The Goddess Dana by William Morris (1834 - 1896)
The Goddess Dana
Selected Excerpts From the Written Works of
Rt. Rev. Lawrence Durdin-Robertson, M.A.
"The Year of the Goddess: A Perpetual Calender of Festivals"
The Tuatha Dea Danann came to Ireland on Monday, the kalends of May, in ships. (Lebor Gabala Erenn, IV, p. 141)
The Tuatha Dea Danann signifies 'the people of the Goddess Danu or Danaan', who was the Mother of the Gods ... According to our bardic chronicles the Dedannans were the fourth of the prehistoric colonies that arrived in Ireland many centuries before the Christian era. They were magicians, and highly skilled in science and metal-working. After inhabiting Ireland for about two hundred years, they were conquered by the people of the fifth and last colony - the Milesians (i.e. Gaels). When they had been finally defeated ... they held secret council, and arranged that the several chiefs, with their followers, were to take up residence in the pleasant hills all over the country - the side or elf mounds - where they could live free from observation or molestation. (Joyce, Social History of Ireland, I, p. 251)
Beltane was another day anciently dedicated to fetes in honour of the dead and fairies. (Evans-Wenz, Fairy-Faith, p. 439)
Drink from a well before sunrise. Wash in the morning dew, and adorn yourselves with greenery ... watch the sun come up, dance round the Maypole, and otherwise abandon yourself to the season. A woodland frolic culminating in indiscretion is the order of the day. (Druids Calendar)
According to ancient belief ... nothing makes one beautiful like kissing the dew on May morning. People have held that belief in the present century. As for Mrs. Pepys in an earlier one, she thought it 'the only thing in the world to wash her face with', and got up every year at four o'clock to do it. Some used even to run a silver spoon through the grass, and bottle it ... Mention must be made of the Milkmaid's garland ... a glittering trophy of silver utensils, fixed to a cloth-covered pyramid, carried about like a sedan chair on poles. (Whistler, English Festivals, p. 143) The ancient people, with their deeper insight into the spiritual processes in nature, recognized this dew as a magical substance bearing the essence of the Earth. (McLean, Four Fire Festivals, p. 19)
From "The Cult of the Goddess" later re-printed as "The Religion of the Goddess" - A Lecture at the Opening of the Wexford Arts Centre, Wexford, Ireland
The growing nationalist movements awoke a new interest in the indigenous religions. Thus in Ireland we had the "Celtic Twilight" movement; this re-invoked the ancient deities of Ireland: Cessair, or Cesara, whom Professor Macalister describes as "the Great Mother of the Irish People;" Samhain, referred to by O'Reilly as a goddess of the ancient irish, after whom is named the month of Samhain or November, Dana, of the Tuatha de Danann, "Mother of the deities of Ireland", who figures in the writings of A.E. and James Stephens; the triad of queen-goddesses, Banba, Fodhla and Eire, also Grainne - perhaps the ancient sun-goddess, and the queens Maeve and Niamh.
From "God the Mother: The Creatress and Giver of Life"
In the Celtic tradition there is a threefold characteristic division of the goddess. Dr. Anne Ross writes: "Trios of goddesses are well-known in insular mythology ... any one of the single goddesses invoked or portrayed in Roman Britain could appear in threefold form. For example, Coventina, the patron goddess of the sacred well at Carrawburgh, Northumberland, figures on a relief as a trio of nymphs. (p. 207) The Irish eponymous goddesses, Banba, Fodhla and Eire, each successively represent the country. Similarly, the three Machas and the three Brigids appear either singly or as a triad.
As Cosmic Producer, the Sun, 'Grian', figures in a kind of cosmogony in a Scottish Gaeli traditional folk prayer: "Greetings to you, Sun of the seasons ... You are the happy Mother of the stars." (Jackson, Celt. Myth. p. 91) Another prayer carries the cosmogony further: "To the Moon ... Mother of the stars, gem of the night, Foster-child of the sun, gem of the night." (p. 92)
As in India, the rivers are generally female beings. On the Continental Celts, Dr. Ross writes: "The Celtic mother-goddesses ... have a widespread association with water. This is due, no doubt, to their own obvious connection with fertility which, in the popular mind, could be likened to the life-giving powers of water ... So we find, for example, the powerful Marne taking its name from that of the Gaulish Matrona, 'Divine Mother'. No doubt there was at one time a cult in circulation associating the Mother with the river, which became the physical personification of the goddess. Another example drawn from many, is that of the river Seine, sacred to the goddess of the source, Sequana". (p. 20) Many rivers in britain are seen to have the same maternal origins. The Severn (Sabrina), the Dee (Deva), the Clyde (Clota of Gaulish Clutoida), the Brent of Middlesex (Briganta). Similarly the Irish Shannon (from Sinann) and the Boyne (Boand).
Other geographical features are "The paps of Anu". In Cormack's Glossary they are called "The Two Paps of Ana ... The Mother of the Gods of Ireland". Keating has "From Danan, the mother of these brothers, the two hills at Luachair Dheagda in Desmond, were called the 'Da Chide Danan'." (Gen. Hist. of Ireland, p. 91)
About the Author: FOI Co-Founder Lawrence Durdin-Robertson experienced a religious conviction which led him to receive the priesthood of Isis in 1972 and to later co-found with his wife Pamela and sister Olivia, the Fellowship of Isis in 1976. He left this earth August 4, 1994. His ancestral home Clonegal Castle is situated in a valley, on a triangular piece of land where the rivers Slaney and Derry meet. The Derry is so named because of the dense stands of oaks that grow along the river banks. Lawrence was called "Derry" by friends and family. "Derry" means 'oak' and comes from the same root as the word for "Druid."
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