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The Morrígan ("terror" or "phantom queen") or Mórrígan ("great queen") (also known as Morrígu, Morríghan, Mor-Ríoghain, sometimes given in the plural as Morrígna) is a figure from Irish mythology who appears to have once been a goddess, although she is not explicitly referred to as such in the texts.
She is associated with sovereignty, prophecy, war, and death on the battlefield. She sometimes appears in the form of a Common Raven, flying above the warriors, and in the Ulster cycle she also takes the form of an eel, a Wolf, and a cow. She is generally considered a war deity comparable with the Germanic Valkyries, although her association with cattle also suggests a role connected with fertility, wealth, and the land.
She is often interpreted as a triple goddess,although membership of the triad varies: the most common combination is the Morrígan, the Badb, and Macha, but sometimes includes Nemain, Fea, Anann, and others.
The Morrígan's earliest narrative appearances, in which she is depicted as an individual, are in stories of the Ulster Cycle, where she has an ambiguous relationship with the hero Cúchulainn. In Táin Bó Regamna (The Cattle Raid of Regamain), Cúchulainn encounters the Morrígan as she drives a heifer from his territory. He challenges and insults her, not realising who she is. By this he earns her enmity. She makes a series of threats, and foretells a coming battle in which he will be killed. She tells him, enigmatically, "I guard your death".
In the Táin Bó Cuailnge queen Medb of Connacht launches an invasion of Ulster to steal the bull Donn Cuailnge; the Morrígan, glossed as equivalent to Alecto of the Greek Furies, appears to the bull in the form of a crow and warns him to flee. Cúchulainn defends Ulster by fighting a series of single combats at fords against Medb's champions. In between combats the Morrígan appears to him as a young woman and offers him her love, and her aid in the battle, but he spurns her. In response she intervenes in his next combat, first in the form of an eel who trips him, then as a Wolf who stampedes cattle across the ford, and finally as a red heifer leading the stampede, just as she had threatened in their previous encounter. However Cúchulainn wounds her in each form and defeats his opponent despite her interference. Later she appears to him as an old woman bearing the same three wounds that her animal forms sustained, milking a cow. She gives Cúchulainn three drinks of milk. He blesses her with each drink, and her wounds are healed. As the armies gather for the final battle, she prophesies the bloodshed to come.
In one version of Cúchulainn's death-tale, as the hero rides to meet his enemies, he encounters the Morrígan as a hag washing his bloody armour in a ford, an omen of his death. Later in the story, mortally wounded, Cúchulainn ties himself to a standing stone with his own entrails so he can die upright, and it is only when a crow lands on his shoulder that his enemies believe he is dead.
The Morrígan also appears in texts of the Mythological Cycle. In the 12th century pseudohistorical compilation Lebor Gabála Érenn she is listed among the Tuatha Dé Danann as one of the daughters of Ernmas, granddaughter of Nuada.
The first three daughters of Ernmas are given as Ériu, Banba, and Fódla. Their names are synonyms for Ireland, and they were married to Mac Cuill, Mac Cécht, and Mac Gréine, the last three Tuatha Dé Danann kings of Ireland. Associated with the land and kingship, they probably represent a triple goddess of sovereignty. Next come Ernmas's other three daughters: the Badb, Macha, and the Morrígan. A quatrain describes the three as wealthy, "springs of craftiness" and "sources of bitter fighting". The Morrígan's name is said to be Anann, and she had three sons, Glon, Gaim, and Coscar. According to Geoffrey Keating's 17th century History of Ireland, Ériu, Banba, and Fódla worshipped the Badb, Macha, and the Morrígan respectively, suggesting that the two triads of goddesses may be seen as equivalent.
The Morrígan also appears in Cath Maige Tuireadh (The Battle of Mag Tuired). On Samhain she keeps a tryst with the Dagda before the battle against the Fomorians. When he meets her she is washing herself, standing with one foot on either side of the river Unius. In some sources she is believed to have created the river. After they have sex, the Morrígan promises to summon the magicians of Ireland to cast spells on behalf of the Tuatha Dé, and to destroy Indech, the Fomorian king, taking from him "the blood of his heart and the kidneys of his valour". Later, we are told, she would bring two handfuls of his blood and deposit them in the same river (however, we are also told later in the text that Indech was killed by Ogma).
