Battlefield Invocation

The topic of the week has been Sovereignty – several people asking questions about it in response to the mention of the Sovereignty rites I and the Coru are planning for Samhain. I’m working on a post delving into Sovereignty more fully, but as it’s a very big subject, that post will have to be published another week soon. Instead, I’ll respond to another of the questions from readers. I’ve been asked to share the Gaulish invocation of the Morrigan that I mentioned in my last post. So today I’m sharing that here.

A few words of explanation by way of Caveat Emptor… First, let me be clear that I have no pretense about the accuracy of the Gaulish language used in this invocation. I am not a scholar of the Gaulish language, or any Celtic language. I am an enthusiastic amateur. Further, the language used here is not exactly ancient Gaulish as it would have been spoken in its contemporary period. I have never been able to find a complete reference on the ancient Gaulish language sufficient to be able to translate a text into Gaulish. What I have used is a reconstructed system called Modern Gaulish, which was developed quite recently by a linguist, to fill exactly that gap. As I understand it, Modern Gaulish uses what is known of the ancient Gaulish tongue, extrapolated using linguistic mechanisms known to other Celtic languages to develop a more complete grammar and vocabulary. Since that was what I could find to use, I’ve used it. (I’m afraid I can’t reference it since the website is no longer online; if readers are curious, I’ve got the contents of it in PDF.)

This is a devotional work, not an academic one; what it seeks to do is to speak to the Battle Goddess in something at least having the poetic sound and feel of the language She may have heard from devotees in the Gaulish period, as an act of devotion and of honoring Her history. If a Gaulish language scholar is reading this and can correct my work, by all means I welcome the assistance.

So here’s what I’ve done. I read a lot of ancient Gaulish inscriptions to get a feel for the kinds of things that were written in votive and magickal texts. Then I wrote this invocation to the Battle Goddess, first in English, and then translated into Gaulish. It was written for use in a specific context: it is the invocation and blessing that I use at combat events, to invoke Her and to ask Her blessing on the fighters and the field; accompanied by libations which are offered to Her and then poured out on the battlefield.

Édhi ni in Coru Crúach Cathubodúa
Ávo ni sin iuranoch a no Rígan en brathíon ri in ségiu ródhithu

Guthanu mi in Déuan Morrígu, Cathubodúa, tar nemna in Anthúmon
Guthanu mi in Rígan Cingethed ganth gwalíon in taránu
Morrígan a’n Bodhúed, Morrígan a’n Taránu: Diáiu ni ganth sin supethárion
Áchi nemna in Anthúmon a ch’ánon súó cingethed pí en édhi ér sú
En ór a’n cath a pé diáiui, éran ach diái ani, Déuan Cathu
Rígan Már Cingethed, o pí en canu in caníon cathach, tanu ni ér sú
Inth lathúach ach en sathanoch lúied-ni ávo ni sin iuranoch

Ganth sin briethéron, techolsíu in ledhíam nerthach, techolsíu in criníon lathúach, bí í cathéronthu dineáion ech ni
Ganth sin briethéron, ávo ni briethanoch a’n ségiu
Pí lavarthu é ó ánu, dresíu é gwer in lan-cath
Pí ré ródhithu é ócríd en cúírel, techolsíu é bélu, ach ré bathithu ó calghíon ganth gwalíon taranu
Déuan Cathu, apái nathúech in ségiu a’n cingethed-sin, suo maped ach duthired: Ánéís
Nathúeu mi sú tar nemna in Déuan Cathu

Déuan Cathu, apái nathúech in criníon gwirth nó namanthed, pan ápisu ís in coru bor suo lathued
Ávo ís ledhíam érin, o íuru ni sú in ségiu
Desu ni in iuranoch ri Cathubodúa
Desu ni nó namanthed ri Cathubodúa
Desu ni ís Bodúa
Desu ni ís Bodúa
Desu ni ís Bodúa

And here follow the English verses:

