|Art by Kat Shaw|
Goddess who will not be felled
By Time or Suppression
As the Light and Dark hold their balance
We too hold our heads high
On the precipice of all our battles,
Internal and against those
Who seek to claim and destroy our Land.”
Warrior in Woad Ritual Meditation – The Spirit Marking Warrior of Andraste
After we have cast the circle, called in the trees, spoken to the Mothers of the Elements, and called out to Andraste and perhaps Boudicca also, we may wish to invoke the spirit of the Equinox through the Warrior in Woad.
This calls back to the Celtic people marking themselves with the blue ritual paint made from Woad.
To mark one's self before battle was a powerful act; you crushed herbs and dyes in a form of battle potion making, calling on the essence of these plants and the land to infuse you with their blessing, and called on the War Gods to recognise you as being ‘marked’ as theirs on the battle field, and ‘marked’ for protection and victory.
Prior to the ritual you may wish to use the following chant:
The Warrior in Woad
“I am her
And she is me
The guardian in woad
A story screams
Across the void
Marked in battle lines
I hear her scream
The pitch black chord of night
I am her
and She is me
There is no true divide
I cross the ocean bruisedAnd wearyTo speak at fire sideThe lightning callsAs once it didThe drums of war unfoldI am HerAnd She is meThe Warrior in Woad.”
Close your eyes and visualise Andraste before you, standing on the top of a grassy hill in Ancient Briton.
You can feel the wind whipping around you, cold and bracing, with Spring rain thrashing about.
You are here to scout the land, the threat of Roman invasion and those who wish to take away your inner Sovereignty.
In this space you will not fight anyone, but you watch as the light breaks through the clouds, listening for the Land Spirits and for Andraste herself to speak to you.
Messages of Rebirth, Re-emergence, and Reclaiming the self are all of pivotal importance going forward – hear the words that are only for you. How does Andraste appear to you? What does She say?
Turn to face Her, to listen, to seek to understand.
In this process of remembering, Andraste reaches out, her fingertips rich with Woad, to paint your face and body with markings that are unique to you.
Your battle paint – reminders of your inner essence and that you can do anything you set your mind to!
As the paint swirls against your skin, see it moving and glowing with an Otherworldly energy – it is more than just paint. Feel and know that you are a part of something greater; sense that you are not defeated, you will not give up on yourself, your sovereignty.
You are not alone in your birthing of a new sense of yourself.
Feel yourself grow stronger, more courageous, more connected to the Land, to the Goddess, to Yourself.
Offer your gratitude to Andraste and come back to the mundane world.
The Land remembers…
How the changing nature of Warfare has impacted the Land.
For a moment, I want you to consider what affect ancient Warfare versus modern Warfare might have on the land and the Spirits of that Land.
As I have already mentioned, modern Warfare has been moved ‘elsewhere’ by the powers that be – in what can be described as a political, social, and economic shift to benefit the powerful.
War often follows the resources, and with the current choke hold the powerful have over their own land in Europe (and the UK which is sadly no longer part of Europe), and indeed in the USA, there is little to be gained from fighting at home.
Instead, modern Warfare follows the Oil and benefits the powerful by providing an “us versus them” narrative which fuels hatred against the other.
War is as ancient as human history, as is the grasping at territory and the resources that land would provide.
To the ancient Celts, it was an intimate part of everyday life, having skirmishes with neighbouring tribes, seeking riches, land, and horses or cattle from battle.
War, such as it was, fed into their honour system, with self-worth and Sovereignty being claimed through battle.
There would be no sense to the ancient Celts in obliterating the land they wished to inhabit.
Indeed, the idea of conquering armies of ancient times salting the Earth to make it uninhabitable, which was a popular folklore motif by the Middle ages, is thought by historians to be largely fanciful.
There may have been rituals involving salt that was said to ‘curse’ the land so that the defeated could never return and grow there, but the idea of using so much salt that the Earth would be harmed beyond repair is fairly ridiculous given the precious nature of salt, the expense, as well as the logistics surrounding the amount needed to be transported to a place to kill the Earth.
The application of toxic chemicals to the Earth in modern history, however, is one of the travesties again the planet. I have said before through my work with The Morrigan, that I view Celtic battle and the life force spilt through blood on the Earth as a kind of offering to the Goddess of War. This is tied to the sacred nature of Life force within Blood.
The idea of sacrifice we have mentioned being tied to ancient mythos still survives in pagan tradition; albeit metaphorical rather than physical.
It is also usually applied to the harvest months rather than Spring, but as we know the Celtic people performed sacrifices, both animal and human, and this was directly tied to the well-being of the Land, I find it unlikely that this was not part of their spiritual path in Spring as the new seedlings sprouted.
“The best archaeological data supporting Celtic human sacrifice is the body of the man placed in Lindow bog in the first or second century C.E. We actually have the body (well, most of it) so well preserved that scientists were able to analyze his stomach contents to discover his last meal (a partially scorched grain cake). Lindow man was almost certainly a ritual sacrifice; he was strangled, hit on the head, and had his throat cut, in quick order, then surrendered to the bog. This pattern fits the “three-fold” death referred to in medieval Irish tales. What’s more, the man seems to have been of high social rank, and a willing victim.” - digitalmedievalist
Once again this highlights a key lesson of War Goddesses; that there can be multiple reactions to complicated energies. War is not a pleasant business, but it condenses your life force into a single moment, bringing complete clarity – all the reasons to resist death and keep fighting.
It also shows in my mind, how the Land may have received the blood of humans as a part of the ritual aspect of Death.
Warfare, to the Celts, was a part of life, and in so dying the balance between humankind and other life (the Land, the trees, the plants, the animals, etc.) was more maintained.
Overpopulation and destruction of the Earth is a modern issue.
Ancient forms of Warfare maintained a balance which is no longer the case.
Instead, we have to alchemize our Warrior energy, and fight to protect the Land, whenever and how so ever we can.
This does not mean sacrificing a noble to the bogs anymore (tempting as that thought can be sometimes with the rich!)
It does mean fighting those in power who see the land as something to serve their ends, which, inevitably, will be the end of the human race as well.
The Earth will outlive us. We will not survive if we keep damaging the planet this way.
I do not tell people how they should act. I think it is important to raise the issue for consideration and allow a person to find their own way.
But be it changed behaviour in ourselves, charitable donation, raising awareness… whatever we do, is echoed throughout the spiritual ecosystem.
The Land Spirits know how we are behaving, and they remember.
Joey Morris is a Celtic Creatrix and UK-based daughter of The Morrigan. She is an author, creatrix CEO of Starry Eyed Supplies, and co-owner of the What the Flux podcast.
Within the spiritual landscape, her soul mission is to deepen the understanding of our interconnectedness by honouring the sacred and exploring the masks of the self through channelling relationships to the Divine through written work, poetry, videos, products, and services.