Unladylike by Heather Lewis

Unladylike

You’re so cute, he says.
My lips retract, not a smile but
A feral baring of teeth.
I do not tell him the truth,
That would be unladylike.

I do not tell him the truth –
That I am dangerous.
That I am the eater of black hearts.
That I am the devourer of shallow minds.
That I am the seeker of truths.
That I am the giver of life and
The bringer of death.

He sees only
A round face,
Soft skin,
The temptation of ripe curves.
He is blind to the chaos
Barely contained by my
Tender flesh and frail bones.
He cannot understand
The wildness of me.
He cannot know the ravenous hunger
For things he could never dare to dream.

And so I smile and say thank you,
Just the way I was trained to do.

(c) Heather Lewis

***

Heather says of this poem

I wrote this piece several months ago, I had strayed from my spiritual path, caught up with life and only recently found my way back again. As I was reflecting on the Morrigan and what is she expects of me, it occurred to me how the way women are socialized to accept traditional gender roles often clashes with and suffocates those aspects of womanhood that the Morrigan seeks to nurture in us – basically how women can often finding themselves hiding their wildness and power – all the things that a patriarchal society doesn’t understand and therefore, fears. And so I just started writing about the way women are often perceived versus the truth of womanhood and by the time I was finished, I had this piece

***.

Heather is 34 years old, currently studying English lit and creative writing at Morehead State University in Kentucky. She has not previously been published, though she is currently working on a small collection of poetry and short fiction which she hopes to find an audience for in the not too distant future.

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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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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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Morrigan – Oil on Canvas

by Suzi Edwards-Goose


“Where talons rip and wrench and tear,
See her shadow standing there. . .
At moondark when the battle moans,
The raven comes to pick the bones. . .
Carrion claws through flesh are sliding,
When Morrigan the wind is riding. . .”

-Suzi Edwards-Goose


You can learn more about Suzi’s work or contact her via her website www.Inkwitch333.co.uk and her facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/ArtworkOfSuziGoose

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Drum journey to the Morrigan

This week we bring you a shamanic drum journey to connect with the Morrigan. You can use this journey once or many times, just shifting your intention. If you have never journeyed before or are seeking guidance before you begin, come join the Call of the Morrigan FB Community and ask your questions there before you start.

This journey was recorded by Rebecca Wright in February 2014 using an 18-inch frame drum and Dartmoor bone, for the now defunct site, The Shamanic Voice.

About: Rebecca Wright is a shamanic healer and teacher based in the Northeast of England. She is one of the founders of the Call of the Morrigan FB community and UK retreats. You contact her on Facebook at Call of the Morrigan page.

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How the Morrigan Claimed Me

(Submission from Morrigan Odin)

Many and more have asked me to share my story about how and why I came to be a Priestess of The Morrigan. I believe now is the time to share that story.

For most of my young life I had been lost spiritually. I was raised Southern Baptist, but it never fit me. I began exploring other spiritual paths in my early teens, and was drawn to The Craft (witchcraft). I studied several traditions, but none seemed to call to me.

Now that I look back on things, I realize I was looking for self-empowerment. I was a victim of domestic abuse from the time I was a child. I sought out things to escape from that. Mostly drugs. I searched for a “savior” mostly men. It was all for naught. Nothing filled the “hole in my soul.”

I was in the midst of what Joseph Campbell refers to as a Shamanic “Crackup” as an adult. Western Psychiatry refers to this as “psychosis”. I had been committed to a psychiatric facility. I lay on the floor of the ward. I was angry, I was beyond defeated. I was desperate.

I screamed out to The Universe at large, “Whoever, Whatever is OUT THERE!! Take me, I am tired of this life, I hate this life. I feel lost. No one has come to save me. HELP ME!!”

And She did. I did not know Her name at the time. I only heard Her voice at first.

“Get UP! This is not the end for YOU! I have use for YOU! And YOU will save YOURSELF! GET UP!!”

And so, I got up. Up off the floor of the hospital. Up out of the self-pity. Up out of being a victim. Up out of abusing drugs. Up and away from unhealthy relationships.

At that time, The Morrigan was not as well known, as She is now. I did not know who this Goddess was, I did not know a name.  After hearing Her voice I began seeing an image. A woman, a Goddess, standing and screaming at me over and over. I sought out another Priestess, and was told the image I described sounded like The Morrigan. I began reading, researching, and meditating, praying all on The Morrigan. It was Her, my savior, or rather the One responsible for empowering me to save myself. I became Her Priestess and have been ever since.

That was many, many years ago. She has lead me down a Warrior Path. Together, We seek to bring balance to The Cosmos once again. If I could say anything about my savior, The Morrigan, it is that She has taught me, and continues to teach me every day, to be the best Me I can be.

 

About:  Morrigan Odin is High Priestess of The Morrigan’s Nest Coven Dedicated to The Morrigan and The Allfather (Odin, Woden), Warrior Path Ordained and Licensed in the state of Virginia. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Old Dominion University (1994) International Studies, Minor in Political Science. She is Herbalist, Poet, Writer. She blogs at: The Morrigan’s Nest and The Truth.

