DANU - MOTHER OF THE GODS

Danu is one of the oldest deities in Celtic Mythology. She is the Mother of the Gods and of the Tuatha de Dannan, the first tribe that lived in Ireland, she is also their Protectress.

Little is know about her, most of her myths and stories are forgotten, just a few things are know for sure about her. The oldest record about the Goddess, was found in the Irish Lebor Gabala, from 1,000 C.E. Her name means wisdom or teacher.

This Goddess is also know as Ana, Anu, Anann, linked to the Goddess Dan, in Wales. She is the Goddess of Fertility and abundance, associated with Agriculture and Cultivation. She is consider to be an Earth Goddess, Wisdom and Wind, also wields the magic of Divine Flow.

Some historians believe that she is close to the rivers (this is the reason why the rivers Danube, Dniestr, Don and Dniper are named after her). Also she has a connection with the Fairy Hills, in some writings, she is renowned for suckling Godlets.

In some Celtic Myths, the Goddess is featured as Mother and Daughter of Dagda, in other myths, Bhe was her consort. Another sources say that Dagda and Danu were the parents of Ogma, while other think that Dian Cecht was their son.

The symbols of the Goddess Mother were air, amber, crowns, earth, fish, gold, holy stones, horses, moon, rivers, sea, seagulls and wind.

When the Roman Invasion started, and the conversion to Christianity became a reality, she was demonized as a witch that captured children to eat them.
Legend of Danu

Irish legend says that the Tuatha de Danann (the people of the Goddess Danu) are the fairy folk; the fairies, pixies and brownies who inhabit the mounds, or Sidhe, of the Irish countryside. But upon closer examination, one discovers that the Tuatha de Dannan were actually a people who inhabited Ireland in times long past.

According to the Annals of the Four Masters, the Tuatha de Danann ruled Ireland from 1897 BC to 1700 BC. The story of their invasion of Ireland and subsequent war with the Fir Bolg (the previous inhabitants) is a fascinating chronicle of ancient Irish history.

When the Tuatha de Danann first arrived in Ireland they landed in Connaught. Legend says that they landed on a mountain in ships of the sky that blotted out the sun for three days. Thus, from the mists they appeared. Some say that the story is simply a fabrication, while others conclude that the Tuatha upon landing, burned their ships, determined to stay in the land. Likely, the Tuatha de Dannan were just sick of the voyage and decided to settle down.

But the Tuatha were not welcomed by the current residents of Ireland, the Fir Bolg. After a time of negotiation, the two sides joined battle. The Fir Bolg were defeated, but they had given such a good fight that the Tuatha let them keep Connaught and took the rest of Ireland.

The Tuatha were a highly civilized people, and tradition holds that the Fir Bolg held their conquerors in high esteem. The people of the Goddess Danu possessed remarkable domestic skills; so much so, that those they conquered deemed the Tuatha magicians and Gods.

The King of the Tuatha, Nuada, had lost an arm in the battle against the Fir Bolg. Tradition has it that because he was now blemished, he could no longer be King. In his place the champion of the Tuatha de Danann, Breas (part Formorian or Sea raider), now became King.

Breas ruled for seven years, but in this time, he thoroughly disenchanted his people by bending to Formorian demands. The people were not well fed, the crops were poor, and the final straw came when Breas insulted a poet. He was quickly ousted from command, and in his place returned Nuada, who now had a new arm made of silver.

Breas fled to the Hebrides, where he complained to his father, a Fomorian. A great host (army) was raised, so large that their ships filled the sea from Ireland to the Hebrides. Upon landing the Formorian host and Tuatha met in battle at northern Moytura, in Sligo. The Tuatha won the day and the power of the Formorians was broken forever in Ireland. Nuada died fighting the Formorians, and a hero of the battle, Lugh, became the new King of Ireland.

After Lugh, Dagda was king, and after Dagda followed his three grandsons. During the rule of the three grandsons, the Milesians came and in another great battle conquered the Tuatha de Danann. The Legends say that from then on, the Tuatha were permitted to stay in Ireland, but underground only. From then on they became the fairy folk of legends.

The Tuatha's skills in the arts and domestic life were even respected by their conquerors the Milesians. It is said that the Tuatha had four great treasures or talismans that showed their skills in arts, crafts and magic. The first treasure was the Stone of Fal, which would scream whenever a true king of Ireland would place his foot on it. The next talisman was the Magic Sword of Nuada, a weapon that only inflicted mortal blows when drawn. The third treasure was the Sling-shot of the Sun God Lugh, that never missed its target. The final treasure is the Cauldron of Dagda from which an inexhaustible supply of food came forth.

While much of the story of the Tuatha de Danann has been distorted over time, there is growing evidence that the story is based on fact. Remains from some of the battlefields have been found which cast a different light on the story as a whole. No longer are the Tuatha considered just Irish legend and fairies. Although three of the treasures are obvious stories proclaiming the glories of their Kings, the fourth item sounds very much like the legendary Stone of Scone that sits in Edinburgh today.