red vulture

paganism, food, gender

The Morrigan evolves

I stood before the altar and poured out my heart. I told Her how She should be proud of me, because She is the one who capitalized on my warrior’s spirit to the point where I would tell even Her no. I told Her that the work I do now is as much devotional as what I did before, and that if She would only show me a different face, maybe we could build something not necessarily new, but deeper and better. I chanted her name repeatedly. I knelt. I made myself known.

And eventually, the answer came (at least in part):

If you would have a new face, then learn about me.

Yes ma’am. So now I am seeking out every story and song and poem about Her I can find. I’ve followed Her for decades, but there is always more to learn. One of our greatest bonds has always been the practice of shapeshifting, so I have no doubt that She can take whatever form or face suits Her will, and our mutual needs.

And then last night, after I had once again drummed up Her name from the depths, after I had called Her over and over…the rest came in a dream.

I wish I could share it here, but the information is still a shock and honestly, I am not sure what to make of it. As soon as I got the message, though, Nephthys pressed in on me as close as Morrigu. Do they, I wondered for the first time, want the same thing? And can I give it? I want to, but wanting to is not enough. I want to do a lot of things that in reality I can’t do, or can’t do well, or can’t devote the required time to.

In to the ritual bath I go, to open up to Them. We will see where this ends up.

As for Osiris, He is amused. If you don’t think the Lord of Eternity can have a joyous sense of humor, well, just hope He never thinks to play a joke on you.

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Lessons from the Water

Dawn of the Two Feathers

(Journal dump incoming, full of astral and woo. They’re usually not this long, but I guess that’s what too much caffeine and a disturbed sleep schedule will get you.)

Last night was long and rough. I should remember to skip the large chai tea after five in the evening.

I found myself in my temple garden in the unseen staring up at the lattice over my head. Someone approached and I heard a voice greet me and call me “Son.” Heru-wer? A heru bigger than my shardly self who brought me into being? No, it was Wesir. I thought about how their voices could be confused for each other. They were brothers afterall. I had a hard time seeing him. I put on a blind fold so I could hear him better. I tried my best to hear that voice and not just listen to the words in my own…

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Hand to Hand with the Morrigan

For the past few months I’ve been trying to appease the Morrigan. Last night I didn’t. I stood at the altar and told Her that unless She was prepared to treat me like…I don’t know. An equal seems like the wrong term. She is a goddess, after all, and in that sense we will never be truly equal. Maybe a valued and cared for warrior, or servant. Something that requires equitable treatment from Her. Sometimes when I finally lash out and fight Her, it makes Her happy and She dances away while laughing. Not this time. She transformed in to pure shadow, an endless void pool full of faint threats and malevolence. I told Her I didn’t care, that She could split my soul from my body, that She could kill me and scatter my spirit to the winds if that is what She wanted. I can’t really stop Her, save being perhaps protected by Nephthys should things deteriorate to that point. But that even so, I would never be Her thrall, or Her food and drink to consume and suck dry. Never.

And I stand by that. I know that many people have different feelings about the gods and their roles with those gods, and I am not disputing that these other ways may work for people who aren’t me. I believe that some people are legitimately god slaves. But while I might willingly submit I will never be enslaved against my desires. I did not start worshiping the gods only to get pulled in to cosmic abusive relationships and it shocks me how many people I encounter that seem to feel that absorbing abuse is a required part of working with deity. Everyone’s limits are different, yes. These are mine. Even the Morrigan–who I have never officially oathed myself to, for reasons just such as this–must respect them, or destroy me/release me from Her service.

And that’s the real rub. I don’t want our relationship to be over. She has been with me since I was a teenager. Always She has guided and taught me and even protected me in the past. Maybe it’s already over and I don’t want to admit it. Maybe it isn’t, but we have to find a new way of working together and that process isn’t through the painful stages yet. I don’t know. As I delve more in to Irish indigenous thought and spirituality maybe new connections with the pantheon will assert themselves. See, I am a very single deity type person and I don’t tend to branch out much beyond those deities, but maybe I need someone else’s influence to temper the Morrigan’s presence. Then again, maybe this is all a test to see if I will stick to my boundaries and fight even Her for them. She has done such things before. Because if there is one thing I know about Her, it is that She wants warriors. That doesn’t have to be literal skill with a sword and shield, but it does mean a willingness to fight when it’s needed.

And I will fight, even against Her. If nothing else, She should appreciate the warrior’s spirit She helped forge.

The Morrigan can be a right bitch

https://www.facebook.com/archaeologycavesireland/posts/847424401984082

“The horrid Mórrígan out of the cave of Cruachu, her fit abode… In her role as war goddess she is presented as terrifying, malevolent and linked to bloody battles.”

So there’s a thing I noticed recently where a lot of people called by the Morrigan are talking about Her in Her role as a feminist icon and/or a symbol that some kind of cultural struggle is on the horizon. This is often interpreted as the children, priests, and warriors of the Morrigan being on the side of social justice, which obviously if you’ve read this blog I am all about.

