(An Morrígan is the singular word for “The Morrigan” whereas “Na Morrígna” is the plural word for “The Morrigans.”)
Probably one of the most confusing aspects of The Morrigan is that “The Morrigan” is a name, a title, and a group of deities. This entry will focus just on the group of entities that sometimes appear as the group “the Morrigan” or go under the title “the Morrigan.”
So who are the deities? Most often, it’s the Morrígan (or Morrígu), Badb, and Macha who are grouped together as “the Morrigan” or “Na Morrígna” (the latter being the pluralized Irish.) However, there is sufficient lore to support Nemain, Fea, Bé Neit, Anu, Danu, Áine, and/or Grian. To understand how these deities relate to the Morrigan, check out their individual Encyclopedia pages.
Morgan Daimler writes in her introduction to The Morrigan: Meeting the Great Queens:
“The name [Morrigan] is applied not only to a specific singular Goddess, but also to that deity’s sisters, Badb and Macha. The Goddesses Fea and Nemain are also sometimes called Morrigan, and can be interchanged with previous named Morrigan to form different Morrigan triplicities.” (page 2-3)
Then, Morpheus Ravenna begins chapter 2 of her book The Book of the Great Queen:
“Who is the Morrígan? Many names are associated with the Morrígan: Badb, Macha, Anu, Danu, Némain, Fea, and Bé Néit. Are they all aspects of one divinity, or separate, independent sister Goddesses? Is the Morrígan a single, triple, or multiple Goddess? Who are the Morrígna and what does this collective term mean?” (page 43.)
Chapter 2–aptly named “One, Three, and Many”–then continues to investigate these questions. And the answer Ravenna comes to is that it is ambitious; that the Morrigan is hard to define:
“My own experience in studying this material has been that the deeper I delved, the more detailed my study, the more ambiguity I Found. Like the druidic mists and smoke she conjures, like her love of constantly changing shape, the Morrígan has continually eluded attempts to define her and her relationship to other divinities.” (page 48.)
Ultimately, it is up to the individual person to decide how this complex grouping of deities operates. A combination of reading the lore including the Morrigan, reading literature specifically about the Morrigan, and developing a personal relationship with the Morrigan is how one comes to understand her/them better.
But why so complicated to begin with? The stories involving the Morrigan vary by location, by time in history, and by storyteller. Then there is the fact that “the Morrigan” translates to a title: the Great Queen. (Though there are some debates on whether the name translates to “Phantom Queen” instead, but “Great Queen” is the more popular translation.) And then lore itself lends itself to these associations. For example, the Morrigan will be introduced, only to then be referred to later as Badb or Macha or some other name.
Daimler, Morgan. The Morrigan: Meeting the Great Queens. N.p.: Moon, 2014. Print.
Ravenna, Morpheus. The Book of the Great Queen. Richmond CA: Concrescent, 2015. Print.