Celtic Polytheism, Paganism

Crow Folks: You Fight to Protect What You Value

This time, when I went to see Na Morrigna, they were gathered already around the cauldron and waiting for me. When I arrived, and handed over the bottle of wine, they poured it into the cauldron, stirred it clockwise, and then all three of them transformed into crows, and dove into the the shimmering water. I was pulled along with them, face first, and emerged through that watery portal to a vantage point on a cliff, above what appeared to be a large camp, with tents and people milling about. I was told to compose a poem describing what I saw, and to convey their message to my fellow devotees.

On a ridge above a war-camp
Stand the Morrignae and I
People stirring below

Awakening from slumber
Tending the wounded
Preparing to fight

Fairy Wars rage
Over Land, Sea, and Sky;
Humans also struggle
Against invisible enemies.

Do not give up the fight;
Your battles are not yet won.
The War lingers.

We fly as scald-crows over the camp
To the scene of yester-eve’s battle
To cleanse the dead who lie still.

Find joy in the calm moments
To fortify yourself for continued struggle.
You fight to protect what you value.
You fight to protect those you love.


I got the sense that the “invisible enemies” we are fighting against are both physical things that are too small to see (like the covid virus), but also abstract things like injustice, so you should read that with both meanings.

Also, I clearly saw the crows we became when flying over the camp, black and grey, and I also heard them say what sounded to me like “skald crow”, but I didn’t write that at first, because what does a Norse poet have to do with a hooded crow? Though apparently I’d misspelled it – “scald” crow is apparently another name for the hooded crows I saw, and that was a strange little moment for me. “Yester-eve” was almost “yesterday evening”, but I was told that was not smooth enough, and that this poem needed to be pared down to the sharpness of just the few most necessary words.

Celtic Polytheism, Paganism

Crow Folks: Reconnect

This dark moon, when I went to visit Na Morrigna at my usual place, the cottage near the river, they were outside, seated around a cauldron, with a fire built beneath it, but not lit. As I approached, they stood. One of them lit the fire as I opened the bottle of wine I had brought, and I poured it into the liquid that was already within. As the fire rose I saw things in the liquid and in smoke, and they spoke to me, and I was told to condense the experience into a poem, a rosc. Here is what I wrote:

Liquid seethes,
Emotions roil;
A too-hot fire.

A spoon stirs.
Stirred liquid settles,
Simmers softly.

The stirring is best shared
With those closest to you,
One at a time.

Two can stir a large cauldron
better than one can alone,
But a crowd will cause it to spill over.

The time of distance is not over,
But isolation should end:
Reconnect.

I believe we’re being called to re-center meaningful relationships, to reach out to those we miss, but haven’t had many quality interactions with in the past year. Called to do something more than write a few words on a social media post. A lot of us are dealing with Zoom burn out, I know – but this is a call to reprioritize, and figure out which people you can really share your struggles with, whose understanding and compassion will help you feel more at ease, and who you can help in the same ways.

Celtic Polytheism, Divination, Paganism

Crow Folks: A Divination

Imbolc is usually the end of my run of Dark Moon rituals to Na Morrigna, but this year, as with last, I’ve been asked to continue. This month the journey did not leave me with succinct quotes or a rough poem, but rather I was called to draw a few cards and then discuss the themes therein. I tend to use the Archeon Tarot deck for “Morrigna Stuff”, and lately I’ve been incorporating ogham in as well, so here’s what I drew:

The Ace of Pentacles, The Two of Pentacles (reversed), The Eight of Cups (reversed), and then nGetal.

For most of us, the beginning of a new secular calendar year brings with it a lot of reflection and change, as we lay out plans for the rest of the year, hopefully improving things that didn’t work out well in the last one. This year, there’s still a lot of uncertainty regarding the pandemic, and for those of us in the US, the political changeover associated with the new President and the outcomes of recent elections. We are gathering up what we can of our lives, though, and we’ve taken the first few steps on our journey through the new year. Many of us are bringing more unresolved issues than usual into the new year, and while January is somewhat liminal, February often brings harsh realities into focus, as we truly settle in. New problems will arrive soon (if they haven’t already) and will begin to exacerbate old problems we’ve carried over from last year, leaving us feeling like we’re juggling too many things, and in many cases, struggling with burn-out. Organization and mini self care breaks will help some, but ultimately it looks like this moon will be one of struggle as we decide how many difficulties we can actually juggle, and what me might need to let fall. One of the things we must prioritize is our own health: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Many old wounds, never quite totally healed, have been reopened in the past year, and these need true healing, although it is likely the process will be exhausting and painful. Boundaries may need to be drawn sharply; things that drain us but provide no value should be excised from our lives like a scalpel removing a tumor. The last year was hard – this one will be harder still if we lose our footing.


Despite the somber tone of the conversation and reading, however, I felt nothing but warmth and encouragement from Na Morrigna Themselves. They are here to help us, and we are here to help each other, as we go through this month – and this year – together.