We, the Bloody War Band of the Battle Raven
We make this offering to our Queen in gratitude for victory given

I invoke the Great Queen, the Battle Raven, through the powers of the Otherworld
I invoke the Queen of Warriors with the force of the thunderstorm
Morrigan of the Ravens, Morrigan of the Storm: We come to you with this plea
Bring the powers of the Otherworld to inspire your warriors who are before you
In the hour of battle which approaches, rise and come among us, Battle Goddess
Great Queen of Warriors, who sings the song of battle, we stand before you
Fiercely and in fulfillment of our oaths we make this offering

With this incantation, the weak shall be made strong, the fearful shall become fierce, doubt shall be cast from us
With this incantation, we make the enchantment of victory
He who has spoken Her name shall be lifted over the battlefield
He who has given his heart in loyalty, his arm shall be made mighty and his weapon strike with thunderous force
Battle Goddess, send the charm of victory upon these warriors, your sons and daughters: Protect them
I bless you by the magic of the Battle Goddess

Battle Goddess, send the whisper of fear against our enemies, when they behold the proud host of your heroes
Let them weaken before us, as we offer the victory to you
We prepare the offering for the Battle Raven
We prepare our enemies for the Battle Raven
For the Raven, we prepare them
For the Raven, we prepare them
For the Raven, we prepare them

If readers are inclined to use these invocations in ritual, I am glad to share them, so long as any use or distribution of them includes attribution of their authorship to me: (c) 2012 Morpheus Ravenna.

Introducing the Coru

I thought it was time to give my friends and readers a proper introduction to the Morrigan priesthood group I’ve been working with, the Coru Cathubodua. Although we’ve been meeting and working together since spring, we’ve only begun offering public services very recently, so I’ve been receiving lots of inquiries about who we are and what we’re up to. So here’s a little introduction, and some information on how to connect with us.

The Coru Cathubodua is a newly formed priesthood dedicated to service and devotion to the Great Queen, the Morrigan. I and several other priests in Her service received clear messages around the early part of this year that it was time to gather Her priest-folk and form a cohesive priesthood to better serve Her and to be of help to people in our communities seeking a deeper connection with Her and with the spiritual traditions in which She is rooted. I sent out an invitation to those who were known to me as Her priests and some who She had sent my way, and we began meeting in the spring. Presently, there are nine members of the Coru: Amelia Hogan, Ankhira Swordplow, Druin Heal, Hannah the Storyteller, Brennos, Rudy Heal, Rynn Fox, Scott Rowe, and myself. The members comprise a wide range of skills and talents, including priests and priestesses who carry the Queen as a possessory vessel as I do; who serve Her as warriors both in this realm and the Otherworld; who work with spirits, Faery folk and the Dead; who are bards, singers, poets, healers, dreamworkers, artists, and many other skills besides.

Our purpose, as I would describe it, is to serve the Morrigan through devotional practice and ritual, to share Her teachings of sovereignty, warriorship, and Otherworldly wisdom; and to promote strength, autonomy, and sovereignty within the communities that we serve. We are, of course, just beginning this work. We are primarily based in California, and most of the members reside in the San Francisco Bay Area; however, we will be traveling to connect with communities outside our area as much as funds and schedules allow.

The name Coru Cathubodua? Cathubodua is the Gaulish name for the Morrigan; it means ‘battle raven’ (cath=battle, bodua=crow/raven) and is the exact cognate of Her Irish title of Badb Catha. Coru is the Gaulish for war-band, corps, or army. Why this Gaulish name? It’s a phonetic language and easier to pronounce than Irish; and since other groups are already using similar titles in Irish (such as Clann na Morrigna, which we also considered), we felt it would help us not be confused with other groups.

The most common question I’ve been receiving is, “How can I get involved or join your priesthood?” Since, as I said above, we are just beginning our work, we are not yet ready to invite new members to join the priesthood. I feel confident that is in our future, once we have taken the time to prepare for opening to new members. But we welcome allies now, and we do want to hear from people who are drawn to the service of the Morrigan. You may be able to support us in this work now, and we may be able to support you in your work. You can contact us via our Facebook page, or by emailing one of the members privately. We hope to have a website of our own shortly, as well as an email list for announcements.

