This morning I was trying to find a place to pull over and let Zephyros run. He had been so patient with my new AM routine of a cup of tea and book time that I wanted to find him the perfect place to stretch his legs. We came across an empty school yard with a dirt pile that had Zeph’s eyes glistening. I knew this was the place and pulled in only to find my signal hawk staring us two travelers down.
“Morning my friend,” I said, jumping out the door, pup right behind me. A gentle head nod to the side showed off the brown and gold of his feathers and the sharp nose of his beak.
Zeph took off, finding the mound he had so anticipated, climbing it with an ease I can only envy. I needed yoga before attempting the hill myself and plopped on the ground below him.
Before I could convince myself into any one certain pose, I saw a large crow fly high overhead. It circled the area above Zeph and I three times.
“Hmm, that’s a luck,” I think, finally reaching down to grab my toes.
Then, into the circle of the first crow adds in another. They dance together, one behind the other for a few rings until another crow joins them. The three jet black birds find their pace around our heads and all I can think is, that’s the Morrígan.
I’m not sure why the thought pops into my head, or how I even learned of the Morrígan in the first place. While my mother is part Irish, I can’t recall ever hearing this bit of folktale, but the name came to mind and as I said it, the crows dispersed and found their way back into the woods.
For those of you who may be less familiar with the Morrígan, she, in Celtic folklore, is known as the Phantom Queen, or my personal favorite, the Queen of Nightmares. While her title may mean royalty, she is in fact the goddess of death, a shape-shifter who fancies the flight of the crow. She is the queen of the triple goddesses of war and at times appears with her two sisters, Macha and Neman.
Now being the Goddess of War and fate allots you certain privileges, respect, and a reasonable amount of fear. This is one woman you would not take lightly. Her ferocity is literally legendary. She is seen as a powerful and not-always-so-great omen, assisting some in their coming victories and others in their imminent deaths.
So what was the Morrígan bringing for me today, death or victory? A prophecy perhaps of the coming wars of the world? Or simply the wars to be won within one’s self.
As it turns out, I had been reading that morning with a subtle, or perhaps not so subtle, upset in the thought: who would ever read my writing? I was in utter turmoil thinking myself so presumptuous that folks might even consider picking my book off a shelf. My family, of course, to appease me, but the world… No, girl. No.
However, I’ve recently made large transitions for this life. I live in a van these days (no shade there, I actually love and feel grateful for my ability to try this out). I hang out with my dog probably more than I should. I write when I get up and before I go to sleep, and anytime words find me in the middle. I’ve turned down job offers and pay raises, opportunities to rope me back into the social work realm. So why, if I was doing these things, would I be so anxious as to the readability of my work?
In comes the Morrígan.
Now I can’t say with any real certainty that I was visited, much more likely is that this was a few crows who got a whiff of a van dweller’s stink and thought death was lurking. Either way though, they were right. The birds came to verify both my imminent death and victory. Once I fully let go of one, I would have the other. It was both prophecy and present – you can win all, by losing some now.
Long story already long and not getting shorter, I sat on the ground feeling my whole state of being in the force of the dirt against me. I closed my eyes and wiggled my way into a high plank. My hands gripped the earth and with each squeeze, I intentionally let go of something. Squeeze; insecurity. Squeeze; unworthiness. Squeeze; unlovability. Squeeze; incessant anxiety about my goals. Squeeze; pain and anger for my lack of progress (yes, I admit to feelings of failure for not being a selling author right now!) Squeeze; overly idealistic criticism.
I came out of the plank to look back into the sky at dozens of crows who had joined me. They were circling the length of the field in which Zeph was running about. A murder of crows isn’t exactly a calming sight, unless you have foes to battle. Like the witch I wish to be, I twisted my head back and laughed, inviting their horror to fill me. When both sides live within you, you get to choose who wins and who gets dirt duvets.
I know my hawk was there to protect the parts of me who are adventurous, bold, witty, resilient, and wise. The crows were there to help take out any others who were not so helpful. Thanks be to birds on this day in the field, and cheers to the Morrígan – may we always fight side by side.