As battle is about to be joined, the Tuatha Dé leader, Lug, asks each what power they bring to the battle. The Morrígan's reply is difficult to interpret, but involves pursuing, destroying and subduing. When she comes to the battlefield she chants a poem, and immediately the battle breaks and the Fomorians are driven into the sea. After the battle she chants another poem celebrating the victory and prophesying the end of the world.
In another story she lures away the bull of a woman called Odras, who follows her to The Otherworld via the cave of Cruachan. When she falls asleep, the Morrígan turns her into a pool of water.
Nature and functions
The Morrígan is often considered a triple goddess, but her supposed triple nature is ambiguous and inconsistent. Sometimes she appears as one of three sisters, the daughters of Ernmas: the Morrígan, the Badb and Macha. Sometimes the trinity consists of the Badb, Macha and Nemain, collectively known as the Morrígan, or in the plural as the Morrígna. Occasionally Fea or Anu also appear in various combinations. However the Morrígan also frequently appears alone, and her name is sometimes used interchangeably with the Badb, with no third "aspect" mentioned.
The Morrígan is usually interpreted as a "war goddess": W. M. Hennessey's "The Ancient Irish Goddess of War," written in 1870, was influential in establishing this interpretation. Her role often involves premonitions of a particular warrior's violent death, suggesting a link with the Banshee of later folklore. This connection is further noted by Patricia Lysaght: "In certain areas of Ireland this supernatural being is, in addition to the name banshee, also called the badhb".
It has also been suggested that she was closely tied to Irish männerbund groups (described as "bands of youthful warrior-hunters, living on the borders of civilized society and indulging in lawless activities for a time before inheriting property and taking their places as members of settled, landed communities") and that these groups may have been in some way dedicated to her. If true, her worship may have resembled that of Perchta groups in Germanic areas.
However, Máire Herbert has argued that "war per se is not a primary aspect of the role of the goddess", and that her association with cattle suggests her role was connected to the earth, fertility and sovereignty; she suggests that her association with war is a result of a confusion between her and the Badb, who she argues was originally a separate figure. She can be interpreted as providing political or military aid, or protection to the king - acting as a goddess of sovereignty, not necessarily a war goddess.
There is a burnt mound site in County Tipperary known as Fulacht na Mór Ríoghna ("cooking pit of the Mórrígan"). The fulachta sites are found in wild areas, and usually associated with outsiders such as the Fianna and the above-mentioned männerbund groups, as well as with the hunting of deer. The cooking connection also suggests to some a connection with the three mythical hags who cook the meal of dogflesh that brings the hero Cúchulainn to his doom. The Dá Chich na Morrigna ("two breasts of the Mórrígan"), a pair of hills in County Meath, suggest to some a role as a tutelary goddess, comparable to Danu or Anu, who has her own hills in County Kerry. Other goddesses known to have similar hills are Áine and Grian of County Limerick who, in addition to a tutelary function, also have solar attributes.
There have been attempts by some modern authors of fiction to link the Arthurian character Morgan le Fay with the Morrígan. Morgan first appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Vita Merlini (The Life of Merlin) in the 12th century. However, while the creators of the literary character of Morgan may have been somewhat inspired by the much older tales of the goddess, the relationship ends there. Scholars such as Rosalind Clark hold that the names are unrelated, the Welsh "Morgan" (Wales being the source of Arthurian legend) being derived from root words associated with the sea, while the Irish "Morrígan" has its roots either in a word for "terror" or a word for "greatness".
Morrigan is the goddess of war. She is a fearsome warrior, causing great fear in her opponents, driving home her own battles with a spear in either hand. She is terribly ugly, laughs a maniacal laugh, and has dreadful manners. She expects all people and especially her followers to fight constantly, encouraging petty wars where there otherwise would be none. She can shape change to fool her opponents, and often calls upon four minor goddesses of war to fight by her side. At one time, Morrigan tried to seduce the hero Cu Chulainn, but on failure she turned against him and nearly killed him.
