There’s this idea in neo-Pagan or polytheist circles that the gods choose us, we don’t choose them. Sometimes that’s correct — sometimes, yes, the gods do search us out without us needing to reach out first. In that case, They chose us; we didn’t choose Them.
But we still can.
When I first met the Morrigan I didn’t know, explicitly, that I could say no. I thought that once a god chose you, that was it. But over the years of working with Her, I realized I could say no — at any time. I could walk away. Like with any other relationship, I could decide it wasn’t for me — She wasn’t for me, and that I needed something different in my life.
And She wouldn’t try to force me to stay. I know this because I know Her. She doesn’t want someone who doesn’t want Her.
When I realized that I could choose Her in return, that my choice mattered, I honestly just sort of shrugged. Because while I’d not explicitly known I could say no, at first, there’d never really been any doubt. There’d been hard times, but no feelings of “I’m not sure I want this.” I wanted it. I wanted Her. I always have. It was lovely to know my choice mattered…but knowing that didn’t change my decision in any way.
So at that point, choosing Her was just…well, I’d already done it, and I decided to do it again. I make that choice every day. It’s a lot like marriage, actually. It’s a choice you make every day. You keep making it. Because you will hit rough patches. And believe me, rough patches with a deity can be brutal. But I still choose Her.
At first, I thought it was a bit ironic that She came to me — a War goddess, choosing an anti-war activist? I’d marched against Iraq, protested the war, protested Bush. It was all unjustified to me, and in fact I saw no purpose to war in most cases.
But I came to learn that “war goddess” is only a small part of Who the Morrigan is. It’s an outgrowth of Her more primary function: sovereignty.
When people have their land, their cattle, taken away from them; when they’re disenfranchised; when they’ve tried all they can to get it back to no avail — they need a champion. They need to ask for help from the goddess of sovereignty, to help them gain their own back. And if that means war, then that means war.
She does what is necessary.
Not for fun, not just because She can. Because it needs to be done.
She is the one who cuts things away. She prunes. You don’t go into your garden and rip branches off to see your plants bleed. You do it to help them grow.
She’s not about bloodletting for bloodletting’s sake. There is a reason for all that She does. And if She whips you into a frenzy, you best believe it’s been called for.
It bothers me to see people mischaracterize Her as a bloodthirsty war goddess, a psychopath, a goddess capable of (and willing to) possessing large swaths of people to get them to support the military-industrial complex. My Lady, as a goddess of the wild lands, of the earth, of sovereignty…well, I just. After saying that, how could you think She’d be interested in the military-industrial complex at all? Except, maybe, to help tear it down.
I think people forget cultural context when they talk about various deities, and tend to shallowly classify the gods. “Morrigan is a War Goddess,” we say, nodding sagely, because we fail to realize what that meant to the people who originally worshipped her. ‘War’ today is different from war a hundred, thousand years ago. Meanings change. And yet, somehow, we think that word still fits Her perfectly. We think ‘war’ today and we think ‘military industrial complex’ — so obviously deities like the Morrigan are all about that business!
Think a little. Dig deeper. There’s more to every deity than just the one word we’ve decided is shorthand for Them.
In fact, They’re a lot like mortal people in that respect. There’s more than just one side to Them.
And like with mortal people, we can say no to Them. We can choose Them, or not. We have that option.
The Morrigan chose me, and made Herself known to me in 2007. When I realized I could choose Her or not, I didn’t change my decision. I chose Her again, and I choose Her every day. And because I choose to spend my life with Her, because I choose to listen to Her, because She matters to me, I know that there’s more to Her than war and blood and death.
There’s life, and sovereignty, and choice.
There are hard decisions.
And there’s love. Always.