The Morrígan- Also known as Mórrigan, Morrighan, Mór-Riogain, Morrígu and Morrigu, her name means “great queen” or “phantom queen.” She may be an aspect of the Irish earth-goddess Ana. In her triple form she sometimes appears as the battle-furies Badbh Catha, Nemhain and The Morrigan, aspects that combine destruction, sexuality and prophecy. They appeared in numerous animal forms, such as carrionbirds. She is sometimes connected to Macha, who also can appear in triple form.
One of the Tuatha de Danaan who helped in both battles of Mag Tuireadh, The Morrigan’s aspects have the ability to influence the outcome of conflict by inspiring fear or courage. As Badbh Catha, whose name means “battle-crow,” she often takes the form of a crow or battle-raven. Badbh also is connected to the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, where she was said to appear over the heads of the soldiers of High King Bran when he defeated Viking invaders.
The Morrighan sometimes appears as the “Washer at the Ford,” a maiden who is seen prior to battle washing the armor and weapons of those destined to die. Her ability to change from a hag into a young girl and her mating with The Dagdha in the Dinnshenchas, as well as other matings with other figures, denotes that she also is a goddess of sovereignty and fertility.
As Nemhain, whose name means “frenzy,” she is the wife of Nuadha Airgetlamh, a leader of the Tuatha de Danaan. Nemhain also appears in the Ulster Cycle when she shrieks on behalf of CuChulainn at the Connacht army and 100 soldiers drop dead with fright.
Artist: Maxine Miller