Morrigan is bent on warfare every turn. She will readily pick fights, preferring to get mortals to fight each other by whatever means. She will use many forms to trick otherwise peaceful parties into conflict. Morrigan often observes battles and will not tolerate fear among her followers - she will strike dead any follower that turns and flees from a battle she is watching
Originally written by
The Netbook of Witches and Warlocks
Timothy S. Brannan and The Netbook of Witches and Warlocks Team
Morrigann, who is also known as Morrigu, is the goddess of war and destruction ·the "Crow of Battle" or "Raven Queen". She is also a deity of lust and envy, turning to hatred when not satisfied. Morrigann is usually depicted as three goddesses, and will often appear with her two "sisters" (who are identical to her in almost every respect): Macha and Bobd. Thus, it is said if one witnesses three crows (or raven) acting together on a battlefield, this is an unfortunate omen that Morrigann watches over the battle, and that it will be particularly terrible. Otherwise, seeing three crows together is often seen as a portent of violence and death. Morrigann will typically (through her priestesses or Raven Maidens) appear as a beautiful woman when trying to seduce heroes; but in a moment's notice turn into a hideous hag eager for blood and flesh.
Alignment: Neutral Evil
Domains: Destruction, Mutation (new), War.
Symbol: Raven. Priests of Morrigann usually wear a cloak covered with crow wings, and in any case wear shields on which appear a crow on a red field.
Favored Weapon: longsword.
Area of control: War and death, and lust and envy.
Typical worshippers: Bloody and evil warriors.
Duties of priesthood: Priests of Morrigann are clerics instead of filidh. They must wander around in search of battles in which participate, or opportunities to incite war between clans or against any available enemy around.
Benefit: Priests of Morrigann are always proficient in the longsword (the
goddess' favoured weapon) in addition to all simple weapons (see Celtic cleric
in Character Classes chapter). Hence, when they take the War domain, instead of
gaining Martial Proficiency in that weapon, they gain the Weapon Focus feat in
Macha Curses the Men of Ulster 1904 Eleanor Hull, The Boys' Cuchulain
Originally Posted by
Stycotl of the Giant in the Playground Forums.
On this Thread
Medium outsider (Chaotic, Native)
|HD||50d8+750 (1,000 hit points+20 temporary hit points)|
|Armor Class||62 (+11 Dexterity, +20 natural, +12 armor, +7 shield, +2 insight), Touch: 23, Flat-footed: 51 (can't be caught flat-footed|
|Attack||Spear +82 melee (1d8+28/19-20x3), or bastard sword +80 melee (1d10+26/18-20), or composite longbow +65 ranged (1d8+27/x3; shocking and thundering), or shield bash +79 melee (1d8+25)|
|Full Attack||Spear +82/+78/+73/+68 melee (1d8+28/19-20x3), or bastard sword +80/+75/+70/+65/+80 melee (1d10+26/18-20), plus off hand shield bash +79/+74/+69/+64 melee (1d8+25), or composite longbow +65/+60/+55/+50/+65 ranged (1d8+27/x3; shocking and thundering)|
|Space/Reach||5 feet/5 feet|
|Special Attacks||epic spells, martial maneuvers, raven's crown, song of the bean sí, spells|
|Special Qualities||Aspects of the morrígna, call the charger, heart of the triune, immortality, immunities, magic of the tuatha dé, peerless warrior, primal rage, queen of the wild, resistance acid 15, cold 15, and fire 15, soul of the changeling, SR 65, stalker of the mounds, storm crow, weaponsmaster|
|Saves||Fort +46 (+27 base), Ref +42 (+27 base), Will +38 (+27 base)|
|Abilities||Strength 50, Dexterity 32, Constitution 41, Intelligence 28, Wisdom 25, Charisma 31|
|Skills||Balance +36, Bluff +39, Climb +29, Concentrate +72, Craft (armorsmithing) +39, Craft (stonemasonry) +54, Craft (weaponsmithing) +49, Diplomacy +35, Handle Animal +55, Heal +16, Hide +40, Intimidate +70, Jump +64, Knowledge (Arcana) +66, Knowledge (history) +33, Knowledge (local) +30, Knowledge (nature) +44, Knowledge (nobility & royalty) +30, Listen +39, Move Silently +35, Performance +35, Ride (Dexterity)+51, Search +61, Sense Motive +29, Spellcraft +66, Spot +33, Survival +24, Swim +26|
|Feats||(B) Track, (B) Power Attack, Cleave, Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Improved Shield Bash, Lockdown, Quick Draw, Improved Trip, Defensive Sweep, Epic Spellcasting, Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, Two-Weapon Rend, Perfect Two-Weapon Fighting, Iron Heart Aura, Stormguard Warrior, Improved Disarm|
|Organization||Solitary, pair, or all three sisters together|
|Treasure||See below, and standard (magical items only)|
|Advancement||by character class|
