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

a real human being…

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The sun is rising behind the trees. It’s a cold winter day. The oak couple are happy together, they love it here, they wouldn’t dream of living somewhere else.

When you live surrounded by nature and when you consciously seek contact with all forms of life around you, the trees, plants, wild animals, birds and insects and if you recognize the four elements and experience them in everything around you, but also in yourself, earth-water-fire-air, then wonderful ideas, insights and experiences come to you, quite naturally. You won’t find these in books or on the Internet. They are part of those ancient secrets you thought were irrevocably destroyed by the madness of patriarchy. Not so! Your intuition is now working at full speed. You communicate with plants and animals, and even stones sometimes give some of their mysterious secrets. You’re grounded because your body is one with Earth. Physically, the electromagnetic current made by Earth and Sun is spiralling through your body. Earth feeds you and you also feed her. That’s how it works. There is symbiosis.

You will then be working as a real “hagezus” in the true sense of the word. Refusing to use the word witch because that’s such a heavily pejorative word, it refers to malignancy and so on, and that is absolutely not what happens, it is the most honourable work ever. Because, after all, you work together with Earth. You find exactly the right herbs, for the herbal remedy that you need at that moment. You communicate on a nonverbal intuitive way with a few specific plants, who whisper all sorts of secrets to you. (Oh, the things you learn from plants! They are so wise, they know so much!) You start singing songs which just seem to come out of nowhere. You move your body in a different way, gracefully with bare feet on the grass, paying attention to everything around you. You get more and more encounters with wild animals as if they want to make contact with you too.

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Reflections…

It’s really amazing what you are experiencing. You start working with earth-water-fire-air elements by using your body as a medium while listening, seeing and feeling what happens to your body, feeling powerful energy flowing through. This is true meditation, not sitting still on a fancy cushion, not repeating the same word over and over again. No, this is completely different! You make no altar, build no temples and worship no images. You don’t need them because nature itself is your altar, trees are your temples and every stone and clouds are all the images you need.

You’re resonating with the rhythms of nature. The seasons have a clear purpose and you learn to work with them. Nothing is forced, everything comes at the right time. You learn to know where and when the moon rises, what phase she is in, what influence she has on you on that particular day. You honour the sun every day, especially when rising and setting. You also learn that you are a being who is part of a much greater whole. You learn to use energy in the right way, you learn how to heal your body and soul and also other beings and even Earth benefits from this. You learn to lead this universal energy in the right direction to do the work that you were called to do in a successful manner. You will finally start to become a real human being.

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Smudging herbs ritual

(-:-)(°)(-:-)

I wish everyone a fruitful and magical year!

What on earth is a hagezus ?

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My place in the autumnal sun

Hello, this is my first post on this blog…

I’m a woman originally from Flanders, Belgium but now living in the middle of nowhere in Brittany, France and I consider myself to be a hagezus.

So what is a hagezus? Let me tell you, Hagezus is an old dutch word meaning “witch”. (Let me say first, Dutch is my mother tongue). Nowadays Dutch speaking people prefer to say “heks”. The word heks is probably etymologically derived from the Middle High German hecse. The word heks was not commonly used until the witch trials of the sixteenth century. It’s a pejorative word which means evil women, it is based on the word “hexe” which originally had the same meaning as the English word hex: curse or spell which are considered evil or dangerous. But before the witch trials, people in the Netherlands, Flanders and Germany used the words hagedissa, hagetessa, hagetisse, hagazussa, hāzus, hāzissa, hægtesse, hægts.

The Middle Dutch, hagetisse, is still used in the West Flanders – Belgium, with variations: aketesse, aketisse, akketesse, êketesse, hakketesse (Bruges), Lokketetse, Oaketisse (in Blankenberge, a coastal town by the North sea were my grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother use to live). But nowadays these names are used to define women with a “bad” reputation, “difficult” women, women with “malicious” talk, women who gossip. But actually they are real Badasses ! They are the cunning  women.

The origin of these words is somewhat unclear. One (also my) interpretation is :

Hagedessa/hagetisse/hagedissa means: hag/hage/haag = hedge, hedgerow. The hedgerow has always been considered as a place of transition or a gate to the Otherworld. In English we have the words: hedgerider, hedgewitch and the word hag is probably also connected with hagedessa .The word dis/dessa/tisse = powerful women or spirit. In Norse mythology, a dís “lady”, (plural dísir) is a ghost, spirit or deity associated with fate. The word “dis” can also be linked to an ancient spinning goddess, in Old Norse “dis” also meant distinguished woman and / or divine feminine essence, the plural “Disir” was used for battlefield spirits (valkyrjur), Fates (Nornir or Norns: Spinners of the thread of life and weavers of fate), protective deities or guardian spirits (fylgjur). But also in the low countries (the Netherlands and Belgium) we can find the word “dis” in connection with spinning women and goddesses. In Groningen, for example, “dieses” is an old word for spinning wheel, were in Drenthe “diesen” means distaff with flax bundles. In addition, there is “the  Middle Low German word ”dise” and Old English “dis” and “indístæf” (read: dis stæf), a word which survived as English distaff . In England the distaff was a common symbol for women and the distaff side is the name for the female line of kinship, the mother’s side.

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Brittany, Carhaix – Woman with spindle and distaff, called fuseau and quenouille in French

The words hagezussa/hagezussen:  zussa/zus/zussen/gezussen means sister(s). The hagedis/hagezus was a healer-priestess-shamaness-midwife-herbalist living at the edge of the village-town-society. The hagezus works with her sisters in spirit or in real life so she and her sisters can become hagedissen and do the work they were meant to do. By the way, hagedis is also the dutch word for lizard. The lizard is associated with magic and is of symbolic significance to many cultures all over the world. So I believe the lizard/hagedis to be my totem animal.

Thus the hagezus a is a woman who wants to work together with her sisters but she also want to live on her own, more or less in isolation but very close to Nature, she wants to learn everything about earth magic, plant medicine and spirit work. So that’s a good description of what I am and what I do here.

I’m using this old/new word because I really don’t want to use the words heks or witch, which I associate with a negative feeling. What gives me the right to “invent” this new word to define myself and my sisters ? My answer is: Why not? New words are invented everyday by people, I am a person too, so I have every right to invent new words too. Why should I use a Dutch word in English texts or blog ? When you consider that English is a mix of Germanic and Romance languages and when you consider that Old English is closely related to Old Frisian and the Frisian languages have been heavily influenced by and bear similarities to Dutch, Danish, and/or Low German, using a old Dutch word in a modern context is valid in my opinion. Also, I think it’s necessary to start using new words whenever the older word has become obsolete or when it has been used for to long in a pejorative and negative way.

This blog will be about my adventures as a hagezus and the magic of the place where I live and work and all things in between. See you soon…

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Walking in the fields near my place and marvelous Breton clouds