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.

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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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Pilgrimage by Brennos Agrocunos

Detail from Desmond Kinney’s 1974 mosaic mural of the Táin Bó Cúailnge in Dublin

Introduction

It’s taken me days to make the transition from being in Ireland to being in California.  Jet lag was a factor, but it is much more than jet lag that has thrown my system into disarray.  What has shifted in me is deeper than a physiological response to travel, or the simple shock of moving between contrasting cultures.  In a very profound way, my spiritual landscape has been altered, reworked, grounded in place in a way that I was unaware that it was even lacking, but now can’t imagine being without.

I wasn’t sure that I should even attempt to write about my experiences on this journey.  Some of them seem too involved and detailed, with tangents twisting off of tangents.  Too much backstory would needed to relate the significance of some of these events to readers, and the format of a blog is ill-suited for this type of storytelling, usually requiring strong drink and smokey firelight, quite possibly the smell of wet wool.  Many of the stories are painfully personal and would force me to tell my own histories and stories, an art that I am not skilled at nor comfortable doing in most cases.  But my habits of seclusion and remaining guarded have been put on the chopping block by the Queen that I serve, and stories have a habit of wanting to be told.  So here we are.

Instead of trying to relate the journey to you all at once, or simply relating a chronological telling of the tale,  I’ve decided that I will be publishing my account in a series of stories.   Some will be about certain portions of the trip and some will be explorations of themes and concepts that came up during the experience.  The time we were there was so densely packed with places, spirits, experiences, and revelations that I’m not exactly sure how these stories will form and want to be told.  This process I am going through is more for me than anyone else.  It is not unlike the process of unpacking your bags after a long trip.  You slowly take each item that you have acquired during your expedition out of your bag and hold it in your hands, remembering where you found it, its significance to you, how it fits into the life that you have returned to.

So I welcome you to join me while I unpack my experiences and tell some tales of my odyssey if that type of thing will be of interest to you.  I humbly hope that my words can do justice to the wealth and richness of the land we walked in and brilliance and kindness of the people that we encountered, but stories must start somewhere and in the case of this account, it should probably start with a tale.

Boyhood Deeds

The boy had his first training among the women of his mother’s clan, and this is fitting for it’s a pups mother that trains it to fight, for women know that fighting is more than glory and tales, but often a matter of survival.

He lived in a village in the shadow of a great city with his Grandmother, Corcairghorm and her sisters, powerful Druidess’ of a fierce clan, who knew the arts of healing, craft, and persuasion.  The boy lived a happy but lonely life with his mothers people, and it was likely that the women loved him greatly, for there were few children in the clan, and the boy was kind, and good natured, and tried to be helpful even when his size and skills made him very unhelpful in some tasks.

The boy, then called Tómas, spent the dark half of his year with the clan of his mother in boyish pursuits, exploring deep forests, pushing the boundaries of his existence, and asking too many questions, and he spent the light half of the year with his fathers people, a wild and untamed clan that lived deep in the mountains. From his fathers people he learned the art of the hunt, and how to move like a staking beast through the forest. He learned to plow rocky fields and when the right time to cut hay for the animals.

There was another thing about the boy that set him apart from his people, a fact that he kept to himself as much as he was able to, but something that made him feel alone and distant from the other people in his life, the boy was often approached by and spoken to by spirits of the dead and creatures of the Otherworld. At first there seemed nothing out of the ordinary to have exchange with these spirits, but Tómas quickly realized that he was the only one that saw them, and that by talking about the beings that he encountered with the other members of his clan, made the people that loved him look at him out of the sides of their eyes suspiciously, and regard him with fear and concern when they thought he wasn’t looking.

Once, the boy awoke in the middle of the night, eyes open but unable to move his body. It was then that he saw the woman, tall and beautiful, who had the bearing of a mighty queen from the stories that his grandmother told him. He feared and loved this stormy, stately Queen and struggled to make his mouth and throat make sounds to speak to Her but could only make a strangled moan that broke the spell that held his body still, when the spell was broken the Queen was gone, all that remained was the sound of calling crows and the image of a fair green land.

Years later the boy awoke during a violent storm. Storms didn’t frighten him at this point, the terrors and fears of the night had become his friends and companions. He had learned to run through the forests at night alongside wolves and to sit silently in the trees as an owl mapping the sounds and movements of the creatures of the wood. He spoke with his ancestors and with spirits and shades of the dead and they became his confidants and protectors. He did not fear storms but ran into them at night, reveling in the power and beauty of the whipping rain and bright flashes of lightening, and ground shaking thunder, but this storm was different. It was not a storm to challenge. As the boy sat quietly in the dark listening to the raindrops crash against his window, he saw the face of a crone peering in at him. Once again the boy felt that combination of fear and attraction that he felt with the Mighty Queen that visited him years before and he knew that although Her appearance was different, this was the same Queen. He rapidly sat up in bed and the crone was now in the corner of his room, peering out of one eye with a piercing stare, cloak and feather wrapped, growing and filling the space, and with a voice that sounded equal parts music and screams, the crone who was a Queen who was a black bird, called him a name that he had never heard before and yet knew it was his and said to him
“You Child, are one of my creatures, and I will have need of you in the future, and as I have visited you in your home, someday you will come and visit me in mine”
And with those words She was gone and he was left with dreams of a green and magical island that he knew was his home as well as that Queen’s.

Reblogged with permission from Pilgrimage to Ireland – Introductions and a Tale https://strixian.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/pilgrimage-to-ireland-introductions-and-a-tale/

About the author

Brennos Agrocunos is an activist, spirit worker and priest of the Morrigan presently living in Berkeley California. He is one of the founding members of the Coru Cathubodua, a Celtic devotional polytheist priesthood based in the Bay Area. As a priest, he works towards social justice, environmental healing, and sovereignty of the land and write about these and related topics.

He can be found online at Strixian Woods https://strixian.wordpress.com/

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