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Bean Chaointe

hearth fires and death pyres

Dear Cis Men:

This past weekend, I hosted the first of what will hopefully be an ongoing online group to strengthen people’s skills around supporting other people emotionally and mentally, following a peer support model. It went really well! The focus was on strategic self-care, but we also touched on subjects like communication techniques, boundaries, and being an ally. For being the first meeting, I’m really happy with how it went.

Then a friend pointed out that, of all the folks to attend, only one was a cis man. Everyone else was a woman, feminine-expressing, nonbinary, or genderqueer.

Hmm.

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Book Review: “Celtic Lore & Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess”

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Celtic Lore and Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess: Invoking the Morrigan, by Stephanie Woodfield, 2011.

I want to start by saying that this is not at all meant as a personal attack on Stephanie Woodfield. A flawed book is not a reflection of character. This book was first published in 2011 and from what I’ve heard, Woodfield has changed some of her opinions. Unfortunately, published texts don’t reflect the author’s later growth and I still see this text referred to in ways that aren’t useful, especially for newer folks who may not yet have enough context in Irish lore to be able to discern substantiated information from filler or UPG.


The TL;DR Version

My rating: 2/5, would not recommend to anyone who doesn’t already have a really solid grounding in Irish myth.

This book might be useful for: Wiccans and folks who have a more Wiccan-influenced/neopagan personal practice and a pretty good knowledge of Irish and Morrigan-related lore already.

This book would not be useful for: modern polytheists looking for information on personal practice with a solid grounding in the archaeological and literary traditions. Anyone new to Irish polytheism or paganism. Anyone new to the Morrígan in particular. Anyone new to a practice involving magic.

Overall comments:

  • The book has a tendency to start with legitimate quotations or pieces of information…and then take an abrupt turn into a claim that makes no sense whatsoever in the broader Irish context (or at all, sometimes). This results in misrepresentation or sometimes flat-out incorrect information.
  • There is a constant imposition of Wiccan and neopagan imagery, such as Maiden/Mother/Crone and the four Classical elements, with no clear explanation on when, why, or how they’re being shoehorned into a culturally-specific tradition that never used them. Using them in private practice is one thing; it’s quite another to present them as natively Irish.
  • There are moments of archetypalism in which goddesses from different cultures are treated as more alike than they are or even as the same figure (e.g. Rhiannon, Epona, and Macha). This critique is informed by my own bias as a hard polytheist, so YMMV.
    • Morgana le Fay, however, and by extension Avalon, are entirely unrelated to the Morrigan by point of currently accepted academic fact.
  • Some of the spellcraft instructions are mislabeled (e.g. conflating manifestation magic with shapeshifting), appropriative (“sage smudge stick,” repackaging of hoodoo powders), or are even potentially outright dangerous, as in the case of swearing oaths without proper preparation and negotiation.
    • All of the rituals follow the conventional circle-casting, four-quarter Wiccan/neopagan format, which is not Irish.
    • There does not seem to be any explanations behind the various association/correspondence lists, many of which involve non-native ingredients or objects.

If you want some examples and details, read on.

Continue reading “Book Review: “Celtic Lore & Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess””

So you want to worship the Morrígan.

Cool. Blessings on your path, if you wish to accept them.  🙂

…What? I’m not here to play gatekeeper. In my understanding of these things, na Morrígna are all perfectly capable of speaking for themselves. I certainly can’t read their minds.

But if you want more than that, I’ll share some thoughts from my personal experience on what I found useful for myself in trying to figure out what the ever-loving hell I’m doing.

Continue reading “So you want to worship the Morrígan.”

Ogham Moods: Beith

ogham - beith 2

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The Queen of the Planets

From Folktales of Ireland, ed. and trans. by Seán Ó Súilleabháin (Sean O’Sullivan), 1966.

Content warning for violent imagery, including what appears to be attempted suicide.


 

queen-of-the-planets-black-ink-prints“Queen of the Planets” by Lauren Lark on Society6.

There was a man and his wife long ago. The husband had the blessing of everybody, but his wife had the blessing of nobody. She was so hardhearted. The husband was the first to die, and only that the neighbors were so grateful to him, he couldn’t be buried at all, the day of the funeral was so wet and stormy. His wife died some time afterward, and she got the two finest days that ever came out of heaven for her wake and funeral. The people were greatly surprised at this, seeing that she had nobody’s blessing. Their son then said that he would not sleep a second night on the same bed or eat a second meal at any table until he found out why it was that his father, who had everybody’s blessing, got a bad funeral day, while his mother, who had nobody’s blessing, got a fine day.

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A Complex of Badba: The Keener

badb the keener

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A Complex of Badba: The Washer at the Ford

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The Morrígan: History & Modern Cultus Resources

This page was first published on my polytheist Tumblr blog, Bean Chaointe. It’s a work of love, devotion, and practicality.

Disclaimer: This is not meant to present itself as the end-all, be-all of resources concerning the Morrígan.  The information here is information that I have found useful.

If there is something you would like to see linked on here or if you’re the owner of something you would like removed, please let me know.  All credit goes to the creators of their own work; I own nothing but what I’ve written myself, which has been marked with an asterisk for transparency.

Last updated: 28 August 2018.
Currently under a thorough overhaul.


Table of Contents


  1. Introductions & History
  2. Her Cult
  3. Devotional Reflections from Contemporary Polytheists
  4. Philosophical Reflections on Sovereignty, War, & Death
  5. Resources

Continue reading “The Morrígan: History & Modern Cultus Resources”

Death’s Inaugural Reminder

On January 20th, the same day as Trump’s inauguration, I had a moment in which the world slowed down and I thought, Huh, there’s a very real possibility that I could die in about five seconds.

Continue reading “Death’s Inaugural Reminder”

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