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MORGAN LE FAY, GRAND HIGH BITCH OF THE ARTHURIAN COURT

by Demelza Hillier

Morgan le Fey is a complicated goddess. She is a melting pot of paradoxes and misty beginnings, of feminine power and darkness.

In legend, she is both a benevolent and powerful healer and Queen of the Celtic otherworld isle of Avalon, and also a ruthless bitch who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

I think the ruthless bitch thing is what has earned Morgan a soft spot in my heart.

In medieval legends, Morgan was always fucking people over in order to get power, to stick it to the man, or to get revenge on those who scorned her. Sometimes literally fucking people over, enchanting people with her powerful sexuality so she could get social recognition, or seduce important info out of them.

Here are some of the messed up things Morgan got up to in the Arthurian legends:

  • uses Merlin’s infatuation with her to her own advantage, using sex to keep him teaching her magic
  • Sends an enchanted cup to court to make mischief. If a unfaithful lady tried to drink from it, she would spill it. Guess how many spilled it? ALL of them. Girls got needs. Scandal!
  • Sends Arthur a cloak enchanted to kill anyone who wears it
  • Sends an invincible green knight to court to scare the ladies…
  • .. and of course, does the nasty with her own brother.

Once upon a time I was the kinda girl who wanted my deities to be perfect beings of light and love, free of scandal and bad decisions.

I hated that the mythologies had Goddesses being messed around, being disrespected, making idiotic decisions and getting upset over things that didn’t matter.

I didn’t want to look at Morgan’s stories at first, because I’d feel so angry that she was so evil and petty. I would just disregard them.

But now I’m beginning to embrace and understand the importance of the Bitch Goddess.

The woman who stands for everything that is confronting and distasteful, who upsets the patriarchy and all the kings and knights and their brotherly code.

The woman who is clawing a place for herself, on her terms, in a world that would silence her.

If she was all sweet and wise and caring, if Morgan embodied the culturally-acceptable archetype of the Loving Mother, she would have had no power of her own in Arthur’s world.

She wouldn’t have been challenging: she would have been absorbed and made impotent by her culture. Her ability to change things and make a difference would have been nil.

morganlefayimage source

Also, in a practical spirituality way, stories about Gods with issues make them more relatable to us.

It enables to look at the story and say, “Huh, maybe if Zeus can be such a colossal dick and still be divine, maybe I am also worthy and divine despite all my own dickishness.”

If your only spiritual role model is a dude like Jesus who was perfect all the time, how are you ever going to live up to that?

Shame is going to keep you from looking at your own darkness.

I love that Morgan le Fay was a woman clawing her way to power and respect in an aggressively patriarchal society, using the only strengths she was allowed as a woman: magic and sex.

What choice did she have? In a society where women had to be beautiful and powerless and ineffective and meek to be “good”, she was having none of it.

I don’t think the medieval authors of the Arthurian romances knew how to portray a powerful magical woman unless she was evil.

We all know that medieval Christian culture wasn’t the most woman friendly place, and in the middle ages they were close enough to the demise of the more emancipated Celtic culture, with badass queens and goddesses leading armies and owning lands and telling men what to do, that they would have wanted to feel the need to enforce it.

morganlefay1(In this picture, Morgan gives Tristram a sword with a picture on it that will piss King Arthur off, a LOT. Tristram has NO idea though. Image by Aubrey Beardsley)

And, of course, all that old testament Eve stuff poisoning the reputation of women forever more. Avalon was the isle of apples after all.

Patriarchal Medieval culture would have had a vested interest in portraying powerful women as evil, showing cautionary tales of uppity women with too much power.

A woman had to be twice as pious and holy and pure as a man to be “good” – and just a momentary slip in the wrong direction would cause unforgivable damage to her reputation.

Morgan was having none of that. I love that she grew into an evil sorceress who created problems for all Arthur’s mates and lived “in defiance of God”.

I love that her power was so threatening that she is credited with seducing her own brother, just to prove how evil she was.

We need bitch Goddesses like Morgan le Fay to shake the patriarchy, to show everyone how powerful women can be, to force people to listen.

 

About the Author:

morgandemibioDemelza Hillier is a Mermaid Priestess, an Artist, a Dancer, a Professional Mermaid and a lover of peanut butter. She teaches peeps about Goddess, writes fab e-courses about connecting with your bad-ass mermaid spirit, and teaches dance internationally. Additionally she loves playing the Ukulele, expensive breakfast cereal, all the animals and… Gary Oldman as Dracula. Sssssh. You can learn more about her work and get mo’ mermaid freebies at her website Rockstar Priestess, pop on over and say Hi on Facebook or join our mermaid coven at the Mermaid Sisterhood.

 

featured image – source

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