Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel (How The Morrigan Claimed Me Part IV)

I found myself scraping the bottom of the barrel this Spring. Soul-wise, energy-wise, inspiration-wise. While Spring is generally associated with new beginnings and growth, I felt the exact opposite. Everything around me seemed to being going wrong, everything felt off. I felt wrong. Despite the outward appearance of all being well, nothing was well, not at all.

The Morrigan is known to be a hard teacher at times. Her lessons, while powerful, can be painful. This Spring, The Morrigan was on me “like a duck on a june bug”. I had to pay attention. I felt as though Macha Herself had ridden me down and trampled me. Badb was screaming at me. Anu, I felt, was just frustrated with me. I had to get quiet. I needed to shut up, sit down and listen to Her.

I took time off from writing and teaching. I stopped attending public events. I spent more time alone. I talked to The Morrigan. I listened to The Morrigan. I read a lot. I gardened. I binged-watched some shows.

With The Morrigan’s help, I came to realize I had made several errors in my life and I was not going to get any relief until I acknowledged and corrected those errors. If you have ever attended one of my workshops, I always say, “You are in control! You are in the driver’s seat! You are master of your destiny!” Blah…blah…blah..was about how I felt about that crap this Spring. It was time to walk the talk. I had to get honest with myself.

A recurring issue in my life has been personal boundaries. Actually, the lack of proper personal boundaries is the real issue. And it had come back to haunt me once again. Why?! Again and again, this issue was wrecking havoc in my life. Again my reluctance to establish healthy personal boundaries was causing intense suffering in my life.

I needed to take a step outside myself and examine what was really going on with me. I talked to a therapist to get an outside opinion. I asked myself the hard question: “Why was I reluctant to establish proper personal boundaries in my life?”

The answer was in two parts.

First, I was reluctant to establish healthy personal boundaries because I feared rejection. I feared appearing unfriendly, unavailable, of not appearing present. By living in this fear, I was not making good decisions about who I allowed into my personal life. I ignored the little instinctual warning bells tinkling in my ears. I ignored the warning because Fear and Ego took over. And by Spring, I was paying the price. Fear can be a tricky thing, not obvious, Ego-driven, tough to spot sometimes. But here it was right here in my face, grinning. Fear.

The second reason why I lacked in the boundary department was my “savior complex.” I had maintained an unhealthy relationship with a certain individual for years because I felt I could eventually make that person “see the light” and change their fundamental beliefs. I was wrong, wrong, wrong. It was some of my own beliefs that were almost sacrificed as a result. Another blow to Ego. Another circumstance of it blowing up in my face again.

Spring turned to Summer and Summer is now turning to Fall. I am continuing my inner work. I am continuing to tackle difficult issues in my life. But by doing so, I have gained relief from the suffering I was experiencing. The Morrigan is pleased I am back on track. I have acknowledged I am a work in progress. I always will be. I wouldn’t want to be anything less. It is a part of why I write. By owning my stories, my imperfections, I free myself from them.

I have shared in the past of how The Morrigan claimed me. It’s the title of this little series I have been writing for this blog. In truth, The Morrigan did not just claim me one time. She has claimed me again and again. If I wander off the path She has set before me, She comes thundering back into my life, claiming me again. It is an ongoing process for me. And I am ever grateful to Her for it. The Morrigan likes to keep Her tools sharp. She sharpens me on a regular basis. I feel blessed She does so.

(c) Morrigan Odin – Originally published at The Morrigan’s Nest

Other writing by Morrigan Odin can be found at Patheos

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash 

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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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The Truth

by Izzy Swanson

The truth of who I am is not pretty. I didn’t come to be who I am today with years of training as a Shaman. I didn’t travel to another place to have the wisdom of the ancestors handed down to me. The truth is, well there are many truths, and one of them is that I was born this way. The other truth is that I had to dig myself out of a pit of insanity, abuse, trauma, and 16 years of drug addiction. The truth is that my spirit and my body have been battered, demoralized, and broken in ways that hurt me to even speak of. Much of what I have seen, much of what has been done was carried out at the hands of my family or abusive boyfriends but if we are talking about truth so much of what has happened to me I did also to myself.

Why I am here? Why am I telling you this? Because the value of my trauma is that I am who I am today. I need to say this to myself as much as you need to hear it. I need you to know it because I have never believed that anything I said or did was right, or valid. I needed to be defined by the opinions of others and yet even when I started to feel like I was getting it right it was never enough. I still would look to someone else and judge the quality of my work by their definition of what is right and wrong. You need to know it because you need to know that the things you tell yourself and the emotions you feel are not that by which you should define yourself. You need to see that there is a way to feel whole, that there is a path to unbrokenness. You need to trust that the pain that I have broken my body with is the strength by which I will help you heal yourself. This is the truth, of who I am, of who you are, of why we do this work.

I will tell you my story, at least as much of it as I can without breaking others who were part of it, and I will tell you how I came here and maybe if you can stay with me through the story you will find that I can show you a way to survive yourself. I will guide you through the darkness in the pit of your soul and show you how to embrace the balance of the dark and the light. I will guard you in the liminal spaces. I will mother your tears. I will show you the peace of the warrior and I will make you a priestess of your own life.

The time has come to shed the lies, to destroy everything that you know, to make your sorrow your biggest gift, to use your pain to achieve your goals1. We are being called to the front lines of a war that is about redefining who we are as individuals, as a species. Whoever convinced you that this needed to happen peacefully, quietly, and completely in the light has not told you the full truth or maybe you did not see the other half of the message. We will have to first stand at the doorway to change and face our fears. We may even have to break, shatter into a million pieces, before we will know the complete truth and power of who we are. For powerful is what you are. It’s what I am and it is what we are together.  Do not be afraid even when the walls fall down and you are overwhelmed. Do not fear. Do not run from the immensity of who you are, of who we are. Warrior Spirit, Queen, Priestess, Guardian, Teacher, Mother, do not run from your soul’s purpose. We are here now for a reason and even if I can’t clearly define it in this moment, I will be here to help you see it. I for one did not come here to run.

02/08/2016

Izzy Swanson of Feileacan MinistryIzzy Swanson owns Feileacan Ministry in Austin, Texas. She is a Shamanic Reiki Master, Teacher, and Priestess. She specializes in healing soul wounds and working with PTSD, trauma, and addiction.

You can find her online at: www.transformationreiki.com as well as on Facebook at www.facebook.com/feileacanministry and Instagram at www.instagram.com/transformationreiki/

 

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Rag Tree Tradition by Lora O’Brien

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please, be sure?

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

 

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