Our knowledge of the Celtic cosmology is likened to a shining, multi-hued cloak whose strands have not yet been woven together into a unified whole, a garment with potentially threadbare places due to information that has been lost over time. Attempting to reconstruct the ideology from a patchwork of sources requires an awareness of the potential alterations that may have taken place over time. We need to examine each thread carefully as Irish myth is interwoven with a variety of biblical and medieval materials.
nem, talam, ocus muir
(old Irish for sky, earth and sea)
Irish Filid, or trained seer-poets describe the Celtic otherworlds as being triune in nature. They spoke of the divine realms as Sky, Earth & Sea/Underworld or celestial, actual & chthonic. These otherworld’s or realms were believed to be parallel to the actual world in which we exist and are located underneath hills, beneath lakes or under the sea, on islands or in halls or buildings that disappear at dawn. The powers and blessings of this cosmic trinity are invoked throughout the centuries by men, women and deities. This triune perception of existence is much different than that the dualistic heaven/earth view and was rejected by early Christians. For this reason, we can see a great amount of altered literature over time that presents itself with more of the Christian concept of good/evil & heaven/hell. I believe this to be a heavy influence on why The Morrigan in the modern world is perceived mainly as a dark goddess. This is also why I want to spend the Spring embracing her.
The aspects of The Morrigan as well as all Celtic mythology is likened to a three dimensional Celtic knot, interwoven without beginning or ending. For many, it is important to identify and understand the facets of the Morrigan. Many question, Is Neiman a sister or a face? Is Danu the Morrigan as a whole? What is the difference between theThe Morrigu and Morrigan? But more importantly, how do we figure it out? And is it really that important to define? Does the Morrigan require form to be understood?
Along with the vertical three-fold understanding of the universe (Sky, Earth & Sea), the Irish also believed in a horizontal structure. This information is given throughout many texts. For example, in the Suidigud Tellaig Temra or The Settling of the Manor of Tara it states, ‘Knowledge in the west, battle in the north, prosperity in the east, music in the south and kinship in the center”. When we piece together all the attributes and associations within all the texts we can perceive a general agreement as to what this horizontal structure Celtic knot of belief systems looks like. Then, when we hear an old Irish proverb like this “In every land, hardness is in the north of it, softness in the south, industry in the east and fire and inspiration in the west” we begin to understand the knot as a whole. This is true for The Morrigan as well. The directions have associated winds, colors, deities, special powers, magickal tools and elements. To keep this brief, you will find part of The Morrigan intertwined in all of them.
The most ancient Celtic divinity of whom we have any knowledge is Danu herself, the goddess from whom the whole hierarchy of gods received its name of Tuatha Dé Danann or “The people of the Goddess Danu”. She was the universal mother. Danu is commonly considered the first Great Mother of Ireland, divine creator aspect of the goddess who birthed all things into being. She is an earth goddess, associated with fertility, growth, plenty, abundance, agriculture, cultivation and with nurturing of the land. Rivers, flowing water and the sea are also Danu’s domain. Within this water form she wields the magic of divine flow.
The further you examine the roots of the words, the meaning of the proverbs and tales, the thicker into the mist you will go. The ancient stories are a life line in and around the mists surrounding this Divine Ancestresses, but the only way out is to know her directly.
Over the Spring Season I will be curating unique rituals so we may connect with this Divine Ancestress and come full circle in our understanding of the Great Queen, The Morrigan.
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