Who was Danu?
Goddess Danu is considered the most ancient of all Celtic Deities.
Her name means knowledge, wisdom, teacher, wealth and abundance. She is also known as Dana and as her Welsh equivalent, Don, or Ana.
Some references have her as so ancient that she is both goddess and god,
and refer to Danu as an all-encompassing Divine Source.
Goddess Danu is strongly associated with the Tuatha de Dannan, which means "The Tribes of the goddess Danu", “The Children of Danu.”
Tuatha Dé Danann (Old Irish: "The peoples of the goddess Danu"). The Tuatha de Dannan are believed to have been the wise ones, the alchemists of ancient Ireland. Some references have them as actual descendants of Danu. It is believed that when the Gaelics invaded Ireland, the Tuatha de Dannan shape shifted to the Sidhe (shee) who are considered the “faery folk” "The good people" or "The people of the mound"of Ireland. The Tuatha Dé were the descendants of the goddess Danu, and in some local instances said, the ruler of the otherworld was a goddess, rather than a god, just as some folktales represented the otherworld as 'the Land of Women'. Other members of the Tuatha Dé Danann include: Manannán, Brigid or Bride, and Macha, one face of the triple war Goddess, the Morrigan. Danu in a reading brings a time of richness and inspiration, of magic and a return to the source. Alternate names: Ana, Anu, Anann ("wealth, abundance")
Is Danu rooted in the historical record?
Our most immediate sources are certain popular Victorian and Edwardian books (many of them still in print) that first attempted to bring the complicated and chaotic material from mediaeval Irish and Welsh manuscripts into a form that the non-scholarly public could understand and enjoy. They transmitted the conclusions of more scholarly discussion about the nature and meaning of the texts, without, however, going over the arguments of the discussion in detail, or indicating the reservations some scholars might still have had about the conclusions. It is in these books that the Tuatha Dé Danann are first presented unambiguously as "the peoples of the goddess Danu", with Danu and Bile as the most ancient ancestors within the pantheon. In the words of Charles Squire, for example:
"... The most ancient divinity of whom we have any knowledge is Danu herself, the goddess from whom the whole hierarchy of gods received its name of Tuatha Dé Danann ... She was the universal mother.... Her husband is never mentioned by name, but one may assume him, from British analogies, to have been Bilé [sic], known to Gaelic tradition as a god of Hades, a kind of Celtic Dis Pater from whom sprang the first men. Danu herself probably represented the earth and its fruitfulness, and one might compare her with the Greek Demeter. All the other gods are, at least by title, her children."
Some of Danu’s symbols include holy stones, horses – particularly mares, seagulls, fish, amber, gold, royalty/empress, rivers, sea, flowing water, air, wind, earth, moon, keys and crowns.
Danu is commonly considered the first Great Mother of Ireland, Divine Creator aspect of the Goddess who birthed all things into being. She is an Earth Goddess, associated with fertility, growth, plenty, abundance, agriculture, cultivation and with nurturing of the land. Rivers, flowing water and the sea are also Danu’s Domain. Within this water form she wields the magic of Divine Flow.
As a Cosmic Goddess, Danu is the essence of Universal Wisdom and Divine Knowledge. She knows the secrets of Divine Alchemy and Divine Magic and reminds us that through our Oneness to the Divine Source, there really are no “secrets,” we are essentially one with All Encompassing Universal Wisdom.
Danu is an ancient and eternal essence of the Goddess, an affirmation of the enduring energy of the Divine Feminine. She brings the steadfast love and support of a Mother Goddess and is a wonderful representation of the infinite, all encompassing Divine Universal Source.
A goddess Dānu is attested in the Rigveda, and also the river names Danube (Latin: Danuvius), Dniestr, Dniepr and Don derive from the name.
The Rigvedic Danu was the mother of a race of Asuras called the Danavas. A shortened form of the name appears to have been Dā. This form survives in Greek Damater (Demeter, "mother Da"), in origin also a water goddess. The Proto-Indo-European *dānuprobably meant "fluvial water, running water".
The genitive form of Old Irish Danu is Danann, and the dative Danainn. Irish Danu is not identical with Vedic Dānu but rather descends from a Proto-Celtic *Danona, which may contain the suffix -on- also found in other theonyms such as Matrona, Maqonos/Maponos and Catona.
Danu's consort was Bilé (god of death). They were the parents of Dagda, the chief of the Tuatha Dé Danann.
In welsh mythology Bilé and Danu were called Beli and Don and were the parents of the socalled "Children of the Light".
Irish mythology knows Danu as Anu and Bilé as Belenos.
(Some believe that Ana and Danu were two different goddesses!)
Nuada, the leader of the Tuatha Dé Danann, was sometimes called son of the goddess Danu.
There's great believe that Danu was of very ancient Proto-Indo-European origin
Hindu Mythology: Hindu goddess Danu, was a goddess or personification of the primeval waters and mother-goddess of a race named the Danavas.