You can also connect with us at our upcoming public events. Here is what we have planned presently, and more will come soon.

Battlefield Devotional at Great Western War

At Great Western War, a medieval reenactment and armored combat gathering of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Coru priests will be leading a morning battlefield devotional prior to the start of fighting. We will invoke the Battle Raven to bless and inspire the fighters and see them safely through the day’s fighting, and to dedicate the battles in Her name. Invocation is given in the Gaulish language, with English translation.

When: Saturday October 6, 2012. 9:00 am on the War Field.
Where: Great Western War, Buena Vista Aquatic Recreational Area, 13601 Ironbark Rd, Taft, CA
Tickets and info: http://www.caid-gww.org/

Western Gate Samhain Festival

A festival in celebration of Samhain featuring workshops, rituals and live music, located in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia. Our aim is to bring together people practicing diverse aspects of the magical and esoteric arts. Together we will honor the Ancestors and the Celtic goddess Morrigan as we journey into the mysteries beyond the world of the living. Amelia will be presenting Celtic music workshop and performance; Morpheus will be presenting a workshop on Meeting the Morrigan, and a talk on Sovereignty and the Liberation of the Soul. Coru members will lead the main Samhain ritual as well as the morning Sovereignty ritual at the lake.
When: Friday October 19 – Sunday October 21
Where: Unitarian Fellowship of Kelowna, 1310 Bertram Street, Kelowna, British Columbia

Feast of the Mighty: A Celtic Samhain Feast with the Gods, Ancestors and Mighty Ones

Come join us at the turning of the year to celebrate the great Celtic feast of Samhain! Share a Celtic-style feast of ancient foods as we dine with the Otherworldly host. Raise a glass in honor of your Ancestors, Gods and those who are to come after us. Join in the tale as the myths of the mighty heroes of old are brought to life to inspire our lives. Lend your spirit as we renew the Sovereignty of the land at the turning of the year.

This event has two options: tickets with the full feast are $39 for adults; or you can opt to attend as a ritual participant without signing up for the feast, for $18; this option still includes a glass of mead or cider so you can participate in the toasting. Reduced tickets are also available for children.

When: Friday November 2, 2012. Doors open at 7 pm; Feast/Ritual begins at 8 pm.
Where: Humanist Hall, 390 27th Street, Oakland, CA
Tickets: http://feastofthemighty.brownpapertickets.com/
Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/156515591139520/
Tickets for the feast are limited and must be purchased in advance, by October 26th.

PantheaCon 2013

At next year’s PantheaCon, the Coru will be joining forces with Solar Cross to organize a blood donation drive at the Con in honor of the Morrigan. We’re working with Stanford Hospital and a bloodmobile will be on site during part of the Con to receive blood donations. Donors will get a special ribbon, “I gave my blood to the Morrigan!” (or words to that effect).

In collaboration with T. Thorn Coyle, we’ve submitted a ritual proposal for the program following the theme of our shared humanity and the kinship of blood. Here’s what we submitted to programming:

The Heart is Our Nation: A Morrigan Devotional

The Morrigan, great Celtic Goddess of sovereignty and of battle, asks us: What do you love, that you will fight for? How will you find the strength to fight, to resist? We take strength in kinship, in the heart’s blood that pulses through us all, joining us as one human family. We shall not be divided. Join us in this ritual as we invite the power of the Great Queen and our own resolve, to strengthen our hearts for the battles we face. Step forth and claim what you love. Take your place in the kinship of all.

The ritual is not confirmed until acceptance by the programming staff of the convention; schedule information should be out in January to confirm.
Tickets and info for PantheaCon: http://pantheacon.com
Morpheus has been invited to lead a Morrigan devotional ritual with the Ancestors at next year’s Witches’ Ball, and additional Coru members will hopefully be joining to assist with this ritual. Info about the 2013 Ball will not be available until after this year’s event, but you can visit their website for general information and details about this year’s event.

