The Morrígan, Goddess of Blood

I’ve had a hard time writing out this entry – I’m on try #3 as it is – so I think I’m just going to start typing again and not stop until I’m done. The insights I’ve had today about the Morrígan are important, and I promised myself that I would get back to blogging and hone my writing skill no matter what.

This post comes with trigger warnings for mildly invasive medical procedures, discussing the nature of blood and pain, hypothetical self-harm for religious purposes, and the squick that is menstruation. Or, in other words: I’m on my period today and had blood work this morning, and that’s got me thinking about the Morrígan.

I am on my period today. I am releasing blood.

I had my blood drawn today. I am releasing blood.

The Morrigán has been on my mind for a half dozen different reasons. And I believe everything She is about comes back to blood.

Blood, when I think about it, is so beautifully symbolic and literal when it comes to life and death. It is the lifeforce that flows though our veins, our connection to those primal sea waters that first birthed life. The gift of blood is a gift of life, abundantly so, whether through the symbolic pricking of one’s finger at the altar, or through a badly needed donation at a blood bank.

At the exact same moment, blood – its color, its smell – immediately signals to our brains that something is terribly wrong here. When we see blood, it means injury. Loss. Death. Even with the cyclical bleeding that is my menstruation cycle, it is still tied up in pain, in fertility problems – I would not have a normal cycle without medication – in what is essentially a month without life, and so the body discards the blood as waste material. My life, flowing out my body.

Blood is, I think, the ultimate sexual fluid as well. Forget semen. Blood makes the heart beat, the phallus rise, the lips flush, the vagina swell. Blood is what makes sex – and thus procreative sex, and thus more life – work at all. Blood is what makes the sexual surrender to one another enjoyable.

And again, outside the body, blood shows us that something is wrong. So often, blood means death.

In a ritual last month celebrating Midsummer, I called on the Morrígan to serve as my Peacekeeper, guardian against those who would disrupt myself or my working. What do You want in return? I silently asked. Immediately, the visual of warm, wet, dark crimson came before my eyes. Not a lot. A drop would do. But that, I imagined Her reply, I want that.

She got a lock of my hair instead. Snipped carefully from just above my left ear, sprinkled around my worship area outside. Morag, one of my many partners-in-crime, was later shocked and amused that it never occurred to me that my actions that night were in any way binding. I was trying to follow the principle of ghosti, good hospitality, a gift for a gift. I was “employing” the Morrígan to stand protective guard over my ritual, and in return I gave Her a payment that I felt was the best substitute for the one She had requested – the same way that when I call on Manannán to help me open the Gates between the worlds, I offer Him incense.

Of course, store bought incense is not the same as a piece of my body, encoded with my own DNA. Though I had no intention of tying my fate up with the Morrígan, She may have very well had different plans.

Lucky me.

But back to today.

I have PCOS. That coupled with obesity means my periods are, and have been my whole life, irregular. Following in the grand tradition of my mother’s side of the family, if I am not infertile then I will most likely have incredibly difficulty conceiving if I ever want that. (I don’t, by the way, but thanks for asking.) Female on the outside, female by chromosome, but confused by voice, hair, hormones, and gender identity. My period is my life force slipping away once a moon, one of many markers in a battle I and my body wage in trying to define ourselves. The cramps are practice contractions for a baby that will probably never come. Pain and blood, in vain preparation for life.

I am terrified of getting my blood drawn. I panic, sweat, struggle with nausea and dizziness. I may vomit, curse, cry, or pass out. Today, I did not curse, I did not pass out, and I had nothing in my stomach but water. But I was still terrified. Luckily though, the nurse knew what she was doing, and my mother and another nurse were able to distract me from the worst of my symptoms – but before, I still broke down in tears and had to call for a trash can.

This blood, being pulled from my body, my life force taken from me, will tell the doctors why I have the symptoms I do. This medical sacrifice means that I will be able to protect myself, take care of myself, know how better to control my health. It will tell me more of who I am.

Blood is life and death. Sex and injury. What is normal and what is not. Blood is the story of who we are. Blood is, in part, a symbol of our own sovereignty and power. Sound like Anyone to you?

I got a red candle today, scented with roses, to burn for a certain Celtic triple goddess. Roses remind me of blood, too. There is life, love, lust, sex, pain, thorns, and the headiness of death, all in that one little flower. I don’t know what role the Morrígan is fated to play in my life, or how close our destinies are intertwined. She hasn’t shown Her cards yet; I’m not even sure of mine. But what I do know for certain:

I am releasing blood.

