For those who may not know of The Morrigan: First, you should know that "Morrigan" is not this deities name, but her title. It translates closely to "Phantom Queen". Through different variations of the spelling, it may also translate to "Great Queen" and even "Great Queens" in a plural sense of her being the manifestation of multiple beings. However, the multiple personality disorder aspect is not what this article is to discuss. The Morrigan is an extra-dimensional goddess belonging to the Tuatha de' Danann. Often depicted as a large black crow, she is seen largely as a goddess of death. To contribute this as her only aspect though would be disgraceful, for she was as well an inciter of fury, and bloodlust and seen in a primal manner of sexual appetite. For a warrior battle-bound to see her in any of her many forms meant they would surely fall, the most notorious of her death predicting forms, though, was The Washer at the Ford.
The Washer at the Ford is exactly that, a crone bent at the ford of a river washing rags. This was the gravest of omens for a warrior, for it is said that the rags she washed were soaked with blood, and these rags were those of the warrior who saw her. On many occasions, however, the death to follow her presence would not be that of her warriors (the Tuatha), but the enemies. In one tale the Morrigan captures one of the Fomorians (the enemies of the Tuatha), in legend his name is Indech (a Fomorian king, who fought at the Second Battle of Magh Tuiredh). In order to frenzy the warriors of the Tuatha de' Danann into a murderous rage, the Morrigan slaughtered Indech, and filled her hands with his blood. Dispersing the blood among her warriors, they were baptised in their enemies blood and whipped into a blind fury. One, however, would be doing themselves unjustly to think of her as the embodiment of death, fury, and battle only. As aforementioned, she is often seen as having a large sexual appetite as well. Seeing as this is a public forum, specifics will be disregarded on this subject, and I will skip ahead to say that this is seen as an extreme passion. Confine it not to bodily functions, but an intensity for whatever passions one may have, and she is seen clearly as one who rises to heights. This meaning that she also embodies intensity or extremes.
If death is seen as an end, a discontinuation, or a stand still, then you see she personifies not only this dark, dampening side of life, but a fiery and strong willed side as well. She is a balance between rage, and passion. This is depicted even more clearly when one looks at her encounter with The Dagda.
For those who may not know of The Dagda: As with the Morrigan, 'Dagda' is a title. Meaning 'Good God' and under a different name 'All Father'. If the Morrigan embodies death, fury, and bloodlust than the Dagda is her polar opposite. A chieftain of the Tuatha de' Danann, he is the embodiment of adundence, music, and life. Said to be the bearer of three supernatural items, each a representation of his powers.The cauldron, which was bottomless, and never ceased to supply sustenance. The club, which is said to have been capable of slaying nine men with a single blow, and with the handle of which he was able to restore life lost. A harp of oak, which set the seasons in their proper place and sang the chords of life.
Shown not only as a powerful and intimidating character, he is often depicted in an oafish, exaggerated, and sometimes crude manner. This however, can be related to the aspect of his abundance. He is ridiculous, and he knows, without shame he is unmistakably himself, which correlates with the pride and joy he personifies in the indulgences and differences of the world.
Now we turn our eyes to his club, as previously mentioned. With the power to fell nine men in one swing, and to restore life with muted end. As a god of abundance, he wields unfathomable strength, and mets out an abundance of punishment when necessary, yet retains the ability to revive with the same tool used to kill. This represents a balance. Showing that, while there may be plenty abound, and joy in all, death is still a part of the entirety, and can not be denied (as signified by the irresistible blow of his club). This abundance of life, and balance of both joy and death, become profusely signified when the Dagda comes to confer with the Morrigan.
- The Union of Life and Death-
On one Samhain day, standing with the river Unshin, the goddess queen Morrigan comes approached by the god king Dagda. He has come to her to ask for military help, and seeking prophecy foretold of a battle to be had with the Fomorians that would determine the ruling people of Ireland. She would grant his request, in return for a passionate tryst.
Here we see a being who is both intensely passionate, and insatiable request to be sated. Who better to do so then a being who personifies endless abundance and joy in the fervors of life? So between the two communion of the flesh is had and in the act, a metaphorical nexus of opposing forces is born. Look beyond the figures, and there is much more signified. The banks of the Unshin, where water meets land, on a night such as Samhain. This is a story of more than war and joy, it is of the undeterrable relationship between that which we are, and that which, as mortals, we will become.
This can be seen by the setting of the event as well- the bank of the Unshin river. Water in Celtic mythology is related heavily to sacrifice, and the spiritual realm as well as change and becoming. If one looks into the mythology of many rivers throughout Ireland, they would find that a female character was destroyed by a force water, and via some manner became the river. After the event of death, the female character who became the river would also become the rivers guardian in spirit. This can be seen in the Boyne and Shannon river mythologies.
So if one assumes, when water signifies spirit and sacrifice, land may represent solidity and possession. If what we are, as humans, are solid and possessive then through the act of death we will become the opposite. From land to water - from physical to spiritual, and from having to without.
Of course, to say we are deprived of being after death is not for me to deem. I mean merely that we go from tangible, to intangible. From with form, to without form.
In the end, the Morrigan is sated and prophesies to the Dagda how the Tuatha de' Danann may defeat the Fomorians and take the land Ireland.
The Morrigan & The Dagda