Lugh Lámhfada - Ildánach of the Tuatha Dé Danann: Warrior, King, Hero
The Tuatha Dé Danann were a tribe descended from the people of Ireland known as the Nemedians. These emigrants fled the oppressive rule of the Fomorians here, and grew in both number and knowledge before the call of Ireland brought them home.
Still, this tribe of Danú were not long free of the influences that caused their ancestors to flee. The Fomorian foe returned to lay claims on their cattle, their grain, and even their children. What kind of hero could free them from this unjust oppression? Only one skilled in every art, and that one was called Lugh Lámhfada - meaning 'Lugh of the Long Arm'.
Lugh's arrival into the world was fraught with peril, and his story almost ended before it could even begin.
Balor, warlord of the Fomorians, had been told that his grandchild would bring about his demise. Fearful of this, he locked his daughter Ethniu away from the world so that none would know of her. Yet prophesy would not be denied, and it was Cian son of Dian Cecht who found and fell in love with her. Ethniu conceived and birthed triplets, but Balor discovered this, and had them cast into the sea.
Only Lugh survived. We was taken in fosterage by Tailtiu, a queen among the Fir Bolg, and there raised until destiny once again called for him.
As a young man Lugh traveled to the seat of the King which was on the Hill of Tara. There Nuada ruled the Tuatha Dé Danann. As the youth approached, he was challenged by the door keepers, for none may enter Tara but for professing a skill they offered in service. Lugh is an ildánach, meaning 'possessed of many skills'. In the exchange he managed to prove his worth to the door keepers, but only by being the one person who had many skills, rather than just mastery at one. He took up the seat of the sage at Tara, which had until then remained empty, and joined Nuada's court.
As the Fomorian oppression worsens, the Tuatha Dé Danann come to a decision. They will take the matter to battle and secure their freedom... or die in the attempt.
Nuada, in his wise judgement, sees that for his people to have the best chance at success Lugh should lead them - and so he abdicates the kingship in the young champion's favour. Lugh calls on every man and woman to declare what skill they will offer in the coming battle, and with the plans laid the Tuatha Dé Danann once again bring battle to the plain of Moytura.
Balor of the Fomorians leads his hosts against the Tuatha Dé Danann, and many of their number are slain. In the midst of the battle Lugh slips free from his bodyguard and charges forward in the fray. He moves among the enemy, laying mortal wounds upon all who come within his reach. At the height of the conflict he comes face to face with Balor, his grandfather, whose gaze was said to be death to those it fell upon. Using all of his skill and ability Lugh killed Balor, breaking the Fomorian host in the act, and completing the prophesy set out before his birth.
Lugh's story does not end here, but throughout this tale we see him continually striving to achieve mastery:
- First, of his life, in survival and fosterage
- Then, in all of his skills to prove his worth
- Then, of his homeland in service to his tribe.
Mastery of anything is within our reach, if we have the will to pursue and practice.
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