Choosing the Gods

Copyright by Searles O'Dubhain

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Remembering the references to days that are "Mat" or "An" from the Coligny Calendar helps us to select the appropriate Deities to choose for our divinations. On the "Bright" or "Mat" days, I choose the deities that are closest to the center of the Wheel. On the "An" or "Dark" days, I chose those that surround the perimeter. In either case, divination is an activity that requires us to be calm and quiet; awaiting the awarenes that the time is right and that we are connected to our own Sacred Center.On the Bright DaysWhen I stand within the Sacred Center, I stand next to the Red, Wise One, The Dagda, Ruadh Rofesa. I stand with my feet firmly planted upon Anu of the Fertile Paps, Earth Mother. I face Ogma of the Sure Strokes and the Sunface, Grian-aineach. To my right is Brighid of the Three Fires, Breo-Saighid. At my back is Manannan of the round eye, Wave Runner and Crane Dancer. To my left is the Morrigan, Black War Raven. Magick Maker. I am surrounded by Danu of the Swift Waters, Starwise and High One. If I look within, I find Samildanach, Lugh of the Long Arm to aid me in my endeavors. Beyond the fold is Domhnu of the Darkness, the Great Unknown. This is a "NOT" place where even gods walk lightly.On the Dark DaysWhen Darkness reigns within Bith, I shelter within the spiraling arms of Bile, Bright One and Way Shower. I am warded by Scathach, Swordwoman and Shadow Walker, To my Left is Oengus mac n'Og, the Ever Young. At my back is the Cailleach Bheara, Bui of the Seven Youthful periods. To my right is Aine of the Sun Brugh, Night Sister of An Grian. Tethra rules the Star Cattle and Storm Gods that are beyond me. For aid and protection, I seek the Silver One, Nuada Argetlamh, Twice King. What waits within the unseen future is Crom's secret, locked behind nine shields and guarded by Balor's Evil Eye.

The Wheel of the Year

In my own tradition and practice, the Wheel of the Year... Time... Airts... Seasons... Sky... Zodiac is ruled by sixteen God/desses. Each of the eight major divisions of time and space are associated with at least a pair of Deities in this divination system (some Gods can fit just about anywhere, though they may have traditionally favorite spots). These pairings of Deities are usually in the form of Mother-Son or Husband-Wife. This duality of Gods for each division is associated with the "good" and the "not-good" days of our system. Sometimes "not-good" will actually mean taking rather thangiving. At other times "good" will mean "giving up" or "quitting" rather than receiving or beingvictorious. Fate and fortune all depend on the stars, the Gods, the Fidh and the Airts as well as our "Inner Truth". I have detailed some of the characteristics of the Gods below (further reading is heartily suggested and recommended). Please use these suggestions to "color" your reading of the "casts", where they are appropriate (foretelling the future, to break a "log-jam" of indecision, to"tip" the balance, etc...).


Danu, The Red Mother of All, Major Mother Goddess of Ireland, Mother of the Gods and Patroness of wizards, rivers, water, wells, prosperity and plenty, Magick and wisdom. Sometimes she is The Dagda's wife; othertimes his daughter. She is associated with The Morrigan, Anu and Brighid as well. Danu is the source of Goddess power. Directional assignment: All directions but usually East or South, the Circle of All Being.

The Dagda

The Dagda, The All Father, Eochaid Ollathair ( Father of All), Ruadh Rofessa (The Red One, Lord of Occult Knowledge), Dagdha (the Good God) Many talented and powerful, Master of the harp and possessor of a dread double ended club. The Chief of the Tuatha De' Danann. Sometimes he is associated with Bile, Bel (even Balor) and Crom. Directional assignment: All directions, but usually North or West, the Center of Life.

The Morrigan

The Morrigan, The Dark aspect of the Celtic Triple Goddess. The "Washer at the Ford" (seem washing bloody laundry prior to battle by those destined to die). The Battle Goddess, also Queen of the Witches and Goddess of Magick. Could appear as a Raven, a beautiful Maiden or an ugly Hag. Marries the Dagdha at Samhain. The Goddess of Death. Directional assignment: North or North-west, Samhain.

