Posted on April 29th, 2014 | by Leslie


Wanderling no. 14

(Read my full description of the project here)

Wanderling no. 14 – “These Shapes Three”

The hero of Ulster encounters the shape-shifting goddess, the Morrigan, rebuffing her affection and eliciting her adversity in place of her aid. She attacks him when he is in peril, he in turn inflicts cursed injuries upon her, and later heals them unwittingly when she tricks him into blessing her three times.

Story’s country of origin – Ireland

Based on the epic “Táin Bó Cuailgne” as translated by Thomas Kinsella, The Tain (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1969, 1990).

The Morrigan, in woman’s form
Came looking for Cuchulainn
To offer him her favour
As a lover and a guardian
“Be off with you, I do not need
Your comp’ny or distraction
It isn’t for a woman’s sake
I fight as Ulster’s champion!”

“Be careful what you say to me
For I am no mere maiden
And you will suffer greatly
When you’re most in need of saving
I’ll come against you thrice, I will
Around your feet entangling
To trip and trample, bite and tear
Your entrails all a-dangling”

Eel in the water
And she-wolf I’ll be
And hornless red heifer
These shapes three
For I am the Morrigan
And you’re just a man
Whose body will feed
My corvid clan

“I’ll be in the water when
You’re fighting at the ford”
Cuchulainn said, “I’ll crack your ribs
And I won’t need my sword”
“Then I’ll become a wolf and
I will drive the beasts against you”
He said, “I’ll sling a stone and blind
Your eye, until I bless you”

“Then I will be a blood-red cow
To bring the herd stampeding
Your enemy will fall upon you
Broken there and bleeding”
“I’ll throw a stone to break your leg”
The bold Cuchulainn claimed
“Until my blessing you receive
You’ll be a woman maimed”


All they promised came to pass
The champion was spent
He found a woman milking who was
Squint-eyed, lame and bent
“Woman, give me milk!” he cried
Without a word she did
“Good health to you” – a wound was healed
As smiling face she hid

Another drink, another blessing
Then again, a third
Whole at last the woman rose
And then Cuchulainn heard:
“You said you’d never heal me”
As the Morrigan turned ‘round
“If I’d known it was you,” he said
“I’d not have made a sound!”


Yes, your body will feed
My corvid clan
Oh, your body will feed
My corvid clan
For I am a raven
And you’re just a man

For more in the series:
Wanderling no.1 – “But Not Too Bold” –
Wanderling no.2 – “Sedna of the Sea” –
Wanderling no.3 – “The Rift” –
Wanderling no.4 – “Red Bird” –
Wanderling no.5 – “The Last Thing I’ll Beg Thee” –
Wanderling no.6 – “Tantalized” –
Wanderling no.7 – “The Cloud Princess” –
Wanderling no.8 – “My Song is Done” –
Wanderling no.9 – “Vasilisa Trilogy” –
Wanderling no.10 – “Drink Up” –
Wanderling no.11 – “Abandon This” –
Wanderling no.12 – “A Dreadful Thing” –
Wanderling no.13 – “Hairy Man Is Comin’” –

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