Monday, January 18, 2010

Goddess of the Week

This week's Goddess is Danu, thought to be the Mother Goddess of the Continental Celts. Her name is not quite attested, nor does She have any mythology under that name; however there is plenty of indirect evidence that a Goddess by that name existed in the Celtic mythos.

The Danube River, that great river of central and eastern Europe, located in the area from which the Celtic peoples are thought to have emerged, is probably named for Her. Though it is likely Her origins are even older--there is a Vedic Goddess also called Danu, Who was the mother of the Davanas, Asuras (roughly 'demons') Who rebelled but were defeated by the Devas (approximately 'gods' or 'angels'). Upon defeat, the Davanas were cast into the oceans. The word danu in Sanskrit means 'rain,' 'liquid', or 'waters of heaven,' and is related to the names for several other famous rivers, such as the Don and Dneiper rivers of Russia, and the Dniester of eastern Europe. So She would appear to have origins in a river Goddess.

She probably found Her way into Irish myth under the name Ana, which is occasionally spelled with a D affixed to the front; as such She is the mother of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the name used for the family of the old Pagan deities of Ireland. The name means 'the people or tribe of the Goddess Ana or Danu', and Their numbers include Deities like the Dagda, Brigid, Macha, Manannán, the Morrigan, Ogma, and Flidais. Her Welsh equivalent is Dôn, also a Mother of Deities, including Arianrhod. Ireland is sometimes called for Her 'the land of Ana,' and She can grant or withhold the prosperity of the land.

Though the Tuatha Dé started out as Deities, according to legend They were later driven underground, literally, to live in the sídhe, the hollow hills; They were then called the aes síde, or 'the people of the mounds.' In time They became the fairy folk, who in modern Irish are still called the sídh, after the fairy mounds. Here I have drawn Danu in that role, as Mother of the Fairies.

The strands making up Danu are nearly lost, though we have some good guesses; and I was wondering how I was going to interpret this card in light of that. But in doing the research, I came across this line in the entry under 'Ana,' in The Dictionary of Celtic Mythology by James MacKillop (an excellent and thorough book): "Despite these pagan associations, her name is borne by the virgin St. Ana whose feast day is 18th January." Now then. That's a funny coincidence.

So then, what have we got? A Deity Who was considered central and primary to a people, Who was once the mother or leader of the Gods, though She has been much forgotten and reduced; and the startling 'coincidence' of this day, this moment right now.

Something has been brought sharply into focus. Something that touches on ancient, profound ideas. There is a connection with this moment right now and the patterns of the past. What do you see? What can you make out? It's as if two lenses have momentarily overlapped and are allowing us to see, in great detail, something we had thought lost.

Then of course there is the fairy aspect of it. It was only the week before last, in fact, that I drew the Faerie card. Though we've had the Magdalene in-between, I think this is probably in some ways a continuation of the theme of wildness and paying attention to magic; I said at the time that "[s]ome strand has looped close to the surface this week;" I think this week it has actually broken through.

I don't even really know what that means, but it feels like a rare opportunity of some sort. I would say, look around at the world of the hidden, the wild places around and within us, with clear sight (of as many kinds as you can manage), and above all pay attention.

I wonder if She can clarify.

Danu says:

Wheel, spin, watch the change. The sap is rising. Things are being born. Things are slipping through. Be ware. Be wary. Be aware. It cannot be stopped.

It must run its course. Yes, like a river--you are so clever!--a great river, that which is central to a people. No, I know nothing about that. Why would I?

Oh, yes, the veil, as you call it, it is so thin right now. I know! Now? In the middle of winter, when We should all be sleeping? But yes.

The forgotten will find you. But be aware. It cannot be stopped.

Well, I'm not sure that exactly sheds much light on anything. What do you think?


Dancing With Fey said...

"Oh, yes, the veil, as you call it, it is so thin right now. I know! Now? In the middle of winter, when We should all be sleeping? But yes."

I dunno what to make of everything, but when I saw this line it made me think of the land I live on. On my block it feels like spring or even summer, and we even have birds hanging out specifically on my block that shouldn't be here until spring. One of my friends commented on it when she was by yesterday, so it's not just me.

Is anyone else anywhere else having similar experiences?

I've gotten out of the habit of reading your "Goddess of the Week" posts but I had to read this one since Danu is a goddess I turn to. And I find the way that this day coincides with her (or a saint who bears her name) VERY interesting. I'll have to look into that...coincidentally it's also my dad's birthday...hmm...

Ok, I'll stop rambling. :)

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I love your illustration of Danu!

Unknown said...

I agree the world feels more aware that it used to. Like it is waking up.i have recently found myself feeling more aware of it and dreaming of magic beings and a power that seems to be bleeding out ofthe veil that is reaching for and trying to get the attention of anyone who will listen or let it introduce itself.

Unknown said...

As of late the world and its forgotten ones seem to be more aware of itself and reaching out to those who are listening. They are using the media as well as spirituality and dream scaping to get their points accross.
How else can you explain the flow of movies and series that focus on various aspects of magical creatures and their legacies from so many different points of view if so many voices muses were not competing for a chance to be noticed and acknowledged.
On the spiritual front, powers long sleeping seem to be waking. In daylight and at night power and ideas, chants and such, as well rememberances to honor various deities come to mind.
Power is flooding out of places and simply by listening and being mindfully aware, we can prepare.
One thing that i am aware of is that this samhain, there will be some very powerful forces at play and extra security as well as cooperative efforts should be taken while performing ritual.