Crom Dubh

Crom, Crom Dubh, Crom Cruach, "The Dark, Bent One". He was the God that delivered the grain from the fields and the bounty of the harvest from the Underworld. He was called the "Bent One" because he carried the first sheaf of the wheat harvest on his back from the fields to the table (which marked the beginning of Lughnasadh). This sheaf is sometimes said to be golden Ethne, a corn child (a corn dolly, Ethne means "seed" or "corn"). This connection with Ethne is also associated with Aine as well. Crom is sometimes said to wrestle Lugh or Finn for the gold of the harvest and the rays of the Sun. During the Fall and after the Harvest, bull sacrifices were made to him to insure a good harvest. He is associated with the great stone circle called "The Lios" in Munster, close by Lough Gur. Attimes he was seen as an adversary but most times he was considered a friend. He was also seenwalking the fields with Ethne on his shoulders. Some say that he was an aspect of The Dagda. Ifthis is so, then it was perhaps he that mated with the Morrigan at Samhain each year. Crompossessed a bull that was said to be immortal. As sacrifices were made to Bel to assure a fertile growing season at Bealtaine (and to safe-guard the herds), so also sacrifices were made from the herds to Crom Dubh at Samhain. The people would share a morsel of the bull's flesh as Crom returned with his bull to the Underworld for the Winter. This event marked the beginning of Samhain. Directional assignment: Northwest, Samhain; Southwest, Lughnasadh.


Boann (Boand, Boannan), "She of the white cattle". Irish goddess of the River Boyne. Wife of the water god Nechtain (or of Elcmar in some tales). Both Nechtain and Elcmar are associated with the Boyne river and its famous Brugh. Also the consort of the Dagda, by whom she was the mother of the love god Aonghus mac n'Og. In her folly, she attempted to challenge the Well of Segais. This involved chanting an "amrun" while going around the well in a tuaisceart or tuathal, (both of which mean widdershins, counterclockwise, or against the sun) direction. She circled the well three times AGAINST the Sun. The well rose against her incantations. Three waves rose up from the well, flowed forth in five streams and drowned her. Being of the Sidhe, she did not die but lost an arm, a leg and an eye in her battle with the well. The five streams of wisdom that flowed forth from this well are the five senses: Taste, smell, feeling, sight and hearing. In her contention with theWell of Segais, Boann suffered the druidic/shamanic death" of drowning but because she couldnot truly die (being a spirit and a goddess of the Sidhe), she gained the Wisdom of Conla/Segais asit swept her away. Boann is a Goddess of fertility and the stars. She connects the Way of the White Cow to the White Mound of the Boyne. It is also my opinion that Boann is a version of the Mother Goddess Danu (there are similarities to the names). She is the mate of The Dagda and it is she that gives her name to the preeminent brugh in all of Ireland, Brugh na Boinne. Directional assignment: North or Northeast, Mid-Winter.

Oenghus mac n'Og

Oengus mac n'Og, "The Young Son". Oengus is the son of The Dagda an Boann. It is he that was "conceived at sunrise and born before dusk" in a single day at the Brugh na Boinne. He was raised by his foster father Midir at Bri Leith until he was reunited with The Dagda. Oengus was able to obtain the Brugh na Boinne for himself by the use of the same "year and a day" Magick that The Dagda had used. He also was a God of Love and Life. He wooed Caer Ibormeith as a swamn and flew withher every other year at Lough Bel Dracon. Oengus is frequently able to give advice that is beyond his years (reference his Ogham list given later in this paper). He is also associated with dreams and the Soul. Oengus is the new son of the Sun's rebirth at the Brugh na Boinne each Winter's Solstice. He has the gift of Life within his Breath and can restore the Dead to Life. Directional assignment: North, Mid-Winter.


Brighid, Breo Saighead (Fiery Arrow or Power) Often called the Triple Brighid or the Triple Mother. Also Associated with Danu at times. The daughter of the Dagdha. She was said to have been married to Bres prior to his banishment from the Tuath De'. Goddess of the Sacred Flame of Kildare. Goddess of poets, feminine crafts, the hearth, martial arts, healing and inspiration. The White Maiden aspect of the Triple Goddess. Her Feast is the Major Celtic Festival of Imbolc. She who gives hope and new beginnings. The Celtic Church could not replace her, so they absorbed her as the "foster-mother" of Christ and as St. Brigit, the daughter of the Druid Dougal the Brown. Brighid is very like the Greek Goddess Athena, a Goddess of Wisdom, yet she also has the nuturing warmth of the heart, the home and the hearth within Her. Directional assignment: North-east, East or South, Imbolc.


