Macha was a goddess of ancient Ireland, associated with war, horses, sovereignty, and the sites of Armagh and Eamhain Mhacha in County Armagh, which are named after her. Macha is said to be one of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Known as the Crow or Raven as she wore a cloak of Raven feathers, often appeared as a Raven or Crow, Queen of Phantoms and the Mother of Life and Death, she was honored at Lughnasadh or Samhain.
A number of figures called Macha appear in Irish mythology, legend and historical tradition. They are all believed to derive from the same deity.
Macha, daughter of Ernmas, of the Tuatha Dé Danann, appears in many early sources. She is often mentioned together with her sisters, “Badb and Morrigu, whose name was Anand.” The three (with varying names) are often considered a triple goddess associated with war and as the trio, “raven women,” who instigate battle.
The first Macha was a seeress, the wife of Nemedh, who invaded Ireland and fought the Fomorians in Irish legend. Emain Macha, a bronze-age hill fort in Northern Ireland, and legendary capital of Ulster, is said to have been named for Her.
The second Macha, titled Mong Ruadh (“red-haired”), was a warrior and Queen, who overpowered her rivals and forced them to build Emain Macha (now Navan Fort) for Her.
The third Macha, and probably the most well-known, was said to be the wife of one Crunniuc. Like many supernatural lovers, she warns him to tell no one of her existence; but he boasts to the king of Ulster that his wife can outrun the fastest chariot. The king then seizes the very pregnant Macha and forces her to run a race against his horses. In spite of her condition, she races and does win, and as she crosses the finish line she gives birth. In Her dying pain and anger she curses the men of Ulster to nine times nine generations, that in their time of worst peril they should suffer the pain of childbirth.
Macha used her potency to clear the land for wheat, giving Her associations with fertility. She also used her might to protect the Celts’ lands agains invaders, thereby becoming a war Goddess and guardian. Art shows her dressed in red (color abhorrent to evil) and with blazing red hair, forever chasing off any malevolence that threatens her children’s success.
Bonfire Night in Scotland takes place around May 22 and is a festival that originally had strong pagan overtones, the fires being lit specifically for ritual offerings that pleased the Gods and Goddesses and invoked their blessings. Additionally, the bright, red fire looked much like Macha’s streaming red hair, and thus it banished any evil spirits from the earth.
Macha’s themes are victory, success, protection, fertility and fire. Her symbols are red items, the acorn and the crow or raven. Macha means ‘mighty one.’ Macha used her potency to clear the land for wheat, giving her associations with fertility. She also used her might to protect the Celts’ lands against invaders, thereby becoming a war Goddess and guardian. Art shows her dressed in red (a color abhorrent to evil) and with blazing red hair, forever chasing off any malevolence that threatens her children’s success.
Holly and mistletoe are associated with Macha and Hawthorne is especially sacred to her.
Rituals that include Macha –
In performing rituals in which you wish to include or invoke Macha, don any red-colored clothing, or maybe temporarily dye your hair red to commemorate this Goddess and draw her protective energies to your side. Eating red foods (like red peppers) is another alternative for internalizing Macha’s victorious power and overcoming any obstacle standing in your way.
Alternatively, find some acorns and keep them in a Macha fetish bag (any natural-fiber drawstring bag). Anytime you want her power to manifest, simply plant the acorn and express your wish to it.