And I am here.

[EDIT]: And how could I have forgotten maybe the biggest link between the Morrígan, myself, and blood today?  When I woke up this morning, I found out I’d stained my underwear overnight and washed it off in the sink. The Morrígan is the washer at the ford, washing out the blood of those who will soon die. She seems intent on getting my attention.

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10 Comments

  1. Lovely post. You’ve hit on some major truths about Her here; a lot of stuff that I’ve had a really hard time articulating, to be honest. (She’s so overwhelming to me; I just sort of go herp derp BLAAAAAARRRAAAAARRRAAAGGGGGHHHH when I try to talk about Her.)

    This especially:

    Roses remind me of blood, too. There is life, love, lust, sex, pain, thorns, and the headiness of death, all in that one little flower.

    And She and roses are definitely connected; when I saw the red-rose-tipped flogger at Good Vibrations, I knew it was for Her, instinctively. I’ve associated roses with godslavery since reading the Kushiel series; also, the smell of rot and death has a sort of sweet smell, like roses and blood mixed together.

    Also, I welcome you to the sither-hood of Morrigan followers/worshippers/hapless victims. We have leather jackets instead of t-shirts. 😉

  2. Yeah, They kind of like to do shit like that. ;P

    I don’t, actually — the closest I have is the sitherhood on TC. You could post about Her on TC, see who replies.

    I…honestly sort of stay away from groups that say they follow Her? There’s just so much bad information out there, and I have so little patience.

    If you do find any good groups, let me know.

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  4. This is a great post.

    I’ve always found it easier to connect with her when I’m menstruating. There have also been times when I’ve deliberately offered Her blood. I’ve come to terms with the fact that in the near future, I’ll be doing a lot more finger pricking to get Her attention, since menopause is looming on the horizon.

    I’ve never made the connection to roses, though. That’s something to look into. Thanks.

    • Thanks, Catherine! I appreciate you reading and leaving feedback.

      Menstruation is a strange time for me because I don’t identify as a woman, and yet here my body is, doing its own female thing without consulting me. I’ve also had bad experiences in the bad with gender essentialist New Agers and Dianic Neo-Wiccans, telling me that I should connect with The Goddess because clearly I am female, clearly this must be my experience, clearly this is what The Goddess is. So I have a kneejerk reaction against any female mysteries.

      On the other hand, my menstruation is part of my own mysteries – those of a genderqueer individual living with a female body, gendered by society as female, struggling with that dysphoria. There’s a liminality inside me that I think has the potential to connect with the Morrígan’s spheres of influence. It’s something I need to keep thinking about.

  5. Sorry, I’m having a bad communication day. I wasn’t equating it to any of that female mystery stuff. The only positive thing about having my periods is this easier connection. I say easier because I don’t like drawing my own blood. I don’t have to if I’m already bleeding from somewhere else. Unless I’m using blood as an offering. Then I will, because I don’t think menstrual blood is a very appropriate offering. The rest of it plain old sucks. I can imagine how much more it must suck for you!

    I don’t see shedding blood for tM as a specifically female thing, either. Anyone who can tolerate drawing their own blood can do it. As far as the women’s mystery stuff goes, I was just telling my husband (because outside of the people I know from TC, he’s the only one I talk about spiritual stuff with) the other night that hearing about how great and magical menstruation is makes me want to punch something. I can’t get on board with celebrating something that makes me feel so awful. Again, It must be even more frustrating for you.

    I guess for me it’s helpful to know that there are other people out there making this connection between tM and blood that aren’t taking it down the “women’s mysteries” road. Does that makes sense?

  6. I, also have PCOS. I am a follower of The Morrigan. I have always been a solitary practitioner. I have in my previous career dealt with lots of blood. I as most women deal with our cursed monthly blood. I found your post to be insightful. Thank you. As for the women’s mysteries, well I believe (personally) man or woman can give blood as an offering to Her. She calls to each person differently as is needed. I never liked putting a label or labels to how that happens. She inspires me in several various ways that surprise me at times. My body and mind display several masculine characteristics. I have accepted the existence of both masculine and feminine inside me. However I am not comfortable, kind of like I am in the wrong skin, when I am put in a situation where I must display something more feminine than I feel.
    I have felt The Morrigan since I was young and 30 years down the road I still feel she accepts me for me.
    I hope that helps you. It is always nice to know we are not as alone as we feel sometimes.

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