Goddess Badb; Shadow of Silver Birch:
Or an odd journey to the Underworld with Foxes and Moths
The Shadow within the Celtic path, and within the trees whom I revere as guardians, is a realm of sometimes seemingly unfathomable depths, and in order to traverse this path with company, one has to have explored the caverns appropriately and with care.
There is no substitute for experience, no short cut through shadow work, and if one is to properly hold discourse around a topic as important as this, one had best sought out first-hand experience.
There is nothing so shallow, so full of falsehood as offering up spiritual advice based on barely dipping ones toes into the murky depths; until you have felt the magick, the mystery and the lessons submerging you fully and drowning you down into a death cycle.
Initially I thought I would spend a month or so experiencing the Shadow lesson of the Silver Birch Deva Spirit, in a typical tidy (and completely naive) Virgo fashion…
I thought I could plan out this unique concept I had in terms of a list; defining what and why I had come to believe that Shadow Ogham needed to be presented as a spiritual concept to the world, what that entitled, maybe a meditation to go with it…
Boy, was that misguided.
The spiritual whirlwind that followed has been thus far and continues to be one of the most extreme, enriching, and almost surreal experiences of my life to date. I have come to know it, though I feel far longer would be required before I could even claim to truly understand it; as the thread that weaves through all of these spiritual moments continues merrily and it is only with hindsight that the pattern emerges.
The journey has seen the Goddess Badb illuminating uncomfortable shadow truths like a blood stained kiss to the mouth; equal parts exhilarating and unsettling, using the roots of the Silver Birch to traverse down into the Underworld.
“Badb I see you stalking through my dreams With Birch wizened teeth And howling Chords…”
– Joanne Morris Lessons of Badb
The beginning was in blood, and death; initially in the astral vision of a Fox biting into his prey with a bloodied mouth, followed swiftly by an extremely tangible taste of death in my own (the particulars of which are private). This experience was equal parts nauseating and haunting, additionally it felt almost symptomatic of encounters with the Phantom Queen Badb; a prophetic vision followed by physical and uncomfortable confirmation; ethereal and corporal in conjuncture.
The first step was taken, and it was literally a bite into Death.
(Sourced from pinterest)
I would later come to realise it was also the internalisation of fear, which was the Shadow lesson of Silver Birch – as the Fox tasted blood and death, so too would I. Thus, a journey began, traversing Shadow and Otherworldly encounters; and for the most part the deeply intimate connection and personal experience here with Fox has to remain shrouded in the mist of my own practice, though I have already discussed the dissection of fear in Chasing the Shadow: A tale of the Fox and the Rabbit
What can be named as an evaluation or consequential extension of realisation from this pathwalking, was an indepth examination into the interplay between “Light” and “Darkness” which Pagan communities are so keen to divide into rigid opposition.
Instead it became even more apparent that Lightness and Darkness coexist both within one another and without of one another; spiralling, constantly bound in an eternal Labyrinth.
The visualisation of the Labyrinth of the Underworld is subjective, but regardless, it feels as though it is always an adventure of discovery, Light and Dark can dissipate into one another around the sloping bends, tricksters of meaning, elaborate and complex. The centre of the Labyrinth similarly shapeshifts; and in a moment of despair and doubt I screamed out into the Ether; not knowing if I all I had experienced was fallacy, dogged by the puncture wounds of those seeking to belittle and discredit my connection with the Goddess Morrigan.
The key to the centre of the Labyrinth came through another as a result, for within moments of hearing my anguish, Badb sent a messenger, a prophetic vision through one of the women previously mentioned in this Blog as a member of Soul tribe.
(Sourced from Pinterest)
The nature of the Underworld is often contradictory, and so the centre of this dark Labyrinth was a barren field littered with dead husks and tangled weeds under a grey sky, with a very clear message that it needed to be cleansed… with fire.
Furthermore it appeared visually to seem barren aligning with my feelings of hopelessness, but once the stagnant and useless had been burned to ash, there would be nothing left but fertile field.
Moreover, Badbs words began to echo in my ears, to stop paying attention to husks and to keep bleeding into your path. So I sat in meditation, burning down that entire field, cleansing by fire until I could cover my hands in ash and dirt, mark myself with it once more as a daughter of Badb, and know that I was cleansed. Then I bled into the Earth beneath my feet, completing the cycle; for as I had seen the Fox bite and bloody his mouth, so too did I bloody myself and give a sacrifice into the fields of the Underworld.
The dead husks also drew on another thread that I have personally associated with the Goddess Badb… The energy and lessons of the Moth;
You will not find Moths or Foxes mentioned as “traditional animal associations” with Goddess Morrigan, but I consider them personal guardians of the path on which She has led me, personal spirituality though it might be, it is no less valid than the animals associated with Her by the ancient Celtic people, who were, after all, human.
The husks in the afterlife field felt synonymous with the discarded and empty silken cocoons of the moth; though a vessel of personal transformation, they had already performed their vital function; their cycle was over.
We cannot go backwards, in life, in spirituality, in personal and social evolution, because we have already broken through those cocoons – they no longer fit. Shadow lessons concerning Fear have us clawing for the old and comfortable, where we know the terrain, the Labyrinth is well worn, there is no uncertainty or trepidation.
Those answers are all known.
But ultimately that is a place of decaying husks, where if we remain we allow ourselves to be haunted by ghosts, dictated to by precedent, bounded up in a rigidity which forbids creativity or exploration.
Death is transition and so is Life, and this Silver Birch laden Labyrinth had led me to a place to bleed my heart and soul into a field and connect again to the Goddess Badb; whose screechings denote the essence of fear and leave us all with a choice:
Bleed life into your Spirituality, or let it rot.
Many blessings Starlet,
– Joanne Morris 2017
Essay All my own work and design all rights reserved
Art by NonaLimmen