While there seem to be many differences of opinion with regards to the nature of the goddess Morrigan, the general consensus among sources is that she is a goddess of war, death and fertility. Some sources also attribute to her aspects of prophecy, the moon, and fresh water lakes and streams.
Morrigan is an ancient Celtic triple goddess, and one of the three daughters of Ernmas. It is said that her origins can be traced back to the megalithic Cult of the Mothers. Like most Celtic goddesses, Morrigan does not fit well into the modern "maiden, mother, crone" format, although some authors attempt to fit her into that format. Instead, her triple forms are said to be Nemain (frenzy), Macha and Badb (the battle hag or crow), although some sources assert that these three are in actuality separate goddesses.
Whether or not Nemain, Macha and Badb are aspects of the Morrigan or sperate goddesses altogether, it is certain that Morrigan appears in mythology time and again as a shapeshifter. This is seen most spectacularly in the accounts of her interaction with Cu Chulainn:
Morrigan is said to have met the hero Cu Chulainn on several occasions. On the first, she offered him her love, but he did not recognize her, and turned her down. Thus scorned, she appeared to him in the guises of several different animals and fought him. She was wounded in the fight and appeared to him as an old woman with a cow in order to trick him into healing her. When still he did not recognize her, she condemned him to die in battle.
The Morrigan's influence in battle is not direct; as in, she does not participate in the battle herself but rather she inspires great courage in her chosen side- and great fear in the other. In this way she aided in battle against both the Firbolg and the Formorians. She is said to prophecy the deaths of warriors before a battle by appearing as the Washer at the Ford; washing the armor of those who are about to die in battle as she did for Cu Chulainn. She has also been associated with the Valkyries, who lead the dead to the afterlife.
The raven or crow is perhaps Morrigan's most well known representation. She is said to appear in this form after a battle and devour the dead. She is also known to appear as a woman with red hair, and she is alternately depicted with hair as black as a raven's feathers.
Not only is Morrigan known as a goddess of war, but she is also seen as a goddess of fertility, or at least, of passionate sexuality. It is said that on Samhain, while performing her duties as Washer at the Ford, Dagda (a god of life) came upon her and they made love. In this way, a goddess of death mated with a god of life.
This article was provided by our forum member Lost Warrior.
Did you know...?
Some tales say Arthur was taken to Avalon by Morrigan, and that as a transporter she is neither good nor evil, others that she is a particular corrupt spirit.