Celtic Polytheism, Paganism

Crow Folks: Battle is Here

This month, as is my custom, I journeyed to speak to Na Morrigna on the dark moon. Last month they gave me questions, but this month we have returned to the oracular poetry they’ve been inspiring me to write on their behalf. Here is the poem:

Battle is here.
Slaughter is here.
Blood spatters;
The Morrigna dance above spears.

A steady eye, a steady arm:
These are the traits of the best warriors.

Magic flies like arrows.
Magic shields like armour.
Slice through your enemy’s magic;
Pierce your enemy’s armour.

Protect those you fight for;
Destroy those you fight against.

Battle is a dance long and winding;
War is a path lengthy and strenuous.
Rest and tend to the wounded after each encounter.
Find time for rest and sustenance as you go to war.

Crows fly in undulating waves,
Black birds in a murmuration.
Find your place in the swarm.
Find the proper time for your flight.

I will definitely be doing a working this weekend or coming week, and I’ll choose the time carefully. But a friend of mine recently posted some really wise advice on Facebook that I’ll paraphrase here:

If you’re going to do political magic or battle sorcery, your first step should be to cleanse yourself and your space if you haven’t recently, and to re-up your personal shields and wards. I’ve spoken about this before on the blog, though not recently, but: Xtians may not consider what they do to be magic, and they would probably doubly deny any accusation of banework, but that doesn’t stop the effects from being very, very real. We magic workers have allies, and so have they – and not all of theirs are who you might expect. So go into this work knowing that you have opponents who, if possibly not as conscious of what they are doing, are still largely effective. Much of my work has been to undo theirs, and while I do tend to find their work not always as precise as most of the witches I work beside, they do not lack for power. Do not underestimate their abilities.

Call on your closest allies as you do this work: the Morrigna, but also any other deities to whom you are devoted, any guides or guardians who might be able to aid you, and any Ancestors you work with, particularly if they fought against the Confederacy or the Nazis in their lifetime.

It may be difficult to build a new relationship quickly enough to do this work with anyone new, however, and be on guard against deceitful spirits, anyone claiming to be who they are not. Discernment will be key, and trusted long-term allies will be the most help.

After doing the work, be prepared to do a bit of aftercare. Ground, center, take care of any bodily needs, and check your shields and wards again. Make sure you have a plan for upkeep. Land spirits, if you are on friendly terms with them, can give assistance with warding spaces like your home and place of work. Don’t neglect shields on yourself and your car if you have one, and make sure that you are shielded against attack through your dreams and while you sleep.

If you do still find yourself being targeted or experiencing backlash, ask someone you trust for assistance, or reach out to myself or another healer for help. We Crows work better as a flock, moving as one, supporting each other in community.

Celtic Polytheism, Paganism

Crow Folks: Questions to Answer

This time, when I went to visit Na Morrigna, I was told not to write poetry, but rather convey a series of questions. Questions for us all to answer, and to answer as fully as possible – to contemplate and journal about and really engage with deeply. Here they are.

What do you live for?
What would you be willing to die for?
What do you stand for?

How can you continue your magical education so that you continue to develop your magical skills?
How can you continue to develop your leadership skills so that they are not outpaced by your ambition?
How can you learn to take criticism and use it to help you grow?

How can you commit to keeping with the struggle when the victories you have achieved so far are not enough?
How can you prevent yourself from getting discouraged by small, mixed-bag results?
How can you stay engaged in the struggle despite large looming obstacles?

Nine questions, likely with difficult and complicated answers. I’m going to journal about them, and I suggest you do the same, if you don’t have ready answers.

The next Dark Moon is 1/13/2020.

Celtic Polytheism

Crow Folks: Keep Circling

I’m a few days overdue, but here is the belated poem, fruit of my most recent Dark Moon trip to see Na Morrigna:

A cart rushing,
Without knowing its direction;
It jolts, tipping.
Wolves run through the forest,
Paws touching earth gently,
Clear direction and purpose.
Purpose before going;
Direction before rushing:
Balance in movement.
Harmonious actions,
Togetherness in purpose,
Groups* moving towards balance.
Moving towards peace,
Peace without conflict,
Peace below skies.**
Through skies, clouds move slowly,
Turning though seasons,
Gradual changes.
Wind keeps blowing;
Rain keeps falling;
Ravens still circle.

The imagery here is that of regrouping, of making plans and being certain of goals before rushing headlong back into battle. The larger goal will take a longer journey; this is a marathon, not a 50 meter dash, and we’ll be meeting these challenges with lots of different groups of people. Teamwork is going to be important, and a certain amount of compromise, at least among those who are working in good faith towards common goals.

Notes:
*I think the Irish word here is buiden, which is a band of people, or like a military troop of people, but the context isn’t specifically military here and They didn’t mean just Their own people or I would have used “squadron” again. It means like, groups of activists from different organizations and callings, working together towards common goals, and taking on each other’s fights so we’re all in step together.
** This is, of course, an intentional reference to the Peace Prophecy, translated at the link here by Morgan Daimler.

