Morgane, a Breton Fay

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Morgane surprenant les amants dans le Val sans retour. Lancelot du Lac, roman du XIII siècle. Illustration from a book dating from the thirteenth century

La Fée Morgane or Margot la Fée ?

Morgane is mostly known as the famous, powerful sorceress in the Arthurian legend. But Morgane was originally a supernatural being. A Fairy-Goddess, ‘la Fée Morgane’, or ‘la Fée Morgue’, somewhat mistranslated into English as ‘Morgan Le Fey’. Her name is also linked to the myths of the water spirit Morgen or the Mari Morgan: Welsh and Marie-Morgane: Breton. She is thereby strongly associated with mermaids, particularly here in Brittany, sometimes depicted as half-woman, half-snake. Although later writings describes her more like a human, Morgane maintains her magical powers at all times.

Morgane, could also be an incarnation of the Irish Goddess Morrigan, she who controls the fate of humans. The Mórrígan (the Spirit-Queen or Great Queen) also known as Morrigu is a figure from the Irish mythology. Morrighan, is also spelled ‘Mor-ríoghain’ in modern Irish. The Morrigan is primarily associated with the prediction of fate. In this instance, she sometimes appears as a crow. The Morrigan are comparable to the Valkyries and the Norns in Germanic mythology. The Morrigan is often described as a trio, three sisters, called the three Morrígna. The most common name combination in modern sources are Badb, Macha and Nemain. Or the triad of Badb, Macha and Anand.

Morrigan is also a form of the Gaullish mother goddess Dea Matrona -(Divine Mother Goddess, also mostly depicted in groups of three) or the Welsh Modron. She is the Mother Goddess who welcomes the dead, like Morgana who welcomed her half brother Arthur on the island of Avalon when he was deadly wounded. Probably there is also a connection with the word morgue or mortuary.

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The Mermaid, 1910 – Howard Pyle

The name Morgane in Breton means “born of the sea” (mor = sea – gane = born). Close to the island ‘Ile de Sein’ there were, according to legend, Marie-Morganes who lived in the turbulent and dangerous waters around the island, they welcomed the castaways and people who drowned, in the underworld in the realm of the spirits.

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Ile de Sein – Enez Sun in Breton

The island of Sein is a small island in the Iroise sea close to the Pointe du Raz promontory  on the coast of Finistere, where, in ancient times according to various legends, nine priestesses lived. I’m going to write about the beautiful Island of Sein and its mysterious legends in a later post. (Could Enez Sun be Avalon?)

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Three of the five mermaids or half serpents called Marie-Morgane on the walls of the church of Sizun in Finistère – Brittany

Morgane was eventually demonized by the Church because she represented the dangerous dragon or serpent, a symbol of energy, linked to the telluric currants of the Earth force. In France, she was renamed by the churchleaders as Sainte Marguerite or Sainte Margot.

But we have to be careful not to mix both the stories of Morgane and Margot. Because, although the sea cannot be seen from the interior of Brittany, it remains quite visible on the horizon, to remind us that the realm of Margot is not the realm of Morgane. For Margots in the Breton and Welsh traditions are wood fairies. They are excellent dancers, they have a generous nature and are closely connected to the Earth. The Margot are also called the Margotte or Ma(m)Argoat in Breton, which means mother of the forest. Margots are wood-fearies and Morganes are sea spirits but they’re both considered Mother Goddesses, our ancient foremothers even, indeed she was the Earth Goddess herself, way before humans were on the scene.

Brittany is a land of fairies. They live among the rocks and in the woods. As in the Valley of the Fairies in Concoret, on the northern edge of the forest of Brocéliande on the border of the Morbihan and Ille-et-Vilaine. Concoret comes from a Breton word “Kon-Jored” which means the valley of the Fairies. Also there is this old stone fairy place located on the Mount ‘Croque Lien’. You can only reach it by a full moon at night. You must first go to the top of the mount and friendly ask to be in touch with the Fairies. If you are lucky, a deep tunnel would then open up and lead you down. Because the magical realm of Margot la Fée is located in the depths of Earth. It’s a very shamanic way of journeying, if you ask me. But don’t behave recklessly because it is said that the Margot doesn’t like snoopers. However, occasionally, they allow us to satisfy our curiosity and to learn more about their habits. Anyway, this place is not just accessible to anyone. But sometimes, when the weather is fine, you can see them swimming in their granite bath.

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Margot’s bath – at the site of Mount Croquelien – Gouray in the Côtes d’Armor region

The name Margot can be found everywhere in France, “Margot’s caves”, “Chambers of the fairy Margot”, megalithic standing stones or menhirs named “spindles of Margot”and stone formations are often called “Roche Margot”.

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Menhir ‘Fuseau de Margot” Margot’s spindle at Plédran – Brittany

Mar-got was also called ‘Mère-Grand’ (Great Mother or Grandmother) “Celle-qui sait la vuipre” = She who knows the Wyvern, the powerful telluric or electro-magnetic earth currents, the serpent power, Bel Terre, la Noire (she, the wondrous Earth, the black one), la Dame de Sous-Terre (the black Lady of the undergound, to be compared with the black Madonna’s in the crypts of Cathedrals) and many other names…  The church mostly destroyed, transformed or hid curative springs, sacred caves, menhirs, dolmens and hills by buiding their churches on top of them. But these ancient cult sites have always been and forever will be connected to the Earth Goddess and her energetic serpent power. The Morganes and Margot’s of this world were labeled as witches by the Inquisition but now there still is Sainte Marguerite who, like Margot-Morgane, is the guardian of the Wyvern dragon. She understands the power of Mother Earth, she has control over it and she can govern and tame this sacred force in her own body in a healing way. There certainly is a strong connection and resemblance to the Hindu tradition of awakening and guiding the Kundalini force in the body.

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Saint Marguerite taming the Wivern dragon – somewhere in  the Maira valley, Piedmont Italy

In the book “History and geography of Mythical France” Henri Dontenville states that in the Queyras region of France, between 1428 and 1447, a hundred women named Marguerite or Margot were burned as witches.

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Morgan le Fay by Frederick Sandys (1864)

If you like to stay in the same spirit you can always read this mysterious book:

The Sea Priestess is the highly acclaimed novel in which Dion Fortune introduces her most powerful fictional character, Vivien Le Fay Morgan- a practicing initiate of the Hermetic Path. Vivien has the ability to transform herself into magical images, and here she becomes Morgan Le Fay, sea priestess of Atlantis and foster daughter to Merlin! The Sea Priestess by Dion Fortune

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