Why We Fight

In response to my last couple of blog posts, I had a lot of questions/comments along these lines:
“Why do you talk so much about battle and fighting?”
“Your blog seems obsessive/one-sided/scary to me.”
“We don’t need to fight, we need love.”

So I thought I would expand a bit on this. Why do I talk about fighting all the time?

The simple answer, or the beginning of the answer, is that this blog is primarily about my devotional relationship with the Morrigan, and is a venue for me to share my thoughts and experiences arising from that relationship. Do I think the Morrigan represents only battle? Of course not. I know Her in many forms: as a shadowy phantom, as a Gateway, as a storm, as druidess, poet and prophetess, as a raven, a flight of ravens, as a Queen, a temptress, a teacher, a hag, as blood in the water, as the tomb itself, as the land and its sovereignty, as a tribal mother, an ancestress, and many other forms besides. But I write as the inspiration comes, and in recent times Her presence and Her messages to me have carried a strong feeling of battle-readiness.

The Morrigan, you see, is a shape-shifter. This is so in the literal sense – throughout the Irish texts in which She is described, She is often shifting forms within the course of a single story. Heifer, wolf, eel. Maiden, hag, crow, demoness.  But I also mean in the larger sense: She takes the form that the times call for. I have long sensed that Her epiphanies must shift in response to the changing millenia and evolutions in the cultural forms and worship given to Her. And it is reflected in the scholarship about Her history. Noemie Beck writes that the Morrigan, like so many Celtic deities, was at Her earliest roots a tribal Goddess – a matron and embodiment of the land and its people, and of the identification and unity between the two – that is to say, sovereignty. When the safety and autonomy of the land and its people is threatened, the Sovereignty Goddess takes a martial and protective form, and we know Her as a Battle Goddess.

This is the form in which She has been most strongly speaking to me. Because, I must infer, sovereignty needs defending. I think this is both a personal and a transpersonal message.

So to the question, “Why all this talk of fighting?” the first answer is the personal one. Because I trust my Queen, when She told me I needed to, at the beginning of this year, I started fighter training. I study SCA armored combat, primarily with glaive (a type of long fighting spear), and for a while I was also studying Krav Maga. I soon learned why She required me to fight. Since I began fighter training, profound shifts have been occurring in my internal landscape, in parallel with the shifts in my body’s abilities. I lost my fear of conflict, and along with it my willingness to compromise my own integrity in order to buy peace. I had been for years engaging in all those terrible little betrayals of the self: lying to myself or others, internalizing and accepting blame and guilt that I didn’t earn; trading pieces of my soul for the cessation of conflict in my relationships. Selling my sovereignty, in other words, simply out of fear of the discomfort of conflict. Learning to fight shifted this irrevocably. I no longer crumble and weep when my autonomy is threatened. I simply do what it takes to hold my ground. Fight, when I need to, or not. I take it as it comes, and I hold my sovereignty.

Is there a transpersonal message too? Of course. Is there any one of us who does not know at the roots of our being that in the American nation, the sovereignty of the people is under attack? When the process by which we delegate our rulership mandate to our chosen leaders is utterly and profoundly corrupted, so that non-voting corporate ‘persons’ purchase so much political influence that the voter’s mandate is nearly meaningless. When many people are directly disenfranchised from voting altogether. When the fundamental personal sovereignty of the female sex to own her  body and choose her sexual life is being denied. When the document that protects personal liberty and human rights, our Constitution, is wilfully disregarded by our rulers – when there is neither sovereignty nor justice, can anyone still wonder why the Battle Goddess would be rising now?

Of course She urges us to fight for our sovereignty. It is Her very being and nature. But this is not a call to armed insurrection. It is infinitely more subtle than that. Because, as I said in another post recently, we cannot overcome the forces of empire that are eroding our sovereignty by taking them on physically in literal combat. That is their territory, the domain of the military-industrial monster. What I mean instead is that we become sovereignty itself, reclaim it into our being. We must become inviolable.