Celtic Polytheism, Paganism

Crow Folks: I behold them bathed in red

This dark moon, as I do every dark moon, I journeyed to Na Morrigna to ask them for an omen for myself and other devotees. While I normally expect that the message from them will be most valuable to those closest to me in geography and practice, this time I specifically mentioned the upcoming US elections, and so this message is mainly for those residing in the US. I was shown imagery in the cauldron, given wisdom, and distilled those into this inspired poem.

Uncertainty hangs in the air
Like smoke over a grease fire
Like a shroud over a corpse

Dark greasy smoke
Of discontent
Of malevolence

Water spreads a grease fire
Fire engulfing buildings and streets
Streets that glitter with glass in the night

Crows are gathered to face the onslaught
Each poised for easy flight
Ready to do their work

One darts out
Another takes their place
The first returns to roost

Be cautious as you defend
Beware deceit and trickery
A dishonorable opponent follows no rules of engagement

Tell me of the streets of this country, Fedelm;
Tell me what outcome you see.

Red with blood and fire I see them;
I behold them bathed in red.


Be careful out there, my fellow Crows. Things will get worse before they get better. This is a time of struggle; may we find ways to make the necessary changes.

Celtic Polytheism, Paganism

Crow Folks: The Battle Still Rages

I did not really have the headspace to do the entire journey and ritual yesterday, and, feeling no intense pressure from Na Morrigna, I figured I had been granted an extension.

And then, the news came in. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, had died. On this, the first night of Rosh Hashanah. Not a very “sweet” way to begin a new year, though there is a saying that tzaddikim, greatly righteous people, die on Rosh Hashanah, because they are given the full measure of a year. That is certainly true in this case. May her memory be a blessing.

With that roiling in my head, I went to see Na Morrigna, to ask of them what they would have me tell their folk, for this moon cycle. And I came back with the following:

A Warrior dies
Disheartening news
The battle still rages

Raging on and on
The battling continues
We move forward slowly

Slow change frustrates
Forge your frustration into Will
Overcome your insecurities

Security is an illusion
You have more to lose
Than you might think

Rosc-like, but more raw this time, less poetic. Still, good advice for us, I think. Grieve, Crows – but do not give up the battle.

Additional note: a knowledgeable friend says that we ought to give RBG 7 days to complete her transition before attempting to honor her as one of the Mighty Dead. Seven days for her family to sit shiva after the burial, to observe the Jewish rites of mourning.

Celtic Polytheism, Paganism

Crow Folks: Prepare for the Harvest

This dark moon, when I went to speak with Na Morrigna, they spoke to me of the importance of self-care to avoid burnout, the importance of continuing the fight and staying on target even as things appear to be settling down, as the ongoing struggles slip out of mainstream news cycles. Above all they stressed that the harvest would come soon. Lughnasadh is just around the corner: a time for renewed contracts, for the settling of legal disputes. A good time to clarify our purpose as we head towards Samhain, the month of November. The apple harvest is almost here, and with it will come a change, although the type of change still hangs in the balance, undecided, uncertain. One more push is needed, if we wish to reap the harvest we’ve been working for. Look to those on the peripheries for guidance as you move forward. The marginalized ones. They will know how to best achieve justice. Witches and apples have a long history, and acorns are not Macha’s only crop. There may be bloodshed yet to come, as the harvest comes in and the rents come due.

Here is a slip of a poem, inspired by my visit:

Crows gather in fields
Perching on straw men
Eating the corn

Apples ripen on trees
Dripping with syrup
Sweet-tasting deception

Poisoned apples
Bloody acorns
Swirling murders of crows

Otherworldly battles
Faction against faction
Spilling over the border

A queer wit sees more truth
The worlds entwined
A struggle for control

The people gather a harvest
Each one gets their portion
Long-due debts will be paid

Celtic Polytheism, Paganism

Crow Folks: What will you Keep?

This time, when I went to visit Na Morrigna, they spoke first about the healing ritual I led earlier this month, how necessary it is for those doing battle to stop and be healed, to stop and get clean again. And that will also be necessary, they say, as we move into the phase where we decide what comes next. As movements asking for change gain momentum, those who rose up are asked: but what changes? What will that look like? They gave me visions of imagery, and words to share, almost a poem, inspired by them but still in my own voice. Questions to ask ourselves.

Statues pulled down,
Institutions crumbling,
Foundations uprooted.

What will you save?
What will you keep?

Seeds from a bad harvest,
Planted in better soil,
Trained into new shapes.

What can be fixed?
What can be used?

When the tower has fallen,
When the fires are banked,
When it is time to rebuild:

What will you use?
What will you keep?


Meditate on these questions, fellow Crows. Find your own answers, and then add to the growing discussions in your own communities. Some things are surely beyond repair, beyond saving, but others may be salvaged if they are stripped back far enough, like a house with “good bones”. Make sure you are contemplating the bones of even the largest of institutions: what to destroy, and which to salvage for building materials. The fight goes on, but we need to think about a way forward, as well. Clear goals and objectives to aim for, to focus on.

Be well. May strength, courage, and clarity be yours.