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The Connection Between Isis and Morganby Linda Iles
(ESTARA'S NOTE: The material referring to Atlantis was somewhat controversial when this article originally appeared in its email form, since modern pagans divide over whether Atlantis was a real place of great enlightenment, a real but now exaggerated culture, a magical ideal built on the astral only, or completely fictional. To those who are Atlantis skeptics, I pass on Linda's note: "I would like people to be able to relate to the magical principles and ideas represented in the work of Dion Fortune and her contemporaries. That is what I feel is of great importance in our modern day work for the goddess." Meaning, in essence, skip the word Atlantis if it bothers you and look for the other value present in the material that mentions it.)
Modern day goddess devotees are in a way 'resurrecting' the veneration of the goddess. We do this through reading, research, intuition, inner revelation and by sharing the information we have gained from these pursuits. By studying what is left to us of the old ways, but adapting that information to our current time, the goddess movement is alive, well and vital. And that is in keeping with the whole spirit of how the goddess works, nothing is stagnant.
Recently in a thread of discussion on the Isis Magic Online Book Club, members became aware that several of them were drawn to both Isis and Morgan. They began to feel, after sharing some experiences that there might be a connection between these two goddesses. This prompted me to share with them a quote from chapter 9, page 228, paragraph 2 of Isis Magic (written by Isidora Forrest) which says "As Dion (Fortune) does, CCT (Christine Campbell Thompson) connects Isis with the Celtic Goddess Morgan, Who has associations with the sea, with magic, and with the Celtic Otherworld."
Morgan, or Morrigan, is a deity of ancient Ireland, associated with the Moon, some see her as the equivalent to Hecate. She was a goddess of war and destiny whose weapons contained a potent magic. She had three main aspects: Badb who sometimes took the form of a raven and presided over a sacred well of knowledge; as Macha, a powerful sorceress who also could take the form of a raven and presided over war and fertility; and as Nemain (also Neman and Nemhain) when she presided directly over the act and art of war. Morrigan was sometimes referred to as "The Morrigan" referring to her triple aspects, and as such was seen to be a darker form of manifestation of Dana, the mother goddess of the Tuatha de Danaan. Morrigan as a goddess of psychic vision, hidden knowledge and prophecy has associations with Lunar energies, and in her role as warrior goddess and patroness of victory and rulership, she has associations both with Mars and with the Sun.
When she is referred to as the Triple Goddess it is in reference to these three aspects: Badb the Crow (maiden), Macha the Great Queen (mother), and Nemain the Hag (crone). The ideal of Maiden, Mother, Crone is also used generally in goddess literature and not necessarily always a reference specifically to Morrigan.
Through their associations with the sea, magic, the otherworld, knowledge, mysteries, war, motherhood, prophecy and the cycle of life and death, there are many correspondences between these two goddesses. It is in the form of Isis as the Dark Mother or Black Isis that the two are seen to especially resonate with each other.
The connection between Isis and Morgan is a fascinating area of study, because we are all conscious of the links between deities from different cultures, the similar mythologies and ways of manifesting. Isis and Morgan is one association that is particularly enlightening. In Isis Magic, Isidora says about Christine Campbell Thompson, "She further associates Isis with the "old mysteries of Atlantis," noting that Isis Morgan "has all wisdom and knowledge" and is of infinite aspects." Isis and Morgan were both thought by these pioneers of who the western mystery traditions to have their roots in Atlantis. Dion Fortune, Christine Campbell Thomas and Margaret Lumley Brown were extremely gifted psychics and recorded much information about the connection between various geographic locations in Europe, such as Ireland, Great Britain, the area of Brittany on the coast of France to name the most commonly mentioned ones, as being places where colonization by people from Atlantis occurred. They also noted that Atlantean colonization was also conducted in other places, most notably in Egypt, Crete and Greece. These outposts or colonies became places of refuge in the later periods of Atlantis, people fled to them to escape the destruction of the Atlantean homeland.
This raises issues for many people who are neutral or skeptical about whether or not Atlantis was an actual place. What I would say in response is that the physical reality or unreality of Atlantis is not the core issue here, but rather the magical techniques and principles that underlie the written materials left behind by Dion Fortune and her contemporaries. Anyone that does not resonate with the idea of Atlantis can view their work as allegorical in nature, or as written in symbols and terms that are made to evoke a specialized response in the soul, which is completely separate from hard and fast physical reality.
Dion Fortune was a trained psychologist and respected the views of Jung in his concept of a racial unconscious or 'group oversoul'. She and others in her time period were experiencing in some cases memories of past lives, and in other cases what they termed a viewing of the Akashic records, past scenes of history connected to a particular location and the types of magical rites and deity worship that took place in that area in times past. They believed there was an ancient priest/priestesshood with cult centers and temples that worked with the magical powers or etheric forces directly connected to the sea. They believed that the Sea Cult came before even the earliest Cults of the Sun.
By being sensitive to the cycles of the sea, they learned to align with the origins of life, The Great Womb or Originator of All Things. The very first beginnings of life on this planet were activated in water. In the sea was the Bright Fertile Mother who gave birth to life, and the Dark Sterile Mother who brought all living forms back again to Herself. The Moon would naturally be aligned to the sea, with it's role in the rising and ebb of the tides and its cycles were also seen to be reflected in the cycles of the bodies of women. All was seen to mirror the role of the Great Goddess of Life and Death. They viewed the sea as a physical manifestation of that unseen great cosmic power, the universal force that is the origin of all form and of all life, of which our earth and our existence are part. As Great Mothers of Life and Death, Morgan and Isis embody not only the concepts of life on this earth, but the force of all life throughout our universe. This sea cult would correspond to our ideas about veneration of the Great Mother dating far back into the most ancient of times.
