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Friday, February 19, 2016

Bullets, the Morrigan, and My Perspective

So another Pantheacon has come and gone and the Morrigan community is currently abuzz with our very own controversy. People are blogging about it and there is quite a bit of hyperbole winging around on both sides. I'm not going to link to any of the other blogs, just google 'bullets for the Morrigan' and you can start wading through the results.

I really debated weighing in on this one or not myself, but it seems like - from what I'm seeing - the argument is really less about what its okay to offer the Morrigan and more about people's own personal politics and sensibilities. And it seems wrong to me to shift things away from the goddess being offered to, what she would want, and why, and instead making it about what I as a human being am personally comfortable or uncomfortable with and agendas that I have. I already see this too often with people trying to minimize the Morrigan's war and incitement aspects because they make those people uncomfortable. We can't just declaw our Gods when they seem too scary without losing a vital aspect of who and what those gods are.

Certainly I do think there are some things that a specific deity wants and doesn't want. The Gods have preferences and dislikes in my experience, and I do think it behooves those of us who honor them to at least try to learn what they like. I also think that sometimes an individual has their own pattern of what to offer or not offer to a specific deity that is just that - personal. I've found Nuada likes a nice offering of Gentleman Jack for example and I have friends who like to offer the Morrigan Devil's Cut - and I also know people that are adamant about not offering the Gods or spirits alcohol. When it comes to offerings many times it really comes down to personal choice, but we need to be really careful not to think that our own choices are by necessity the will of the Gods - or to ignore what is historic precedent and clearly has been considered the will of the Gods in the past. Its a fine balancing act.

Lets be blunt here - gun control is a huge issue in the United States, and bullets to many people represent gun violence. Its pretty obvious that some people hear the idea of offering bullets to the Morrigan and immediately relate those bullets to the worst that a gun can do. And its equally obvious that to other people those same bullets symbolize something entirely different: freedom, food, and security. Because to some people bullets don't represent violence but rather a person's ability to defend themselves and their family or to hunt for their own food. And you know what? Neither side is right or wrong because bullets are all of those things. This is not an issue that is black or white and not an issue that can be easily boiled down to one or the other. Guns can be good and guns can be bad, just as any weapon can be good or bad.

And also to be clear, I am neither pro or anti gun. I do think America needs stricter gun control, because I don't think guns should be easier to get and keep than a driver's license or narcotics. Yes there will always be criminals doing criminal things with guns and no law will stop that but the same can be said for all criminal behavior and that doesn't mean we should chuck the whole idea of laws. Guns require training to use safely, and some people shouldn't have them. But I also think that guns are necessary and helpful and should be available. People do still hunt for food, people do use them for self defense, and plenty of people use them responsibly and safely. I don't personally own a gun nor have I ever even held one so my opinion isn't based on personal bias.

Now as to the actual concept of offering bullets to the Morrigan....
I think that the context of why its being done is the real sticking point. What does that bullet represent to you? Why are you offering it? Is it a symbol of personal sovereignty? Of being a warrior*? Of supporting your family? Are you being deployed and you want to offer it in a ritual asking that She protect you during your service? Did you just return and you're offering it in thanksgiving? Are you heading out to hunt and you're offering it for success? Has a war or battle ended and you are offering it in thanks for peace?
All of these would seem legitimate to me, based on historic precedent of sword offerings and votive offerings, and on my own modern understanding of offerings. If it really is just being done out of machismo - well good luck with that. The Morrigan isn't known to be a huge fan of excessive egos. I might not see offering bullets as something to be done on a regular basis, but perhaps, like offering a sword, it could be something done for exceptional circumstances.

Bullets today have a complex and dichotomous symbolism in our society. To many people they are positive symbols of freedom and sustenance. To many other people they are simply items that represent death and suffering. But I would point out that while we today fetishize and Romanticize swords a thousand years ago a sword was a weapon whose only purpose was to kill - ideally when necessary but in the wrong hands it could be used to kill indiscriminately. Swords, unlike guns or bows, cannot be used to hunt for food. Swords have no other purpose except as weapons against people, and an unarmed person stand little chance against a trained person with a sword. Yet swords have a long long history of being given as offerings and swords are given places of honor on many pagan altars today. We see swords as powerful and honorable weapons, even though their history is  blood soaked.

