With the ongoing occurrence of huge hurricanes, floods, mudslides, earthquakes, possible nuclear war and more in both the US and worldwide it seems that the wrath of the Goddess has been awakened. I felt the need to revisit the Celtic Triple War Goddess, The Morrigan. One of Her aspects is Badb, which translates as “Hooded Crow” and “One Who Boils.” She signifies fury, rage and violence. She brings war, death, chaos but also enlightenment, life, and wisdom.
In The Destruction of Da Choca’s Hostel She is the “Washer at the Ford,” washing the bloodstained clothes of the one about to die as She prophesied the death of the hero Cormac. Here she is seen standing on one leg with one eye opened and one eye closed; with one foot in the human world and the other in the spirit world. While She is the harbinger of death of our current mortal condition She also offers the promise of new life.
Though Badb can appear as an old woman, She often appeared as a beautiful pale woman. She appeared to Medb/Maeve before the Cattle Raid of Cooley as a “White Lady, fair with brilliancy.”* Likewise She is described as pale and red-mouthed in The Destruction of Da Choca’s Hostel. Both red and white were associated with the Otherworld. White was the color associated with death up to the time of Henry VIII, as it represented the purity of the soul.
She was seen on the battlefield as a hooded crow. She flew over the battlefield shrieking and inspiring battle frenzy in Her warriors and instilling fear in their enemies. She was also seen as a wolf wandering among the dead after the battle. In Her animal forms she functioned as a scavenger, consuming the flesh of the dead. Badb, Ferrier of Souls, could in this way take in the spirit essence of the fallen and bring them to the Otherworld where they would await rebirth.
Over time She left the battlefield becoming a faery, a banshee, where she watched over certain families and foretold the death of some with mournful wails and shrieks. Her association with battle was lost but her role as prophet of death and destruction and the Ferrier of Souls to the otherworld remains prime.
She is also associated with the boiling Cauldron of Life. Though the cauldron signifies life it is believed that if Badb’s cauldron overflows then the world will end. Life and death were forever intertwined in the mind of the ancient Celts. Badb with her boiling, overflowing cauldron destroys the world so that it can be born anew.
Badb, Cauldron Keeper, is associated with water. She is the Washer at the Ford, She tends the waters of the cauldron of rebirth and She destroys the world when those waters boil over. Water was a mystical force to the Celts. The islands of the Otherworld were hidden within or under lakes and seas; rivers were borders between this world and the next; sacred water emerged from underground at holy wells. Badb moves between these worlds, flowing with the water and like water bringing the promise of life.
Badb, Fate Weaver, is present during times of extreme suffering. But she is not the one who causes it. She is simply a harbinger of what’s to come. If we pay attention to her warnings perhaps we can avoid some suffering. She is with us as we go through painful transitions and change, through death and destruction. And as the fair and brilliant White Lady she guides us through death to healing and rebirth.
When Badb appears to you know that you are protected. She keens with you through your difficulties. Work with Her to learn about past lives and release negative patterns, emotions, and behaviors. Call on Her for help in communicating with the spirits of your ancestors and for divination. She is the bridge between life and death; she guides us to healing and rebirth.
Judith’s deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards is available now. You can order your deck on Judith’s website. Experience the wisdom of the Celtic Goddesses!
Judith Shaw, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has been interested in myth, culture and mystical studies all her life. Not long after graduating from SFAI, while living in Greece, Judith began exploring the Goddess in her artwork. She continues to be inspired by the Goddess in all of Her manifestations. Originally from New Orleans, Judith now makes her home in New Mexico where she paints as much as time allows and sells real estate part-time.