The laws of polarity or duality are a strong part of this type of work. In physical terms they are expressed as hot and cold, day and night, light and dark, male and female, positive and negative. In Egyptian the mythology the Moon is often represented as masculine. Although the Egyptians are most often identified with the solar associations of their mythologies and religious themes, the moon held a special place in their culture. The primary moon deities, Khonsu, Osiris, and Thoth were male, rather than female. This seems contradictory, in light of the way we so strongly associate the moon with the divine feminine archetype in modern practice. But in their eyes, the moon was the fructifier, in the sense that the male impregnates the female. They recognized in polarity an expression of balance which was part of the cycle of life and death in the world of nature. Dion Fortune presents these ideas particularly in two of her magical novels, first in Sea Priestess, and secondly in Moon Magic. The Priest of the Moon referred to in the Sea Priestess is Osiris.
Anyone who has seen the silver light of the moon playing across the sea at night can easily understand how ancient people saw this as a reflection in nature of the symbolism of the 'silver cord' of the Shakti. This silvery lunar way is a link between physical and spiritual states of being. This link is like a bridge, or narrow road of light called the Sutratma, where the individual can enter the first stages of travel to the world of spirit. This pathway lies from earth to moon to sun to star. The sun represents the heart. Beyond the heart, the High Priestess of the Tarot is associated with this pathway, and she definitely has both lunar and water symbolism. Connection to this road starts on the pathway of the Moon, the intuitive knowing and subsequent lessons and wisdom gained through true psychic vision. As we progress along this silver lunar path, we eventually find that behind the Moon is the Sun, which is associated with the awakening of the heart to true spiritual compassion. Beyond the Sun is The Star of Isis, or Sothis, referred to in the tarot as the High Priestess. The full name of this card is High Priestess of the Silver Star. Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki in her book, 'The Forgotten Mage" quotes Colonel Seymour, "The Symbol of Isis is the ankh and it symbolizes the forces of life contained within the form of matter. Behind the individualized life form that in man there is the Great Sea of Life. Isis is the star that rises from the Twilight Sea, the star that itself is a symbol of the divine spark in man. The Egyptians called it Sothis, we call it Sirius. When that star is unveiled and brightly burning within the human soul, then conscious touch with the Isis of Nature becomes fully possible."
Morgan and Isis as goddesses of birth, life and death, destiny, war, victory and struggle, prophecy, psychic vision and clairvoyance are patronesses of the most potent forces. Both have strong associations with water, the moon, the sun and mars. These goddesses provide keys of access to higher consciousness, and also preside over martial arts, which at first I found curious, until I connected this with the fact that there are many personal inner battles and periods of intiation that everyone must face and work through along their personal path.
Researching the meaning of the name 'Morgan' proved very interesting. The various forms of her name in Irish and Welsh seem to connect this Goddess with the Sea Priestess Cults of ancient times. Morgayne, the Irish form of Morgan comes from medieval form of the Welsh name "Morcan." Morgayne in Irish and Morcan in Old Welsh mean "bright sea." Morganse or Morgance is a Celtic (didn't say which nationality) which means "sea dweller" or "seashore". Morganna is Welsh, means "from the seashore." Morgan is a form of the Old Welsh name, "Morcant" which in Welsh is "sea circle." Mor meaning "sea" and "cant" meaning Circle. As an aside, 'Merlin' means "by the sea."
Gareth Knight has another book out called "The Secret Tradition in Arthurian Legend." The traditional slant of Arthurian legend is not very complementary to the ladies in Arthur's life, to say the least. But there were some interesting points which further emphasized the connection between Morgan and the sea through the stories of Arthur. He says that traditionally, Igraine, Arthurs mother is thought to be an Atlantean princess, brought over from the old civilization to mate with one of the ruling line of the new civilization. Arthur therefore has within him the blood of the ancient British kings and the blood of the Atlantean priest-kings and priestess queens. That would make Arthur's half sister, Morgan part Atlantean, and his aunts Atlantean priestesses, as the priestess/priesthood was hereditary.
One listing under Morgan in his book is not a reference to Morgan the Celtic goddess or Morgan the Atlantean priestess. But instead mentions an individual named Pelagius, whose name, according to Gareth Knight is a Greek form of the name Morgan! If Pelagius is the masculine form, couldn't Pelagia be the feminine form? And if so, wouldn't that tie the Pelagia, a traditional ancient maritime festival of Isis with Morgan? It would also make Laura Janesdaughter's Fellowship Of Isis (FOI) center, which is named Isis Pelagia, possibly by extension a center devoted to the form of Isis Morgan! As Laura is hostess of our Isis Magic Book Club Online, and we have all these Morgan happenings, this is amazing synchronicity.
The following books will help to clarify and give further information:
Dion Fortune, Sea Priestess
Gareth Knight, Pythoness, The Life and Work of Margaret Lumley Brown
Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki, The Forgotten Mage
Alan Richardson, Dancers to the Gods,