Stop and really think about who the Morrigan was and is, and why we give swords to Her, and I think you'll better understand why some people give bullets.

*If you are active duty military then I think that seeing a bullet as a symbol of being a warrior has a lot of merit.


  1. You state, "I do think America needs stricter gun control, because I don't think guns should be easier to get and keep than a driver's license or narcotics." I am American, my Celtic ancestors having arrived here over 400 years ago, and have lived in four of the states in my lifetime. There is NO PLACE where guns can be obtained easier than a driver's license, unless one is a criminal and breaks in and steals them. Narcotics also are strictly controlled but are streaming over our southern border illegally with illegal immigrants. I feel fear for my European Kindred who are not "allowed" to be armed in light of how you are being invaded by hostiles. Is there anywhere a meaningful image of the Morrigan UNARMED? How did you ever even THINK of allowing yourselves to be deprived of firearms? To me there is no question the Morrigan would welcome (as in ancient days) tributes of weapons. Think of the fine weapons found in your waters, given as offerings by your Celtic ancestors. My big question is, how can anyone who is for gun control have any true concept of this ferocious goddess? Would The Morrigan be in favor of sword control? Yeah, right.

    1. like I said, I'm neither pro or anti gun. I was simply stating what I feel is a moderate opinion - neither favoring total restriction nor total freedom.
      Historically swords were self regulating because of their monetary value, which is probably in part why we see them as status symbols today.

    2. This is a wonderful and well thought out article...thank you for posting it and an issue I have discussed with pagans here. Those who follow "Norse" paths often seem more realistic in outlook. My partner calls those who cannot accept the "real" natures of the Celtic Gods, "fluff bunnies." ALL the Celtic Gods can be called upon in time of self defense, threat, and war. Our ancients were survivors, strong and willful, and so were their Great Ones. I really see much of the politically correct meekness of outlook as a christian effort to tame the celtic spirit and make the European more controllable. And look at the devastating effect it is having upon our western cultures, yours there and mine here. We need a true "Morrigan" revival in all aspects, including hallowing the land as our very Mother and not allowing other powers to take Her from us. A Blessing upon your work, Morgan. I look forward to every post. Alas, my folk lost the old tongue many generations ago, as with most of we transplanted ones.

  2. I love you Morgan even if I disagree on the gun control thing. I assume everyone knows I'm the source of that controversy, since I'm unashamedly libertarian, pro gun and have been offering Her bullets for a while.

    I offer the same round size as I carry in my CCW, as a thanks for Her continued protection of me and not needing to use the gun to defend myself.

    I began the practice after I resisted an attempted carjacking. Had I not been armed, likely it would have meant the injury and\or death of myself and my wife. I believe being lawfully armed saved our lives, and in gratitude I give my Queen bullets that fit my guns.

    I think there are two issues going on. First is the romanticizing of archaic weapons of war. A sword or spear were the pistols and assault rifle of their time, fully capable of killing en masse, but we gloss over that equating those tools of war with chivalry and nobility. They are killing tools and I point people to the book "The Face of Battle" for an archaeological example of how horribly well they do their job.

    The second issue is a political one. Gun control acts as a litmus test for ones politics, and there are those who feel of one is not sufficiently leftist, they have no place in Paganism. In point of fact, one prominent West Coast Pagan blogger has said that directly about me.

    When we go down the road of using litmus tests, discrimination is rampant in the community, and oddly hypocritical in one that preaches inclusion and diversity.

    I will continue to offer bullets for two reasons- it seems appropriate for what I'm specifically doing, and She approves of the gift.

    I need no one else's approval.

    1. Good. You won't be getting it.

    2. I heartily approve! I am sure the Goddess will give you signs of her approval as well.

  3. I thought you might enjoy a completely different view of this debate. A more spiritually connected one - less social justice oriented.