Addressing Misconceptions About the Mórrígan

lore misconceptions practice Oct 03, 2023
Misconceptions About the Mórrígan

Addressing and exploring the true nature of the Mórrígan is important, so here we are debunking the most common misconceptions I've encountered.

Dia dhaoibh, it's Lora O’Brien here. I’ve been talking with people from all walks of life about the Mórrígan for over two decades, in my role as a tour guide at Uaimh na gCat (Oweynagat Cave), heritage manager at Cruachan (Rathcroghan), conferences and events globally, and of course through the online teaching and groups the Irish Pagan School is known for.

I have to say now, the misunderstandings around this Irish Goddess are really something else. Let’s set the record straight, shall we?

The Mórrígan: Not a Scary, Untrustworthy Entity

I hear this one a lot: "The Mórrígan is fearsome and unreliable."

While she is a figure of power, and she definitely does have her own agenda and way of doing things which is often outside of our understanding... she's not out to get you. It’s crucial to approach her with respect, yes, but if you do that, you’re off to a good start.

Triple Goddess? Maybe Not What You Think

I’ve seen plenty of folks get this one wrong, especially if they're coming from a Wiccan or NeoPagan background. The Mórrígan isn’t just one part of a triple goddess archetype.

In Irish tradition, there's absolutely no reference to any sort of 'Maiden, Mother, Crone' triplicity. Her name can also be a title (meaning either 'Great Queen', or 'Phantom Queen'), which is also given to her sisters or other aspects (perhaps?!), who are variously known as the Badb, Nemain, Fea, Bé Néit, Anu or Anand, and Macha. Different Goddesses or entities, different attributes.

More than Death and War

Yes, the Mórrígan has associations with death and war, or more correctly - battle, but let's not put her in a box. She's also connected with sovereignty, prophecy, poetry, magic, change, and so much more.

Along these lines, no, she's not evil. Some people worry that working with her makes them 'bad' or 'evil' because of this presumed death connection. This is a misguided notion, she's not a Goddess of Death, nor is she a psychopomp. There's no inherent evil in honouring her.

Love and Light? Think Again Please!

This is a real kicker. Some people want to fit her into this love and light mould that aligns with what is becoming, let's face it, a very toxic form of positivity in New Age circles. Keep your thoughts and prayers folks, that's simply not the Mórrígan.

It's important to understand her in the context of Irish mythology and spirituality, as these are living, vibrant traditions which stretch back for centuries, if not millenia. Don't go changing her heart... you couldn't if you tried!

Experience Matters with the Mórrígan

While my teaching of Irish Paganism focuses strongly on learning the lore, getting properly aquainted with authentic Irish culture, and all of that... this is just ONE part of what I call the 3 Pillars of Irish Pagan Practice.

All of my teaching - as well as my personal practice, for the record - is based on these 3 'pillars': Learn, Experience, Integrate.

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Understanding this, don't expect her to simply bless you without you doing any work. The Mórrígan pushes you toward self-reliance and action. She’s more of a 'tough love' type, and in my experience she expects you to pull up that three-legged Pagan primer stool and get on with things.

She'll let you know if there's anything specific that needs to be taken care of, but meanwhile, just do the work.

She Doesn’t Work For You

Bitch please. This is a literal divine Goddess we are talking about. She's not hanging around the Otherworld waiting for you to need her for some spell or call her up for a random ritual. A little humility goes a long way.

She's not a genie in a bottle or a motherly figure who'll do your bidding and fix your boo boos. Honestly, she doesn't seem to give a flying feck what we humans want or need, most of the time.

You work on yourself, you build connection and develop your relationship, learn to communicate effectively (even when you're not hearing back from her) and in time maybe she'll start noticing your needs. But you gotta earn that. 

Don’t Forget Cultural Influences!

Especially when I meet folk from the U.S., there’s a tendency to simplify or romanticise Irish deities, including the Mórrígan. Let's try to get closer to the source, okay?

There is a huge body of Lore - check the Táin Bó Cuailnge Here, and the Táin Bó Regamna Here, for example. It's so important to be reading these stories as close to the original as we can possibly get, to get a real idea of what the Mórrígan's mythology actually is. Don't be depending on other people's intepretations or cherry picked parts of it (yes, even mine, study it for yourself!).

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She's a Shapeshifter

Don't try to limit her to one form or another.

The Mórrígan has many forms, and she’s not confined to any single one. In the stories, she shows up in various animal forms, various human female forms, and various corvid forms. No restrictions! 

Land and Sovereignty

Finally, let’s not forget her deep connection to the land of Ireland and the concept of sovereignty, both of the land and of the self. This is directly connected to the Dindshenchas (Lore of Placenames) that is an integral part of Irish culture even to this day, as well as her 'big picture' point of view when it comes to making sure that things happen when, where, and how they need to happen.

Associations with land, water, and sovereignty, don't mean she's a fertility Goddess mind you, so don't be going down that road either. And sovereingty connection, or even that one example of her own sexuality, do NOT make her a sex Goddess. 

Also, no, she is not in love with CúChulainn. That boy was all sorts of wrong, the shining example of what not to do through all of the teaching tales. There's a lesson there, for sure, but most people seem to be picking it up very, very wrong.

So, let’s do the Mórrígan justice and try to understand her on her own terms, based on the rich and authentic Irish heritage and lore from which she springs, and remains integrally connected.

There you go, a quick rundown of some misconceptions I’ve seen floating around. It's about time we got to know the real Mórrígan, don't you think? Slán go fóill!

>>> Build an Authentic Relationship with the Morrigan Today


Exploring the manuscript text of the Táin Bó Cuailnge, the Cattle Raid of Cooley...

with prayers, prompts, and reflections, over 5 days.

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