On The Watch Tower

The air is fresh this morning and I wake up bright and energetic. In my dream, le Enchanteur told me that I should travel along Owl Creek Road, across Owl Creek Valley until I see a farm house. What I would find at this farm house, she would not explain but in my dream, I saw flashing images of a woman waiting and a deep dark cavern.

RavenGuards

Owl Creek Road winds through some territories of Lemuria that are still unknown. Raven goes ahead with some of her friends and keeps a watchful eye on the road, warning of  potential danger.

Owl Creek Travelling

The air is fresh this morning and I wake up bright and energetic. In my dream, le Enchanteur told me that I should travel along Owl Creek Road, across Owl Creek Valley until I see a farm house. What I would find at this farm house, she would not explain but in my dream, I saw flashing images of a woman waiting and a deep dark cavern.

As I expected the mule assigned to me is tied to a nearby tree, almost identical to the one I slept under last night. I gathered my few things and walked over to it. It greeted me kindly and I gave it some pieces of carrot whilst I munched on a juicy sweet apple. There are fruit trees everywhere here in Owl Creek Valley and I’ve gathered up a whole bag full.

We walk and I talk to the mule, who listens attentively. I hope the apple core I’ve dropped on the ground, grows into a lovely big apple tree. I can see a brightly coloured cloak up ahead, looking suspiciously like the one I saw retreating into the bushes yesterday. This time le Enchanteur (who else could it be?) is not hiding but watching me as I walk past. I know not to approach her. She has other ways of communicating and when she wants to speak to me directly she will. I’m happy with that. She gives me a faint smile of encouragement as I glance at her and I see something mischievous glinting in her eyes. I feel a lot better now that I know she’s watching over me.

The dream I had last night gave me some other information too. There were images I’d prefer not to dwell on, ghost towns, a mysterious shadowy woman and that dark cavern again. I try not to worry but I know that I’m heading towards challenges I’ve never faced before.

As I rest and wash my dusty feet by a little stream, I look up to see the horizon shimmering with heat. I splash water on my face and drink some of the cool, sweet water and enjoy the sensation as it travels down my throat. The mule is enjoying it too by the slurping sounds I hear. The weather is hot, but bearable. I only have a loose cotton dress on anyway so my skin is able to breathe.

I set out on my journey again but this time I decide to wear my spectacles to pass the time. I should see many interesting things through those glasses.

I hope this journey is not a long one. There is only so much talking you can do to a mule.

by Soultide

Running With Wolves

Some believe that wolves use Raven as an aerial spotter for possible food sources. The raven has a connection to the moose in Eskimo lore, and since Moose can be a prey of wolves, raven is linked to them as well. Ravens will often follow wolves. They will fly ahead, land in a tree and wait for the wolves to pass, and then fly on again. A playful behavior is sometimes displayed between wolves and ravens.

Entering Lemuria

After leaving the house of Baba Yaga, Raven has flown ahead and is watching and waiting. Everyone is alert as we travel the highways and byways of Lemuria.

The Morrigan

A Goddess of natural cycle. With the natural cycles of the land so threatened and damaged the battle aspect cannot be ignored.

‘All that is perverse and horrible among the supernatural powers’, A Goddess of battles who appears in the form of a scavenging scald-crow or a ragged winged raven, glorying in death and battle’.

This is the commonly held image of the Morrigan in folklore and story telling and in this form she plays a significant part in both the mythological story cycle, and the Heroic cycle.

Before the Battle of Magh Tuireadh, she promises Lugh that she will pursue any who seek to flee from battle. She draws ‘the blood of his heart’ from the Formoire leader Innneach stealing his power, and offers two handfuls of this blood to his foes at the Ford of Destruction.

She also prophecies the Tain and seems to be there at significant points, disturbing and troubling its unfolding. In her first meeting with Cuchulain she is revengeful when her advances are rebuffed and she is there at his death.

She is, indeed, portrayed as wild and war loving. One late text describes her as “shrieking triumphantly over fighting soldiers….a lean hag, speedily leaping over the points of their weapons and shields.” So she comes down into our time as a figure presiding over death and destruction or dwindled into dark and fearful figure, leading spirits out of the Otherworld cave entrance of Cruachain at Samhain and the dark enemy of children’s stories.