A beautifully featured woman of regal countenance approaches on horseback. Her mere presence causes a mixture of panic and awed reverence, like the coming of a surging tempest. Long, glossy ribbons of hair as black as pitch frame a fair-skinned face of perfect proportions. Though youthful in limb and feature, her eyes have an air of antiquity, and shimmer silver and black with the reflection of experience and divine insight. She wears black armor made of the finest leather, a large gray shield and an unstrung bow at her back, and carries a bronze-headed spear in her left hand. A sword hangs at her right hip, and in her right hand she holds the bridles to a magnificent warhorse of immense size and the deepest charcoal color. The horse prances and stamps, flaring its nostrils and tossing its mane, never holding still. Its fierce demeanor and restless anticipation seem to be a mirror to the soul of the otherwise calm woman. Somewhere in the distance, a crow caws...
The Morrígna is a trio of war spirits of the fey. The Morrígan, Macha, and Badhbh are sisters, triplet daughters of Ernmas, royalty of the Tuatha Dé Danann. They are of the first generation of Danu's people, and have the majesty and might of true gods, though they do not consider themselves to be divinity.
The sisters are so alike in both appearance and personality that they have often been thought to be the same fey spirit. Only when all three sisters are together is it clear that the Morrígna is a group of three.
With great power over war and death, the Morrígna has been rightfully awarded a place of respecteven worshipamong the haughty Tuatha Dé Danann and other fey.
The Morrígna is not solely confined to the spheres of warfare and combat, however.
Each sister has a specialty with which she is concerned; Anann is the Morrígan, the Great Queen, the Mistress of Prophecy, Sovereignty, and Phantasm, and she manipulates fate, rules nations, and sees the death of any creature that she looks upon; Badhbh is the Battle Crow, the bean-sidhe, and personifies the frenzied havoc and violence of battle; and Macha is the Rider, the Lady of the Fortress and the High Places, and a master of horses, wolves, and ravens.
Though they each have their particular realm of focus to which they have devoted their service, all three sisters share the same power over those forces. Macha is as much of a queen as Anann, and as much of a feral killer as Badhbh. They are three separate, but identical entities, and together, they stand as the single greatest reason for the success of the Tuatha Dé Danann. In fact, it was the craftiness of the Morrígna that kept the Tuatha Dé from being completely obliterated by their enemies in their latest defeat, some three thousand years ago now.
The Morrígna speaks any language, and can communicate telepathically with any intelligent creature up to a mile away. They can also communicate telepathically amongst themselves at any distance, on any plane.
In fact, communication would be the wrong term to use between them, since they are of the same mind; once one of the sisters is aware of something, they all are. They all share the same insights at the same time, no matter how far or how specific the situation.
The Morrígna is a terrifying foe. Terrible magic flies effortlessly from her fingertips even as she wields her sword, spear, and bow with a mastery that rivals that of the gods.
Because they are identical, the stats of the Morrígna presented here apply to Anann, Macha, and Badhbh equally.
The Morrígna wields powerful magical items of epic quality. Its spear is of cold iron and never reflects light even on the brightest of days. It is called black badhbh's spear, and it is treated as a +8 keen, returning spear of distance that can be wielded one-handed without penalty. The Morrígna wears supple leather armor with adamantine studs called danu's embrace, functioning as +10 magic-eating leather armor, that continually enchants her with Foresight, freedom of movement, and greater heroism, and does not hinder her in any way (no max Dexterity, armor check penalty, etc). The Morrígna's bastard sword, fury of the stars, is a mithril +6 keen bastard sword of speed that counts as any material and any alignment in order to overcome damage reduction, and casts heal upon its wielder every time it threatens a critical hit. The large wooden shield of the Morrígna is called castle on the mound, and is a +5 bashing shield of arrow deflection that does not hinder her in any way (no max Dexterity, armor check penalty, etc), and is enchanted as a weapon. Lastly, her +7 shocking burst, thundering composite longbow of speed is made of elk horn and sinew, and is made for a creature with a 50 strength, creates the arrows as it puts her fingers to the bowstring, and is known as squall crow.
