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A myth or story from folklore.

Here is my own retelling–mostly from memory so it could be quite off in time line and such–of the Morrigu’s role in the death of Cuchulain.  I connected events with characters I thought might be related as in a organization together to give some unity:

The Morrigu

The Morrigu Triptych, Banshee Maiden, Warrior Queen, & Milking Crone by Sara Star

The Morrigu queens wanted to ally themselves with the winning side in the upcoming battle between Queen Madb’s army and the Men of Ulster.

They had a few things to take into consideration.  In the past, their war queen, Emain Macha had cursed the men of Ulster.  The Ulster men had grown into her disfavor twice.  Firstly when she was in hiding in Ulster and living with an Ulster Farmer, and pregnant with twins, she admonished him to tell no one of her.  However, at the King’s horse races he bragged that his wife Macha could run faster than any horse.  Macha begged the men of Ulster to excuse her from the bet because she was heavily pregnant.  But they would not back down, and she was forced to prove her husband’s claim.  Macha won the race and miscarried her twins at the finish line.  Then she cursed the men of Ulster to be weak with the pains of child labor when most needed by their country.

Yet, the Morrigu wanted to give Ulster another chance, perhaps she considered handing them this out because she had wished it for herself that day long ago when she was heavy with twins.  Perhaps despite the men’s treatment of her, she loved the land of Ulster and wanted it to be protected.  For whatever mysterious reason, Macha offered Ulster another chance.

The foster son of Fergus, the  exiled king of Ulster, Cuchulain was free of the curse because he was of divine birth, his father being Lugh.  The Warrior Queens of Morrigu intercepted Cuchulain and offered him victory if he would couple with her.  Cuchulain had already recently lost a battle at the border of Ulster because he was off in a tryst so he angrily denied the robed woman without paying attention to her.

He should have noticed she was a goddess, for she had the red eyebrows and her horse was white with red ears, both obvious signs of the otherworlds.  But Cuchulian was too distracted.  He looked away from her in disgust at her sexual offer and when he looked back, the woman, the chariot and the horse were gone, and he saw a large hoody crow.  He immediately knew his mistake!  It was one of the Morrigu, how could he have missed the signs!  It was too late, he had sealed his death warrent by spurning her.

The youngest fair maiden of the Morrigu waited by a river where Cuchulain would have to ford and she sang his death dirge and washed a spectral bloody shirt on a rock that was clearly Cuchulain’s shirt.  This Banshee was foreboding a second time the failure of Cuchulain and therefore (as Ulster’s only abled bodied man) the loss of the ensuing war to Connacht.

The Morrigu was on the warpath!  She would get revenge on all of Ulster, and on Cuchullain!  She sent three of her witches to intercept him. Cuchulain had a major geis or weakness, he could not eat dog, his totemic animal.  And his code of honor was to always accept food and drink offered to him as a guest.  The Morrigu whispered these secret weaknesses to her witches, and they cooked up a stew of dog.  They waited near the river where Cuchulain crossed and invited him to eat with them.  He received the dog stew and ate it.  It burned his mouth and disabled the s

The Morrigu in her three forms turned each into an animal that would attack and wound Cuchulain.  The watery banshee Morrigan turned into an eel and tried to strangle Cuchulian.  The sovereign Cuchulain turned into a white heifer and came out him and tried to gore him with her horns.  The wild wood Morrigan came at him as a she-wolf and bit at him.  Each time Cuchulian injured her, she was crippled and half blind when they were done.  But he too was weakened.  She would get her revenge yet!  But first she had to be healed.

The Morrigu went together, one is the form of a Heifer, and the other as an old crone woman.  They waited near the battlefield where the Connacht men were preparing for battle.  The third Morrgan when to dance upon the tops of the Connacht men’s swords and call a storm in to aid them in battle.  The old woman Morrigan milked the Heifer Morrigan as Cuchulain passed.  He was hurt and thirsty and she offered him some milk.  Out of gratefulness, Cuchulain offered her healing for each cup of milk she gave him.  The old crone was able to walk, see and was healed after sharing the milk with Cuchulain.

Ultimately, Cuchulain died fighting the men of Connacht and the Morrigu queen came down in her crow form and ate his intestines out of his belly in triumph.  In this way the Morrigu’s wrongs were righted upon the men of Ulster.

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