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Irish Gods and Goddesses List and Descriptions
Irish Gods and Goddesses
Before the rise of Christianity, Ireland was a wild green land filled with the powers of the ancient deities. Who were these ancient Irish Gods and Goddesses? What lore surrounded these Irish Gods and Goddesses and why did the ancient Irish Celts and even modern-day Pagans still worship these Irish Gods and Goddesses?
Come with me on a journey to the emerald isle in search for the most ancient and majestic Irish Gods and Goddesses. Maybe you'll even discover your Matron Goddess and Patron God along the way.
**Keep in mind that this is a fairly comprehensive Irish Gods and Goddesses list, but by no means covers all of the ancient Irish Gods and Goddesses.**
Danu & Dagda
Danu is the Mother Goddess of the Tuatha de Danann and one of the most well known of the Irish Gods and Goddesses. Her name Danu can be seen in many different place-names such as the River Danube and River Don. She is said to have given birth to many other Irish Gods and Goddesses and is therefore the high Mother Goddess over the others. Danu's name also pops up in Indian Hindu legends, surprisingly.
Many of the Irish Celts believed that Danu was the creator of the Earth, that from her womb flowed the rivers of life which gave birth to the world as we know it. Danu can be viewed as the mother Goddess aspect of the triple-goddess in Irish Gods and Goddesses lore. I see Danu as a beautiful woman in her forties, with long flowing red hair and a pregnant belly. She is bursting forth with life and love for her people and the world.
Dagda is known as the father of the Tuatha de Danann, also known as the "All-Father". Some Irish texts say that Dagda was the son of Danu, while others say that he was actually the father of Danu. Dagda protects the Irish tribes and watches over his people. He is one of the most powerful and fierce and yet also one of the most loving of the Irish Gods and Goddesses. His brothers are the Irish gods Ogma and Lir.
Dagda was depicted as a great god with a club that he could use to kill nine men in a single swipe; however, the other end of the club was used to breath life back into the dead or injured. Dagda is said to have had a lover, the Irish Goddess Boann (whom we will talk about in a bit) and a daughter named Breg. Legends say that Dagda played a magical harp in order to "put the seasons back in order" (wikipedia) and he also had two pigs. One of the pigs was said to be forever growing, while the other pig was always roasting. Dagda represents the fruitfulness of the land, protection of his people, and justice when justice is truly needed.
I picture Dagda as a fatherly type. Strong, fierce, and yet loving on the other hand. A tall man with dark brown, curly hair, broad shoulders and muscles. Attractive, yet to be feared. He is the Father of humanity, and should be one of the most revered of the Irish Gods and Goddesses.
Brigit (or Brighid) is the one Irish Goddess whose name has been literally absorbed into Catholicism. She was originally an Irish Goddess but as the Catholics converted the Irish from their Pagan ways, they also converted Brigit from an Irish Goddess to a patron Saint of the Church (Saint Brigid). There is even a day on the Catholic calendar known as Saint Brigid's Day which is February 1st (coincidentally or perhaps not so coincidentally, this day is also the Pagan festival of Imbolc).
Also called the "Exalted One", Brigit is the daughter of the Dagda and also the wife to the Fomorian God, Bres. Brigit has two sisters with the same name as herself and is therefore considered another form of the triple-goddess divinity. Brigit in her triple-goddess form is a healer, a poet, and a smith (she is said to have created the whistle). Brigit is one of the Irish gods and goddesses who is known to be a protector of child-bearing and childbirth. Some Pagans believe Brigit to be present at every woman's child delivery.
Brigit's element is fire, as she is also known to rule over high places and the highest flames. The hearthfire is sacred to Brigit and is lit every Imbolc to honor this beautiful, ubiquitous Irish Goddess.
The Mists of Avalon - Watch a Clip of The Horned God (2 min. in)
The Horned God
There's something about the image of The Horned God that has always invoked a sense of knowing in my spirit. I don't even know if that makes sense to anyone else but me, but any time I picture the young God - I picture a beautiful, young and strong male running alongside the stag, ready for the hunt and prepared to spread his seed upon the earth.
