Evoe Macha ...... Ecco Badb
Triple imaged Morrigan, triple named Morrigan, Mighty Queen, Badb and Macha - it was You who protected the Tuatha De Danann by a cover of fog and rain and cloud so that the people of Danu could land safely upon the coast of Ireland. You are three parts in One, You are the three phases of the silver moon, waxing, full, and waning. You are one of the Three Mothers, The Divine Matronae who sit side by side with cornucopias of abundance upon Your laps.
You are often seen as the vengeful crone, cackling in delight at spilled blood upon a battlefield, drowning enemy princes beneath Your white waves, battling to protect those of the tribe of Danu. You have also appeared as a young woman dressed in brightly colored clothes embroidered with threads of glistening gold. Changing shape and form is but play to You, Mighty Goddess - and poetry and prophesy are Your natural tongue. As the Great Mother you watch over your people. As Queen you guard your tribes.
Loud is Your war cry; sharp are Your spears; powerful are Your enchantments; true are Your grim prophesies - as You fly across battlefields black as the sleek raven, making Yourself visible only to those whose life would soon be over, Your raven caw filling hearts with dread, as death's call slides from Your widespread wings. Welcome, Her, women. Sit and listen as I tell you of stories. For it is not through bloodshed that She battles, but by Her magic does She frighten, confuse, and dismay those who have aroused Her wrath.
How filled with anger were You when the lad named Odras used Your sacred bull to mate with his cow. Gathering up both bull and cow, You took them through the oak woods of Falga and brought them to a cave not far from the river Shannon, where one might enter the Otherworld. Desiring to retrieve his cow, Odras followed as fast as his legs would move but as the fleet footed Morrigan, even with the burden of bull and pregnant cow, You soon outdistanced the exhausted fellow - arriving at the cave while Odras was still far behind. When You later came upon him in the woods, his eyes closed deep in the sleep of his fatigue, You laid a magic spell upon him so that he changed into a pond, his captive spirit in the water of the oak woods of Falga until this very day.
But it was the warrior of Ulster, the arrogant Cu Chulainn, who most aroused the anger of the Mighty Morrigan. Some say that Your feud with him first began on the day that You had watched him bathing by a river bank and upon seeing his bared body, desired him to lay down beside You. It was then that You approached him in Your finest robes, embroidered with all the colors of the rainbow. Though all the other soldiers could hardly look upon You, so filled were they with awe and admiration, Cu refused Your suggestion that he lie with You in love, claiming that he was too weary from the day's battle. Still, it was not this refusal that angered You. You showed much patience and concern for the man that You desired, for You then suggested that You would help him in the battle and with the energy that He would save by Your conquests in the fighting, he would be able to accept Your offer of a loving bed. But he responded to this second offer with great disdain, "the very idea of a woman helping in the battle", and it was his reply that aroused Your wrath - thus making Cu an enemy of the powerful Daughter of Eternity.
Sitting alone in naked puzzlement, he saw another wagon approach, this one drawn by a single bright red horse that was walking upon three legs. Alongside the horse walked a footman, a forked wand of hazel in his hand. And upon the high seat of the wagon sat a woman whose hair and thick brows were the color and brilliance of flame, Your long cloak of blood color spread out about You - as if You sat upon a throne. Ever more puzzled and confused, Cu asked Your name and purpose. But he found that the riddles that he received as answers were far beyond his ken. As he added questions to his questions, the riddles grew in sarcasm so that his confusion soon became frustration. Just as he realized what a fool he must seem, sitting naked and unarmed in his own wagon, puzzled by words of his own language, holding the reins, but ignorant of his intended destination - all disappeared except the woman, who suddenly became a great black bird, cawing in laughter at his plight as Your wings slid off into the morning air!
But You were not satisfied to have shown the man a fool. No! When next the warrior fought upon a battlefield, You gathered fifty white heifers and linking them together with a perfect silver chain, You took the form of a heifer without horns, thus leading the herd across the fields and waters - until the confusion they had caused among the troops gave the advantage to his enemy. You then made Yourself into a long black eel and twisted about the arms and legs of Cu so that he was unable to move in the waters. Just as he was almost able to pull the eel from his body, You became a sharp toothed wolf, cutting deep and painful gashes on his arms.
In this way You battled, until the dark of evening began to cover all. Then You left him on the battlefield - knowing that he would make his way towards home to heal his cut and broken body. You, too had been badly hurt, especially about the face and eyes. Realizing that You could best be healed by the one who had caused the wounds, if You could win three blessings from him, You soon devised a plan. So it was that on the next day, You became an old woman with a milking pail, sitting with a cow by the side of the road, the path that he would have to take upon his journey to his home. When he came along the road, as You knew that he must do, his body, as dry and tired as You suspected, You called out the offer of a cup of milk, suggesting that it might be pleasant to feel the wetness upon his throat.
Not knowing who You were, he came gratefully to Your side and drank the creamy liquid from the cup, blessing You for Your kindness as he took the empty cup from his mouth. When You poured a second time, again he drank and blessed you and yet a third time did he do the same until - thrice blessed - You were healed. Cu Chulainn was startled as You then spread Your raven wings, and more so when You disappeared and the large raven that took Your place perched itself upon a nearby bramble.
It was then that he heard the shrill cawing prophesies of the future, grim and short in time, and watched as the wide black wings of The Morrigan disappeared into the distance - as he stood earthbound and fearful of Your wrath and magical powers.
Women, today the role of Morrigan is different than it was for our ancestors. Most of us are not involved in life or death struggles on a daily basis. The Morrigan is a wonderful Goddess for strong, independent women, especially those on a warrior path. The Morrigan used magic to change her appearance to "one of terror" and caused confusion to help her warriors win their battles through cleverness rather than bloodshed.
Should you wish The Morrigan to come to your aid, She asks that you have a shrine to honor Her. Place upon it a raven or crow feather or a piece of red cloth. She is honored by a sacrifice of your menstrual blood, which is a perfect symbol of both life and death, fertility and war. Offer yourself to Her service, for She will come to your aid when you have need.
Many thanks to Merlin Stone for her material on The Morrigan in Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood
Published by Beacon Press, 1979
For an excellent telling of Morrigan please visit