Bres (Bress), "Beauty", Irish (Celtic) god of fertility and agriculture, briefly a leader of the Tuatha De Danann and husband of the goddess Brighid and father of Ruadan. His mother was Eriu (or Brighid in some tales), the Goddess of Sovereignty, his father Elatha, king of the Fomore. He possessed great beauty ("As beautiful as Bres" was a common saying.) As newly elected chief of the Tuath De', Bres parlayed with Sreng, the battle leader of the Firbolg. He suggested they divide Ireland between the two peoples. No agreement was reached and the first Cath Magh Tuireadh occurred. He succeeded Nuada as king of Ireland after the former lost a hand at the first battle of Magh Tuireadh. Due to his lack of hospitality Bres proved to be an unworthy ruler. He was deposed in favor of Nuada, once the latter had a temporary silver hand replaced by a real one, making him fitto rule once more. Bres fled into exile and rallied the Fomoire against the De Danann. When theFomoire were defeated at the second battle of Mag Tuireadh, Bres was captured during the battle.His life was spared by Lugh when he promised to instruct the De Danann in the art of agriculture.He is responsible for the flow of milk from cattle as well. He is a major God of Agriculture. Bres's lack of hospitality may well be associated with the bleak end of Winter's harest weather, when supplies would have been low (or non-existant). He directly contrasts with the hospitality of the home and hearth that is associated with his wife, Brighid. Directional assignment: Northeast, Imbolc.


Scathach, "She Who Strikes Fear". The Shadow self that walks the Mists. The Irish/Scottish Goddess of martial arts. The Destroyer aspect of the Dark Goddess. A great sword warrior and instructor. Native to the Isle of Skye. Teacher of CuChulainn. Patroness of martial arts, prophecy, blacksmiths and magic. She lived on the otherside of a bottomless pit or "void" that could only be approached by making the "salmon leap" onto her Magical bridge. She taught CuChulainn the "feat of the Gae Bolga", a spear that was thrown with the foot through a stream of water. Directional assignment: East, Dawn/Spring.


Ogma, The "Sun Faced" One, ("Grian-aineach"), so called because he was a God of Wisdom and of speech. He invented the Ogham and was also a great Warrior. He was Nuada's battle champion. Sometimes associated with the Greek Herakles. He was one of the main challengers to Lugh during the rites of admission to the company of Tara. He was the possessor of Orna, the talking sword of Tethra. Also Irish God of music, spells, the arts and eloquence. Directional assignment: East, Spring Equinox.


Aine, Aine na gClair, Anu, Ana, This is the Lush green Mother Goddess whose "paps" are the two well known hills of Munster. She is the earthen manifestation of Danu as well as being a sister of the Sun Goddess Grian. Aine has her own Rath in Munster ( Cnoc Aine) and is a goddess of love and ferility. At Mid-Summer, young girls run through the fields with flaming torches to assure the safety of the herds and fields as well as to promte fertility and increase. Directional assignments: Southeast, Bealtaine; South, Mid-Summer.


Bile (Bel, Beli, Belenus, Belinus, Belenos), "Shining" or "Fair Shining One". A widespread Celtic god, of fire and/or of the sun. He was worshiped from northern Italy to Britain. He is sometimes associated with the Irish god Bile though this is not certain. His festival was Beltaine on May 1 (actually on the Full Moon in Taurus). The two sacred fires of Bel (Bile?) were lit using a "fire drill" by the Druids. At this time, cattle were driven through the "fire mouth" to purify them from disease and to prepare themfor the summer pastures. Belenus was naturally identified with Apollo by the more RomanizedGauls (though the Irish assign this role to Lugh or even to Grian, the Sun Goddess). As Beli he isthe Welsh god of Death. Similar to Bile and the husband of Don/Danu. As Bile he is known as the father of gods and men and perhaps cognate with the Gaulish god Dis. In this role he is said to be the husband of Danu, mother of the gods. In some Irish genealogies Bile is said to be the father of Milesius the leader of the Gael from Spain. (Spain is usually another name used for the Otherworld in Irish mythology.) In Ireland, Bile is the name given to the Sacred Tree. This Sacred Tree is considered to be the center of the clan or Tuatha. As such, it represents the connection between the people and the three worlds of Bith: The Skyworld, The Middleworld, and The Otherworld. Bile or Bile,Bel, Belenos represents the father and protector of the people and is truly the husband of the great Mother Goddess. Directional assignment: Southeast or South, Bealtaine, Mid-Summer.

