Since writing about the Tuatha de Danann here I have been drawn to read more about the legends associated with them.
The first written account of the Tuatha de Danann is in ‘The Book of Invasions’ (Lebor Gebála Érénn) which was compiled by monks from folkloric tales around 1150. In this account they flew to Ireland from the west in air ships. A dark cloud followed them and blotted out the sun for three days. (Later accounts downplay the magic and say they arrived on ships they burnt on arrival.) I am struck by the connection of the earlier account to the myths of Atlantis. (I wrote a fictional tale about some of those myths here).
Recurring legends of Atlantis speak of a technologically advanced civilization that splintered into two powerful groups during its final days. One group were highly evolved spiritually, the other group were more warlike. In their efforts to harness the forces of nature the second group caused a cataclysmic explosion or eruption.
Perhaps the Tuatha de Danann were refugees from the first group and the dark cloud that followed them was a massive volcanic eruption triggered by the activities of the second group.
Perhaps it is that legends of the Tuatha de Danann and Atlantis are cautionary tales that have resonances with our times or perhaps it is that the Tuatha de Danann dwell in another dimension of existence – a more intuitive, inner realm we can access in dreams, meditations and altered states.
The Tuatha de Danann are often described as wise and brave They are said to possess magical powers and a highly developed capacity for rational thought. Several interpretations are given for their name.. The earliest of these is “the people of science who were gods” (dan = knowledge, skill, art, craft). Another meaning is “the people of the goddess Danu” (Danu is an early Irish Mother Goddess). An even later interpretation is “people of Sidhe” or the fairy folk.
When they arrived in Ireland the Tuatha de Danann bought with four gifts for the people – a sword, a spear, a stone and a cauldron.*
The gifts of the Tuatha de Danann can be seen as powerful tools that can assist us as we walk the treacherous paths of spiritual awakening.
In the legends the sword is called “Nuadu’s Invincible Sword”. Nuadu was the king of Tuatha de Danann and his sword is associated with justice, karmic retribution, courage and purity of soul. It is sometimes called The Sword of Light for it carries the power to sever the bonds of personal fears and confusion so that higher, more spiritually evolved qualities can emerge.
The spear was the property of Lugh, a hero sage. It was crafted from yew wood, a sacred tree in Ireland. Symbolically the spear represents single pointed aim, inspired action and focused attention. It is associated with the mental attribute of discrimination – that quality which illuminates the mind with clarity of purpose.
The Stone of Destiny or Fal’s Stone. In legends this stone is said to cry out when touched by the true king of ancient Ireland. Symbolically it can be interpreted as representing the inner voice, the voice of personal authenticity. It relates to the idea of personal sovereignty and asks questions about just who we are giving power to govern our lives to. Are we speaking with our own voice of authority or do we allow others to have power over us?
Another interpretation of the stone relates to ancient Irish rituals where the High Kings would symbolically wed the Goddess residing in the Stone of Destiny on top of The Hill of Tara. The Stone here symbolizes grounding and connecting with Earth Energies.
Perhaps the two interpretations are part of the same idea. Maybe it is through connecting with the Earth and grounding ourselves in these energies that we find the strength to speak with personal authority and integrity. Through aligning with nature we step into our personal sovereignty.
In legends the cauldron is known as “Dagda’s inexhaustible cauldron” and represents abundance, spiritual rejuvenation and the fulfillment of desire. Like the Holy Grail it symbolizes the potential to transcend limited perceptions and develop spiritual understandings and awareness that illuminate the entire being.
*My thoughts on the qualities the four gifts of Tuatha de Danann are speculative and developed as I wrote this post. I’m intrigued by the correspondences between these gifts and the Suits of the Tarot (Swords, Wands, Coins and Cups), the Four Elements (Earth, Fire, Air and Water) and even The Four Directions of the Native American Medicine Wheel. I will look at some these ideas in future posts.