 

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The Morrigan

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I was just finishing off the last detail on a painting I’ve been working on (actually, it’s bin working on me…) on and off for a few months, when I had an impuls to take a blank canvas out. Iwas sitting with it and then another impulse made me take an orange cayon and I started drawing the shape of a face. And after just a few lines, She was there.
A powerfull and angry looking woman. A goddess I knew she was. First a rather quiet voice inside of me said “Freja?”,but then a strong voice said: “The Morrigan”, and I knew.

I was thrilled, and a little scared, but I didn’t know much  about her, more then being a Warrior Goddess, and I had some faint memories of watching a few You Tube videos on The Morrigan by Laura Daligan. So I watched them again. And was confimed, happy, and humbled, by this Calling of this Powerful, Powerful, Dark, Beautiful, Sexual, Strong, Deep, Loving and of course, much more, beyond words.

I have never been looking for her. She Called me. And our journey has just begun. Or maybe she’s been with me all the time… Either way, I love it.

This is the painting. My journey with it has also just started. I will keep you posted on my work with it and with The Morrigan herself. Beautiful to have a place to share!

The days, or maybe a week before this happened, Crows were showing themselves in a special way to me a few times…

Magdalena Ellverson, Sweden

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Three Paths, One Purpose by Morgan Daimler

12076537_10206739153311181_1519930415_oThe witchcraft community is a varied and diverse place, just like the people who belong to it. It can generally be said thought that there are three main approaches to witchcraft, once labeled white, gray, and black. The vast majority of people prefer to identify as white or benevolent witches, those who focus only on positive energy, healing, blessing, and connecting to nature; they usually strongly emphasize the light. The second largest group are the gray or moderate witches who favor a balance between dark and light; they generally seem to prefer the positive but are willing to use the negative methods when necessary. Finally there are the black or dark witches who are the fewest in number, publicly at least, and who focus on the darkness and on knowledge of hexing and destructive magics.

Obviously this is something of an over-simplification, as very few people are limited to only one view and each tends to blend into the others to some degree. And naturally in discussing it the different paths must be generalized – there will of course be exceptions and slightly different views in each one. It’s also important to note that each approach, light, gray, and dark, all can have followers who use their witchcraft in abusive ways. While it’s easy enough to picture the dark witch as someone who is simply cruel and enjoys hurting people, those same qualities can be found in those who follow the light exclusively. All approaches have benefits and risks. For those of us drawn to honor the Morrigan, undeniably a complex Goddess herself, it is worth taking the time to look at the different paths and how we relate to them.

The most popular path – publicly at least – is the light path. People drawn to this approach tend to see witchcraft as a tool for improving the world, for healing, blessing, and protecting. The light is a path rooted in love and so its emphasis tends to be on manifesting love; people who follow this path generally also follow the Wiccan Rede “an ye harm none, do as ye will”, the three-fold law, and karma. The Wiccan Rede can be interpreted in different ways, from forbidding all harm of any sort under any circumstances, to suggesting that no action should be taken without great consideration of the consequences first. The three-fold law, sometimes also called the law of return, states that the energy we put out returns to us, so that those who do good receive good. The western-ized idea of karma goes along with this and encourages people to be responsible for their actions through the belief that actions create similar responses; those who do good things have good karma and good things happen to them, or on a wider scale in the next life they bring this good energy forward with them. Light witches often refuse to do specific kinds of magic that are considered manipulative, believing that it is wrong to interfere with another person’s free will.

The strength of this path is that it encourages kindness and gentleness. It is a path of love and it encourages people to be positive and loving in life, to heal themselves and others, to bring happiness and optimism into the world. Spirits are dealt with, but usually only those perceived of as entirely beneficial or helpful to people. Plants need sunlight to grow and the world needs light witches to nurture and nourish that fragile sense of joy that is so easily lost. The weakness of this path is that it can tend towards intolerance of those who are not similarly inclined towards unadulterated “goodness”. It can also encourage a rejection of non-light oriented methods that can result in fear and judgment of those methods. Many people are drawn to this path because of its focus on positive things but is often misunderstood by those who don’t follow it who may believe it is shallow, fluffy, or too passive.

Those who follow the Morrigan and walk a light path may find it especially challenging to reconcile her harsher aspects with their rejection of anything harmful or manipulative. There may instead be an emphasis on the Morrigan’s sovereignty, prophecy, and land goddess aspects.

The second most popular path is the gray. A gray witch straddles both the light and the dark emphasizing balance between the two. Gray witches tend to reject either extreme and instead seek to walk in moderation, although in actual practice they tend more towards favoring a light point of view. Some gray witches do follow the Wiccan Rede or believe in the rule of three, but others prefer a morality based in the idea that if you need to cause harm you will, if you have no other choice and with an understanding that there will be repercussions to you. The common sayings which appeal in this path

is “you can’t heal if you can’t hex” and “only act if you are willing to pay the cost”. Gray witches tend to respect both life and death as powerful forces and emphasize the importance of incorporating both sides of human nature into the witch’s practice. Some people practice gray witchcraft as a blend of both light and dark, taking practices from both, while others see it as the line between the two. Magical practices in gray witchcraft often emphasize what may otherwise be labeled Hedge witchcraft, Green witchcraft, or wild crafting, with an emphasis on connecting to the spiritworld through a variety of practices and on applying magic in diverse ways. The gray witch may or may not work to help the larger community or be more personally focused.

