The Morrígan

The Morrígan as Battle Crow

The Morrígan or Mórrígan, also known as Morrígu, is a figure from Irish mythology. The name is Mór-Ríoghain in Modern Irish. It has been translated as "great queen", "phantom queen" or "queen of phantoms".

The Morrígan is mainly associated with war and fate, especially with foretelling doom, death or victory in battle. In this role she often appears as a crow, the badb.[1] She incites warriors to battle and can help bring about victory over their enemies. The Morrígan encourages warriors to do brave deeds, strikes fear into their enemies, and is portrayed washing the bloodstained clothes of those fated to die. She also has some connection with sovereignty, the land and livestock. In modern times she is often called a "war goddess" and has also been seen as a manifestation of the earth- and sovereignty-goddess,[2][3] chiefly representing the goddess's role as guardian of the territory and its people.[4][5]

The Morrígan is often described as a trio of individuals, all sisters, called 'the three Morrígna'.[2][6][7] Membership of the triad varies; sometimes it is given as Badb, Macha and Nemain[8] while elsewhere it is given as Badb, Macha and Anand (the latter is given as another name for the Morrígan).[9] It is believed that these were all names for the same goddess.[2][10] The three Morrígna are also named as sisters of the three land goddesses Ériu, Banba and Fódla. The Morrígan is said to be the wife of The Dagda, while Badb and Nemain are said to be the wives of Neit.[2]

She is associated with the banshee of later folklore.[2]


There is some disagreement over the meaning of the Morrígan's name. Mor may derive from an Indo-European root connoting terror or monstrousness, cognate with the Old English maere (which survives in the modern English word "nightmare") and the Scandinavian mara and the Old East Slavic "mara" ("nightmare");[11] while rígan translates as 'queen'.[12] This can be reconstructed in the Proto-Celtic language as *Moro-rīganī-s.[13] Accordingly, Morrígan is often translated as "Phantom Queen". This is the derivation generally favoured in current scholarship.[14]

In the Middle Irish period the name is often spelled Mórrígan with a lengthening diacritic over the o, seemingly intended to mean "Great Queen" (Old Irish mór, 'great';[11] this would derive from a hypothetical Proto-Celtic *Māra Rīganī-s).[15] Whitley Stokes believed this latter spelling was due to a false etymology popular at the time.[16] There have also been attempts by modern writers to link the Morrígan with the Welsh literary figure Morgan le Fay from the Matter of Britain, in whose name mor may derive from Welsh word for "sea", but the names are derived from different cultures and branches of the Celtic linguistic tree.[11]

Other Languages
български: Мориган
català: Morrígan
čeština: Morrígan
Deutsch: Morrígan
Ελληνικά: Μόρριγαν
español: Morrigan
français: Morrigan
galego: Morrigu
한국어: 모리안
italiano: Mórrígan
עברית: מוריגן
Nederlands: Morrigan
日本語: モリガン
norsk nynorsk: Morrigan
polski: Morrigan
português: Morrígan
română: Morrigan
русский: Морриган
slovenčina: Mórrígan
suomi: Morrigán
svenska: Morrigan
Türkçe: Morrígan
українська: Морріган
中文: 摩莉甘