The Phantom Queen...
There are probably not as many women warrior stories in other parts of the ancient world as there were in Irish and Celtic legends. Men were not the only ones who could be brave and enter into battles. There were also stories of women that would tell of their heroic or even frightening deeds, but they were warriors nonetheless.
The Morrígan is one of several well-known Irish warrior deities. She is actually the Goddess of Battle, Strife, and Sovereignty. Her name means either “Great Queen” or “Phantom Queen.” She comes from a long developed Irish tradition of representing goddesses in threes – her three sides are Badb, Macha, and Nemain.
The Morrígan had many forms she would take, and many of those were representation of death, which has led some to call her the Goddess of Death. She would often take the form of a crow. Other times she would be an old woman wearing raven feathers, and one other common form was the Washer at the Ford. This was an older woman who would appear washing the clothes and armor of those who were about to go into battle.
Not long before Cuchulainn was killed, he saw the Washer at the Ford, who actually declared to be washing his clothes and armor. After he died, the Morrígan, disguised as a crow, settled on his shoulder.
Another aspect of being the Goddess of Death came from the Morrígan’s ability to help people cross over into the afterlife. She was behind reincarnation and would take the form of many animals to help souls reach their new life. This along with her Washer at the Ford persona made her coincide with fate, and warriors believed that she would choose which of them would die. Warriors would always picture her in the same light as war - having bloodthirsty and savage qualities.
The origin of the Morrígan is said to come directly from the “megalithic cult” known as “The Mothers” – also known as the Matrones, the Idises, or the Disir. This unique triple Goddess expressed themselves or herself through battle and regeneration. The Morrígan possessed many of their qualities and later triple Goddesses that would come along would resemble the Morrígan.
She defended the Tuatha De Danaan several times in war. In both the First Battle of Magh Tuireadh and the Second Battle of Mag Tured, she fought alongside them against the Firbolgs and then the Fomorii. Even though she was a powerful Goddess, who was a warrior and a magician, she was also a woman in love.
The Morrígan tried on several occasions to express her love to the warrior Cuchulainn, and it was she who gave him the strength to be victorious in battle. However, each time she came to him, he did not recognize her, and only when she came to him in the form of an old hag did he recognize her.