Macha was an Irish war goddesss, strongly linked to the land. Macha was the wife of Crunniuc. She, was thought to be one aspect of the triple death-goddess, the Morrigán (the “Great Queen” or “Phantom Queen”), consisting of Macha “Raven”, Badb “Scald Crow” or “Coiling”, and Nemain “Battle Furey” Macha is associated with both horses and crows. They often appeared at the scene of a battle disguised as a raven or other bird, and took a decisive role in the battle. There were three elements in Macha: the first was the maternal reproductive part, the second the agrarian element and the third was the element of sexual fertility. All three parts combined to form a mother goddess figure based on war and fertility.
Tales of Macha
The most famous part of the Macha legend was the race in which she ran while pregnant. It was said that she went to the house of Cruind, a farmer, and circled on the flagstones outside his house three times before entering the dwelling and embarking on an affair with him. Macha became pregnant and later in a conversation with the king of Ulster, Cruind boasted that Macha could outrun any horse. The king demanded to see this put to the test despite the protestations of Macha. She appealed for a delay until she had given birth but the king refused and she was forced to compete. One version of the tale states that she died after the race, giving birth to twins. In her drying 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 paid of child birth.
Macha combined many elements, some associated with mother goddesses, such as the power to offer fertility. She also was able to take such gifts away, leaving suffering behind.