Aspects of the Morrígna: The Morrígna shares a powerful bond that allows the sisters to share in each others' expertise. All three sisters enjoy the following abilities.
Aspect of Anann: A diviner, a master of destiny, and a queen of shadow, the Morrigan commands the ancient magic of the planes, spinning enchantments and curses as a spider spins a web, foretelling the future of individuals and nations alike. She is the Phantom Queen, and she bends the multiverse to her whims.
Raven's Crown (Su): With a standard act, the Morrígna can use mass charm monster and Hold monster as supernatural effects at will.
Magic of the Tuatha Dé (Su): The Morrígna casts any sorcerer spell from the enchantment and illusion schools as if they were supernatural effects and at a +2 bonus to both caster level and DC. Further, the Morrígna can add spells from the druid spell list and the Darkness and Domination domains to her known sorcerer spells.
Storm Crow (Ex): The Morrígna gains a +16 competence bonus to Intimidate checks, and gains the frightful presence special ability as detailed in the Monstrous Manual. This ability affects any sentient creature, even those immune to fear effects, unless they would otherwise be immune to epic fear effects.
Aspect of Macha: Strategy and martial skill are the hallmark of Macha, the defender of the hills and mounds, and the Morrígna is therefore without equal where combat, fortification, and riding are concerned.
Call the Charger (Su): The Morrígna can summon and dismiss a great warhorse with a standard action. These soot-black steeds are treated as Cauchemar, Nightmares; they are chaotic neutral, and tied to the Plane of Shadow rather than Hades. Even if her mount is killed or banished back to its home plane, with a standard action, the Morrígna can call it back to her.
Peerless Warrior (Ex): The Morrígna gains a +16 insight bonus to any Craft skill, Handle Animal, and Ride check.
Weaponsmaster (Ex): The Morrígna can receive the benefits of two martial stances at the same time. Further, the first martial boost or counter used in a round does not count toward the limit of one immediate or swift action per round. Thus, the Morrígna could also cast a quickened spell on the same round as initiating a boost or counter, or could initiate both a boost and a counter in the same round, or two of each.
Aspect of Badhbh: Wild energy pulses in the veins of the Morrígna, owing to Badhbh's ties to the natural world. The instincts of a predator and the otherworldly fury of the fey is her legacy.
Queen of the Wild (Ex): The Morrígna can command and rebuke any animal or magical beast as a cleric whose level is equal to its hit dice, except that this is an extraordinary ability. Further, the Morrígna gains a +16 insight bonus to Knowledge (nature).
Primal Rage (Ex): The Morrígna can rage once per encounter. The rage lasts for as long as wanted, gives a +8 bonus to Strength and Constitution, a +4 bonus to Will saves, and -2 penalty to Armor Class. The Morrígna does not become fatigued after a rage, and has no limitation as to what kinds of actions, spells, or items are usable during a rage.
Song of the Bean Sí (Su): The Morrígna can utilize the wail of the banshee as a swift action once per round.
Soul of the Changeling (Su): The Morrígna can wild shape at will into the forms of any animal, elemental, fey, or magical beast, of 50 hit dice or less, of any size. The forms of wild horses, wolves, and crows tend to be favorites, though the Morrígna has been known to take the shape of old hags, sylphs, and pillars of fire.
Stalker of the Mounds (Ex): The Morrígna leaves no trail and cannot be tracked. It may choose to leave a trail if so desired. Further, the Morrígna can move through any kind of terrain at its normal movement speed without suffering damage or any other impairment, magical or otherwise; no terrain is treated as difficult terrain for the Morrígna to traverse.
Epic Spells: The Morrígna can develop and cast epic spells as an arcane caster of 50th level, capable of casting 5 epic spells every day. The Morrígna currently knows a large number of epic spells, as all three sisters have been creating and finding them in their multiple millennia of existence.