However.

For me the Morrigan is an unpredictable, jealous, childish force of nature who is as likely to throw a tantrum as She is to guide and teach. Especially since Nephthys showed up with such force to unequivocally claim me, She has been a pouty whiny bitch about it. There, I said it. More often than not when I come to Her altar, we fight and argue. She set me on a certain path many years ago and for that entire time I followed Her wishes. I fought to do Her work, even as the madness She values so much threatened to eat me alive. But recently, I realized that I couldn’t continue on that particular path. I hoped She would understand and support me about it, especially because what I am doing now is directly to do with restoring Irish indigenous thought, and helping the indigenous people of the Americas as well. But so far, She refuses to take any appeasement I may offer.

Recently it made me seriously question if we could continue to work together, despite the fact that She was the first goddess to come and claim me decades ago. After communing with Her I felt our bond deepen, instead, but I still feel She is rarely happy.

Sometimes She comes to me so strongly I feel my arms and back sprout feathers as I change shape. Other times She whines and moans and complains, or refuses to speak to me at all. Sometimes, she comes as a Maggot Goddess, a goddess of decay, a creature that brings madness and nightmares when I can’t possibly bear more madness and nightmares. The word malevolent in the quote up there struck me particularly strongly, because She is that.

I feel that She cares about me, because if I have one hard and fast rule about polytheism it is that I will not be just a food source, or a tool, or a pawn. If I sense a god doesn’t care for me, I will employ whatever power available to me to get away from that deity. I see our relationships with the gods as any relationship, just writ large, and no one is allowed to abuse me or inflict their narcissistic garbage on me and I will die if I have to in order to see that rule adhered to. But in fact, if She didn’t care I doubt she would be throwing such a juvenile fit. She could easily be done with me. She’s a goddess and She has plenty of followers. But the strong feminist icon isn’t enough for me and it has never been my reality. I have never seen Her as a triple goddess, with soft maiden aspects, and I wish people talked more about this side of Her.

Of course I get annoyed when people only talk about what horrible sociopathic dicks their gods are too, as if the shittier the god is to you the more cool kid cred you have (this is not about any one person in specific but rather a thing I notice overall in some traditions). But some acknowledgment that there’s more to the Morrigan would be nice!

So I’m kinda flipping you off you nasty old crow, but I’m doing it with the greatest love!

Doctor Sleep

I used to be sleep averse. So sleep averse that I would piss away hours at a time doing whatever would distract me from having to go to bed, even when I had other obligations to meet. Because of my mental illnesses (and the traumatic incidents at the core of some of those illnesses), lying down and closing my eyes meant confronting things I never wanted to think about again. Paranoia would slither in to my bedroom to wrap me in its constricting coils. Anxiety would creep up and sit on my chest, taking the breath from my throat.

My magical sight, as it were, did not help with these issues. For most of my life I was tormented by entities that sought me out like I was the only beacon in a vast otherwise unbroken darkness. Whether these beings were spirits or born of my highly disordered mind, I will never know. (I personally think it’s both). I learned during that time too. How to shield, how to slip between worlds, how to grab and hold the void (except for when trying to do so made me want to puke, instead). How to hear the call of the Morrigan. But every moment was pure terror, or so it seemed sometimes. Ghosts took up all the seats on my couch. They crammed in to my closets. They stared back at me from all the mirrors in my apartment.

Once I met my current psychiatrist several years ago, I was finally medicated for my actual disorders (I was misdiagnosed for ten years). Things didn’t get better right away, of course. No pill is a panacea. There is nothing that will cure these chronic illnesses, and make no mistake, they are chronic and often deadly. But I realized that my sleep habits–sleep hygiene, if you will–was absolutely fucked. I resolved to do something about it.

Around this time, I realized that the unnameable force following behind and to my side was Nephthys. So trying to sleep also became trying to pray, trying to create some sort of bedtime ritual that might soothe me enough that I could fly in to the void–a different sort of void entirely than the one the Morrigan had shown me–without hesitating. As to the Morrigan, well. While her lessons were necessary and invaluable, they couldn’t provide me with the sort of empathy and love Great of Kindness could, and it was a gentle hand I needed for this particular issue. Despite the fact that Nephthys can be as fearsome as the Morrigan, She has almost always done me the courtesy of showing me Her softer side.

Anyway, the ritual began with a lavender candle. That was it. No words, no songs, no bowing. I lit the candle and I focused on it and I tried my best. I slept in my partner’s bed like a frightened child or a nervous pet. Eventually, the scent helped. It sunk in to my subconscious and started to mean sleep. This has happened to me with my altar, too. The scent of honey essential oil and Lush bath bombs orient my mind towards the gods. (Sometimes I think when She wants my attention, She makes me smell these things even stronger than normal, but who knows).