But it is not just as a wild haired grey and nimble hag, pouring curses, hailstones and fiery showers on the assembled enemies of her people that she enters into the old stories. She may equally appear as a strong and beautiful woman as when she meets and mates with the Dagda before the battle against the Formoire.

A crimson robed, flame-headed warrior , she appears coming out of the Sid of Cruachain bringing a red eared white heifer to the brown Bull of Cuailnge.

“…..a chariot harnessed with a chestnut horse. The horse had but one leg and the pole of its chariot passed through its body,…..Within the chariot was a woman, her eyebrows red and a crimson mantle round her. Her mantle fell behind her between the wheels of the chariot so that it swept along the ground……..”

She appears to Cuchulain in similar form calling herself the King of Buan’s daughter and offering him her treasure and herself . She is also a powerful shape-shifter appearing as a white heifer, an eel, a wolf, an otter as well as the more usual crow, black bird or raven.

It is generally accepted that Morrigan (Mor Rioghan, Morrigu) has the meaning of Great Queen or possibly Phantom, i.e. Otherworld Queen. It is certainly a title rather than a name. In the glossary to the Battle of Magh Tureadh her names are given as Danu and Ana, (Anu). Now Ana is one of the oldest names of the Great Mother Goddess and in that or similar forms the name appears in mythologies from all over the world. She was Anna-Nin, Lady of Heaven in Sumeria, Anat in Canaan, Anatha in Syria, Nanna in the Norse lands, Hannah, Di-ana, Inanna, Anna Perena, Grandmother time; the list is endless. She is the Great-mother, the Grand-mother and it is hardly surprising that She is remembered in Christian mythology as the Grandmother of Christ.

In Celtic mythology she is remembered as Anu, Danu, Mother of Her people, the Tuatha De Danaan. Her name is commemorated in the landscape, as in the Paps of Anu in Killarney, and elsewhere. (There are small hills known as “The Paps of the Morrigan” in Co. Meat). Anu, Danu, is the giver of Gifts, of inspiration of brightness. but she is also the bring of sleep and darkness. Danu’s children revered the night and gave darkness precedence over day. And in folklore she becomes both the bright fairy woman, Erin and the black ‘witch’ Anis . As Great-Mother she encompasses both light and dark, both giving and receiving back.

If She is the ‘Great Queen’ of Ireland then the stories will show evidence of her sovereignty. There are many stories of a prospective king who is met and tested by a woman who changes from old to young, from hideous to beautiful These encounters often take place near water so that it is not unexpected to find that the Dagda mates with the Morrigan as she stand bathing with one foot on each bank of the river.

It is interesting that when she offers herself to Cuchulain he refuses her ‘queenship’. Is the story seeing Cuchulain as a “solar hero”, a patriarchal warrior type who no longer seeks the mating with the Goddess of the land? Perhaps, although other aspects of his myth do not wholly bear this out. Even so the Cuchulain story belongs to the ‘heroic’ rather than the ‘mythological’ cycle.

These great Goddesses are always triple and the Morrigan is no exception. She is usually viewed as one of a triad of sisters, including Badhbh, and Macha.

Macha is also a Goddess of the Land. Besides the well known story of her race with the king’s horses and her birthing curse on the warriors of Ulster there is also the story of how she laid out the boundaries of Emain Macha with her broach pin. She is the horse Goddess and protector of her people.

Nemain is another known war Goddess as is Fea. At the battle of Magh Tuireadh they are all mentioned as wives of Nuada so perhaps they are all aspects of the Goddess of the land evoked for protection.

And why have they remained, remembered only as Goddesses of war and battle? The Goddesses of the Sacred Land, and all land is sacred, are givers of prosperity and fertility. Their chosen ones were pledged to uphold and cherish the gifts of the Goddess.

Maybe there are clues in the stories. Macha’s secrets are raped and her gifts abused through pride and jealousy. When she is forced to race against her own natural cycles and to give birth before her time her blessing becomes a curse. When Cuchulain refuses the Morrigan’s gifts he begins a cycle of competition rather than co-operation. Is it any wonder that she is perceived as angry? He wounds her in her shape shifted forms and is only healed when he consents to drink from the teats of her cow and offers a blessing. He accepts her nourishment and healing takes place.