Martial Maneuvers: The Morrígna initiates martial maneuvers as a 50th level warblade. This means that the Morrígna has the maneuvers and stances known of a 20th level warblade, but initiates as a 50th level warblade. The Morrígna can learn Shadow Hand maneuvers along with the rest of the disciplines available to a warblade. The Morrígna recovers maneuvers every time a foe fails its Will save against its frightful presence (storm crow) ability.
The Morrígna's martial maneuvers list has been known to change from time to time, and somehow seems to fit whatever situation the sisters are dancing wildly into.
Spells: The Morrígna casts spells as a sorceress of 50th level. It can choose spells from the sorcerer list, the druid list, and the Darkness and Domination domains to her spells known. The saving throw DC of any of her spells is 20 +spell level, unless they are of the enchantment and illusion schools, in which case they are DC 22 +spell level, and count as supernatural effects, not spells.
The Morrígna's spell list has been known to change from time to time, and, like Morrígna's martial maneuvers, somehow seems to be just what was needed in any given situationalmost as if Anann was reading the stars in order to determine the Morrígna's needs.
Convocation of Sisters (Su): As a swift act, the one of the Morrígna can summon any or both of the other two sisters to an adjacent square or pair of squares, crossing planar boundaries when necessary. Any summoned sister acts on the same initiative as the first, and takes her turn immediately after arriving. There is never any conflict of interest in summonings; if one sister thought it important enough to bring one or both of the others, then all three of them thought it important enough. Because of this, it is possible for one of the sisters to in effect, summon herself to the side of one of her other sisters.
Heart of the Triune (Ex): The Morrígna shares the same life force, and one of deific power. Any beneficial effect (enchantments, healing, etc) that targets one of them affects all three of them, even across planar boundaries. In order for the Morrígna to be destroyed, all three must be killed on the same plane. If even one of them survives, the slain sister or sisters will return, fully regenerated, within 1d4 hours.
Immortality (Ex): Though not immortal in the strictest sense of the word, the Morrígna is ageless, and if left in peace, will never die of natural causes.
Immunities (Ex): The Morrígna is immune to any electricity, sonic, fear, disease, or poison effect, and all enchantment or illusion effects of a caster level lower than her own.
Mind of the Triple Goddess (Su): The Morrígna acts in perfect unison; all three of the sisters
Skills: The Morrígna gains a +8 racial bonus to Listen, Search, Sense Motive, and Spot checks.
Special: If the divine ranks in Deities and Demigods are in use, treat the Morrígna as a rank 5 demigoddess.
Treasure: black badhbh's spear, castle on the mounds, danu's embrace, fury of the stars, and squall crow; further, the Morrígna carries a shifting array of other magical items that changes with the current state of affairs.
The Morrígna is a well known spirit of the fey, and many mortals are even aware of the name, though what they knows is usually suspect. Characters with ranks in Knowledge (history), Knowledge (nature), Knowledge (local), or Knowledge (religion) can roll to see if they know of the Morrígna. The DCs are 5 higher for any Knowledge other than Knowledge (nature).
|The Morrígna is a fierce goddess of the fey, with power over warfare and death. The Morrígna has been known by many names at different times, such as Anann, Badhbh, and Macha.|
|The Morrígna is actually a name of reference given to three sister goddesses, Anann, Badhbh, and Macha, who have been instrumental in saving the Tuatha Dé Dananntheir race of fey creaturesfrom destruction throughout the millenia.|
|The three sisters share a special bond; they work in perfect harmony, share the same thoughts and inspirations at the same time, and can communicate over long distances with hardly a thought.|
|The magic that binds the Morrígna together also makes them incredibly hard to destroy. In order to kill one of the sisters, all three of them need to be destroyed on the same planeif even one of them survives, the others will return.|
The Netbook of Witches and Warlocks
Timothy S. Brannan and The Netbook of Witches and Warlocks Team
The Raven, the Celtic goddess of war. Known as The Morigann, Morigan, Macha and Morigu. She is the Goddess of war, battle and death, but not evil.
She is part of a trinity of Brigit (maiden) and Danu (mother), Morigann is the crone.
Alignment: CN or CE
Areas of Influence: Chaos, War
|To Medieval Gods||To Witchcraft|
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