The Spirit of the Celtic Gods and Goddesses by Carl McColman

The Spirit of the Celtic Gods and Goddesses by Carl McColman

Author:Carl McColman
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781633411920
Publisher: Red Wheel Weiser


The Dagda: The Big Father

Back in the days when gods and goddesses lived aboveground in Ireland, a great conflict emerged between the Túatha Dé Danann and their archenemies, the Fomorians. The Fomorians were a fearsome tribe of misshapen evil spirits who were said to live on an island off the west coast of Éire—although some bards even hinted that they lived under the water, demons of the deep. So when the time came for battle between the Tribes of the Goddess Dana and and these fearsome beings, it was clear that the Túatha Dé would need to muster every skill, every ability, every resource at their command.

For their leader, the Túatha Dé turned to Lugh, a radiant young deity who embodied light and skill and protection (and who is the subject of Chapter 16). When Lugh took command at the great hall of Tara, he promptly demonstrated his leadership ability, inspiring every member of the community to step forward with their best skills for defeating the enemy. Various of the Túatha Dé made promises: Goibhniu the smith pledged to make magical spears that would never miss their mark; the Morrigán declared that she would instill fear in the hearts of all the enemy; and Dian Cécht the physician promised to heal the warriors who fell in battle, so long as their heads were not severed from their bodies. Finally, the Dagda spoke: “These great things that all of you are boasting you will do, I can do them all as well, all by myself!” Everyone cheered and acclaimed him the “Good God”—good at all things, not unlike their champion, Lugh, master of all the skills.

Lugh may have been called “master of all skills” (Samildánach), but the Dagda had his own unique epithets. These include “great father of all” (Eochaidh Ollathair), “mighty one of perfect knowledge” (Ruad Rofhessa), and “red eye” (Deirgderc). These are impressive titles, and yet the Dagda is hardly what most modern people would think of as a champion. Fatter than a sumo wrestler, he seems more a buffoon than a hero; indeed, his distended belly was so huge that his too-small tunic barely covered his buttocks! And whereas Lugh was a deity committed to justice and the protection of his people, the Dagda seemed to be more interested in a huge feast—or a sexual liaison—than in putting his multilayered prowess to use in battle.

This is not to suggest that the Good God was merely some sort of ancient Celtic hippie, committed to making love not war. No, the Dagda did not shrink from battle, and truly had nothing to fear in it. He wielded a mighty club, so heavy that it had to be transported on wheels; it was said that he could slay nine men with a single blow. Even more amazing was the club's handle—for just as the club end could wield death, if the Dagda touched the handle to a slain warrior, it would restore him to life.

In addition to his miraculous club,


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