It is clear that in the stories, conquest of the land becomes paramount. and therefore conquest of the Goddess by whatever name she is known. How can it be otherwise when She is the land. Where we seek to abuse, there we also fear. She has become the recipient of our fearful projections and so becomes fearful herself.

So why Morrigan healing? If we regard her as dark and fearful then we will treat the Sacred land in the same way. If we see her as guide and protectress then she will grant us the clear vision of her ravens. Her healing will be cleansing, not easy maybe, because as the earth rots away and transforms all that is dead, or as fire consumes and transmutes static energies, or as the scavengers pick clean, so her cleansing is to the bone. Not easy, but what she transforms is cleansed to health.

Remember that after the Tain, the cattle raid, it is she who tells the trees and the rivers the outcome. It is she, who after the battle of Magh Tuireadh, sings the song of blessing and regeneration.

Peace up to the skies;The skies down to the earth;The earth under the skies;Strength to everyone.

A Goddess of natural cycle then, And with the natural cycles of the land so threatened and damaged the battle aspect cannot be ignored. But if we are cooperating with her and not in competition then any conflict will become part of the healing process, not an end in itself.

The Morrigan; Goddess of no pain, no gain.

Reprinted From Sheela-Na-Gig Magazine

Cleaning Up Our Mess

Ravens figure heavily in Celtic mythology and legend. They were linked to darkness and death – especially the death of warriors in battle. Celtic war goddesses often took the form of a raven. In “The Dream of Rhonabwy”, the knight Owein battles King Arthur in a dream world assisted by ravens. Some tales suggest that the great King Arthur himself was turned in to a raven upon his death.

RavenScavenger

The Morrigan, a goddess of war, often appeared on the battlefields in the shape of a raven.

Because ravens were a common sight on the battlefields they have become know as one of the Beasts of Battle and feared. It must have been a shocking sight for survivors to see murders of ravens hovering over the slain devouring them. Little wonder that fear has been etched into the hearts of the human race.

But cleaning up the mess of mankind is hardly the original sin. The sin was the blood thirsty, relentless wars that saw so many women, children and men killed for the sake of some cause that felt right at that time.

Become One With The Dark

Osho – “Just be alone, sit silently, look into the darkness. Become one with the dark, disappear into it. Look at the stars — feel the distance, the silence, the emptiness, and use night for your meditation. Sitting in the bed doing nothing…just feeling. Many people are completely unaware of the beauties of the night…and night is tremendously beautiful. It is the right time for meditation.

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,’ said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you’ – here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!’
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!’
Merely this and nothing more.

image from the Raven’s Aerie

Flapping My Wings

Birds use a variety of methods to communicate with each other, including vocalizations, beak tapping, courtship displays, flight patterns and nonvocal wing sounds. Numerous species of birds have the ability to create sounds that attract mates or warn of dangers. Changes in the spacing of feathers allow the air to pass through during flight to create different vibrations that result in an audible noise.

Raven Woman

At Baba’s, my Raven doll reminds me that, while she is off on her mortar we can spare some time to just dance and flap our wings.

Whirling and Twirling

It is joyous to be in a place where houses dance, where inanimates such as mortars fly like birds, where the old woman can make magic, where nothing is what it seems but is, for the most part, better than it seemed to begin with.

BabaLeaving

Here in the world of Baba Yaga I can let go of hyper-normalcy, the routine lifeless life of Cafe Latte and overt commercialism. In this place where a chicken house walks about, twirls even, dances a hippity-hop dance I can feel myself becoming enthusiastic, dare I say joyful. It is time to twirl and whirl and dance like a crazy chicken for awhile.

Bringing Fun To The World

RavenGirls

It is not only their devotion and loyalty that bought the raven such love and admiration. It was their wisdom, the magic, the fun they bought into the world.

Two’s Good Luck

RavenMischief

One crow sorrow,
Two crows mirth,
three, a wedding,
four, a birth,
five brings silver,
six takes wealth,
seven crows a secret,
More I can nae tell.

