Of Cattle, Prosperity, and Death

"Tell me about Anand," he said.

It was an October afternoon, and I had already begun mental preparations for the season of Samhain (with relish!) but I was caught off guard by the question. In fact, I have difficulty recalling the specifics of my response. I've developed a rote answer to a question which deserves a thesis instead. It's almost like a packing list: Irish Goddess of Cattle, Prosperty, Death, Magic, Prophecy and comes with additional Badb and Macha at a 33% discount.

She is the Morrighan, and she's probably been with me my entire life...long before I had even heard of her. Even growing up, I attended a Catholic church called Saint Anne's. My maternal grandmother's name was Ann, and my mother's middle name was Ann before she took my father's last name. Anand (also Anann, Ana, or Anu) and derivations thereof is a name that has been with me since I'd been on this earth, so for me it's no coincidence. It's a familiarity so intense that describing her various facets would appear to the casual observer might lead some to think that I believed her to be the Goddess of Everything. That's...mostly true in that She's my everything, and unless you've walked in my shoes you really cannot ever understand why.

You will probably read a number of fantastically eloquent blog entries from other devotees of the Morrighan, and you should do that. This is only one tale in a stack of beautiful black feathers that may hold your attention for a moment, and fade from memory. You may be under the impression that the Morrighan draws a certain crowd of devotees to her, and you'd be sort of right about that also. What she does is unlike any other Deity I've encountered: She picks you up, throws you down into the deep, and lights your spirit on fire to watch you rise. The good ones always rise. That little divine spark in you that's in each of us is shaped to her image (or perhaps was always in her image) and that's the end of that. She's in your blood, your dreams, your rituals, your magic, your breath, and your future. She is the intoxicating fullness of life on earth that sharpens the blade of human capability.

To me, her energy is not like that of militant soldiers, but that of death and life. Calling to her strikes the most primal chord in me; the deepest thrumming of the core of mountains and the loudest silence. She is at once the fertile landscape, and the rotting detritus of the earth; the constant cleansing and culling of that which is weakened which she takes and makes anew. Simply put, I am weak so I am hers. This can be a scary thing for a devotee of Morrighan to admit to because people have pre-conceived notions about what we SHOULD be and SHOULD look like, but where I face a physical ailment I make up for in spirit and tenacity. I do not need nor seek anyone else's approval because I have Hers, and ultimately that is all that matters.

She has been with me, by my bedside, on the darkest nights of my soul. These were nights in which I was nearly hers completely, either by sickness or surrender. I dreamed of her. There were times when I knew that I was marked for death, but she did not take me (in fact, she took a squirrel once...). Death can be easy to romanticize when you're faced with it's seductive properties (due to physical and mental illness), but I hold no illusions over the reality of her arrival. While she is a personification of death (by violence, by peace, or by time), she is also life: mothering rivers to nurture the soil, bringing prosperity down on her people, ensuring their successes, and always urging for excellence. She is the cleansing wind that washed over me as I ran through fields as a kid surrounded by cornfields, rain falling on my face, ocean in my ears, and the ever present whisper of her voice in my blood. Always I could hear her calling me to Ireland, long before I had any idea it was her, as though she were just barely within reach when I stood on the shore of the Atlantic. I hear her voice in the dead leaves as I drive through them, branches looming over the road, grey skied and wet and flying. There is no other season that is quite like her than autumn. She is the wound leveled to someone (including animals) you love, the carrion rotting in the street, blood shed every month (for females), blood shed on your hands, corpses baking in the sun, the flies and maggots that pull these things back to her inevitably for her to make them anew. It is grotesque and entirely necessary for existence. She doesn't care what you think of it; whether your disgusted or afraid or any other human assignment of these natural occurrences. She's the force behind that cycle.

For some unusual personal gnosis, her hair color changes. Sometimes with bright red hair, sometimes blonde or black (once blue), sometimes with wild and beautiful gray hair. Sometimes her fingers are arthritic, sometimes they are crested with rings or cloaked in leather gloves, and sometimes they're brushing up the back of your neck. She is seductive also, and your so-called sexual affiliation is rendered quite useless against a force of nature. As a shapeshifter, she can take whichever form she wishes: regal Queen, violent wind, smell of earth, murder of crows, or the traditional eel, cow, wolf, hooded crow, or washerwoman. When even the Tuatha needed advice or guidance in war, they went to her for it. She has forms in all realms: land, sea and sky, and in that sense she is roundly whole.

Essentially, those chosen by the Morrighan have to lose a lot of their preconceptions about modern Druidry or witchcraft, roll up their sleeves, and just do what needs to be done.  We just are what we are, She is what She is, human agendas be damned. At once so -human-  and the greatest power I've ever encountered.

Yet still, words do not do her justice, and long stretches of conversation do not appear to be her strong point either unless of course she is issuing prophecy, which is a magical form. A good flailing of my arms might help illustrate? The thing is, she will appear to each person differently not just because she can, but because she is compassionate enough to understand you and knows exactly the right ways to push you to become greater than you believe you are. It's not always easy; it requires action. A warrior fighting for his life will regard her differently than a wounded healer that does psychopomp work with her, plain and simple.

She is not any one thing, and it is quite popular for people to make the mistake of trying to box her with a definition like some one-sided being. A little research and practical experience scream otherwise, and this is true for ALL of the Irish Gods and probably all of the others as well. They are more complex than we can entirely comprehend and efforts to build relationships with them will show you that. In fact, I encourage that you all try and see where it leads you.


  1. Thank you, Ashley. These are things are needed to know and didn't know I needed to know. ~Lynda

  2. Thank you for this marvelous post about Her. There is intense emotion and energy behind it. It's beautiful.

  3. Beautiful testimony.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts