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david poole

    Pagan Portals The Morrigan: Meeting the Great Queens by Morgan Daimler, Moon Books 12th December 2014 ISBN

    Following a recommendation from Dowrgi, here is a highly recommended book with plenty of lore in it. This was one of the first maybe the first book that I have ever bought which focuses on a specific deity, in this case a well known Irish goddess who I have heard referred to as the Crow of War. She is actually a threefold or triple goddess. Her three main names are Morrigu, the goddess of battle; Macha, the goddess of sovereignty; and Badb, the goddess of prophecy. From the second of those names, you might guess that there could be a connection with Rigantona or possibly with Rhiannon. The name Morrigan is taken to mean nightmare queen or phantom queen. Looking at the second part of her name, Rigan, we get queen or noble lady, but the interpretations of her name lead to darker and murkier interpretations that go beyond the role of being a leader. Bear in mind that the ancient Irish might well have had a different interpretation of what war meant than we would do today. Cattle raids were extremely significant at that time. The Morrigan is significant within the context of the Tuatha De Danann. She is often known to take the shape of a crow or a raven but can also take on several other forms. Ravens and crows both belong to the same family, corvids. Ravens are connected to both battle and prophecy and are a powerful omen, sometimes for good sometimes for ill; likewise with crows. Wolves were important to both the Celts and the Neolithic people. They are connected to warriors, outlaws and shapeshifting. Some Celtic tribes believed that they were descended from wolves. They were also associated with night time and the underworld. Eels are a native species in Ireland whereas snakes are not. Possibly the two different species have become somewhat confused within the context of Irish mythology. The Morrigan offered success in battle to both the Dagda and Cu Chulain. While the Dagda readily agreed to sleep with the Morrigan Cu Chulain turned her down; there then followed a very long and complicated series of encounters. Macha is connected to crows, cattle, pastures and fields. Badb has a number of connections with the crow. She can appear as a withered hag or a seductive young woman. The appearance as a crow is a significant and repeating theme, as is the importance of cows. This seems to signal a distinction between two very different roles, that of a provider with that of a warrior. Reading the descriptions of the Morrigan, I also learned much about Irish mythology, such as the Book of Invasions, and about the Tuatha De and various deities within that pantheon or group. I think that that has helped me to understand this particular strand of lore far better than I had done before, without the need to read through all of the stories or attempt to track down different books I was provided with what I needed to know all in one place. I think that this book was really the start of my serious investigation into the Tuatha De; I have since become aware of a number of other deities from this source. Whatever inspired Morgan Daimler to write this book, she is going back for more – there will be a sequel, Raven Goddess, in which she will go into the subject in even greater depth, this is due around 1st October 2020 all being well.