©2022 Michael Raven
To catch yourself up with my ambling rambling preambling self, check out Part 1 of this post series that might read something like:
In which Michael Raven has emptied his head of mostly grey fluff and dander, and then tried to make sense of the contents of the rubbish bin of his mind…
Where were we? Oh, yeah, The Dagda and his place as a representative patron of one of the four astronomical holidays: The two solstices and two equinoxes.
Dialing things back a bit before we get into it all with The Dagda, I realize that I didn’t explain part of my thinking process. Namely: that while I tend to think of myself primarily as an animist, there is some value in having a framework for which to put things on to. For that, I have looked at a number of traditions and find value in many or most of those traditions (I won’t give the laundry list, but I’ve delved into most of the standard traditional paths and taken the meandering path blazed by a few atypical ones to better understand the cosmos). However, as I go through this cycle of cleaning my spiritual house, I made the conscious decision to return to my Irish/Scottish Celtic roots, where my journey first began in earnest (I dabbled a bit in Wicca and Arthurian myth first, but didn’t really feel I had a place until I was introduced to Irish traditions).
As broad as the topic of Irish Celtic paganism can be, my true home and framework for my core beliefs arose from my investigations into the mythic cycle of Irish “histories”, and the stories framing the Tuatha Dé Danann, “the tribe of the goddess Danu”. As it goes, one thing lead to another and I came to a realization early on that The Morrigan had been kicking me in the head for a goodly long time up until that point in life and, as it so happens, she makes her first solid appearance in the Mythological Cycle for which the Tuatha Dé Danann are known to be the primary actors. There were possibly others prior to the arrival of the Children of Danu, but the main storytelling and “historical” cycles in Ireland begin with the Tuatha and the stories seem to have evolved from the late neolithic period (theories vary, but I’m just giving context here).
Because I lean in on the older ways, and the stories seemed import enough to record, however imperfectly, and The Morrigan (to whom I am drawn) is from the Mythological Cycle, then I should probably frame my structure of thinking on those branches. The Dagda and The Morrigan were contemporaries, so it seems reasonable to include The Dagda in this reorganization of my grey matter. In fact, as I progress, I will endeavor to lean on the Tuatha for these discussions in order to remain internally consistent.
Why Dagda for autumn? (I’m going to stop adding “The” to both Dagda and Morrigan now).
There’s no really good way of going for the jugular as I am. You see, I’m coming at this sideways because most books will lead you up tot this point and I am doing more “stream of consciousness” association here by saying, “Welp, I have a holiday coming up in a few days, who gets volunteered to represent it?”
This is not a true stream of consciousness. But, as I am not really writing a book, nor claiming to be an authority on the matter, I am allowing myself to dive into the middle and snow-flake my way outwards via association.
I’ll get into this more eventually (provided I’m not told to please shut the fuck up, thank you kindly), but these high holidays do have some representations (from what we can tell) that align (as well as beyond Celtic traditions) the directions of the compass with the seasons. Not everyone adheres to this, and some people argue that it is bullshit all around, but when many historic societies seem to agree that there is a relationship (independent of each other), I figure they might have been onto something, being smarter than this old guy is.
So the relationship is (for those unfamiliar with it):
- East = Spring Equinox
- South = Summer Solstice
- West = Autumnal Equinox
- North = Winter Solstice
As you can see, it is a clockwise (sunwise) progression, which may or may not be important in the grand scheme of things. For now, we’ll log it as a standard association for me to noodle on later.
In this particular situation I am arguing with myself on, the Autumnal Equinox is associated with the West. There are a number of sources I had leaned on in my attempt to tie this all down, that suggest the directions are all associated with one of the Four Treasures of Ireland, which happen to be magical items associated with the Tuatha Dé Danann. I’ll eventually cover each of them, but the one most associated with the West (again, there is not 100% agreement on this), is a mystical cauldron. Can you guess which of the Tuatha Dé Danann is said to be associated with this cauldron? You guessed it: Dagda.
Swell, you say. I’ve heard of The Morrigan, and even Brigid/Brigit/Brid/etc. Who’s this Dagda guy? And what makes you want him to anchor an equinox that occurs when the leaves start to fall? Outside some old dusty myths that say his cauldron is associated with the West and, by association, the Fall — what makes him more likely to be a patron for this than, say Lugh?
Well, I’m turning into a pumpkin soon (a wee bit on the tired side tonight), but I’ll give you a sneak preview as to other reasons why he may be more appropriate than other candidates (at least for me — please don’t confuse my understanding for anything else anyone else might say is the right way to think — this is purely my own speculations).
You see, the next holiday of significance coming up is Samhain, which belongs (by nearly all accounts) to Morrigan. Well, it just so happens that Dagda and Morrigan have a pretty interesting “special” relationship in the old stories. I don’t know how much of it I’ll cover in my next related post, but their connection makes the argument for Dagda in this position stronger to me. And, after a little refresher on Dagda since the turning point yesterday in my thinking, I have only found more reason to ask him to come in and sit for a spell.
In fact I have already and he’s commented that he likes what I have done to spruce up the place since he last visited…
Again, I am not a reconstructionist or a scholar of these things, I’m just trying to sort out the myriad thoughts I have and create something more cohesive if I can instead of this big blob of potential I’ve collected over the years. What I write here is for my own use. If you can find value in it, please feel free to run with it, but don’t expect it to necessarily jibe with any teachings you might find out there. And, be prepared to have someone argue at least the finer points, if not the larger ones if you do take any of my crackpot ideas with you.