives and works in the West Midlands of the UK. She is leading the 2017 Call of the Morrigan Retreat – The Queen’s Vigil in West Wales in September.

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Pilgrimage to The Morrigan

A few months ago I posted on Facebook asking where I should go if I was to go to Ireland in honour of The Morrigan. The resounding response was Owenyagat, The Morrigans Cave. So I spent some weeks dithering about, and not actually arranging anything, like you do when you know you’ve got to do something life altering for The Great Queen.

Eventually I got myself together, booked some flights, booked a hire car and booked Lora O’Brien to guide me and a friend to the cave. Now, bear in mind I had never flown in my life, and my friend was going to meet me there, you can see where the first part of this trial lay.

Arriving

The trip happened this past weekend, just a few days after Beltane. I flew into Dublin on Friday evening, learning that flying really isn’t that bad at all once you’re up.  Found my way out of the airport, found my friend and collected the hire car. The blood red hire car. It made us feel we were expected.

The red chariot

We stayed over night in a great B&B just outside Dublin, found ourselves some dinner in a local pub and hung around to hear the advertised ‘live music’, that turned out to be one man and his keyboard doing bad cover versions….we opted to head off to bed instead.

On Saturday morning we drove across country to meet Lora in the village of Tulsk in Roscommon. We had an awesome visit to the Rathcroghan Visitor Centre, getting to deeper grips with the stories of the area and admiring some fantastic artwork.  The centre do awesome work and the café is fantastic too (tea in a proper 6 cup pot no less!).

Mebh’s Throne

We drove up the road and visited Ogulla, the holy well. A natural triple spring with a shrine.  It has a statue of St Patrick and a story to go with it, but the story tells that it was once a sacred site looked after by pagan priestesses. It’s a beautiful, tucked away spot, easily missed. Sacred waters flowing, surrounded by sacred trees.

St Patrick at Ogulla

Waters of Ogulla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We drove on then to Rathcroghan mound. Now I’ve visited many sacred sites in my life, it was almost a hobby with my parents when I was growing up and I’ve done my share of visiting as an adult pagan too. Rathcroghan is something really quite special.  It looks quite unassuming, just a big grassy mound in the middle of field, surrounded by a fence and full of sheep who seem slightly disgruntled at the presence of two leggers. Lora told us what is known about the mound from the archaeology and led us to the top via the eastern face, where the ceremonial entrance would have been. I received strong visions here, memories, whether they were mine in a past life or just picking up on echoes I don’t yet know. But the place was familiar to me, and welcoming.

Rathcroghan Mound

We took a break for lunch before heading for Owenyagat, to take our turn to go into the ground and seek The Great Queen. When we arrived some other folk were there, so we took time to sit in the sun and Lora told us the story of how the cave got its name. For Owenyagat means ‘cave of cats’, and it refers not to a feline cat, but an otherworldly creature, a creature whom Mebh called from the cave, from the otherworld, to test young warriors including CuChulainn.

Lora O’Brien Storytelling at Owenyagat

Then it was time for us to go in, I had thought I would be anxious, but if anything I was eager, I had been waiting for this, I had broken my fear of flying to be here and do this. Lora went in first, pointing out various features as we went. It is deep, and yet it’s not, it’s cold and yet it’s not, it’s dark and. No, it’s really dark. After a brief time with torchlight, we took our seats and sat in the dark with our Queen. I can’t really tell you what passed at this point, it’s quite personal, but suffice to say we were graced with an audience.  It felt right and comfortable to be there and I know I’ll go back in the future.

Owenyagat

Inside the entrance

Inside the cave

Emerging into the sunlight afterwards was a little strange, time had gone all bendy, which I find it often does around Her. Lora commented that I had experienced all three worlds in a weekend, upper with my flight, middle in exploring the land and the lower with the descent into Her cave.

Cleaning up after the cave

After the cave

I had challenged myself in a number of ways for Her, because She asked it of me and without wanting to sound big-headed, I’m really proud that I lived up to it. I could have freaked and bailed from as early as arriving at Birmingham airport, right through to going into the cave. But I didn’t. Suddenly I know that anything is possible and that is a huge and wondrous feeling.

Heading home

Awen Clement © May 2017

If you are thinking of visiting Ireland, to see the sacred sites and honour The Great Queen, I sincerely recommend either contacting Lora O’Brien and seeing if she is available to guide you or alternatively join one of the magical tours run by Land Sea Sky Travel, who gave great support and advice in the planning of this trip.

***

Awen is a priestess of the Morrigan who lives and works in the West Midlands in the UK. She is a land guardian, storykeeper and priestess offering teaching and healing work for those who need it on their journey. She can be found at www.wildmagpie.co.uk

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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).
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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)

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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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