Morrígu, Morríghan, Morrígna, Morgan, Badb, Macha, Nemain, Anand, Fea
The Morrígan is a Celtic goddess of war, death, battle, strife, sovereignty, rebirth, fate, prophecy and magic. She is also known as The Great Queen, Phantom Queen, Specter Queen, or Supreme War Goddess. The Morrígan is associated with the sometimes frightening aspects of female energy and is often seen as an omen of death. She often took the shape of a raven or crow, however her other forms included an eel, wolf, cow and horse.
The Morrígan is commonly seen as a Triple Goddess. In texts of the Celtic Mythological Cycle, they are seen as sisters, the daughters of Ernmas and granddaughters of Nuada of the Tuatha Dé Danann. They include Badb (‘fury’, ‘crow’) and Macha (‘battle’, ‘raven’), with the third being either Nemain (‘frenzy/fury’), Anand (aka Morrígan), or Fea (‘hateful’). It is uncertain as to whether the Morrígan represents one or each or these goddesses, or all of them collectively. Interestingly, Ernmas’ first three daughters are thought to be Ériu, Banba, and Fódla, the patron goddesses of Ireland and wives of the last three Tuatha Dé Danann kings.
The Morrígan appears in both the Ulster and Mythological Cycles of Celtic mythology, where she is found to have relations with the Ulster war hero Cú Chulainn. She is thought to have helped the Tuatha Dé Danann defeat the Firbolg at the First Battle of Mag Tuireadh and the Fomorians at the Second Battle of Mag Tuireadh. It is said that she mated with the Dagda before the battle with the Formorians in exchange for her battle plans, which led the Tuatha Dé Danann to victory.
Through her role as war goddess, she is often compared with the Germanic Valkyries. Her role included being a symbol of imminent death or could influence the outcome of war. In the form of a crow, she often appeared flying above the battle, inspiring either fear or courage in the hearts of the warriors. Through her ability to predict the death of warriors, she is sometimes associated with the wailing banshee (bean sídhe) of folklore.
Some have attempted to link the Morrígan with the Morgan le Fay from Welsh mythology, however it is likely that the two names are not related linguistically.
© The Celtic Journey (2013)