The Horned God isn't just one of the Irish gods and goddesses, he is a part of many ancient cultures' gods and goddesses lists including England, Wales, and Scotland.
The image of a man with a pair of antlers or horns on his head, sitting in a lotus position between wild animals is the image that has been around for centuries from different parts of Europe. The Horned God is actually a god that was worshiped by many different Celtic tribes, all over Europe at one point. Now The Horned God, as one of the Irish Gods and Goddesses and Celtic Gods, is worshiped among new Pagans and Wiccans today.
What does The Horned God represent? Who is this Horned God?
The Horned God is one of the Irish Gods and Goddesses who represents the male aspect of divinity, but he also represents the earth and the changing seasons.
At Imbolc, The Horned God is a young boy playing in the meadows. By Beltane, he is a fertile, virile young man ready to mate with the Goddess. By Samhain, he is old and dying but will be reborn again on Yule. The Horned God is one of the Irish Gods and Goddesses who spans across continents and is seen as the male aspect of divinity for many Wiccans today.
Cailleach is one of the Irish gods and goddesses who is considered a "crone", or an old wise woman. She has also been called such names as "death hag", and is also called Cailleach Bheur which literally translates to "old woman" while some say it means "Veiled One". If you think about the belief that Celts held of there being a "veil between the worlds" of the living and the dead, then "Veiled One" is an appropriate name for this Irish Goddess. Cailleach is the Irish Goddess who embodies old age, wisdom, and ultimately is the bringer of death. Because of this, Cailleach is also seen as a guardian or guide to the Underworld/Otherworld. Winter is her season, and earth is her element.
Cailleach is also thought to be a deified aspect of the Irish ancestors of old. When Spring comes back around and specifically on February 1st, the Cailleach takes the young form of the Maiden (the first and youngest aspect of the triple-goddess figure).
The lover (though not the wife) of Dagda, Boann is an Irish Goddess of the River. The River Boyne is named after her, as the Irish poem says that Boann is the creatress of the River Boyne. It is speculated that Boann could have been the mother of the Irish Goddess Brigit, but she was also written to have given birth to the Irish God Aengus, who was the son of Dagda.
Boann is an Irish Goddess of fertility and her element is water. She is also an aspect of the Mother Goddess and can be called upon for aid in conception, childbearing and childbirth. I envision the Irish Goddess Boann as a beautiful blonde woman, holding her baby on her side in utter freedom.
Llew or Lugh
Lugh is one of the ancient Irish Gods and Goddesses and an important one. Lugh is an Irish God who was born to both a Fomorian and a Tuatha de Danann and therefore had to prove himself to the court of the Tuatha de Danann to inevitably be one of them. Lugh is seen as a hero and High King of the Irish Gods and Goddesses and represents strength, athleticism, heroism, and perseverance. Lugh is also known as a Celtic Sun God and provides a golden harvest in the month of August.
The Pagan Sabbat of Lughnasadh is named after the Irish God Lugh. Lugnasadh is the first of three harvest festivals and is held on August 1st of every year. We can honor Lugh by celebrating Lughnasadh and thanking him for the bounty given to us by the earth.
Macha is an Irish Goddess linked with the Morrigan, a triple-goddess of war and death. Macha is directly related to the Raven, as pictured here. For personal reasons, I relate to the Macha in certain mysterious ways. Macha represents the unknown, darker side of life. She carries the weight of the world on her shoulders and yearns for vengeance upon her enemies. Macha is an Irish Goddess who is seen a minimum of three times in Irish lore and history. She is also associated with horses, sovereignty, and the "sites of Armagh and Emain Macha in County Armagh, which are named after her." (wikipedia)
Look to Macha of the Irish Goddesses for guidance when going into a legal situation or when in need of justice. Macha will also be there as a guide upon death, similar to the Cailleach. She is loyal to her people, but don't wrong her...she has a warrior side.
© 2011 Nicole Canfield