Crows have been used for the purpose of divination since the time of ancient Rome.

Finding a dead crow on the road is good luck.

Crows in a church yard are bad luck

A single crow over a house meant bad news, and often foretold a death within. “A crow on the thatch, soon death lifts the latch.”

It was unlucky in Wales to have a crow cross your path. However, if two crows crossed your path, the luck was reversed. “Two crows I see, good luck to me”

In New England, however, to see two crows flying together from the left was bad luck.

When crows were quiet and subdued during their midsummer’s molt, some European peasants believed that it was because they were preparing to go to the Devil to pay tribute with their black feathers.

Often, two crows would be released together during a wedding celebration. If the two flew away together, the couple could look forward to a long life together. If the pair separated, the couple might expect to be soon parted, too. (This practice was also performed using pairs of doves).

In Chinese mythology a three legged crow was used to represent the Sun (because 3 was the number for light and goodness, which the sun was the embodiment of)

Magpies are ominous birds, able to foretell events by the size of the group in which they fly. (click here for magpie counting rhymes)

A spell of protection vs. magpie was to cross yourself, raise your hat to the bird or spit three times over right shoulder and say ‘devil, devil, I defy thee’. This was particularly applicable if you did not like the future as foretold by counting the magpies.

Magpies are accused of not wearing full mourning at the Crucifixion. Because they wore white when they were supposed to be all black, they have been cursed by God.

In Scotland, Magpies are thought to be so evil that each has a drop of the Devil’s blood under its tongue.

In Somerset (West Country of England) locals used to carry an onion with them for protection from magpies or crows.

In the same area, locals used to tip their hats to Ravens, in order not to offend them.

Ravens are associated with the devil in many parts of UK. In Yorkshire children were threatened with the Great Black Bird which would carry them off if they were bad.

It has been said that a baby will die if a raven’s eggs are stolen.

Ravens are considered royal birds. Legend has it King Arthur turned into one.

Alexander the Great was supposedly guided across the desert by two ravens sent from heaven.

The Tower of London houses ravens, and has for over 900 years. It is said that if the ravens ever leave the Tower, England will fall. Or, to be more exact, if they leave the Tower, the Tower will fall – and since the tower is (theoretically at least) tied to the crown of England, the Crown will fall – and if the Crown falls, then the Country shall fall, too.

If a raven perches on a house in Wales, it will bring prosperity to the family within.

In Scotland, a raven circling a house was said to predict the death of someone within.

Rooks feeding in village streets or close to nests in the morning means inclement weather is to come – usually storms or rain.

Conversely, rooks flying far from their nest means fair weather.

Rooks used to be told of a landowner’s death. The new landowner would stand under a rookery and give the news, usually adding the promise that only he and his friends would be allowed to shoot the birds in future. If he neglected the ceremony, the birds would desert the rookery – an evil omen in itself. This forecast the loss of the land and downfall of the family through poverty.

The French had a saying that evil priests became crows, and bad nuns became magpies.

The Greeks said “Go to the Crows” the same way we would say “Go to Hell.”

The Romans used the expression “To pierce a Crow’s eye” in relation to something that was almost impossible to do.

An Irish expression, “You’ll follow the Crows for it” meant that a person would miss something after it was gone.

The expression, “I have a bone to pick with you” used to be ” I have a crow to pick with you”.

To protect seed, shoot rooks and carrion crows.
To protect young birds, shoot jays, crows, and magpies.
And for protection for weakling lambs, ravens should be shot.

From Shades of Night

Raven or Crone

In many Irish stories the crone goddess, often under the name of the Badb (bao, or raven), ordains or foreshadows the warrior’s death. She is seen washing at the ford, and the clothing belongs to one about to die in battle.

Celtic traditions contained a rich lode of myths about a divine Old Woman. In Gaelic (both Irish and Scottish)she is called the Cailleach (from caille, mantle or veil, thus veiled one.) [The Q-Celtic word cailleach is related to the Latin pallium, which survived as the name for a priestly stole. MacKenzie thinks cailleach originally signified a nun, but the ancient traditions predate christianity. 137] This is not a veil of modesty—the cailleachan are wild—but of mystery.

Read more about Crones

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