Then seroquel happened and I slept like someone had hit me over the head. I dropped like a stone in to blackness and I didn’t even twitch for twelve hours, that first night. Things slowly started to make sense. My mind grew empty and quiet. It was as if I’d been trapped in the middle of a crowded room, boxed in by thousands of people, all screaming. And suddenly, they were gone and it was just me alone in this vast space. Colors stopped pulsing with arcane and morbid meaning, and bled away until they were just shades of reality again.

So now that I feel as centered as I ever have, I’ve started looking forward to getting in bed. I remind myself that under my blanket shield, no bad thoughts are allowed to penetrate. And also, I now have the ability to craft a new ritual. This ritual, I thought, should be something I could do every night to honor the Lord and Lady of the West (I tend to see Nephthys and Osiris as a married couple that rule over the land of the dead/night) and the Morrigan, the Great Queen.

Recently I read in Eternal Egypt a thing that reminded me of why our ritual actions are so important: much like many religions, when a ritualist does an action in ritual it is not symbolic so much as it becomes real. In other words, when I light a candle and bring the Light of Ra to the ritual space, it doesn’t resemble the Light of Ra. It is His light. The water of Ma’at, the incense, whatever offerings…they sustain the Gods in a real way.

That said, this is something I’ve tried to keep simple. While the gods, in my experience, certainly sometimes appreciate it when you go all out and make them feasts and sing and dance and make a celebration in your house, more modest and arguably more personal actions can be just as powerful.

The Ritual, to be performed each evening

My altars are the top shelves on two bookcases that are next to one another. On the left, Nephthys and Osiris. On the right, the Morrigan. The Netjeru usually get honored first, just because that seems like the proper way to do it. However if the Morrigan demands otherwise, Nephthys and Osiris don’t seem to mind if She gets her due first. The altar to the Netjeru has two candles, one purple for Nephthys, and one yellow for Osiris. The Morrigan has a red candle. The altar to the Netjeru includes several water vessels, though the main one that I use every night is a cup sat in front of Nephthys’ image. Of course the specific titles I use aren’t required. Anything that fits can easily be traded out.

Approach the altar to the Netjeru. Take and light Nephthys’ candle. Place it back in its spot.

Dua Nephthys, I bring you the light.

Hear me O Nephthys, for I know your secret name: Great of Kindness.

Pour the water from the vessel chosen in to the cup before the image of Nephthys

Dua Nephthys, I bring you the water of Ma’at.

I know your secret forms, Lady of the Limit, the Useful Goddess, Lady of the Temple Enclosure.

Here I usually add some personal thoughts or adorations to Her. This could include more of Her names. For example if I anoint Her image, I might invoke Her as the Lady of the Laboratory. I associate her with nighttime and “descending with the night bark” so some titles about Her as Queen of the Night or Great Protector might also feel appropriate. I focus on my personal relationship with Her more than anything, so whatever is between us that makes Her happy, I try to give voice to considering the power of speaking aloud. If Her presence is a particularly strong, I like to keep quiet and absorb Her energy. 

I will usually bracket the things I do with the Dua position, or what I feel to be the Dua position that works for me, which is hands up and palms forward. Sometimes I used to kneel and touch my head to the ground, but I sadly don’t have the space for this anymore (very small walkway between my bed and the bookshelf)

Take and light Osiris’ candle.

Dua Osiris, I bring you the light.

Hear me O Osiris, for I know your secret name: Lord of the Nile

Fill Osiris’ water vessel, if present.

Dua Osiris, I bring you the water of Ma’at.

I know your secret forms, ba of Ra, for whom the pomegranate tree flowers, Lord of Food.

Dua Osiris, for though you bring dread and grief, your heart is one of joy.

Once the moment feels right, I will blow out both candles and say a last short prayer to Nephthys in order to keep Her foremost in my mind. 

The Morrigan’s Ritual

Light the Morrigan’s candle

Glory to you, Morrigu, Great Queen, Great of Magic. I bring you the hearth fire, the war fire, the fire that burns in the head and hearts of all Celts.

Hear me, for I am your warrior. May Your stout shield and sharp blade stand between me and my enemies. May Your strength empower me to continue the fight. For You are the battle mistress, the washer at the ford. You are the red heifer, the hooded crow. Thank You for Your dark gifts, given to Your chosen children: astral travel, shapeshifting, madness, fear, and death.

Know that Your people exist still, despite the many attempts to destroy us. Know that we remember Your name, a name the colonizer and the agents of genocide could not take from our lips. Bless us, O Morrigu, for Your strength is boundless.

May Your belly be filled with gore and Your lovers be many and well endowed.

Blow out the Morrigan’s candle.

In your name.

***

I hope this has been useful. In the morning I will drink the water from Nephthys’ altar. I wanted to somehow incorporate eating or drinking the items She had blessed without eating a bunch of bread every night, so I thought this was a good compromise. Also it’s good for you to drink a glass of water when you wake up!

quick notes

I’m not dead!

School is about to start. Hopefully I will have some more interesting articles to share with you.

I got Eternal Egypt for Christmas. Slow going but good so far.

ugh

Please stop using “but AE wasn’t racist!!!” as a defense for your ignorance on the matter.