The strength of this path is its avoidance of extremes and its willingness to explore a variety of methods and options. Gray witches tend to be open minded and appreciate open mindedness in others. Spirits are dealt with that are mostly benevolent towards people but those that are more ambivalent may also be worked with. The gray witch is necessary in the community because they serve as a bridge between the light and the dark and they, in many ways, represent the most organic approach to witchcraft. The weakness of this path is that moderation can sometimes feel like stagnation and there may be a struggle with feelings of indecision as the gray witch’s morality and practice is not necessarily rigidly set, leading to a need for situational ethics. Many people who follow this path are drawn to its moderate approach, but it can be misunderstood by outsiders as being both hard to define ethically and also reflecting an unwillingness to commit to one side or the other. Some people may criticize gray witches for wanting the public acceptance of the white witch while also having the darker magic of the dark witch.

Followers of the Morrigan who are drawn to gray witchcraft often like to focus on her connections to the Fey, who are also ambiguous in nature, and her psychopomp and justice aspects. Gray witches generally have no issues with any of the Morrigan’s associations and may find honoring her empowering.

The final category is dark witchcraft, the smallest public group and the most misunderstood. Dark witches themselves fall into a variety of sub-groups, but generally people are drawn to this approach because it doesn’t shy away from using the types of magic others consider dangerous. Witches who follow this path often prefer to rely on their own judgment to decide right from wrong. Consequences from actions are seen as the direct results of the actions themselves, rather than an energetic return and value is often placed on doing what is best for the self and those closest to the witch, rather than a more nebulous greater good. Magic and spellcraft are viewed as utilitarian tools, which like an ax or knife can, help or harm depending on how they are used. Knowledge is often valued, even of things viewed as dangerous or unpleasant. As with gray witches the belief is often that you should be willing to pay the cost of any action taken, but where a gray witch may feel that you can’t heal without knowing how to hex a dark witch might say you shouldn’t know how to hex if you aren’t willing to use what you know when needed. Although they tend to have a negative reputation few Dark witches will cause harm without a strong motivation to do so; understanding things like pain and suffering and having an affinity for understanding the darkness in others tends to engender a sympathy towards others along with a cynicism. Dark path witches generally believe that only by confronting and accepting the darkness can a person find strength and overcome fear. Things that other people may avoid or find uncomfortable like death, decay, and negative emotions are things that dark witches are often drawn to; where, for example light witches are empowered by sunlight or moonlight, dark witches look to the darkness and shadows for peace and empowerment. Dark witches often practice some form of necromancy, and emphasize working with the dead, spirits of various sorts, and protective magics.

The strength of this approach is its willingness to confront what others avoid and to deal with the darker aspects of life and of magic. Dark witches tend to be extremely open minded and accepting of people’s eccentricities and flaws, but also tend towards cynicism and introversion; this can be a strength or a weakness. Dark witches who work with spirits will usually work with a wide variety of types,

including those others might avoid. Dark witchcraft also has a strength in its emphasis on the importance of facing and overcoming our own negative qualities. People may be drawn to this path for different reasons, including a personal preference for the macabre, a desire to confront their own fears, or a need to feel empowered. A major weakness of this path is a risk of arrogance in the practitioner and a possibility of becoming too focused on power. This path is often misunderstood by others as being nothing but shock value, evil, or focused on malicious harm for its own sake.

Followers of the Morrigan who are dark witches may tend to focus on her war and battle aspects along with her role as washer-at-the-ford; her lighter aspects such as fertility are less emphasized. Dark witches who honor her may also acknowledge her aspects relating to madness, battle magic, and cursing.

These three paths, light, gray, and dark, have many differences and many similarities – but ultimately for those of us who share honoring the Morrigan her worship should be something which holds us together. We should learn to see beyond the differences in approach and philosophy to the person and the ways that we all ultimately seek the same thing. Sometimes we get so caught up in trying to justify our own beliefs that we lose sight of the value in other people’s, and also the truism that there is no one way that is ideal for everyone. As Nietzsche said: “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist”.

And as to me, well I spent many years as a light-path witch and then, to quote Pratchett and Gaiman’s book “Good Omens” I “sauntered vaguely downwards” into dark witchcraft with a brief stopover in gray witchcraft. That, however, is another story.

(Read more from Morgan on her personal path in the post Reflecting Darkness on her blog Living Liminally.)

About: Morgan Daimler has been a witch since 1991, an Irish reconstructionist since about 1994, and heathen since 2006. She also practice seidhr. She loves studying other paths and other ways of doing things, and enjoys discussing religion, philosophy and spirituality with people from diverse paths.

She is the author of a number of books, including The Morrigan: Meeting the Great Queens, Irish Paganism: Reconstructing Irish Polytheism, and The Treasure of the Tuatha De Danann: A Pocket Book of Irish Myth. See more about her and a full listing of her work on her Amazon author page.

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