The Morrigan

The Celtic goddess known as the Morrigan was fearsome.  While reading about her in a Celtic mythology class that I took last summer, she seemed quite otherworldly as was usually the case when one ran across heroes and deities in the Celtic legends.

She would also appear in the guise of an old woman washing blood-stained armor at the river to those soldiers who would soon die in an ensuing battle.  Her ravens would feast.  Luckily for me I’ve not seen her washing my kevlar and body armor while crossing the Tigris river.

There seems to be little on the net about the Morrigan if you exclude goth pages that dwell on her for obvious reasons.  While in the States the name of Rhiannon was always close to my lips, yet here in a combat zone I find that I often think of the Celtic war goddess of death.  If there was ever anyone on whom’s good side I wanted to stay on, it is hers.

I find myself shifting between planes of awareness, of being, of emotion.  I’m not talking about teleportation here… no… a change in bearing.  At times all I can think of is my sweetheart Eliza and how much it pains me to think of not returning to her.  Yet as I do so I am quick to remind myself that should I indeed die, it wouldn’t matter much to me for I would be dead and in the afterlife (as Maximus says “if you find yourself alone in a green field with the sun shining on you, do not be afraid, for you are in Elysium and you are already dead”).  And if there is indeed an afterlife, whatever religion one might be partial to, I cannot believe that a happy afterlife would have great sorrow and pain of loss that goes along with it.  But perhaps it is the living humanly, the good and bad of this life, that gives us depth in the next life.  Isn’t it said that we are envied by even the angels?  It cannot be for our clay skin, for flying with radiant wings would be much more nifty.  No, it must be for the experiences of being human, the ups and the downs of a fully lived life.

There are other times when thoughts of potential loss are all but disappeared from my forthoughts, such as when I was in a recent firefight and bullets, mortar, and RPG were hitting all around me.  I recall that I was focused on moving laterally and forward, that I wanted to get my rifle pointed toward the enemy and to engage.  Thoughts of getting shot did not appear in my mind, only locating and killling my enemy.

I’ve looked within myself to try and find a connection to the Morrigan, to the warrior within.  That warrior has come out in the past, but I need a stronger connection now than ever before.  Some of the things that I’ve had to do would have had me very nervous had I not been able to attune to what I have to do.

I watched “Return of the King” on my laptop last night, and so many parts strike me so forcefully.  The scene when King Theoden tells his frightened warriors that they cannot beat the forces of Mordor, but they will meet them in battle none the less… that scene is moving.  And when the Rhohirrim is on the hilltop and looking out over the armies of Mordor, and King Theoden is riding, slapping the spears of his riders with his sword, instilling courage within them to fight as men, I too am strengthened. 

Another scene is when the army of Gondor has assembled before the Black Gate of Mordor and are surrounded by enemies and the eye is watching, and King Arathorn turns to his friends and says “for Frodo” and then charges toward the enemy… that scene is incredibly moving. 

So while the Morrigan is a goddess of death and war, I wonder where in her constellation is the virtues of courage and friendship, for nowhere have I seen such virtues fulfilled to their fullest meaning than in war.  I’ve asked often that I give carnage to her ravens, that I might do well as a warrior, but now I ask instead that I esteem virtues of courage and fellowship to their highest.


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