The Crow Mask - Lessons under the Morrigan
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"There is blood beneath your fingertips Stained once more with dirt The nectar that fills your veins Reminds you what is 'worth' The howling tale upon the wind The Crow cries out for war..."
- Joey Morris Morriganic War Cry
Timeless, ageless, cawing from the outer reaches of the spiritual ecosystem; the prophetess, the magician, the omen bearer of all that could ever come to pass; the Crow. Placing the black charred feathers across the brow, the eyes meet the eternal mysteries reflected back in crow eyes. To wear them as your own is to stare into the abyss. To break the chains of limited thinking. To sink beyond human perception and acknowledge the eternal and arise humbled that all at once we are but a speck of light in the expanse and yet unique within our viewing.
The lessons that have thus far been forthcoming under the Goddess Morrigan are immeasurable and therefore cannot be summarized under one mask; however none of the invoked aspects of the Shapeshifting Goddess have left quite so deep of an imprint as that of the Crow.
For the sake of clarity, within this pathworking, the aspect of the Goddess Morrigan most frequently communed with is that of Badb; the translation of which, from the various historical sources, is generally accepted to be "Scald Crow" or simply "Crow" and one of the earliest mentions of which refers to Her as an bodb catha "the battle crow" from the 'Wooing of Emer' in the 'Dindshenchas.'
The concept of spiritual masks, as has previously been discussed in Tipping the Veil - Spirituality Unmasked are a measure by which the individual can connect to the energy behind the mask and thus submerge themselves into the energetic lessons that await them there.
Perhaps it was fitting that, all those years ago, the initial 'unmasking' of the Goddess to whom I had spoken with all my life (known only as 'Mother') came as the Morrigan appeared wearing a Crow mask; for when I wished to deepen my relationship with Her, She appeared, and yet did not - a voice deep and booming and seemingly masculine asked for all the wounds of my past to be laid bare "before the Morrigan..." at first, I had not suspected that this masculine messenger was, in actuality, the Goddess herself, testing the boundaries of not only my experiences and the worthiness of my responses but also the limitations of perception.
Thus was the first taste of the bottomless cup of Crow medicine; nothing is as it first appears, for one glance is by no means a measure of anything.
It is said that Crows are masters of time; that they perceive past, present, and future simultaneously and thus hint at the non-linear movement of time. This is just one example of the categorization process by which humans seek to define and control the universe, as we are limited by our own bodies and the walls we place with our minds.
Image original source - The Crow :-) by JesseAlveo on DeviantArt
Humans often refuse to see the world outside of the scope of their own experiences, mired in the limiting belief that their understanding of the world is the only (or best) one. Crow medicine is immediately unsettling in that it challenges this and any other rigidly held world view, asking us to sit within the prospect of being utterly wrong.
This is not a position that is comfortable to most, conditioned as we are to always seek 'the right answer' and appear 'correct' and therefore 'powerful.' The dogmatic mindset this has bred has led to an often spiritually elitist landscape, scattered with landmines of aggressive behaviour and demeaning attitudes.
Perhaps this energy is one of the reasons that Crows are frequently reviled and treated with distrust, for even in the physical forms they present themselves with an otherworldly intellect and playful nature - reminding humans that we are not the only creatures with intelligence.
"All the broken and shunned creatures. Someone's got to care for them. Who shall it be if not us?" - Penny Dreadful
Furthermore, the Carrion Crow was present and feasting at the battlefields, an association that gave rise to their mythological associations with Death and Gods and Goddesses of War such as the Morrigan. The Celts believed that the Crows were ferrying the souls of the Dead to the Otherworld by consuming the flesh, and it was said that Morrigan could shapeshift into this form, often to signify her hand in a situation; the most renowned example being of a Crow landing on CuChulainn (her favoured warrior) at the moment of his death.
The concept of Death certainly brings forth human speculation of the unknown, for as much as we theorize, it remains the ultimate inescapable truth and yet unknowable mystery. It is beyond human control, no matter what methods we employ; and so it should come as no surprise that it falls under the Crow mask. Each time meditation has lent itself to the donning of Crow eyes, my human perception has to be abandoned; be it in experiencing the flight of a shapeshifted crow or accessing a different realm in which to visualize yet another aspect of the Goddess Morrigan... no two experiences have been the same. The unpredictability of the Crow mask is, by design, unsettling, which is exactly the point - to submerge the individual into the depths of the unknown and the unknowable, inviting them to abandon their limited perceptions.
Ultimately, the Mask of the Crow invites us to simultaneously trust our instincts as well as question everything. Along our spiritual journey there comes a point where we learn to trust our experiences or we flounder at the polarized information available outside of ourselves, where elitist cries of "you can't, because I said so" pollute the conversation. Yet we must take care not to become those voices to others, convinced that because we experienced spirituality a certain way that it must be the only way to experience it.
Badbs associations with Warfare and Prophecy illuminate this further; in the "Courtship of Ferb" and the "Battle of Mag Lena" Badb appears to both warring factions, both foretelling the impending battle and inciting them to it.
Let us consider the perception of each warrior faction at these battles; both sides in the myths experienced the Divine intervention of the Goddess Badb foretelling the battle, and considered themselves forewarned, and therefore, at a military advantage; unbeknownst to them, that the other faction had the same knowledge. Did this give rise to the perception by each side that they would be victorious?
Did this perception give rise to the battle itself? Would the battle always have taken place without the Divine intervention? Did Badb create the war, hasten the war, or simply play her role within the cosmic ballet?
From a limited human perception, we can argue any one of these points. If we are expansive we can suggest perhaps all these explanations are simultaneously true (and yet, perhaps, not.) Crow medicine is the acknowledgment that ultimately we do not (and perhaps, can not) have a definite answer one way or another, and so we settle on what resonates within us at the time as an answer... to the question of who we are at that point in time.
Many blessings, Starlets, Stay Fluxy, Joey