The Goddess of Sovereignty

The Goddess of Sovereignty (Banbha, Fodla, Eriu), The Land and the King were wed through many ceremonies. Essentually the fate of the King and the fate of the land were One and vice versa. The Favor of the Goddess could be granted by some heroic act or bu being Magically chosen (The Lia Fail could do this, more later). Women who held the Sovereignty of the land were often referred to as the Goddess (Such as Medb, Boudicca and Macha-Red Mane). Directional assignment: Center or Mid-Summer/Grianstad.


Nuada, The King and battle leader of the Tuatha De' Danann, Possessor of the Magick Sword of Findias, Lost his sword hand in the First Battle of Moytura, against the Fir Bolgs, stepped down from the Kingship (because the King could have no blemish) even though he was outfitted with a Magical hand of silver. He eventually had his hand Magically restored to lead the Tuatha De' Danann against the Fomors in the second Battle of Moytura. In this battle he was physically killed so he returned to the Lands of the Sidhe. Directional assignment: East or Mid-Summer/Grianstad.


Tailtu, Daughter of the King of Spain, Magh Mor and wife of Eochaidh Mac Erc, a Firbolg king. She was the foster mother of Lugh. She died clearing the forest of Breg so that the fields could be used for agriculture. She was buried at Tailtenn and it is the funerary games that Lugh held for her that is now known as Lughasadh. She is a primal earth Goddess and a patroness of the crops and herds. Directional assignment: Southwest, Lughnasadh..


Lugh, Samildanach (many skilled). This is the Celtic Mercury. The grandson of Balor (leader of the Fomorians and the son of Cian and Ethniu, a Sidhe princess. His feast is Lughnasadh, a celebration of the death of his "foster mother", Tailtiu. He is the combination of the Tuatha De' Danann and the Fomors. He replaces Nuada as the King and battle leader of the Tuatha De' Danann and leads them to ultimate victory in the second Battle of Moytura. He is sometimes called the "Shining One" and/or Lugh Lamhfada (of the "long arm"). He also has attributes of a carpenter, mason, poet,Druid, physician and a goldsmith. He can be considered the Irish God of just about everything. He was also the father of the great Irish hero, Cuchulain. Directional assignment: East, South or South-west, Lughnasadh.


Cailleach, Cailleach Bheara, Bui, This is the "Old Woman" of Beara who went through seven youthful periods. She was said to be a giantess and to have dropped many large boulders from her apron as she walked across the land. Her home was the Beara penisula of the Southwest of Ireland. Another name for her was Bui ("yellow"). Under this name she was one of the wives of Lugh. She can be a Hag or a beautiful maiden and represents Sovereignty and renewal. Directional assignments: West and Southwest, Lughnasadh and Fall Equinox.


Manannan Mac Lir, Chief Irish God of the sea. Not a member of the Tuatha De' Danann. A happy-go-lucky gypsy type. Always carried "the Crane Bag", ` a kind of Magick "horn of plenty". He gave the last 5 Oghams to the Druids (also called the "Crane Bag"). He preferred to roam among the people in disguise and aid their exploits.He could change his shape at will. Despite his antics, he was an extremely powerful God and was usually associated with fertility, rebirth, weather, sailing and Magick. He also had a Magickal ship that moved without sails and was directed by the mind. Linked to the Isle of Man. Directional assignment: East or West (towards the sea), Fall Equinox.


Balor, Irish (Celtic) god of death, King of the Fomori. Son of Buarainech, husband of Cethlenn (Cathlionn). He was know as Balor "of the Mighty Blows". Balor had one eye which had the power of striking dead anyone who looked upon it. This was the well known "evil eye" found throughout Celtic lore. At the Battle of Mag Tuireadh (Moytura) he slew the De Danann king, Nuada, as well as Macha but was slain in turn by their battle leader Lugh. This fulfilled an ancient prophecy. The Druids had prophesied that Balor would be killed by his own grandson. To prevent this, he had his only daughter Ethlinn locked within a crystal tower on Tory Island. But Cian, one of the rival Tuatha De Danann, managed to romance Ethlinn with the aid of a druidess named Birog, and slept with her. Ethlinn gave birth to a boy, whom Balor discovered and threw into the sea. The druidess Birog saved this boy, who was subsequently fostered by the sea god Manannan mac Lir, and the boy grew to become Lugh Lamhfada of the Long Arm, or Lug. Directional assignment: Northwest, Samhain.


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