Greek Mythology: Danaus (or Danaos) was a mythical king, who build the first ship ever and had fifty daughter, the Danaides. "Danaans" ("Tribe of Danaus") was one of the collectice names for the Greeks in the Troyan war.
The Proto-Celtic word "Dano" means gift, while the Proto-Indo-European word "Danu" means river. The river Danube (latin: Danuvius; german: Donau) is referred to the mother-goddess. "Dhanu" seems to have originally meant "swift".
It should be pointed out however that nowhere in the Lebor Gabála Érenn (Book of Conquests of Ireland) -- our earliest source on the material related to the Tuatha Dé Danann, compiled between the ninth and the twelfth centuries -- does Danu appear (under any form of her name) in the role of primordial mother. The one figure who appears prominently in the text and has a similar name is Danand (or Donand) daughter of Delbaeth son of Ogma, who cohabits with her own father and has three sons by him, Brian, Iuchar and Iucharba. These three come to be known as the tri Dé Danand, the "three gods of Danand", and we are told that all the Tuatha Dé Danann took their name from them, although no logical reason for this appears in the narrative, nor any sense of why the three alone are "gods".
In the case of "Danu"/Danand, one particular element should hold our attention: her relation to a specific feature of the Irish landscape, the Dhá Chíoch Anann, two hills in Luachair in West Munster whose shape suggests the breasts of a vast supine woman whose body is the Land itself. This was the site of one of Fionn Mac Cumhaill's most famous boyhood deeds (his victory over the fairy woman of Síd Brég Éle) and was recognised as a place of importance in some of our earliest written sources. Many linguists have supposed that Anann is, like Danann, the genitive of an n-stem noun whose nominative form would be *Anu.
Throughout the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, the Lebor Gabála remained the prime authoritative source on the origins of Ireland. All literate people were expected to be familiar with its basic plots and characters, and it gave rise to countless secondary tales and poems. In the seventeenth century, as the native lore was coming to be challenged by a new elite of foreign settlers, the great Irish scholar Geoffrey Keating (Seathrún Céitinn) produced his encyclopaedic work Foras Feasa ar Éirinn (Foundation of Knowledge About Ireland), an updated and re-organised compilation of material from the Lebor Gabála and related sources that made the lore more accessible to the people of his time.
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.
Bile, *Danu/Danann's supposed consort. A figure by that name does appear in the Lebor Gabála, but is not related in any way to Danand in the narrative. Bile is one of the ten [some recensions say six] sons of Bregon [or Breogan] who originally lived in Spain. One of them, Íth, first saw the land of Ireland when gazing out to sea from the top of a tower, and mounted an expedition to investigate it. He was murdered by the Tuatha Dé Danann and his body was brought back to Spain, whereupon the other sons of Bregon decided to go to Ireland themselves to avenge their brother and seize the island, taking with them their own sons and retainers. Bile's son was Mil, after whom the "Milesian" invasion of Ireland was eventually named, since it was from Mil's sons alone that the Gaels were said to be descended. Bile, therefore, can indeed be seen as a "first ancestor" figure, and was explicitly declared to be such in mediaeval Irish literary tradition, since the Lebor Gabála states several times: Bile 7 Mílid, is dia cloind Gáidil uile ("Bile and Mil, it is from their progeny that all the Gaels come"). It is not Bile, however, but his grandson Donn who takes on the role of "first ancestor to die in Ireland". was the chief of the eight sons of Mil and commanded one of the ships in the invasion. A magical wind sent by the Tuatha Dé Danann wrecked his ship against a small island off the southwestern coast, drowning three of the sons of Mil (Donn himself; Airech the steersman; and the youngest, Éraind [or Érennán] the lookout on the mast, who fell into the sea), as well as their grandfather Bile.
The most plausible etymology of Bile (though even this isn't certain, since the mediaeval copyists seemed unable to decide whether the i in the name was long or short) derives it from a word that means "tree", especially in the sense of "sacred tree". Throughout Irish tradition the term bile has been used to designate particularly large and ancient trees that served as focal points for ritual spaces or tribal territories. The lore of places frequently mentions the trees that marked the centres of the provincial divisions, with the centre of Ireland as a whole indicated by the biggest of them all, the Craeb Uisnig (Tree of Uisnech), an ash tree of such proportions that it was said to have covered twenty miles of ground when it finally collapsed. It was described as dor nime ("door of heaven"), suggesting that it was a means of gaining access to other worlds, a role often played by great and wonderful trees in Celtic stories, and which certainly points to the fundamental Indo- European motif of the world-tree or world-pillar which serves as the axis of the entire universe and whose immense height penetrates all the levels of existence and unites them all.
The term bile is also known (as a rare and archaic term) in Scots Gaelic, while in Manx billey has become the ordinary word for "tree". It has its origins in Old Celtic bilios, attested in Gaulish place- names like Biliomagos "Plain of the Sacred Tree" (modern-day Bilem). No cognate has survived in Welsh, but in Breton bilh can still mean the trunk of a very large tree that has been cut down.
