A while back, I became aware of a contentious blog post and subsequent social media commotion emerged from a self-proclaimed community ‘elder’ who was railing against Social Justice being a focus for communities dedicated to the Morrigan.
This blog and social media posts centered on criticising individuals who integrated their activism with their devotion to the Morrigan, and though the person at the heart of it is known for espousing problematic views, the ideas were gaining some traction.
Personally, I find political and social justice activism to be an integral part of my service to the Morrigan. This, a chairde, is directly at her request.
However, I recognise that everyone’s path is unique, and not everyone feels compelled to engage in such activities. I would never impose this as a requirement for working with the Morrigan, nor claim that those who don’t participate in activism cannot connect with Her.
The Morrigan, as a complex and multifaceted Irish Goddess, has connections to various aspects of life, including themes of sovereignty, war, fate, and magic. While her mythology does not directly address modern concepts of social justice, some interpretations and aspects of her character can be related to social justice principles when viewed through a contemporary lens.
Protection of the Land and People
In her role as a sovereignty goddess, the Morrigan is often associated with placenames, the Dindshenchas of the land and its people, particularly in the relationship between the land and the people who live on it.
“The Garden of the Morrígan,” I said, “that is, Óchtur nEdmainn. The Dagda gave that land to the Morrígan, and afterwards it was plowed by her.The Wooing of Emer
Gulermovich Epstein notes*, in the section on The Morrigan and Placenames: “the two extended narratives which center on Macha are both concerned with how Emain Macha got its name. We have seen that Fea may also have lent her name to a location. Nemain, the Badb, and the Morrígan are also the referents of a number of toponyms. Whether these toponyms associated with the Morrígan are on the map or instead part of Ireland’s mythological and literary landscape, they demonstrate that the Morrígan was important enough to the medieval Irish, and venerable enough, to lend her name to a considerable number of places.”
Social justice often involves advocating for protecting the environment, and taking actions that will ensure the longevity of future generations on our land. In this sense, followers of the Morrigan may see their devotion as a call to protect the land and its inhabitants, advocating for equitable treatment and environmental conservation.
Injustice and Oppression
The Morrigan’s myths often involve challenges and confrontations, especially with those who misuse their power. In the Cath Maige Tuired, for example, she weighed in for the Tuatha Dé Danann against the Fomorians who were doing just that.
“Undertake a battle of overthrowing,” so sang the goddess Morrigan turning to Lug, “Awake, make a hard slaughter, smiting bodies, attacks boiling, greatly burning, devastating, the people to a man crying out…”Cath Maige Tuired: A Full English Translation
This can symbolise the need to confront and overcome oppressive systems and structures in society. In a social justice context, it can inspire individuals to address inequality and discrimination, even when faced with formidable opposition.
Encouraging Action and Agency
The Morrigan is known for urging individuals to take action and shape their destiny. In Irish mythology, she stands as a powerful symbol of encouragement for action and agency, inspiring individuals to take charge of their destinies and play an active role in shaping the world around them. Her stories exemplify the importance of being proactive in the pursuit of doing what’s needed.
For example, in the Táin Bó Regamna, it is the Mórrígan who sets things in motion for the epic Táin Bó Cuailnge (Cattle Raid of Cooley):
“I have power indeed,” said the woman; “it is at the guarding of thy death that I am; and I shall be,” said she. “I brought this cow out of the fairy-mound of Cruachan, that she might breed by the Black Bull of Cualnge, that is the Bull of Daire Mae Fiachna. It is up to that time that thou art in life, so long as the calf which is in this cow’s body is a yearling; and it is this that shall lead to the Tain bo Cualnge.”https://www.morriganintensive.com/blog/regamna
In the pursuit of social justice, agency and action are essential elements. Followers of the Morrigan may draw inspiration from her stories to be proactive in advocating for positive change and confronting injustices.
It’ is essential ‘s important to remember that the connection between the Morrigan and social justice is not explicitly laid out in ancient texts or myths. The interpretation of the Goddess’ role in promoting social justice is a modern understanding and may vary among different practitioners and scholars.
My work for social justice involves actively advocating for equality and basic human rights. It’s about standing up and being a voice for those who may not have one. I believe it’s essential to show up and do the work, but activism takes various forms. While some may be on the front lines, others can contribute through calls, emails, letters, or supporting those who are directly involved.
In the current state of the world, it’s evident that much needs to be addressed, regardless of our geographical location. Alongside my online and offline efforts, I encourage others to take action as well. I understand that each person has limited energy and resources, often due to personal trauma, physical or mental limitations, or other responsibilities. It’s crucial to take care of ourselves and each other during these challenging times.
However, it becomes problematic when individuals use legitimate reasons for not being politically or socially active as mere excuses to avoid contributing to positive change. While I acknowledge that not everyone can engage in activism in the same way, it’s disheartening to see those who choose complacency when they could make a difference.
As a Priest of the Morrigan, I view activism as an essential part of my service to the community.
I believe that this is a need of the present, not just for those who follow the Morrigan but for anyone who seeks to create a more just and equitable world. If you resonate with this approach to activism, whether in service to the Morrigan or not, you are welcome to join our mailing list below, and follow me on social media – Lora O’Brien Irish Author – where I regularly share resources and talking points for allies who work towards positive change.
Let’s stand together and embrace the Morrigan’s call to plan ahead and make a difference, working alongside those directly affected by injustice and striving to create a better future for all.
“WAR GODDESS: The Morrígan and her Germano-Celtic Counterparts” – a dissertation by Angelique Gulermovich Epstein. Excellent source on the goddess. Available Here.
If you’d like know more about the Morrigan (and developing a practice), I have a free 5 Day Challenge that will support you through some learning of her lore, along with daily prayers and reflections.