Flocks of bloody crows, collectively known as a 'murder, you know, and for good reason. Noisy bastards they are. After a couple of weeks of constant cawing, tapping at the windows, landing on the car, and other assorted okay-for-a-once-off-but-weird-that-this-is-regular sort of behaviours, it started to penetrate my skull that perhaps there was a message of some sort going on here. (Maybe? Ya think?)
Thus started a relationship with a little old Irish goddess named Morrigan. She is well enough known to not need too much of an intro, but for those who haven't happened across her she is known as a battle goddess, the "Witch of the Tuatha Dé Danaan”, bitch of blood and battle. You will see her name translated as ‘Phantom Queen' or 'Great Queen’, the difference being whether or not there should have been a fada over the o - Mor or Mór Rioghain. For what it's worth, she's always used the Great Queen epithet in my experience with her.
Visits to Her Cave proved... interesting. The previously mentioned Gates of Hell: a slippery climb down into the darkness, envelopment in complete black. Divine mud below and a journey above. There were tattoos taken to my flesh: a trial, a commitment that stretched both ways. With careful record keeping (to spot patterns), in time and with patience, I came to understand what she wanted. It boiled down to two major demands:
- disseminate REAL information
- inspire the next generation.
Um, okay then. By that point, I was already involved in the Neopagan community; teaching, talking, training students. I also had two children, and was raising them in an open and (I hoped) encouraging environment. I figured I was already doing my bit for the cause. My response to Her was: if there is more required of me, cough up with the support system to enable it. When I said I started a relationship, I meant it - it goes both ways. I will not work in a vacuum!
As a day job, I was running my own body piercing business, but the location was wrong and it needed a change. I had given notice and sourced new premises, all set to move onwards and upwards, when I was contacted by a book publishers I'd been talking with. The book proposal I'd sent was not what they were looking for apparently, but they loved my writing and wanted to work with me. Was there something else I could let them look at, something that hadn't been seen before, perhaps? The book I'd always wanted to read but hadn't been written popped into my mind immediately. Irish witchcraft: looking at native folklore, gods, traditions, seasonal celebrations and historical information, as well as a wee bit on how my own path was developing, for reference and support. Although Ireland has a strong Neopagan and magical community, we're all so damn individualistic there's a lot of solo practitioners. I was offered a book contract immediately. With a very tight deadline, that forced me to quit the business expansion plans and focus just on the writing. It was the first time a book on Irish magical traditions, with actual academic research and experience, had been published by a real live Irish magical-type person.
Does that sound suspiciously like "disseminating real information" to anybody else?
Then came the somewhat inevitable process of breaking down in order to rebuild. Another child was born to me - very effectively stalling the writing career. Then a messy marriage break-up, and financial difficulty. A part-time job came up locally as a tour guide in the Rathcroghan heritage centre. Two months later, they asked me to take on the newly-vacated manager's position. I would be dealing with national heritage and tourism bodies, county administration and educational establishments, as well as living history events, school tours and visitors. But I had no child-minding facility, no local support system, and no clue as to how I could manage logistically or emotionally single parenting three young children, plus a demanding full-time job. It was not lost on me that this job would quite neatly fulfil both of the primary requirements my Goddess had laid out before me.
My response was: if you want me to do this job, you will need to move your arse and make it possible - nay, easy – for me to do it.
A series of fortunate events coincided around that very time to ensure that my children got the best schooling and care outside the home that they could possibly receive while I was working, including the inception, development and building of an advanced child-care facility in the village. The heritage management job was mine. There formed a small but perfectly formed network of local friends, as well as the wider friends and family who provide exceptional support, encouragement, and occasional sympathetic shoulders to cry on, plus regular sword and spear fights to let off steam.
Overall, then and now, there is a practical, give-and-take, working relationship with a deity best known for her darkness and general badassery. She helps me to Work for her. Because of my work there are people all over the world who know that 'Witta' and 'Druidism' are not the only available options if you feel drawn towards Irish magical traditions – though of course there has been much more wonderful writing on the topic since. Because of my work, one of the best preserved and most important archaeological and mythological 'Celtic' sites in the world is finally receiving the recognition and respectful development that it so richly deserves, including nomination to the list for UNESCO World Heritage Status. I have refused to formally dedicate my children to Her (really, was She thinking that I would?!), but because of my work there is an ever-increasing youth population who are more informed and occasionally even excited about Irish history and heritage. They are the landowners, politicians and decision-makers of the future. Her sovereignty and prophecy/guidance aspects are not to be ignored.
My work is sufficient for myself, my goddess, and what I've been given. I have to wonder now though, is there a bigger picture to this work? Who else has received a similar or common directive? I’m coming across more and more folk who seem to have been called in very similar ways to very similar Work.
Comments here or messages directly to me would be an intriguing way to compile a pattern, don’t you think?