Beneath a Crow’s Wings: The Morrigan’s Call Retreat 2017

Only two weeks out from my return from Canada, I made the (much) shorter drive from Alexandria, VA—where I live—to Orange, CT. I love driving through New England, especially once the highways become two lanes and there are fewer cars on the road. In New York state, as I get closer to the US-Canada border, the landscape changes rapidly, becoming rockier, with large outcrops scattered beside the roads.

Camp Cedarcrest is the host of the Morrigan’s Call Retreat, and I found myself somewhat surprised by the land. It is in the midst of suburbia, but very much a patch of wilderness, with two rivers and a beautiful waterfall cutting through the land.

I’m sad to say that I was a bit festivaled out by the time midday on Saturday rolled around, but going up to Connecticut was the right step for me at this point in my life. Several things happened that confirmed some suspicions I had been having, a few of which I’ll discuss.

***

Last February, I reached out to my friend Brooke for a favor: would she be willing to perform an Oracle for me, to determine whether it would be the right move for me to attend the Morrigan’s Call Retreat? I had been sensing the Morrigan wanted more from me of late, but with the retreat being two weeks after the Sabbat, I was hesitant to register. I didn’t want to burn out, but I was feeling a strong draw towards going.

Brooke, kind soul that she is, agreed, and she pulled three cards from her oracle deck. Three cards for three signs asked of three Queens who are one.

I won’t detail her reading here, but one of the things that stood out for both of us from her reading was the direction that I was to light a candle at dusk when I had made my decision and state my intentions. She wanted me to make the choice, to consider the benefits and the deficits that I might face. Overall, I was to be patient and consider all the options.

Not long after Brooke finished speaking with me, I got a message from my spiritual advisor from college. She’s never met Brooke, knew nothing of my intent to attend the Morrigan’s Call, and I had not spoken to her of the oracle reading Brooke had done for me. So when she reached out and told me that “my candle always burns at dusk,” I was shocked. It’s a very specific image for it to be coincidence. It wasn’t until later that I remembered that she, too, works with the Morrigan in one of her aspects.

***

There was a glass bowl full of stones, dragon tears we had called them in elementary school. Orange and blue and white and green, with each representing one of the Four Treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann. The green tear in my hand, I found myself joining the Stone Clan, named for the Lia Fáil, or Stone of Destiny. It is this stone that screams when the true kings of Ireland tread upon it, announcing their destiny for all to hear. It is a stone that denotes the one who shall bear the mantle of sovereignty over Ireland.

Sovereignty. The theme of the weekend, and the message that the Morrigan has been attempting to get through to me for neigh on six years now.

***

It was after Anubis left, having taken with him the pendant that I so cherished, lost in the midst of a labyrinth in the days before Samhain. I had fallen into a slump, and I was experiencing sensory overlays, the feeling of my reality being superimposed with another. I kept finding myself in a forest, dark and overgrown, that I would end up referring to as the Forest of Faith. At that time in my life, my faith was stunted, and I had been depressed for some time, with the majority of that depression affecting my spirituality.

In the times I found myself in the Forest, I would struggle to move forward. Regularly, the brambles and bracken that covered the forest floor would tangle me up, holding my back. After struggling for some time, I finally fell to my knees. I couldn’t bring myself to keep going. I was so, so tired, and I was ready to give up.

She came to me then, dragging my to my feet and not allowing my to make excuses. The Morrigan, a flood of black feathers, dark hair, and darker dress. She saved me, from myself, from my depression. She came to me in one of my darkest hours and dragged me from the breaking point. She’s been a part of my life ever since.

I would come to learn a lesson from her, a repeated message that she wanted to impose upon me. Sovereignty, sovereignty, sovereignty. As a goddess of Ireland, a goddess of that land, and a goddess who protects that land and its people, it is one of her strongest associations, especially on my path.

It’s hard to explain the message to one who is not me, but I will do as I can: she expects much from me, and she will not allow me to falter unless it is my decision; I will walk a path of service, helping others and building a community; it is destiny for me to take up a mantle of service, as a warrior for those who need protecting, and as the one who will lay down and allow those who must cross to use my body as a bridge.

***

It was Saturday, and I was sitting under the Raven Pavilion listening to John Michael Greer. He had put together a workshop on the concept of sovereignty, and I spent most of the time of this workshop trying to avoid getting hit too hard with the clue-by-four.

When it came time for Greer to ask us for examples of personal sovereignty, I volunteered my brief story. Her helping me to regain my personal sovereignty over my own mind when I was at my worst. Another woman there gave the example of her transition, and Greer was very respectful towards both of us and our stories of struggling with our own bodies, our own minds.

***

It’s been two months since the retreat, and I’m finding it difficult to write about even now. I’ve let this post sit and percolate over the last eight weeks, hoping to get across the depth of my experience here. Even though I was festivaled and peopled out by the middle of Saturday, it was still an experience I don’t regret having.

 

I think the crux of the weekend, though, for me was Sunday, when I finally went to see the oracle. I had come to this weekend on the advice of an oracle, and it felt only right to leave with the advice of another oracle.

At the doorway, they cleansed me with sage smoke, and once more I had a blade held to my throat, asking me why I sought the Great Queen. Upon standing before the oracle, she, too, asked me why I sought her, and I spoke the truth of why I had come that weekend and why I was there then.

She told me that two paths lay before me: the hard path, which would challenge and transform me, take me to walk the warrior’s path; and the easy path, which would have me as I am. There is no shame in either, she told me, and I am expected to rest for a time. She sensed the weariness that I felt, the struggles I dealt with. She said she sensed I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders. The Great Queen bid me that I could call upon her in my dark times, in my struggles, in battle.

This hard path will always be open to me, when I’m ready. But I must rest first. And I know that I should still not dally, and when the time comes to walk that path, I must not hesitate from taking that first step.

For now, though, I will rest. The Great Queen will be there, and she has chosen me. I am among her children, and I will do as I can to honor her.

 

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