This is why we fight. Because, as all practitioners of the martial and meditative disciplines know, what you practice in the body, you cultivate in the mind. When you practice yoga, the mind becomes supple, centered, energized. When you practice meditation, the mind becomes clear, calm, attuned. When you practice the fighting arts, the mind becomes resilient, resolute, indefatigable, alive with survival instinct. We need all these things.

I fight because I want to be someone who can think instead of react, who can keep clarity of mind while threats are flying at me. Fighting teaches this. Because it is the fear of pain, discomfort, conflict that holds us paralyzed while our sovereignty is taken from us. I fight because it trains my mind to fear pain and conflict less than I love autonomy and the joyous freedom of motion of the body at its height of power. I fight because to revel in the practice of fighting liberates me from fear and apathy, and coupled with my commitment to sovereignty, that makes me a greater force to be reckoned with. Because she who would uphold sovereignty must become sovereignty, and Sovereignty is a Goddess who stands Her ground.

And here is my take-home message, friends. In answer to the questions about why I urge us to fight, and whether I am devaluing love by focusing on battle readiness, here is my answer. What I am encouraging – strength in kinship, survival skill, and ability to defend what we love – these things are of benefit whether we ever meet trouble or not. My answer is that to fight for love is love in action.

Notes from the whirlwind

Hello, friends. Since time for longer writing has been scarce, I realize you haven’t heard from me for some time. I have some musings in the works on Sovereignty, and the lessons of Gaul. For now, a few updates on what I’ve been up to and what’s coming.

During the last few quiet months, I’ve been busy with a new mandate from the Queen: Gathering Her priesthood. I have brought together a small group of folks who share the faculty of having been chosen by the Morrigan or dedicated to Her service. We are gathering, presently under the name Coru Cathubodua, and marshaling our skills and resources for Her service. For the last few months and through this summer we will be continuing to develop our ritual practice privately. Beginning this fall near Samhain, we will be coming forth to serve the community through public ritual and other offerings. You can look for a Samhain ritual to be offered in service to the Queen and the Dead, somewhere in the Bay Area; and we’ll plan on sharing something at next year’s PantheaCon in February as well.

Also this fall, I’ve been invited to teach and bring a Morrigan devotional ritual to the Western Gate Samhain Festival, in Kelowna, BC, Canada. I am excited to be joining Brendan Myers, Sarah Lawless and other fine practitioners at this gathering, including our own Amelia Hogan and other members of the Coru. Along the route, we’re looking at arranging stops in Portland and Seattle, where you may be able to catch a performance of Amelia‘s exquisite Celtic song, and meet or attend a workshop with us. For now, the only details set are the Western Gate dates of October 19-21 in Kelowna. I’ll post more details as we settle them.

On the personal level, I’ve been undergoing seismic changes in my private life, reflected in my devotional practice. I’ve taken up fighter training and am currently studying spear/glaive fighting in the SCA, along with Krav Maga. I’ve been very drawn to the Spear, as one of the Four Weapons of the Tuatha, and have long used it spiritually. It’s deeply fulfilling to be learning now how to wield it in the body. And not only for fighting: after my last devotional dance performance at Hexenfest, I received an inspiration to develop a devotional dance with the spear as well. So now both dance and combat movements with the spear are part of my daily practice. I expect to have something ready to perform by next year’s Hexenfest, if not earlier.

Oh, and I had the Morrigan’s Spear tattooed on my back. That’s been a long time coming.

Progress on the Morrigan statue continues slowly. My relocation away from Stone City interrupted the scheduled Devotional Days when we had planned to make it available for folks to assist with it, so as a consequence work on the statue has mainly been within the priesthood group. I hope to have another work session on that soon and new photos to post.

That’s all for today. May your days be full of honor and joy, and I’ll write more soon.