Friday, March 19, 2010
The Morrigan and Beverly Harrison
I have been worshipping the Morrigan for, oh most of my life. The Irish patron over battlefields, war, prophecy, warriors, crows, and cattle, whether a triple Goddess in Bedb, Macha and Nemain,or single deva, the Morrigan are wonderful inspiration against injustice. They are wild womyn, with wild energies, and if you call them to you expect chaos and change. (Cool!)
In general, I have a lifelong commitment to encouraging anger. Worshiping the Morrigan is a wonderful expression of my own anger, now wonderfully honed over decades of practice. I can, with the help of the Morrigan, aim my anger and explode it where and when I will. Yet for so many people I meet, moms and dads, kids in school, friends in church and coven, just approaching anger is still so difficult.
However, I don't usually go trotting out my connection to the wild ladies unless I am talking to really good friends. Anger is still too scary for many, and heaven knows part of my relationship with the Morrigan has been to bank my own fires to a comfortable level for others. So I have found other resources for trotting out anger.
The best Christian connection I have found is ethicist Beverly Harrison. More than any Christian writer, I quote Harrison's "The Power of Anger in the Work of Love," indeed, I quote her more than any other religious work.
So here is the best quote: "Anger is not the opposite of love. It is better understood as a feeling-signal that all is not well in our relation to other persons or groups or the world around us. . . [This] is a critical first step in understanding the power of anger in the work of love. Where anger arises, the energy to act is present. . . We must never lose touch with the fact that all serious human moral activity, especially action for social change, takes its bearings from the rising power of human anger."
There, more than the Bible, more than any pagan thealogian, more than any fiction author or any other writer, that quote from Harrison is the one I find most useful to help my friends, colleagues and sister volunteers and social activists remember that anger is the power.
Struggling to get insurance coverage for your autistic child? Get angry! Struggling to find an affordable education for yourself or your kids? Get angry! Tired of your racist boss expecting you to do twice as much work as any white guy at your job? Get angry! Sick of schools that won't keep your children physically safe, let alone emotionally? Get angry!
Ok, so those are just my conversations from the last 24 hours.
That doesn't touch on current politics, the environment, and larger issues of justice and equity in a world of advancing capitalism. And certainly I spend time calming my Republican neighbors, stirred to mob level frenzy, with worries that government is going to "take over" their medicare. Yet our own anger is the energy to deal - endlessly - with GOP friends and family. (I rather enjoy staying calm in the face of my Republican friends' frenzy. They either calm down and listen, or they get so crazy they make little sense, which is fun to watch.There are many people who can't ride their anger.)
Because getting in touch with the power of anger in the work of love does mean getting control and riding YOUR anger. Back to the Morrigan. These ladies sailed over battlefields, decided the fates of armies, created pools and stole cows. (Stealing cows in old Ireland was a big deal. Major mojo.) They lived their anger and changed the shape of kingdoms. I rather imagine these ladies floating over Ireland on surfboards of anger, but hey, that is my image. Finding your own image can be good. And if you need the Morrigan to be Christian angels for your own cosmology, well, go for it.
Case in point? My good radical Catholic friend, Amanda. When struggling to find programs or services for her children, or just trying to protect them on the playground, she endlessly cried about her tendency to be "too nice." She decided she'd had enough, and then decided, crazily, to start imitating me! "I just pretend to be you, Onnen," she laughs, "and then I have no trouble getting angry." Amanda isn't interested in the Morrigan for herself, but is willing to channel my own devas when needed. Cool. I know I encouraged Amanda to go find some good saint for her worship (any suggestions on a nice angry, preferably female, saint for Amanda? Please let me know!).
The important thing is adding anger to one's worship. Add anger to your prayer, (Job did), to your spells or your candle lightings, to alters and holy charms. Make room for anger in your home (leave some tea out to the morrigan or offer them some good beer), in your religious group (set aside time to learn how to use anger), in your heart.
The world will be healthier for it.