These linguistic and theological features could indeed suggest that the figure of Bile, "first ancestor" of human lineages in time, is also "first point in space" out of which all subsequent spatial dimensions grow.
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.
Tuatha De Danann, The people of Danu - Other lore
Faerie Faith is an ancient folk belief that kind of evolved into a folk religion when Christianity took root in Ireland. Based entirely on folklore, this religion has no set foundation, priests, or theology. It is said that it's hierarchy are faerie doctors or wise women. These are people who have seen and interacted with faeries and obtained the knowlege needed to see them.
Based on ancient Ireland, Eire, Gods of the Tuatha De Danann came to be oral Faery Tradition. It is also esoteric-christian, which flourished before the crusades. The Tuatha De Danann, who chose to stay in Ireland after the invasion of the Milesian, were said to have taken refuge under the hills.
Faery Folk of Ireland, some say are fallen angels. Inhabitants living underground, underwater, in green raths or under the loughs or sea. Ireland has two races, a visable race called the Celts and the invisible Faery People or the Sidhe (Shee), Trooping, The Seelie Court, is one of Scotland's Sidhe.
Norse Mythology relates to how the maggots emerging from the corpse of the giant Ymir transformed themselves into the Light Elves and the Dark Elves.
The Icelandic version, known as Huldre Folk in Scandinavian countries, states that Eve was washing her children when God spoke to her. In her fear she hid the children that had not yet been washed. When God had asked if these were all her children, she replied, yes. He then declared that those she had hidden from him would also be hidden from mankind.
In Cornwall, the Christians said that pixies are the souls of unbaptised children and that faeries were the heathen dead; not good enough for heaven, nor bad enough for hell.
It is not known what brought the Tuatha to Ireland, but they brought with them their four sacred treasures that were each kept in a separate city; A Stone of Virtue was brought from Falias, called Lia Fail, or the stone of Destiny. From Gorias they brought a sword, which would later be called the Sword of Lugh. The Spear of Victory was brought from Finias, and from Murias they brought the Caldron of the Gods, from which no company ever went away from unsatisfied. They landed in Ireland around 1472 B.C.
The land of Ireland in 1472 B.C. was ruled by a race of creatures known as the Firbolgs.
Many say that they were deformed giants, however their stone age culture was akin to Neanderthal man. The Tuatha De Danaan arrived in a mist, it is said, and that they came through the air and the high air to Ireland. Legend says that they arrived on the first day of Beltaine, what is now known as May the first, May day. They landed northwest of Connacht. But the Firbolgs, the men of Bag, saw nothing but a mist lying on the hills.
The Last queen of the Tuatha De Danaan was named Eire. Ireland to this day is known as Eire.
Eire impressed the invaders so, that she became Eireanaig, Goddess of the Milesians.
The Daioine Sidhe (dee-na shee)
The aos sí (Irish pronunciation: "ees shee", older form aes sídhe "ays sheeth-uh") is the Irish term for a supernatural race in Irish mythology and Scottish mythology, (usually spelled Sìth, however pronounced the same) comparable to the fairies or elves. They are said to live underground in fairy mounds, across the western sea, or in an invisible world that coexists with the world of humans. This world is described in the Book of Invasions (recorded in the Book of Leinster) as a parallel universe in which the aos sí walk amongst the living. In the Irish language, aos sí means "people of the mounds" (the mounds are known in Irish as "the sídhe"). In Irish literature the people of the mounds are also called daoine sídhe in Scottish mythology they are daoine sìth. They are variously said to be the ancestors, the spirits of nature, or goddesses and gods.
Some secondary and tertiary sources including well-known and influential authors such as W.B. Yeats refer to aos sí simply as "the sídhe".
Leabhor Laigneach (The Book of Leinster),
The Leabhor Baile an Mhota (The Book of Ballymote), as translated by Michael O'clery, in 1620.
Additional sources on the origins of the Tuatha De Danaan include:
History by Heroditus, various references from the writings of Homer,
The wall of the Temple of Ramesis III,
The White Goddess by Robert Graves (1948),
Lost Cities by archaeologist Leonard Cottrell (1958),
The Horizon Book of Lost Cities by Leonard Cottrell (1962),
Irelands Faerie Lore by Rev. Michael P. Mahon (1919),
The Religion of the Ancient Celts by J.A. MacCulloch (1911),
Gods and Fighting Men by Lady Gregory (1904),
and the personal notes of J.R.R. Tolkien, concerning his research into the development of the race of the Gray Elves, for his now famous stories.
*A few of the older books are available free HERE Forgotten Books*
A great read HERE The Tuatha De Danaan: The Children of the Goddess Danu by Greywolf the Wanderer. The article was originally published in the author's magazine, The Faerie Rad.
*NOTE: All original image sources are available via my boards at Pinterest HERE*
Love and light