God Badbh

Badb took the form of a crow

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The Badb is a goddess of war who took the form of a crow, and was thus sometimes known as Badb Catha (battle crow). Often causing confusion among soldiers to move the tide of battle to her favored side.

Battlefields are called the land of the Badb, and were often said to include the Badb taking part as a crow or as a Wolf. The Badb is associated with the beansidhe, and is said to have been crucial in the battle against the Fomorians.

Badbs were also sacrificial victims. In The Destruction of Da Derga’s Hostel, among the hostel’s rooms and their inhabitants spied out by Lomna Druth son of Donn Desa, who reports to Fer rogain, after the rooms of Conaire Mor’s equerries and judges and conjurors and lampoon-singers, came the Room of the Badbs:

“‘I beheld a trio, naked, on the roof-tree of the house: their jets of blood coming through them, and the ropes of their slaughter on their necks.’ ‘Those I know,’ saith he, ‘three . . . of awful boding. Those are the three that are slaughtered at every time.’ “

In the mythological account of the second battle of Mag Tuired, wherein the Tuatha De Danann defeated the Fomorians in battle, Badb is said to have recited the following prophecy of the end of the world:

Summer without flowers,
kine without milk,
women without modesty,
men without valour;
captives without a king,
woods without mast,
sea without produce
— (Ó Cuív 37)

With her sisters, Macha and the Morrígan, she was part of a trio of war goddesses who were the daughters of the mother goddess, Ernmas. According to Seathrún Céitinn Badb was worshipped by Ériu, with whom she may be seen as equivalent. She is sometimes the wife of Neit, and may be equivalent with Nemain, Neit’s more usual wife. However, Nemain and Badb are said to have had different fathers which is an argument for their separateness as personages: Badb is described as one of the three daughters of Delbaeth son of Neid whereas Nemain is said to have been the daughter of Elcmar of the Brugh (Newgrange, near the Boyne), who was the son of Delbaeth, son of Ogma, son of Elatan.

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